We Interviewed Caroline Kenyon this week to learn why she made the move from business to politics, and why she's fighting to be the next MP for Lincoln!
So tell me a bit about you?
I'm Caroline Kenyon and I am delighted to be confirmed as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln, after having stood for the first time in 2017. As a fun fact, I'm also a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Bakers. (And I’m not very good at baking!)
What made you want the role?
I love Lincoln, I chose to live in the county over 20 years ago, with my husband and 5-day old baby son. I see Lincoln as a very divided place, divided between those who live comfortably and those who are really struggling to get by. I wanted to help bridge that gap and bring more prosperity to the city, a prosperity that is more evenly spread.
What’s your background?
I studied languages and then law at Cambridge and afterwards went to Bar School in London. Law and I didn't really suit each other however, so I became a journalist and worked my way up to be a magazine editor. When I moved to Lincolnshire, I set up my own public relations agency, specialising in British food, especially Lincolnshire produce. Since then the business has evolved into an international food awards company, run from a converted potting shed beside my house. I also founded the Lincoln Food Summit three years ago to tackle practical problems relating to food poverty in Lincoln - the food banks are doing an amazing job but in very challenging circumstances - and there is much more we can do to make sure that nobody goes hungry in Lincoln.
What has made you want to expand beyond your business into politics?
I was devastated by the Referendum result and decided to do something positive with my feelings and not just shout at the radio. I was sure that those who were the least well off in Lincoln would be most badly hit by a hard Brexit and I wanted to fight as hard as I could to stop that from happening. There is so much that is wrong in our society - so much inequality, an explosion of mental health issues, and of course the huge threat of climate change - I want to be a part of fixing things. Running a business is amazing, but I believe that by standing to be an MP I can really achieve something.
What are the three things you would like to do for the people of Lincoln?
It has been a painful, unhappy decade. Firstly, it’s getting Lincoln’s economy on the right footing! The years since the financial crash of 2008 have been really hard for many. Wage stagnation, austerity and deep cuts to public services. We all see our public services struggling to cope, for example, in primary schools where they can't afford pencils and paper for the pupils. By building our local economy, we can help those who need us.
Secondly, I want to address the issues that affect people's physical and mental health. It is exciting that the first medical students at Lincoln University start next week, but it will be many years before they are qualified. In the meantime, the acute shortage of doctors and nurses must be addressed and more needs to be done to promote Lincoln as a wonderful place for medics to come to work and live. If we can entice more medical practitioners into the city then we can develop our hospital, GP surgeries and other medical services into the amazing service I recall from my childhood. I will use my years of experience in the media and communications and my involvement in the economic regeneration sector to do so.
Lastly, I want to attract more businesses to the city, businesses that provide well-paid jobs where people feel truly valued. Businesses that really engage with the community, like Siemens and the Lindum Group. I am already working on plans for a major new tourist attraction in Lincoln which will substantially boost the number of jobs in tourism (but more on that another time!)
My mantra for Lincoln is ‘fairness, health and prosperity’. Good jobs and good health are key to a happy life. Lincoln has many of the ingredients to make that happen and I know that my energy, drive and commitment will help to make Lincoln a socially cohesive city which other cities look at and admire.
What are the three things you’d like to change nationally?
Nationally, there are three things we can do to build a better future for this country: stop Brexit, change our elections to make them fairer and invest in the education of our children and young adults.
If we stop Brexit and revoke Article 50, we’ll safeguard our economy and our relationships with Europe. Brexit has shown itself to have failed. We have much more important things to get on with. Let's rebuild our international reputation and get the investment flooding back into the country. Investment we need and the people of the UK deserve. We need to have our parliament debating how best to educate our children, invest in our NHS and defend our borders, not flounder for even longer over an issue that few cared about five years ago.
We also need to ditch our current method of voting in favour of proportional representation and we also need to reform the House of Lords. First-past-the-post means one party can get a huge majority with just 30% of the national votes, that can't be right! And it also can't be right that we still have hereditary peers in the House of Lords in 2019, it’s archaic and must end.
Finally, in education, I want to ensure that every child has the same opportunities in life, that ambitions and dreams do not just belong to the privileged. I will use my experience to create opportunities for both primary and secondary schoolchildren. As well as introducing investment into adult learning, ensuring that we can prosper and increase our productivity.
Why are you the best choice for Lincoln?
I think that when I stood first in 2017, a lot of people thought they would never see me again. But, I have continued to love Lincoln and I continue to want to represent it. My commitment to the city over the last two years has only grown and I've taken part in local campaigns such as ‘Stop Veolia’ and the Skellingthorpe campaign against the animal rendering plant. My commitment to the People's Vote campaign which has been on Lincoln High Street on Saturdays is a sign that I will protest injustices and protect the city of Lincoln from things like Brexit. Lincoln demands better from its parliamentarians, and I believe that that will come from the Liberal Democrats!