I want to thank my wife, Alice, our daughter and the rest of my family. It is impossible to do the job as a Member of Parliament and as a parliamentary candidate without it having a significant impact on your family. Despite that, I could not have asked for more love and support throughout the tumultuous journey I’ve been on this year. They are my rock and will always come first. The biggest benefit of the result tonight is that I will be able to devote so much more time to them which would otherwise have been impossible.
This campaign has been a team effort. We have been blessed to have a superb staff and awesome local party. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved and cannot thank all our wonderful Lib Dem members and volunteers enough for their tremendous efforts. We almost trebled our share of the vote and threaded the liberal, progressive, internationalist values which are at the core of what this constituency is all about through the entire campaign. We set out to climb Everest but, alas, although we were not far from the summit, we did not quite reach it – this was in spite of the remarkable campaign of the Westminster and City of London Lib Dems, not because of it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Just over a year ago I decided to leave one of the two main parties – the Labour Party – in our undemocratic First-Past-The-Post system because I felt it no longer represented my social democratic, liberal values. Like so many, I felt the Official Opposition and the Government had failed to perform their constitutional duties competently, too often they were making decisions in their own interests and had gone to the extremes – I could not remain a part of that. I thought it would be a cop out to walk out of politics at that stage and leave the field without trying to fix a broken system with other MPs of a like mind for the sake of the country and our communities. I still maintain that it was better to try and fail to do that, than to stay put and defend the indefensible.
However, we must respect the choice the people have made today, both to re-elect Boris Johnson and the Conservatives into government, and for Labour to continue as the Official Opposition. I wish them the very best – it is in all our interests that they live up to the trust invested in them today. In particular, congratulations to Nickie Aiken, the new Member of Parliament for the Cities of London and Westminster.
For the liberal, internationalist, pro-European, progressive, centre-ground of British politics, the Liberal Democrats still have a vital role to play, despite the disappointing results of this general election. We will live to fight another day and learn from what has happened these last few months. I will do what I can, albeit outside of the House of Commons, to contribute to that. I said I had re-joined the party this year for the long term – I meant it.
Finally, it has been the privilege of my life to serve in parliament these last ten years for the constituency I was born into, Streatham. Since I was first elected, I spoke in the House of Commons on behalf of my constituents around 1000 times, I held weekly surgeries, and helped over 18,000 constituents with their issues. It was also a huge privilege to do a number of senior roles as a Shadow Cabinet member of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to serve and hope that I have been able to improve the lives of as many people as possible – the whole reason I stood for election in the first place ten years ago.