Former Liberal Democrat MP for the West Cornwall & Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives, Andrew George has confirmed his intention to stand for his Party in the forthcoming snap general election, after receiving an ‘overwhelmingly’ positive response to his “I’ll stand if you want me to…’ statement of last week.
Mr George, who runs a local charitable housing body and who works on other projects in London and around the country, asked for feedback on the proposal that he stand, whilst he seeks to honour his commitments to the projects he’s currently engaged in.
Andrew said, “I have been overwhelmed by supportive comments, communications and messages.” He’s received more than a thousand ‘likes’ to his request for responses on his social media and a thousand supportive comments and offers of support.
He added, “As a Cornishman, it’s not my style to be presumptuous and, in any case I could not declare until I’d consulted others. It would not have been fair to the many colleagues with whom I have established project work which cannot simply be dropped at short notice.”
Andrew believes there is everything to play for in the election here and it is nationally one of the top targets for the Lib Dems. “There’s a fair chance of winning the seat back from the Conservatives. Probably too close to call at the moment.”
Mr George has also been campaigning for a anti-Tory progressive alliance and has sat on various platforms with Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP. Andrew played a major part in negotiating the Green Party decision to step down at the recent Richmond by-election, which the Lib Dems won. Talks are already said to be under way to make a similar pact in his own constituency.
With financial constraints meaning that Mebyon Kernow are only likely to field one candidate at the general election (Dick Cole in St Austell/Newquay most probably) the former MP can rely on his past support for Cornish issues to sweep up most of those votes. MK will be concentrating on the council elections set for May 4th.
A scenario like this, with only a Labour candidate as another alternative to Derek Thomas would most likely lead to the sitting Conservative MP losing his seat after only two years.
Andrew, who was MP for St Ives from 1997 – 2015 has a national reputation for being ‘the “most rebellious” Lib Dem had already said that he personally wouldn’t enter into any coalition with the Tories before Tim Farron’s announcement over the weekend that the Lib Dems have ruled out a coalition with anybody, Labour or Conservative.
Mr George believes the local campaign will focus on the Conservative’s cuts to Cornwall’s NHS, schools and other services and the risk of Cornwall becoming one of the biggest losers from the Brexit negotiations.
“The Conservative supports his Government which is forcing Cornwall to cut at least £270 million from our NHS by 2020. I oppose this and am pressing my Party to approve a policy to, if necessary, increase income tax by up to 2p in the £ to protect the NHS”
Andrew added his campaign will kick off shortly after the local elections are completed in a couple of weeks’ time. The other Lib Dem candidates for Cornwall will be announced by the end of the week.