emssimpson

The author (centre) with Annette Brooke MP (far right) and Lib Dem candidate Vikki Slade (right)

Local Voices is a new section of the 50for15 website where people from our 50 constituencies offer their views about their local contest. We want Local Voices to be a platform for debate and the section will include comment articles from voters across the political spectrum, those who are undecided and young people who are unable to vote. We want Local Voices to complement the analytical articles and interviews the 50for15 team write when visiting the 50 marginals. If you would like to contribute to Local Voices, please contact 50for2015@gmail.com

My name is Ems Simpson. I’m eighteen years old, and I like writing about what I think about the world. I’m a prospective History and Political Science student and I’m also a volunteer with the Liberal Democrats in Mid Dorset and North Poole, and the chair of their Liberal Youth branch.

Every time I’m at a meeting, or at an Action Day, we’re always asked by our campaign organisers why we’re there. Aside from the fact usually there is free food, and anyone who is left standing after 5pm is usually treated to a round of drinks at our local Wetherspoons, it’s a really complex question that, for me, cannot be summarized in one sentence. Why this seat is important to me is a lot more than just: “Because I want the party I support to win.”

For me, what makes this seat important is the context around it. Since 2001 we have had Annette Brooke doing a great job as an MP, although she is retiring this summer. We gained it from the Conservatives and we’ve held onto it since, albeit in 2010 by a 0.6% majority. There were 269 votes in it last election. Despite her popularity as a candidate, and the popularity of the Liberal Democrats, the majority was perhaps not as high as it should have been, which only makes the next year harder.

All of the parties standing have new candidates in Mid Dorset and North Poole; there is no incumbent with an advantage, and for us in the Liberal Democrats, we are lagging behind the likes of UKIP and the Greens in the national polls. While locally in the polls things are very different, anyone from the outside might say we don’t have any hope in getting our candidate, Vikki Slade, elected. But we have such an incredible team behind us and so many things going for us, I believe we stand a chance.

There is obviously the fact that if Vikki does not win Mid Dorset and North Poole, there will be no female MP in Dorset. All of our opposition have selected male candidates in the race, which of course is disproportionate to the demographics of this constituency – and most of civilisation. As a female myself, I feel so strongly about women’s involvement in politics, and having the opportunity to campaign both as a woman, and also campaign for a woman, is so exciting to me. It’s also incredible to have a candidate that is so in touch with the people, both through her working-class background and through her seemingly endless stream of community work in Mid Dorset North Poole. That means a lot more to me than potentially working for a career politician or an incredibly rich, privileged individual who does not understand the struggles most people have in our constituency.

When I first started volunteering last April I was just hoping for an insight into politics, while also taking my mind off the stress of exams. I was testing the water to see if it was what I wanted to do, and I would maybe stay on until the summer was over. Since then I’ve been involved in the National Party and the federal Liberal Youth. We have since set up our own local Liberal Youth, and I’ve been elected as the branch leader. Working alongside everyone on the campaign team is my favourite thing in the world – not just Vikki, but Jack and Millie our campaign organisers, Alan who is the campaign manager and all of the other volunteers and members of Liberal Youth.

For me, this isn’t a voluntary position. These people I’ve had the privilege to work with since the European Elections have given me so much in return for what I’ve done; these guys are like my extended family. This election for me is so personal because I care about so many people involved in it, and I want every success for this seat and all the people behind it.