15s. (Andrew Gray) Today I’m delighted to have with me Judith Rogerson. Judith is the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough. She is also a barrister.
1min4s: (Andrew Gray) My first question to you is this: between 1997 and 2010, this was a safe(ish) Liberal Democrat seat. Since 2010 to present day its been a very safe Conservative seat. What do you think the chances are of becoming our next MP?
1min33s: I think the chances in Harrogate and Knaresborough are very good. For 12 years we had a Lib Dem MP here, Phil Willis, a very popular MP who achieved an awful lot for the area. We have that history of being a Lib Dem constituency.
2mins 9s: Things have changed an awful lot since 2017. The traditional allegiances between the parties have started to break down.
2mins 42s: In Knaresborough last year we had a county council by-election; the Lib Dems won that with 55% of the vote, so that was great. The next election we’ve had since then was the European Elections and in Harrogate District the Lib Dems came second. We know that within Harrogate and Knaresborough we did very strongly but across the district we very clearly beat the Conservatives and we very clearly beat Labour.
3mins 10s: We are really contenders here. From what people are telling us, we know that we can win. We’re not taking anything for granted. We are campaigning to win this.
3mins 25s: (Andrew Gray) I think it’s highly likely that you will be the next MP here and I wish you luck with that.
4mins10s: (Andrew Gray) Tell us about you, your early years, your university time, your career and so on up to present day.
4mins 15s: Harrogate and Knaresborough is where most of my family live. There are 4 generations of my family living in Knaresborough now. I wasn’t born here but over the years our family has all drifted up here so it’s probably about 15 years now that I’ve been spending a lot of my time here.
4mins38s: It was my brother that moved here first in the early 2000s and then gradually we’ve all come to see what a wonderful place it is. This is our home now and it’s a special place.
4mins 52s: I studied law at university in Oxford and after that I took a year out and went to work in France. My Godmother was an English teacher in France and said I should be the English assistant at her school, so I did that and had a great year.
5mins 33s: I came back to the UK in 2002 and went to Bar school. I qualified as a barrister and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 16 years. My area of speciality is healthcare, representing doctors, patients, the NHS. For the last 4 years I have been much very involved in the Liberal Democrats and last year I was chosen to be the candidate for Harrogate and Knaresborough.
6mins 14s: (Andrew Gray) You have only, more recently, joined a political party. Why has it taken you so long to join a party?
6mins 24s: I have always been interested in politics, but like most people, it was something that would come up every 4 years and that’s when you’d really pay attention to what was happening. 2016 was the tipping point; I’d always thought about getting involved but there were other things going on but in 2016 we had the referendum and at that point I thought I should get stuck in and try and make a difference to improve this situation. I thought I would regret it if I didn’t try, so I joined the Lib Dems. We then had the 2017 election and I was very much involved in that. It was after that that I decided I was going to stand myself.
7mins 50s: Looking at the Liberal Democrats as a whole, our party has changed very dramatically over the last 5-6 years. We’ve had a massive increase in membership. New members have got involved because they want to make a difference.
9mins27s: (Andrew Gray) You’re all over the Harrogate Advertiser this week, you have lots of followers on Twitter too. What are the people in Harrogate and Knaresborough saying to you when you knock on their door?
9mins 59s: Canvassing is actually really quite an enjoyable experience at the moment if you’re a Lib Dem. Even people that don’t agree with us are pleased that we’re out there talking to them.
10mins 54s: Most people are telling us how fed up they are with Brexit.
11mins 34s: (Andrew Gray) What everyone seems to be saying is that the Lib Dems are anti-democratic because they want to cancel Brexit. It has provoked a lot of anger. How can you defend that position?
12mins: It’s absolutely not anti-democratic to ask for more democracy, which is exactly what we’re doing. We want to stop Brexit, but it has to be done democratically.
12mins34s: I’m not saying that no-one understood what we were voting for in 2016, I’m saying no-one knew what Brexit looked like then. We didn’t have a deal. What we have now is very different to what they were promising in 2016.
13mins3s: (Andrew Gray) So how can the Lib Dems say they are going to revoke Article 50 then?
13mins7s: The best way to sort this out is have a referendum with the choice between the deal and keeping what we’ve got; a choice to remain.
15mins27s: (Andrew Gray) Let’s talk about the environment. What is the Liberal Democrat’s policy in relation to the environment, particularly carbon neutrality?
15mins38s: The Lib Dem policy is that we would aim to become net zero emissions by 2045. We, as a party, recognise this as a realistic target. How do we do it? Well, this is an issue we can’t deal with in the UK alone, we have to work with our partners around the world to find ways to protect our planet.
16mins42s: Our policies include working towards ending the use of fossil fuels, ban fracking and encourage people to build environmentally friendly homes.
18mins15s: (Andrew Gray) Lets just talk about a very specific Harrogate related thing. We had the UCI world cycling not too long ago. Do you have a personal view if it was beneficial for Harrogate?
18mins54s: I went down on several days and watched it and it was a great atmosphere but you’re right, people have raised concerns about the impact it had on local businesses. On the other end of the scale, some people clearly benefitted from it. We’ve got to look at what worked and what didn’t. We need to bring investment; we need to bring attention to Harrogate.
20mins10s: Lets take a step back, lets look at the evidence and then work together and decide if this is something we want to be doing again in the future.
20mins58s: (Andrew Gray) Do you have any views as to why there’s so many closed shops in Harrogate town centre? What’s the Lib Dem policy on improving Harrogate town centre?
21mins5s: There are lots of factors feeding into it, part of it is the changing nature of our economy and the way people shop. I want Harrogate to stay a thriving place that people want to come and visit but we’ve also got to recognise that there are challenges there, not just in Harrogate – Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, all our town centres.
21mins38s: The future of the high street in town centres is something that the Lib Dems have looked at to see what we can do to make sure our town centres remain viable and thriving. Also business rates, which we think is an antiquated system. It doesn’t reflect modern economy. Last year the Lib Dems produced a detailed paper on this and we now have a policy that we would scrap business rates as they are and replace it with a land value levy which would be paid by the owner of the land rather than the tenant.
22mins54s: Its also looking at fair taxation across the board. That’s something that’s very important to the Liberal Democrats for individuals.
25mins45s: (Andrew Gray) People always say that Harrogate and Knaresborough is the best place to live in the UK. What are your favourite reasons for living round here?
25mins55s: You’ve got the shops, the cinemas and Harrogate Theatre and fantastic events as well, such as the Harrogate International Festival.
26mins58s: (Andrew Gray) Now, I think trains are a particular passion of yours…
27mins18s: My day job is a Barrister and that involves a lot of travelling on trains. It takes me as long to get to Manchester or to Sheffield as it does to get to London, which is crazy. For the Northern economy, the trouble you have travelling between towns and cities cannot be a good thing. If its forcing people off the trains and into their cars then that’s adding to congestion, adding to pollution. We need a reliable, affordable rail service.
32mins40s: Will you become that constituency MP that will be for everybody, regardless of Brexit or remain?
32mins55s: I didn’t set out my career intending to become an MP. It’s something I’ve grown into having looked at how can I best help the country, our community. Phil Willis was well-known and well liked in the community and that’s really where I want to be; someone who really cares about this area and cares about people. Its about standing up for people, representing people and that’s what I’ve done for the past 16 years.
34mins17s: (Andrew Gray) Thank you Judith.
34mins24s: It’s been great to chat to you.