Within the European Union, Britain is better able to resolve some of the intractable challenges of our time - to build a secure, prosperous and sustainable future in a world awakening to the harsh reality of climate change.
Britain has a long-standing reputation as a creative hub. My own background, and doctoral research, is in creativity and cognition – the analysis of how we form new ideas. I have lectured in ‘Creativity, Innovation and Invention’ at Imperial College, London working with young scientists to build their skills and confidence in risk-taking, problem-solving and innovation. These are the skills we need to help Britain redefine itself in the wake of Brexit turmoil in order to build a new dynamic relationship with our nearest neighbours.
It is hard to say whether I was brave or foolhardy, but my first encounter with frontline politics was as the Green Party candidate in the 2015 General Election opposing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP. The experience was both delightful and shocking. Delightful - spending time with my fellow progressives, and shocking – to see facts distorted and monetary value placed above social wellbeing.
Energised by this experience I co-founded, and now chair, South West Surrey Compass - a group of progressives comprising Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, National Health Action party and Independents. We are part of the movement to change our electoral system from ‘first-past-the-post’ to proportional representation. An interim stage in this process is to build progressive alliances on the ground in which local progressive parties agree not to compete against each other, to avoid splitting the vote. We are demonstrating that this can be a positive and productive process. In 2018 we published our book, A New Way of Doing Politics: working together to challenge a ‘safe’ Tory seat, and this year we are publishing a political newspaper.
In 2017 we set up a new local group - the Guildford and Waverley Green Party. We have over two hundred members and a vibrant and growing team of activists. This year we are fielding 15 candidates in the local elections and are confident that radical change can happen even in traditional blue territory. My experience of standing in Parliamentary, County, Borough and Town elections is that we can change the debates, we can shift opinions, and we are good mediators. Currently, I am a Parish Councillor - and take pride and joy in working at grass-roots level.
Asked recently by a student about freedom of speech – my thought was ‘whose freedom?’. We need our MEPs to advocate for the many moderates and under-represented communities currently drowned out in the rage of Brexit. As your Green MEP, I am committing to listening to all communities, learning from all sources, and seeking audacious solutions to the political, economic, social and environmental stresses that challenge our future well-being.
Dr Susan Ryland