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Jonathan Smith, Liberal Democrats – Tatton – GE19 candidate

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We are providing all 39 parliamentary candidates across Cheshire the opportunity to tell our readers what their priorities are, and to tell us a little more about themselves.

We’ve asked the same five questions of each candidate, for the simplest comparison, and we have invited candidates to supply social media and website links if they choose to.

In this article, we speak to Jonathan Smith, standing for the Liberal Democrats in Tatton.

 



 

1. What is the main reason you’ve decided to stand in this election?

There are many reasons, including my deep commitment to the role of a local MP in having, as their core responsibility, the serving of the needs and aspirations of all residents and voters across the constituency.

However, at this election, no issue matters more than Brexit.

This is because, as we now know, the toxic Brexit nightmare has changed our country beyond recognition, to one that is less tolerant, more divided, less welcoming, and more inward-looking.

I am clear that, in Tatton, as elsewhere, Liberal Democrats are fighting for the very soul of our country.

Like so many of us, I took for granted the huge advantages in being at the heart of the most successful, and longest-lasting international collaboration in peace and prosperity.

I had assumed, until 24th June 2016, that my children, grandchildren and future generations would continue to benefit from the precious birth-right of European citizenship, freedom of movement, and membership of a strong, liberal democratic ‘club’.

I was wrong: these are not being guaranteed, and are at huge risk. I am proud to be representing the only major party that has consistently stood for EU membership. 

 

2. Which local priorities would you take forward as our MP?

In my campaigning across the constituency (canvassing, leafleting and talking with people, from Barnton and Rudheath in the west to Alderley Edge and Wilmslow in the east, and in many parts of Knutsford, Mobberley and Chelford) I have heard local people expressing – in addition to the impact of Brexit, were it to happen, on local businesses, local science and research, and public services – particular concerns about: climate change, public transport, school funding, empty shops, declining high streets, poverty, the rise in neighbourhood crime, and the NHS.

I have already taken steps to: better understand and support key local environmental issues (e.g. peat extraction on Lindow Moss, and protecting the Longridge Greenbelt); experience for myself the disastrous state of the Mid-Cheshire railway line; raise the profile of crime in Wilmslow; find out the true facts behind the “winter pressures” crisis in health and social care, which is already upon us; encouraged local action to prevent the cutting of key local bus services; and taken in the depressing state of corporate neglect of some of our old housing estates.

These issues would form the essence of my first programme of local action and intervention, as the new MP for Tatton.

 

3. Which national priorities would you take forward as our MP?

With my Liberal Democrat colleagues, and working with all other parties and individuals, who are as resolved as we are to stop Brexit, I would do everything in my power to persuade the country that leaving the EU, particularly on Boris’ terms, or, even worse on no deal, would accelerate the decline of this great nation.

Secondly, and linked to the above, I would seek to ensure that the next government takes urgent, practical steps to address both the economic and social reasons behind many of the 2016 Leave votes.

Alongside these, I would press for the earliest implementation of the Liberal Democrats’ Emergency 10-Year Plan to reign in climate change.

In order to begin the huge challenge of re-establishing trust in politics and politicians, I would fight for the introduction of proportional representation for all our elections, and for the workings of Parliament themselves to be radically modernised.

However, above all, and on the very day following election, I would set about generating action and concern amongst politicians and leaders alike to immediately tackle the impending health and social care crisis.

 

4. What is it about your party and/or its manifesto that makes you proud to represent your party? Are there any manifesto pledges or commitments you’d like to see changed?

I am proud to represent a party whose constitution reads: “The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

This is where there currently exists the most danger for our country, given the rise of populism, nationalism, protectionism, and intolerance.

Sometimes, it is not fashionable to speak up for human rights, to advocate for the most vulnerable, to champion the cause of refugees and asylum seekers, and to challenge narrow-minded attitudes.

The Liberal Democrats do, have always done, and will continue to do.

I am also proud at our approach to the economy, seeing responsible spending on e.g. public services, infrastructure, life-long learning, and new technology, as essential if we are to give people a brighter future.

We are neither complacent about the state of the country, nor unbridled in our ambitions and plans.

I am keen that a future Liberal Democrat Government should recognise that, alongside a continuing commitment to HS2, the people of Tatton have to see a transformation in the level of investment in, and management of some local train services.

 

5. Please tell us a little about yourself.

(ie: your background, your experience, your hobbies, your non-political interests)

I was born and brought up in London, and trained in Liverpool as a social worker. My wife, Alison, and I have four children and five grand-children.

Some of our family have lived, or are still living and working in Europe.

I progressed into management, and became a director of social services in Tameside, which is when we moved, with our family, to Bowdon – in 1993.

Later on, I spent three years as a strategic director for Coventry City Council, and, then, moved back to work closer to home, with an NHS chief executive post in Warrington.

In the last thirteen years of my career, I became a specialist in children’s services, working with the NHS at all levels, with local government, and with the voluntary sector, retiring in March 2018.

My senior career in public services prevented me from engaging, publicly, in politics, but, in 2015, dismayed by the way the Lib Dems were treated in that election, I decided to become an approved Lib Dem candidate.

I fought the 2017 election in Oldham East and Saddleworth, and chaired the Trafford Lib Dems for 18 months until recently.

I have a full and endlessly-interesting family life. I love music, sport, the arts, and travel. 

 


Further links (as supplied by the candidate)

Website: www.tattonlibdems.org

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 07984 665 111


 

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