Q: Paul - Why did you take the Mayor of London to court to Save Wimbledon Police Station?
A: “In 2014 I was badly beaten by four men who forced their way into my home one evening, attacking me and terrorising my wife. Fortunately, my eldest daughter hid upstairs and rang 999. I only survived because two officers from Wimbledon police station came to my rescue. I will be forever grateful to those two brave constables and the fact that our police station was nearby.”
Q: What else did you learn from the experience?
A: “It taught me we really do have the best police in the world and gave me a public platform to fight Conservative cuts in the Met’s funding. It also restored my faith in humanity, with so many strangers taking the trouble to express their sympathy. I remember, in particular, a Polish woman who came to apologise because the attackers were from her country. I just held her hand and told her, no one should be judged by the worst in their society. I also learnt how Restorative Justice can provide closure, after my wife, daughter & I met one of the attackers in prison.”
Q: Were there any negative consequences?
A: “Apart from the physical and mental trauma, I was alarmed by how the far right & left exploited my story. The extreme right used the nationality of the attackers to criticise the EU and immigration generally; whilst the hard Left denounced me as a racist collaborator, because of how the right manipulated the incident! More recently neo-Nazis, in Germany, Italy & France, have used my image to promote ant-muslim hatred. However, even these experiences have had a positive effect, making me more determined to oppose populists on the left & right, by fighting to give the people of Wimbledon, our country and this planet, a better future.”
Q: What differentiates you from Labour & the Tories?
A: “As a Lib Dem I believe in evidence based policies rather than the simplistic slogans of the extremists who have taken over the Labour and Conservative parties. The problems we face, including climate change; huge inequalities of wealth; the rise of protectionism; and the failure to deal with the excesses of globalisation, will not be solved by the populists to our left and right. Their easy answers and convenient scapegoats are simply fueling a rise in nationalism, bigotry, envy and hatred with democracy and the rule of law increasingly under threat. Brexit is not a solution to, but a symptom of, these problems and we must articulate a better vision. One that offers a new radicalism, rooted in respect for the individual, the power of community and the shared humanity of international cooperation. Our country deserves better than the simplistic platitudes of both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. We need the fresh start that only the Lib Dems under Jo Swinson can provide.”
Q: But what will you do for Wimbledon as our MP?
A: “I will address the causes of Brexit, rather than pandering to those who are exploiting it. A Lib Dem government will revoke Article 50 and concentrate on mending our society. Unlike the Conservatives, under Boris Johnson, who are intent on a ruinous No Deal Brexit, and our current MP, who, even after losing the whip, still wants us to leave the EU. According to the independent website www.theyworkforyou.com our MP “almost always voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already living in the UK” (0 votes in favour, 14 against & 4 abstentions) and “generally voted against UK membership of the EU”. Labour’s candidate is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and Momentum member with a history of anti-EU tweets. She was invisible during the referendum campaign and has done little since to fight Brexit or protect EU nationals. Neither candidate has my public profile, nor the entreprenaurial vision I’ll bring to leveraging Wimbledon’s global brand to better exploit our cultural & business potential.”
Q: Can the Lib Dems win Wimbledon?
A: “The Lib Dems won EVERY ward in Wimbledon in the recent European Elections, with 43% of the vote. I need less of a swing to win the constituency than when I won my council seat last year and cross-party pro-EU group Best for Britain are recommending voting Lib Dem in Wimbledon as the best chance of stopping the Tories.