Like you, I was incredibly disappointed by Thursday's election results. The ramifications for the country and for people in Bristol gives me a sense of intense fear and I worry desperately for the future.
I worry because of what five years of a Johnson government means. It means a hard Brexit, severing a deep economic and political relationship that puts the economy of Bristol and the wider country at great risk. It means five more years of a hostile environment attacking migrants, refugees and the over 3 million EU nationals who call Britain home. It means five more years our vital public services, our schools, police and NHS and mental health services being underfunded and undermined. It means five more years of attacks on your civil liberties and renewed attempts to water down or abolish the human rights act. It means no real action to tackle the climate emergency. It means five years of broken promises and broken politics.
For liberals and progressives, it means five years of the most right-wing Tory government we have seen in our lifetime. It means a fight for our values, for a country that is open, generous and inclusive. It is a fight we cannot shirk from. A fight we cannot lose.
Labour will, as they always do, spend this period looking inwards, engaging in a self-destructive navel-gazing era as it decides what it stands for and who it is fighting for anymore. Whoever becomes their leader, they will spend more time attacking themselves than the Johnson government. This is something we cannot tolerate. We cannot rely on Labour to be a functioning opposition or to fight for our values. Liberal Democrats must be the opposition to Johnson.
Thursday was a bad night for the Liberal Democrats. Whilst we got more votes than we have since 2010, we lost seats as a result of our archaic voting system. I stood aside in my seat of Bristol West in the Unite to Remain alliance. This alliance was not only a response to Brexit and the need to unite to stop it, but was a response to the voting system in which we are forced to operate. A majority of this country didn't vote for Johnson or his hard Brexit agenda. Sadly, however, because of the old two-party stitch up, this is what we are getting.
So what do we do now? I will continue playing my part to give Bristol West the strong, decent, liberal voice it deserves. I will fight to ensure Brexit doesn't destroy our economy and put your job at risk. I will fight for Bristol's EU nationals and ensure they have the rights and protections which they deserve, whatever happens with Brexit. I will fight to ensure our schools are properly funded by the next government and that we do not lose another generation. I will fight to transform Bristol's mental health services and to shine a light on the suicide crisis in our city. I will fight for real action to tackle the climate emergency. I will fight to fix our broken politics and ensure that the next election is the last one where people are forced to vote tactically rather than for the future and the country they want.
We have one hell of a fight on our hands and you can be a part of it. In May, we will have our local elections where Liberal Democrats will be looking to send a message to the Conservative and Labour parties. Our city is open, diverse and proud. Our city is progressive. Our city cares. Our city is Liberal.
This is the start of being the sand in Johnson's gears. Where others fail to act or cower from the fight, we will never shirk our responsibility to Bristol. This is a dark time for our country, but the flames of liberalism still burn in the shadows, waiting to emerge. Together, we can build a brighter future.