Fringe Box



Dragon Interview: Kelly-Marie Blundell, The New Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate

Published on: 16 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 10 May, 2017

June 16 2013

Guildford Liberal Democrats have selected a new prospective candidate for the next parliamentary election. It is Kelly-Marie Blundell. She kindly agreed to be interviewed by the Guildford Dragon so Guildford voters can learn a bit more about her and her views before considering who to vote for. Get ready…it is probably only 90 odd weeks until the next (2015) General Election…

Kelly-Marie Blundell who will fight for the Guildford seat at the next general election.

Kelly-Marie Blundell who will fight for the Guildford seat at the next general election.

What is you background?

I grew up in Kent, attending an all-girls grammar school which shaped my ambitions to focus on success and a positive, equal society. While there, I was in the award winning Public Speaking Team, something that wouldn’t seem relevant until I was older. I read Law at the University of Kent, then went to work for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

While there, I discovered an aptitude for fund-raising and communications, and have followed a career in this field rather than legal advice. However, I have continued to use and develop my legal background as a Union Official. I now work for a national health charity managing direct marketing. I met my husband in university, and we married in 2010, moving to Guildford in 2012 for his work with University of Surrey.

I suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia, potentially linked to horse riding accidents when I was a teenager. Now I am a keen amateur cyclist, and in Surrey there’s no better place! I’m a live music fan, supporting my husband’s local music ventures as well as enjoying classical music and folk.

On the political front, I’m a well known campaigner within the party, elected to represent members on the Federal Policy Committee and the Social Liberal Forum. I have campaigned to change the NHS bill and protect Sheltered Housing, as well as upholding equal rights in employment. By day I work as a fund-raising manager for a national charity, delivering direct mail campaigns. I passionate about protecting civil liberties, protecting peace and equality.

How and why did you become involved in politics?

I’d always been political, and I’d always voted Lib Dem, but it was the run of scandals in the early 2000s, including Iraq and the Hutton Inquiry in the press in that finally made me sign up to help out. I was angry that politicians could treat democracy with such disregard.

Democracy is something people have to fight for, the world over. Therefore I signed up to help out with my then local party in Kent, and quickly became campaign manager for elections. I moved to Guildford last year when my husband started work with the University of Surrey, and have quickly become involved with the local party, helping to return our county councillors in May this year.

Kelly Marie on BBC

Speaking at the Lib Dem conference on the NHS Bill – © BBC

What values made you become a member of the Liberal Democrat party as opposed to any of the others?

For me it is equality – every person should be treated as equal, and entitled to the same opportunities in life, whether they are born in an area of deprivation or a wealthy household. I also wholeheartedly believe gender, race, sexuality nor disability should have no bearing on your opportunities or your development.

The Lib Dems are a party of common-sense; logical policies that support people to get on without threatening their liberty. Joining the party, everything I found out about our policies reaffirmed my values.
This is why I’m pleased with Business Minister Jo Swinson’s work to ensure fairer parental leave, and up gender representation at board level as well as Steve Webb’s efforts to protect disability benefits from caps to the welfare state.

Do you agree with your party on every issue?

In the main yes. I feel we could have more detailed policies on rights for older people: we are a country facing an ageing population. That’s why I’m pleased the coalition has tackled the mess pensions had become, and the care system. But more needs to be done to prepare the country, financially and socially, for the issues of having more people aged 50 and over than under, which we expect in 2025 in the UK.

What motivates you to try and become an MP?

I believe in a society where all people are equal, irrespective of where they were born, what colour their skin is, whether they use a wheelchair or walk or whether they can have a baby. The legacy of successive Labour and Conservative majority governments has created vast social divide and a system that only benefits the individual not the majority.

Having the Lib Dems in coalition has ensured some radical and progressive policies have been put through at our instigation, including shared parental leave and raising the minimum tax threshold. We’re also dedicated to delivering one million more jobs over the course of this parliament. These are dynamic political movements which will change the course of the country for the better. I feel with a Lib Dem government, we can deliver even more, to help everyone get on in life.

Is it is important for Guildford, specifically, to have a Liberal Democrat MP?

Guildford have a clear Liberal Democrat core, having consistently showed 22,000 people here support the Lib Dems. We have had a Lib Dem Council, and I believe the town is ready to change away from the Tories and back to the Lib Dems. A Lib Dem member of parliament in Guildford would not propose scrapping milk for pre-school children, nor would they be engaged in the detrimental political in-fighting we have seen in the Conservatives in the last few years, both locally and nationally.

Guildford is a prosperous town, that needs a dynamic and energetic MP who can uphold Liberal and Democratic values and fight for the rights of every citizen, not just those who travel to Loseley House for surgeries.

Standing on the historic bridge of the town she hopes to represent in the House of Commons.

Standing on the historic bridge of the town she hopes to represent in the House of Commons.

If elected, when voting in the House of Commons, would your priority be to represent the majority view of your constituents, or to vote in accordance with your personal/party view?

Voting in the House of Commons largely depends on the bill and issue being voted on. I am inclined towards voting for the greatest good for the most people, the Lib Dem view in the main, and this would lead to benefit for the residents of Guildford.

I am committed to champion the interests of Guildford at a national level, including improvements to business development, investment in science, research and technology and pushing for jobs, education and growth where possible.

Entering into coalition government with the Conservatives seems to have cost you party dear, in terms of support. Do you think it was the right decision despite this and the policy compromises it required?

The coalition was not an easy choice for either party. However, given the economic crisis the country was left in by the Labour Government, it was necessary to form a government to repair it. By forming a coalition with the Conservatives, very much a business relationship built on compromise, the Lib Dems have fought to ensure the least well off do not bear the brunt of the cuts.

While, in an ideal world, we would not have seen a VAT rise, nor a 5p tax cut to the top rate of tax, we have ensured that the minimum tax threshold is raised to £10,000, a pledge in our manifesto that helps over 60,000 people in Guildford and makes it more sensible to work than be on benefits.

Although it has cost us some votes, on the doorstep, the majority of people respect that the Lib Dems: formed the coalition for the good of the country; are not besieged by bickering like the Conservatives; and that we are working to bring the country out of economic gloom. In Guildford, we have seen all of our councillors returned in local elections and our vote and support is holding up.

Given the current standings, do you honestly think you have a realistic chance of being elected at the next General Election?

The Lib Dems vote has steadily increased over the last decade in Guildford. Sue Doughty was the MP for the Lib Dems in Guildford from 2001-2005. In Guildford, the voters will be asked to choose between an MP who thinks it would be a good idea to ban cars on Sundays in the town centre, and a candidate with a fresh approach to politics, who upholds equality, pushes for development and fought to protect the NHS.

They have also seen a coalition government that has worked to bring the country out of recession, and the positive effect the Lib Dems have had on the Conservatives. There is every chance they will choose to elect me as their MP to help improve Guildford and the country for a more sustainable and stable future.

If you could change one thing in Britain what would it be?

I’d want to see more cycle lanes and a more positive attitude to cyclists. And better weather for them as well!

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