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Former Deputy Prime Minister speaks out to back Lib Dem candidate in Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election

By Ben Skelton

Liberal Democrat former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP.'Picture: Allan Hutchings (150713-167) EMN-160112-104708001
Liberal Democrat former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP.'Picture: Allan Hutchings (150713-167) EMN-160112-104708001

The former Deputy Prime Minister has spoken out in favour his party’s candidate as the by-election battle for the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat hots up with all parties bringing out their political ‘big guns’.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has issued an open letter to rally members in favour of his party’s candidate, Ross Pepper, ahead of December 8’s by-election, was has been called since the resignation by Tory MP Stephen Phillips over differences with the Government.

Ross Pepper delivers an open letter to voters from the Liberal Democrats. EMN-160112-104657001
Ross Pepper delivers an open letter to voters from the Liberal Democrats. EMN-160112-104657001

Mr Clegg said Sleaford holds very special memories for him.

He said: “It was in Sleaford that I launched the 1999 East Midlands European Election campaign. That campaign was my first ever election - and we won. I became the first Liberal parliamentarian elected anywhere in the East Midlands since 1931.

“Another thing happened that day. On our way to the launch, whilst standing at Rauceby Railway Station a few miles outside Sleaford, I asked Miriam to marry me. She said yes.”

Mr Clegg was Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands from 1999-2004 before becoming an MP in Sheffield.

“So I’m enthusiastically backing our campaign in the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election. Our candidate, Ross Pepper, is young, positive and energetic - and he has lead the local team for a number of years - growing the party dramatically along the way.”

Mr Clegg adds: “Ross and his team are determined to use this rare opportunity to grow the party further and lay the foundations for a rekindling of the long-established Lincolnshire liberalism.”

He urged all Liberal Democrat supporters to show help fund the campaign or volunteer to help cover the ground.

Ross Pepper has also issued an open letter to voters.

The 30-year-old who works in optometry in Lincoln said: “This by-election has given me the opportunity to speak to many local people about their issues and concerns. The sheer range of topics that people want to talk about is impressive and I will do my best to pick each of them up and deal with them properly.

“But more than anything else, I have heard that people want a new type of local MP. To that end, I have drawn up five personal pledges of my own that will guide how I act as your MP and the sort of service you will be able to expect if I am elected.

“It is far from an exhaustive list, but hopefully gives you some insight into how I will work, and the ways in which I will be available all year round, not just at election time.”

His list is:

1. Listening to local people and standing up for local services will be my first duty.

2. I will host local specialist policy conferences for local groups such as GPs, teachers, clergy and farmers to hear local issues first hand.

3. I will take my MP advice surgeries to all villages over the course of the year.

4. I will report back on my work and voting record in Westminster.

5. I will work with everyone in the local area and not just those who vote for me in this election.

He concluded: “The final point I will make, is that I know just how diverse this constituency is - urban and rural, young and old, new and long standing, able bodied and with disability, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and more. There are local people from other countries, communities and traditions - and I say to everyone who lives here within Sleaford and North Hykeham - you are welcome here, and if you trust me to be your MP I will not let you down.”

Other candidates standing in the by-election on December 8 are: Dr Caroline Johnson (Conservative), Jim Clarke (Labour), Sarah Stock (Independent), Marianne Overton (Lincolnshire Independents), Paul Coyne (Independent), Paul E Hill (Monster Raving Loony Party), David Bishop (Bus Pass Elvis Party) and Mark Suffield (Independent).


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