Samantha Lee has been thinking for some time about the maiden speech she’d give in parliament if elected, since long before she decided to stand in the Hartlepool by-election.
Only half joking, she says she’d expect to be shot after delivering it, so devastating it would be to the powers-that-be.
Her long-term goal is to start a new political movement made up of people who are from the communities they seek to represent, who will use local knowledge and passion for their area to drive real change.
‘When, not if’
“I’m going to be the one to kick off the revolution,” she tells NationalWorld, with a determined grin.
Lee speaks passionately and at length about her home-town and how successive governments have failed to engage with the problems here.
Her confidence is evident; she talks about ‘when’ she is elected, rather than ‘if’, and lays out detailed plans on a variety of issues, from further education to the need for a specialisation in subsea cabling as part of the region’s recently acquired freeport status.
She said: “I know people who are plugged in to every part of this community, and I’m already thinking about the working-groups I’ll be able to pull together, the projects I’ll start work on and how I’m going to help my town.”
With a recent poll putting her in joint-third place on an impressive six per cent of the vote, Lee has pulled ahead of the other local and independent candidates, though she believes her support is still massively underestimated.
“I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who’ve said to me ‘do you know what, I’ve never voted before, but I’m going to vote for you’ but then there are business-leaders and others who’ve also told me I have their backing”.
‘I have to do it, for my son’
Before finalising the decision to stand for parliament, Lee secured a crucial endorsement; that of her 7-year old son, who she says is the reason she wants to enter parliament.
“I have to do it, for my son and other children here in Hartlepool. They need someone who knows and understands this place to fight for them in Westminster,” she said.
“I sat him down and told him about it and he understands it, and even though I’ll miss him when I’m working away, he supports me.”
But how realistic are Lee’s expectations? A local independent candidate without a political background or the backing of an established party has never won a parliamentary seat in England, and this one is particularly hard-fought, with 16 candidates in the running.
The two-party ‘stitch-up’
If she doesn’t succeed, it won’t be because her message or policies don’t resonate with people, says Lee, but because of the ‘rigged’ two-party system.
“I’ve had so much support, but people are scared to vote for an independent, because they’ve had it drilled into them that voting for anyone other than the main parties is pointless, and will just leave the door open for the candidate they don’t want to win.
“Both parties rely on that, they both tell people on the doorsteps that a vote for anyone but them is a vote for the other candidate. It’s a stitch-up.”
Among the many issues she’d been keen to tackle if elected this week, Lee lists jobs and further education as the single most important.
“Attracting the right companies to set up here will be easy with the incentives we can offer, and once you begin to solve the good jobs problem, lots of related issues start to take care of themselves”.
‘Politics needs to change’
Speaking to voters in Hartlepool, there’s a real appetite for someone from the town, who is competent, not confined by political allegiances or ideology, and who will fight tooth and nail to bring the kind of change that residents want to see.
On those criteria alone, anyone would struggle to find a more suitable candidate than Lee.
But has she done enough to get her message out there, and is that message strong enough to bypass that deeply-ingrained feeling that, like it or not, British politics boils down to a battle between the two big parties? Lee certainly hopes and believes so.
Asked how she would try to convince hesitant voters that they don’t have to buy into the two-party system, she offers what might be a sneak-peak of that aforementioned maiden speech.
“Politics needs to change, it doesn’t serve the people, and I’ll be the start of that change. I understand Hartlepool, it’s a very unique town with unique people, and I understand what needs doing. I don’t really care how politicians tend to work, I’ll approach this from a human perspective as someone who gets this place.
“There’s no door I won’t kick in in Parliament to get what we need. I am going down there for what is ours and I’m not f*cking leaving until they give us it.”
“I will make myself a total pain in all their arses, they can either ignore me and I’ll grow, or they can facilitate my town. Either way, I won’t be leaving without Hartlepool getting what it deserves.”
For more coverage from Hartlepool, follow Ethan Shone on Twitter.
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