I'm fresh back from #LibDemConference and feeling enthused and excited for the next few months (although feeling anything but fresh after a very intense weekend!). I joined, like many, in 2016 and this was my 4th autumn conference and definitely by far the best.
4 years ago I arrived at conference with a new local Liberal Democrat friend, both as newbies, and we mostly sat in the main hall listening to policy motions. It was a great insight into the democratic way that Liberal Democrats make policy, with everyone able to contribute and debate. Aside from the process, the content of the policies and debates aligned with my values and priorities, for example arguing for action on a zero-carbon economy, against the expansion of grammar schools, and for dignity in dying. I felt instantly at home.
Fast forward to conference 2019 and I'm Vice Chair of Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats and a Parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow. I've arrived with a strong contingent from the borough and bumping into people I know in the party. Every fringe event, debate, training session and social throws up more great people all of whom are welcoming and supportive. The quality of debate is high, with one session on Knife Crime and Youth Violence led by Siobhan Benita, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for London Mayor being one of the most pragmatic, evidence-based and informed discussions I've ever attended.
This conference felt different to previous ones. I started many conversations with people who were brand new members and attending a political conference for the first time, some of whom were already eager to dive right in and stand as a councillor or a Parliamentary candidate. There were also many who had joined from Labour or Conservatives (not just Sam Gyimah!), including one who had been a Conservative Councillor and candidate multiple times. All commented on how much friendlier and more welcoming they had found the Liberal Democrats than their previous parties and how impressed they had been at what they could influence even as an ordinary member.
I sadly could only stay for the weekend, needing to get back to my young daughter and the day job, but on the train back I was busy compiling follow up actions and things we can do in the Borough to help address some of the most pressing issues we face.
I am immensely proud to represent the Liberal Democrats and the more I get involved with the party, the prouder I become.
So now, it’s back to reality on a Monday morning and time to turn all those exciting opportunities into action. Let's get cracking!