As a member of the Liberal Youth, I was invited to go canvassing in various target seats in the country. It’s a great scheme where they give you some money towards travel, free accommodation and food and there’s a social to cap things off at the weekend.
I went to the marginal seat of Oxford West and Abingdon where Imperial alumna Layla Moran was standing. It was a great experience to find out the inner workings of political campaigning behind the scenes.
I was briefed on the local issues and the work Layla has been doing over the past few years. Then we were paired up and started knocking on doors. What I found is that in an ultra marginal seat people are more likely to want to engage in doorstep conversations although some were quite shy about expressing the party they are going to vote for.
This constituency had a right wing Tory MP in the last parliament who voted against bills such as gay marriage so the Liberal voice wasn’t such a hard sell. Lib Dems have traditionally banked on strong local connections and it showed here as some people commented that they have heard more about Layla and her work in the constituency than their MP. It was quite refreshing to see people actively willing to engage in politics and give their views on NHS, education and housing.
The weekend also gave me a chance to chat to Layla about her journey from Imperial to politics. She highlighted the need for objective decision making in politics compared to the ideological policies that are often pursued by the political parties.
She spoke in a friendly manner and was very willing to discuss party politics with me during lunch. As a current school teacher she had a very good insight into the education policies needed in this country and was committed to making a positive impact. Education inequality is an issue close to my heart and it was great to learn about the steps the party is taking to address the issue.
I have always felt a certain degree of political apathy at Imperial, perhaps it’s the nature of our courses and the ideological showmanship from the political parties that puts us off from actively engaging in politics.
Nevertheless, it’s important that we exercise our right to vote and make our voices heard in elections. Engaging actively with political parties is the best way to influence policymaking and truly make a difference in people’s lives.
The Lib Dems policies are voted on at conference and any member can put forward a policy motion to be debates. This gives an excellent opportunity for grassroots campaigners to have a say at the national level. And the truth is it works. The Lib Dem policy delivered in this parliament of income tax cut was originally proposed at conference by an ordinary member.
So it’s important that we actively engage and campaign to get a better understanding of the issues facing our society and do something about solving it.