I am Suzie Ferguson. I am 34 years old and I am standing as an Independent candidate for Reading West in the May 2015 General Election.
I am a Reading-based Chartered Chemical Engineer currently assigned to Dubai with my son, Brannon (3), and my daughter, Skye (1), by my employer of 10 years; Foster Wheeler (HQ in Reading, recently become “Amec Foster Wheeler”). My home is in Tidmarsh, where my husband, and the cats, are still based, but I had to take this assignment as we could not afford to live in Berkshire with two children under three years of age (our flat would have been repossessed).
After 6 months of upheaval, readjustment and reflection, I passionately want to help others in a similar, or worse, situation than we were a year ago. We are very lucky that I have had this opportunity to dig us out of our hole. By April 2015 we should be debt free (mortgage excluding). I want everyone in Reading West to have the opportunity to be able to free themselves of debt and improve the lives of themselves and their families. Choices of cheaper housing, food and transportation do not exist in Berkshire, we need to find sensible and sustainable solutions to lift hard-working people and families out of poverty and to fairly reward hard work and initiative.
The purpose of government should be to serve the people. Our government has let us down and is hopelessly out of touch with what matters in people’s real lives, some even deny that a “cost of living” crisis exists. I think that engaging with real people is the first step to improving how our society works for the benefit of all and that carefully considered, substantial reform will is also essential.
I make the following pledges of things I will do if I am elected to be your representative in Parliament (feedback welcome):
- I will be approachable, I aim to work as much as possible from an office (or coffee shop) where anyone can come to see me, by posting where and when I will be on my official twitter and Facebook. If I get so many e-mails or letters that I cannot look at them, then I will get some help so that every single one will be reviewed by me or a representative.
- I will listen to your concerns with the intent to understand and help (not to preach and or tell you what to do). I will respect your views, beliefs and right to express them. And I will listen when experts in their field give me advice.
- I will do everything in my power and influence to implement your good ideas for a better Reading and a better UK and world. If there is something that I cannot do, then you deserve an explanation.
- I will be committed to being your MP – I would be my full-time job (40+ hours a week), I do not have any businesses to run at the same time.
- I will not waste your money on luxuries – if I need a base in London, I shall rent a small functional apartment – not a penthouse with a swimming pool. And I will use public transport to get from Reading to Westminster.
- I will be as transparent as I possibly can – my timetable, what I say in parliament, how I vote on every issue, my expenses, will all be published. I also hope to spend travel time blogging about my experiences and what I am learning about our system by being your MP.
- I will voluntarily subscribe to the 38 Degrees proposed genuine recall law, which will give you the right to sack me and trigger a by-election if I let you down.
- I will stop at nothing (legal) to remove student paid tuition fees because the current system is horrifically unfair and does not even add up.
- I will do everything I can to increase transparency in UK governance, specifically; to ensure that the full text of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement in Principle is available to the UK electorate before it is accepted or rejected by the UK Government.
Early Life and Education
I was born in Salisbury and grew up in the tiny farming and commuter village of Landford, Wiltshire, on the edge of the New Forest. My father taught Art at King Edmond’s School in Salisbury and my mother was a peripatetic woodwind teacher in Southampton. When my parent separated in 1997 my mother, brother and I moved to Romsey while my father moved to Lymington and then later moved to Velez Malaga, Spain. My brother and I attended local primary schools followed by The Romsey School. After completing my A Levels at Totton College I took a year out to try to choose between a career in musical theatre and engineering. Engineering won, but I did complete training in classical ballet teaching and volunteer in Zambia, Africa, for 4 months supported by a Millennium Award.
I studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Surrey, finishing top in my class at the end of the 5 year course. My Master’s design project was on the economic implementation of bioethanol for use as a transport fuel in the UK and my Master’s research project studied granular flow and pneumatic conveying for a component of the ITER nuclear fusion reactor.
Before graduating as a chemical engineer I worked in a variety of roles, from fruit picking, newspaper delivery, shop assistant, to teaching Ballet. I worked as a chemical engineer for BP at Coryton Refinery, Tate and Lyle at a sugar derivatives plant in Colombia, Astra Zeneca at their Macclesfield cancer treatment drug plant, and as a researcher at the University of Surrey before graduating.
I have worked at Foster Wheeler, a multinational engineering contractor, since my graduation in 2004, where I have mostly been based in the Reading head quarters (now Amec Foster Wheeler). With Foster Wheeler I have worked on design of oil refineries, liquified natural gas plants and, most notably, low carbon power plants, for which I have been the company technical expert for five years having published and presented a number of technical papers and presented to DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change).
I have worked overseas a number of times; firstly as a volunteer in Zambia working alongside the UN Development Programme for the Cary-Mufulira Community Partnership Trust, during my degree in Cali, Colombia, South America, then on assignment with Foster Wheeler in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Milan, Italy and most recently; Dubai, UAE.
I married the love of my life, Arun Ferguson on the 8th August 2009. We have two bright and strong willed children, Brannon (3) and Skyla (1).
In my spare time I now pretty much only work on research and writing to support my campaign on become MP for Reading West and raise money for the AMAR Foundation, a charity working in Iraq, where my current work project is based.
When I get home from assignment to Dubai, I plan to go back to some favourite hobbies including; Ju Jitsu, Live Action Role Play, crafting, reading, hiking and hanging out with my friends and family.
Favourite links and inspiration
Most recently I have found these TED talks particularly enlightening and encouraging. Firstly this one by Larry Lessig on how so many people actually all want to see the same positive changes but that we have been taught that change is impossible, but it is not – favourite quote “”. Secondly this talk from Barry Schwartz about wisdom and morality in the workplace – favourite quote: “you don’t need to be brilliant to be wise, but without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough“.
I am also a fan of Prince Ea and his latest spoken word releases as well as the general idea of trying to “make Smart Cool” – additional pledge if I can get enough young people to vote for me: I will wear my “I Make Smart Cool” t-shirt on my first day in parliament!
Malala’s address to the UN. Malala is a campaigner for children’s right to an education, in particular girls equal right to an education. She was shot for this by the Taliban and has made very admirable use of the celebrity status to inspire and unite so many.
Emma Watson’s address to the UN. Emma (better known as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter movies) is the UN goodwill ambassador for women, this address has been described as “game changing” for feminism.
Philippe Legrain’s book “European Spring – Why our economics and politics are in a mess and how to put them right”. Philippe is an activist and economist who has been independent economic policy adviser to the president of the European Commission. So he knows what he is talking about.
Ed Straw’s book “Stand and Deliver – A design for successful Government”, is so far interesting but heavy on condemnation of the current system. I am looking forward to getting to the “how to make it better” chapters!