Today I set out why I think it is important to elect a local candidate to represent the Southampton Itchen Constituency in Parliament. Southampton is a great city with a great football club, an incredibly diverse population and the potential to rival any city in Europe. It has fantastic transport links to London by train and motorway; one of the busiest ports in the country, as well as an airport serving over 40 European destinations with links to hundreds of destinations worldwide.
However, most of the people in Southampton are not commuters to London or beyond and only use the airport and port when they are travelling on holiday. They live here, work here and raise their families here. Who better to understand their needs and challenges than someone who has grown up here just like them? Who else but a local would understand the local dynamic the way they do?
I was born on the Harefield Estate in Southampton: a modest 1960’s development of predominately family homes. I represent the ward of Harefield on Southampton City Council and have done so continuously since 2000. I grew up in the neighbouring suburb of Bitterne Park and after serving with the Royal Air Force for 10 years, returned to set up home in Bitterne. My daughter went to the local schools, as did I, and attended Southampton Solent University.
When you are inextricably linked to an area there is little you don’t know about what is going on. I am not suggesting that being aware of the issues faced daily by constituents is enough, but it is a distinct advantage to understand them and to be able to empathise.
I have lived through the numerous changes that Southampton and its residents have faced: some good, some not so good. During that time, in general life has improved for many people. Of course that can’t be said for all and we, in politics, must continue to strive every day to ensure that all our friends and neighbours can reach their full potential.
I understand what it means to be given an opportunity but far more than that, I understand how important it is to grasp the opportunity when it is offered. Still too many people feel that they are being left behind and by standing for,
I understand what it means to be given an opportunity but far more than that I understand how important it is to grasp the opportunity when it is offered. Still too many people feel that they are being left behind and by standing for, and being elected to Parliament, I hope to do something about that.
I want to stand for Parliament to represent the many people I have lived with, grown up with, worked with and at times, struggled with. I want to represent Southampton because I live here, I don’t live here in order to win a seat in Parliament. There is more than a subtle difference.