As Leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors in Southwark, it is one of my priorities to always listen to residents and local groups and to make sure that they are fully and fairly represented on the council. I have been a Liberal Democrat councillor for Riverside ward since 2007 and the Leader of our group since May 2010.
My background is multi-cultural and strongly rooted in Southwark. My father was Iraqi and my mother is British. I lived in Kuwait until 1990 and the first Gulf War. I was 9 years old and visiting my grandmother in Camberwell with my mother and sister when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. We lost our home, all our possessions and were unable to return. My father was in Kuwait at the time of the invasion and had to escape in order to join us in London. These events sparked my interest in politics and the huge importance of democracy and freedom of speech. We made our home in Camberwell and I attended Dog Kennel Hill Primary School and secondary school in Lewisham.
I joined the Liberal Democrats because I believe in freedom from poverty, conformity and ignorance; in strong civil liberties; and in making decisions as closely as possible to the people which they affect. I saw hard working local Liberal Democrat councillors and Simon Hughes MP making a real difference to the people of our borough and this inspired me to become involved and do my bit. Liberal Democrats are different because they really trust people to make their own decisions about the issues which affect them. In fact, that is how the best political decisions are made.
Although the public sector has to make savings, it is important that elected representatives protect those who are vulnerable. There are many local choices to be made by the council over the next few years. It is the job of opposition councillors to make sure that these are the right choices for our communities.
Southwark has been a wonderful home for me. I have always believed that it is a borough with great potential which has not always been realised. Our diversity is our great strength and to be an elected councillor and Leader of the Opposition in Southwark is a huge and humbling privilege. I am completely committed to working with my Liberal Democrat colleagues to support and represent all Southwark residents. I hope that I am proof that a girl from Camberwell can pursue any career which they want and that other people who are interested will get involved in local politics.
I am always happy to help and support individuals and organisations so please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Councillor Anood Al-Samerai
Leader, Liberal Democrat Group