The former MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark for 32 years, Sir Simon Hughes, has called for the Liberal Democrats to be “bold like the SNP” if they are to win a snap general election.
Speaking to the News after being formally appointed the Lib Dem’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, in the event of the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, calling an early vote, Sir Simon said the Lib Dems had “overcompensated for the Tories”.
Speaking about the last general election, he said: “Labour won it in the last ten days saying “if you vote Lib Dem you would get another coalition”, but what happened is that they voted Labour and just got the Tories.”
“If we had been making bold points in the last election, showing people what you will get if you vote liberal we would have done better. The SNP did it brilliantly. If you want liberalism, if you don’t want ID cards or a big brother state, then vote liberal,” he added.
Asked whether he regretted the decision to join the Conservatives in power, he said: “We made the right decision but regret some of the decisions made. More and more people have stopped me saying they now realised how valuable we were in [government], though.”
Building on the hope that May will dissolve Parliament at the beginning of 2017, Sir Simon outlined the need for an MP to be tough with Southwark Council, as well as London Mayor Sadiq Khan, to deliver on local issues.
He said: “There’s a huge issue surrounding transport. The Mayor, Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan, have not been gripping the nettle. We need to get them to understand the urgency of the issue.
“There’s no need for the Garden Bridge but there is a real need for a bridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.
“Traffic congestion is another point. All the roads that feed to Tower Bridge are clogged. All the roads should have warning signs about when the bridge will be raised, to give people more indication. It’s about doing these practical things.
“The biggest issue that remains is affordable housing. Labour have been really, really dreadful. There are a number of families that don’t have adequate housing and that is unacceptable. We need homes for the community here. Sadiq needs to show that he can be tougher on that.”