Differences over policy are a normal party of democratic politics; however, integrity and honesty are values that should be held across the party spectrum. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and we are seeing a loss of trust in our democratic system as a result. With that in mind, I wanted to write a few words about my own values. Why do I want to represent Banff and Buchan, and what kind of MP do I want to be?
Before training to become an academic from 2007 onwards, I worked for Malcolm Bruce, the MP for Gordon. Many people in the south of the Banff and Buchan constituency remember Malcolm because Turriff and the surrounding area were in Gordon prior to the 2005 boundary changes. “Malcolm was old school,” they say wistfully on the doorsteps, and I know exactly what they mean. Working for Malcolm, I learned never to criticise an opponent mindlessly. “What would we do instead?” he would always ask. I also learned a lot about how to have robust disagreements about policy that were always grounded in facts and never, ever personal.
Later, as an academic, I researched how and why countries go from autocracies to democracies and vice-versa. I interviewed central and east European politicians who sacrificed their own freedom to fight for democracy in the 1970s and 1980s, later establishing democratic systems in central and east Europe. I was particularly inspired by Vaclav Havel’s concept of ‘Living in Truth’, which meant defying propaganda to expose the reality of life under communist regimes. There is plenty of inspiration to draw from Havel’s writing in this modern era of disinformation. He said, “Work for something because it is good, not just because it has a chance to succeed.”
As a lecturer in Comparative Government, it is impossible not to be aware that democracy is in retreat worldwide. I am standing for Parliament because I want to fight for a vision of democracy where MPs are in close contact with the constituents that they serve, and where public policy is based on honest, fact-based debate in the long-term interests of the constituency and the country.
If elected, I promise:
- To be available for local people, face-to-face and by phone, email, social media and mail.
- To help local people raise issues and ask questions in Parliament.
- To tell the truth, always.
- To acknowledge complexity and avoid raising unrealistic expectations.
- To be a representative local people can be proud of.