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Honesty, integrity and authenticity

May 3, 2015
Church Together hustings  at St Mary's, Rye

Thursday’s hustings was held at St Mary’s church, Rye

So here we are: the final straight of the General Election campaign in Hastings & Rye.

And from all of the hustings meetings undertaken over these past few weeks, one question above all has stuck with me.

Towards the end of the Rye Church Together hustings on Thursday night a lady asked us (and I paraphrase) ‘Do you think that honesty and integrity are important in politics, and are you up to the job?’.

I think this is an issue that goes right to the heart of many people’s disillusionment with politics.  The disconnect that now exists between the ‘political class’ and most ‘normal’ people has been exacerbated by many things – most notably the expenses scandal.

And even in this campaign which, for the most part, has been fought with decorum by the candidates there have still been issues which have caused me concern.

Last week, along with other candidates, I co-signed a letter to the Returning Officer urging fair play and clean campaigning.  This was following concerns about the content of a letter sent out by the Labour Party.

I also admit to having been irritated by the way that the Labour campaign has presented its candidate as someone with considerable experience of a working life outside of politics, when in fact that candidate’s last three jobs have been as a political insider.

Of course the way that messages are finessed and massaged is part of life, however it does nothing to address the deficit of trust in politicians.

I have to tell you that my answer to the lady’s question on Thursday started with the disclaimer that we are all human and fallible, however I strongly believe that experience of a working life outside of politics will help to inure people against the corrosive and positively Victorian culture at Westminster.

Those of us that have had ‘normal’ jobs know what it is like to need to embrace flexible working; to rub along with people we don’t always agree with; to treat people with respect and dignity whether we like them or not.

I also believe that not being in anyone’s pocket helps to maintain an independent mind, and to bolster integrity.

Along with 15 years experience of working in frontline mental health services, this is something that I bring to the table as a candidate to be our next MP.

Liberal Democrats are not sponsored by the Unions; we are not backed by big business.  We answer to the people that elect us, and to them alone.

Not surprisingly therefore, I hope you will consider sending a Liberal Democrat to represent you at Westminster on 7 May!

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