Lib Dem leader Tim Farron returns to his roots on Monday to hear why Preston voted “Out” – and he wants you to join in, as he tells us here in his own words.
I was born in Preston and brought up by my mum in a terrace house on a main road.
I was educated at Lostock Hall High School and Runshaw College, Leyland.
My main interest then was music and I was in a band dubbed a “fourth rate New Order” whose most glamorous moment was a photo shoot outside Morrisons.
But it was my upbringing in Preston that shaped who I am, both as a person and a politician.
I came of age seeing Cathy Come Home, as it made me determined to fight for opportunities for those who frankly don’t have any.
Now I have a confession to make, so here goes: I campaigned passionately to keep Britain in the EU.
I lost, and I respect the result of that referendum.
I haven’t changed my mind, by the way: I still think people’s jobs and public services will be more secure if we can guarantee free trade with Europe.
I tried to make the positive case for Europe – I never had much time for so-called “Project Fear” – but 52 per cent of the country said I was wrong.
It would be profoundly arrogant if as a party leader I just sailed on as if nothing much had happened.
I have already been out to speak to many of my constituents in the Lakes who voted “Out”, but I wanted to come to an area that had voted overwhelmingly to Leave. Instantly I thought of Preston (any excuse, said my office).
So I am here, to listen. Not to preach. Politicians have done enough of that. Now is the time for you to tell me what it is you voted against, and more importantly, where you think we should go from here.
My sense – and I stand to be corrected on Monday – is that people were angry with a lot more than Brussels.
The living standard of the London elite has surged ahead, while many citizens have suffered low wages, lack of housing, underfunded schools and over-crowded hospitals. If there is a lot of anger out there, there is a lot to be angry about.
I would like to work out how to increase opportunity so more can share in prosperity. And for those who can’t, make sure they are properly looked after.
I also wonder if some feel cheesed off with politicians who don’t seem to care about day to day problems. I try to get out in my constituency all the time to address practical concerns, but we could all do a lot more.
All this, though, is just provisional. You might tell me I am completely wrong, and actually you are concerned about something completely different. Whatever it is, please come along: I am back home because I want to listen.
l The event takes place at 5pm on Monday at St Wilfrid’s Church Hall, Chapel Street, Preston. It will be hosted by Anthony Gilmore, of Beat Radio.