Jo Swinson MP: Together, I believe we can change politics for the better
As the Liberal Democrat leadership contest concludes Jo Swinson MP sets out her vision for the party: “This is about taking the Liberal Democrats beyond 20%. And there is no limit to my ambitions for our party”.
This week I called out the President of the United States for being a racist. This is not a normal thing to do, but these are not normal times. After Donald Trump told four democratically elected Congresswomen of colour - all U.S citizens - to ‘go back’ to their own country, it was absolutely the right thing to do.
For some reason, so many of our political leaders felt unable to do the same. Foreign Secretary and leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt was “appalled”, and the man who will most likely be our next Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, shrugged a vague condemnation - his eyes firmly fixed on his fantasy of a U.S. trade deal.
Why does this matter? Because casual racism is dangerous, whoever says it. Coming from the leader of the free world, it’s terrifying, and the scenes of crowds chanting ‘send her back’ were sickening and chilling. Leadership is about standing up for British values, even if it means telling your friends or allies they’re wrong.
The forces of nationalism and populism are threatening to consume our politics. Whether it’s Trump abroad or Johnson and Farage at home, our political leaders are seeking to pit us against those who are different from us, and close us off from the world.
The answer to nationalism is open-minded and warm-hearted liberalism.
That’s why I’ve put myself forward to be leader of the Liberal Democrats. Because I believe I can lead our party to build a liberal movement. A movement needed to fight the forces of nationalism and stop Brexit. A movement needed to transform our broken economy to make it work for people and planet.
I am not shy about the big challenges we face. Technological advances have already transformed our lives and changed the world of work. I believe we can harness the fourth industrial revolution for good. To improve our schools and hospitals and build a better society.
The climate emergency is threatening our children’s future. I joined Extinction Rebellion on their march because I believe passionately in the urgency of this cause. That’s why I want to fix our broken economy, so that we reward innovative companies who put the planet first.
Our liberal movement is already growing. In June we elected sixteen fantastic Liberal Democrat MEPs to the European Parliament, and our poll rating is at its highest for years. This is about taking the Liberal Democrats beyond 20%. And there is no limit to my ambitions for our party, and for our country
I believe there are millions of people across the country who share our liberal values. Who are searching for someone to stand up for them and view our broken politics with dismay.
Together, I believe we can change politics for the better. We can stand up to bullies at home and abroad and call out racism and hate when we see it. We can fight to keep our place in the European Union, and make the positive case for immigration. We can fix our broken economy and tackle the climate emergency that threatens our future on this planet. We can do this. But we need to do so together. So join us.
Jo Swinson is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & MP for East Dunbartonshire