You want to vote

If your potential future leader was Daenerys Targaryen, you would register to vote, right?  I mean the leader of your city, your constituency, YOUR Member of Parliament (MP).  Someone you can actually vote directly for and go to with your problems and ideas.

Stuff trying to choose between Cameron and Miliband.  Boring!  And your vote has almost no chance of changing that as it depends on how people in the other 649 seats vote.

But if you could have an MP who would listen to you, vigorously defend your rights and challenge the government to do better – for YOU…  wouldn’t that be worth registering to vote and then casting your ballot for?

I plan to be that kind of MP.

I have no interest in politics for politic’s sake.  I’d much rather risk crashing and burning my political career trying to achieve a brave new world (no tuition fees, equal opportunities for all, fair taxation and benefits, an NHS with the resources it needs), than tip-toe around currying favour in the hope of a ministerial position, double my salary and getting a cushy pension.


On the 7th May 2015, you get your one and only say on central government of the UK in 5 years.  You can vote for your local councillors most years, but this year, it is a General Election.

It is time to choose the 650 MPs “representatives of the people” we want to sit in the House of Commons and decide policy for our country – how much tax to put on beer, hot food, cars, petrol, your income.  These people choose what it is important to spend your tax money on and what will be cut back.  They are responsible for ensuring you are safe from terrorists, climate change and free to live your life.

Most of the candidates you will see will be Party Candidates. Political parties such as Conservative, Labour, UKIP have a huge memberships.  They choose who will stand as their candidate for each seat, do much of their publicity and write the manifesto – what the party promises to do if elected (these promises do not have to be remotely possible, and they rarely keep them).

While most candidates are supported by a party, they are supposed to act for their constituents first.  I am standing as an Independent so that I never have to choose between what is best for the Party and what is best for you.

It is important that you can trust your local MP to put your best interests first.  All of our best interests first. Regardless of their party.

Once elected all MP’s sit in the House of Commons and vote on proposed changes to how our country is run, whether they are “in government” or not.

The party which wins the most seats forms the Government and appoints ministers, such as the Minster for Education and the Chancellor (who sets the budget).

If no party manages to get an overall majority, the biggest parties will try to form a team with smaller parties and the Independent MPs, until they have a team big enough to make a majority (as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did in 2010).

The Prime Minister is (strictly speaking) appointed by the Queen as the person who can command that majority team and be the leader of the government.


All you have to do, is to register to vote (here), and then choose the candidate who you believe will be the best.  

Your elected representative will be voting on your behalf on hundreds of issues over the next 5 years.  They need to be a good and strong person in their own right.

If you do not vote, nobody will never know who you thought would be the best and we will all be worse off for that.

What you think; matters. Please register to vote.

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Campaign Update – Communication, Photography and Printing

Last week someone asked me on twitter, “when are you planning to start your campaign?”.

I started writing to newspapers, launched this website and set up my campaign e-mail address, Facebook and twitter accounts in August 2014, so this surprised me a bit.  A number of people have asked me if and when I will be knocking on doors, as this, apparently is a standard way to show you have started your serious campaign in the run up to the election.

Well actually, I wasn’t going to knock on doors.  I won’t rule it out, but from a non-career politician’s point of view, I’m not sure I see the value in it.  It seems a lot like disturbing people’s privacy and interrupting their precious free time and family time, just to try to demonstrate that I’m “taking it seriously”.  And it might even be dangerous, I certainly don’t think it would be a good idea to go alone…  I did some door knocking for Marie Curie, just up and down my own street, during the years I was living in my flat off Dee road in Tilehurst, and that is not an experience I care to repeat.  I think I managed to collect about £2 and one “neighbour” even threatened to set their dog on me if I didn’t get away from their door fast enough.

If anyone really wants me to come and knock on their door please comment below or e-mail me at SuzieFerguson4MP@gmail.com.  Otherwise I plan to rely on keeping this site, and supporting social media accounts, as well up to date as I can and organise and attend meetings, which will be advertised on-line, with flyers and, hopefully, in local papers.  I have hustings with the Federation of Small Businesses (30th) and with Churches in Reading (19th) in the diary for April, already.

I like that people can find out what they want to know at a time of their convenience using so many different means in 2015.  Invading people’s privacy just doesn’t seem necessary.

Suzie None smile 1
Suzie by Bink Photography

My campaign is progressing…  I have found a fantastic photographer; Frankie Cox, here in Dubai, recommended by a colleague.  Frankie has very generously donated his time, skill and resources in the form of a photoshoot and post processing towards my campaign.  Frankie’s company, Bink Photography, is available for freelance work in Dubai, working with families and individuals to create special memories.  Please check out his ‘hire-me’ page at www.bink.photography.  He also has some stunning work available for purchase up there, like the header picture I have used, so I was very lucky to find him!

A couple of Reading local businesses will be helping me with flyers as soon as I have put the right words together with Frankie’s great pictures, so hopefully I will soon have some information available around Reading which is not exclusively via the internet!

On the note of printing paperwork… I have enough funds, and offers of campaign support discounts, that I should be able to manage something like 2000 flyers.  However, with more than 70,000 registered constituents in Reading West, that probably will not go very far.  So I have set up a Paypal account associated with “SuzieFerguson4MP@gmail.com” so that, should anyone wish to contribute towards my campaign, then here is a way for them to do so.  This account is not linked to any personal banking etc, I will pay for printing directly from the Paypal account and publish everything I have collected and spent.  We need transparency like this for MP’s to have any hope of regaining people’s trust!

Suzie Side Tattoo 1
Suzie by Bink Photography

The only funds I really need are for printing costs, which run at approximately £70 to £100 for a batch of 2000 flyers.  The rules also state that donations of £50 or more must be recorded and declared with donor information, so I will only be accepting donations below £50.   Now I just have to work out how to put a “donate” button on my site…

I would also like to thank the same colleague who put me in touch with Frankie Cox; Andrea Kelly. Andrea simultaneously manages to be a Lifestyle Coach, Online Marketer and all round social media guru, which she fits in around the day job as an engineer.  It is Andrea who has introduced me to the additional platforms of Instagram and tumblr and the supporting apps for managing multiple social media accounts, like Crowdfire, PicLab, TagsForLike, Iconosquare, MailChimp and more. Please check her out if you need some help with your accounts for promoting your business; www.Andrea-Kelly.com (Instagram, andreak3lly; twitter, AndreaK3lly; Facebook, AndreaKellyMLM).

P.S. I managed it (with more help from the lovely Andrea) here is my Paypal donate button…

 

Positive Politics

I have not spend all that much time watching election politics news, partly because I’m just way too busy (day job plus family), but partly because it is so boring and depressing;

“The media and Party X attacks party Y for saying they would increase spending on the NHS by £5bejillion which would cause a hole in the budget big enough to trigger the end of the universe”

“The Media and Party Y attacks Party X for pledging to reduce university tuition fees because actually only rich young men would benefit because women are already lower paid… blah blah blah…

I don’t believe this is the best we can come up with.  If Germany can have a great national health system and low university fees there must be a way to do it.  I want to see what we can do.

Nothing is impossible (unless actual real science says so), we can land a spaceship on a comet but we can’t find a way to run our country effectively enough to achieve what almost any society would aim to achieve?

I’m not interested in Red or Blue anymore, because they are all neo-liberal (a term I only recently learned the meaning of since it sounds like a high-brow politics and philosophy term).  What it means is a system of government where the state does less and less, i.e. deregulation and privatisation while private companies take more and more responsibility for things like healthcare, education, infrastructure and security.

Such a system has delivered tuition fees, academy schools, NHS privatisation, rubbish service on the railways and insufficient, piecemeal investment in infrastructure.  And as a final kick in the teeth this is all propped up by government subsidies costing even more than before they were privatised in the first place.

Anyway.  That is the politics of the past now.  The politics of robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The politics of “it can’t be done” and “you’ll never change it”.

It is time for a new type of politics.  Politics with a positive mental attitude.  The politics of

“if country X can do it, then so can we… so how do we make it work for the UK?”

Politics involving team work and problem solving, using and trusting the skills of our people and our resources to remove decades or century-old barriers, to work out a system of economics, for example, which will minimise economic bubbles and busts, provide a functioning safety net for people who fall on hard times are hurt, sick or need community help in any way, while allowing everyone to achieve their potential.

Charities and faith groups have done an outstanding job of pulling people out of the river and helping them survive another day.  But now it is time to help our society by taking an honest look at whoever is pushing those people into the river in the first place and stopping them.  It is not enough to drop some coins in the collection, we have to have courage to use our own minds to judge the situation around us and we have to trust that there is indeed a better way than austerity and status quo politics.

It is not crazy talk or pie-in-the-sky ideas from a bunch of hippies versus sensible red or blue conservatism.  What we need is the willingness to look outside the old and broken box and to vote outside that broken box on the 7th May.  Voting for tweedledum this time and tweedledee in 2020 will probably never fix our country, how many more people will fall below the poverty line (or die needlessly) by 2020 if we don’t vote for change?  Nobody sensible is suggesting we kick over the ant’s nest and start from scratch.  We need to be wise and realistic but at the same time determined for change and optimistic.  We must have the courage to say,

“wait a minute, quantitative easing didn’t work last time, can’t we stimulate the economy another way before spending another £375billion on that?”.

Look at who your candidates are, look at their skills, their work and educational background, would this person be any good at problem solving and morally courageous?  Would they be good at working in a team to look critically at the options, understanding the salient points and making a pragmatic decision based upon the facts presented?

That is the novel and ground-breaking politics we need.

No more deciding policies based upon what a true-blue or real-red do.  What do the facts of the situation say?  Is it sensible to fund universities with 35 year loans?  Does it make sense to reprivatise a public company run railway which was making money for the tax-payer?

It is not that hard.  Humans successfully landed a man on the moon 56 years ago people.  We can do this.

Bringing the Power of Social Media to Politics

Reading West has six candidates, so far, for the coming General Election in May 2015, and since this constituency tends to change hands with the change of power, it should be an interesting one to watch.  The climate in the run up to this election is the most interesting in my lifetime, and I’m sure that is not just because I am standing myself.  2010 was the first election which wasn’t just about Red and Blue.  And this election is much wider open already, as the latest Lord Ashcroft poll shows:

The two main parties are loosing their following left, Ashcroft poleright and centre and people power movements and on-line petitions have emerged to have a significant sway over public opinion and policy.

And yet the internet is still are largely untapped resource for many candidates.  In Reading West I have only managed to find contact details for 5 out of 6 candidates, a Wikipedia page for 2 and only three of us have twitter accounts.

I just had a very interesting twitter conversation with a Reading West constituent who justifiably called me out on my presumed judgement that some of the candidates “seemed to be doing nothing”, when my only resource was the internet.  He was completely right, I had no idea what they are doing IN Reading West, based on the fact that I cannot see it on-line.  Now if I those candidates that would worry me.  I would love to be ale to devote time to both physical presence in Reading talking to people face to face, working in the community AND using the internet to talk to people, write and conduct research.  But, in my opinion, the internet will reach a lot more people.

I am basing this on the fact that Reading West has a larger than average proportion of students/young professionals and middle-aged, tech-savy-professionals as well.  Both of these groups can be reached via the internet at a time convenient to them (and to me).  The former group, traditionally don’t vote, but make up a significant proportion of the new, on-line people power movements, so anyone who ignores them now, is taking a big risk.  I’m banking on them voting in 2015.

So although I already had this website, a public Facebook account, dedicated gmail and twitter set up for my campaign, I have now added to my social media reach with a tumblr, Instagram and you tube, and more to come.  I can be found under the name “SuzieFerguson4MP” or “SuzieFerguson4ReadingWest” and I’ll keep working at getting in touch with as many different groups of constituents as I can so that I can find out what it is that THEY want from an MP and the next parliament and to make sure, at least, that their voice is heard.