I just wanted to put on record, how incredibly sad I am to see that Sarah Yong has stepped back from her role as LibDem PPC in Somerton and Frome. I've known Sarah for a few years now, and know that this decision won't have been made lightly. I also think that it's important that it's put on record the incredible work that Sarah did during her time as our candidate.
As a County Councillor, she took time to speak to me directly about issues affecting people in my division and actively sought solutions for problems that arose. When bus services were threatened in Rode, she made no fuss, and did no glad-handing, but delivered letters with me, informing local people what was happening. She took time to speak to people - often elderly - who were incredibly worried about how isolated they'd become after the bus service stopped. She knew implicitly, as somebody who grew up in Somerset what a blow it was to local people. That's why we selected Sarah, and that's why I'm sad today, because she's a great campaigner who wants the best for people.
Perhaps the most touching thing that she did, however, wasn't on a doorstep, and it wasn't whilst giving a speech. It was in a strategy meeting with other local Liberal Democrats. When asked if she got to Parliament what she'd like to change, she thought for a while, and said that for her, improving mental health services for vulnerable people would be key. She knew, as I do, that unless you can afford to pay for support, you're part of a postcode lottery within the NHS. In that moment, Sarah was speaking from experience, and she was saying that she'd look out for people who were left behind.
Obviously our local party will now have to select a new candidate, who we'll stand behind, and who we'll work to ensure becomes the MP for Somerton and Frome. So long as they carry on David Heath's hard work, and so long as they have half as much heart as Sarah Yong, they'll have my full support.