Even if you take the votes as cast, Labour didn’t win Peterborough’s by-election… Obviously, most voters in the Peterborough by-election voted for our Labour MP, with 10,484 votes? Nope, Labour came third! writes Liberal Democrat candidate Beki Sellick in this week’s Speaker’s Corner.
Despite the national media spotlight, the massive volume of campaigning and the huge choice of 15 candidates (including Howling ‘Laud’ Hope, who tempted some), most voters (over 36,000) didn’t vote at all.
Shockingly, the second biggest group of votes (13,080) belonged to people on the electoral register who weren’t allowed a Parliamentary vote. These citizens of EU countries (other than the UK) who live and work and take part in our community here outnumber Labour voters by over 2,500; adding them to my vote would have made me MP with a majority of over 6,500!
Like the voter, I don’t know personally who went to the effort of putting his handwritten letter through my door on polling day. He’s lived in the UK since 1958 and paid NI contributions for 48 years, but still holds an Italian passport.
He always votes Lib Dem in local elections and wanted me for his MP.
Like the elderly parents of my Peterborough-born friends who aren’t allowed to vote. Worse still, I wept to hear they’ve been asked to apply to stay in the UK, in the homes they made here 60 years ago.
Like the people who serve us every day, behind the scenes in our fields and factories; more visibly in our NHS and shops and cafes. Like the students encouraging me at Peterborough Regional College’s Parc restaurant; like Damian the Polish chef from Eye Green who supports their training, as an established local employer and family man.
Like the young Hungarian engineer I mentor who helped make our new electric Azuma trains run in Peterborough, decarbonising UK rail with increasing electrification.
So “no vote” and “not allowed to vote” actually won Peterborough’s MP election. So what?
So, we need to #StopBrexit and move on. Remain in the EU and rebuild our democracy and our international relationships. Remain valuing our neighbours and rebuilding our community cohesion. When we stop dividing and blaming groups, we can meet and talk and do stuff together as real people, proud of Peterborough today and making a better future.
Liberal Democrat values balance liberty, equality and community. We work not for the few, not for the many, but for everybody – to enable us all to achieve our potential as individual human beings.
That’s why, as a professional engineer and campaigner, I want to stop this damaging Brexit and demand better: to reverse poverty and improve education in Peterborough; to tackle the global warming, inequality and wars that drive migration; to make the most of advancing technologies for new jobs and to give us cleaner air to breathe.
That’s why, ‘out’ as @LibDemBeki, I opened our regular Pizza’n’Politics again to welcome non-members for our Pride Special discussion “Does God love everyone?” with the Lesbian Gay Christian Movement last week.
That’s why, as City Steering Group member, I supported the FairTrade team at this week’s International Day at Jack Hunt School where students celebrated connections and improved understanding.
That’s why, as a family, we’ll be on Sunday’s Sultan and Saint pilgrimage to a local church and mosque.
That’s why, as chair, I’m leading our Residents Association’s annual Street Party, to enjoy neighbourliness in our diverse community next weekend. Join us!