First speech chance to thank those who voted

MP Cat Smith
MP Cat Smith

This week in Westminster I had the chance to make my maiden speech in a foreign policy debate.

It was a fantastic opportunity to put on record my thanks to everyone who elected me and speak about how wonderful the constituency is.

I spoke of our radical, progressive traditions.

Many religious and political dissenters were held there or tried in Lancaster castle, including Chartist leader Fergus O’Connor and Quaker founder Margaret Fell. Lancaster is famous for its nonconformist residents, so as a Methodist I feel I am in good company.

My first act in this Chamber — to take an affirmation rather than an oath — was also inspired by this nonconformist tradition.

As anyone with knowledge of the Bible will know, Matthew 5:34 was a central part of the Quakers’ 17th-century campaign to allow for an affirmation so that Members could take their seats.

Lancaster has also been graced with radical residents such as Selina Martin, who was a leading suffragette who lived in the Freehold part of Lancaster.

Lancaster University, of which our city is very proud and of which I am a graduate, chose Charles Carter to be its first vice-chancellor.

Carter, who was a Quaker and a pacifist, served time in prison for refusing to be conscripted into the army.

I said that I seek to serve as your MP in the spirit of these radical traditions and of the many famous names who have led pioneering political campaigns while being unafraid to speak out.

I called for a consistent and ethically driven foreign policy.

All too often, the UK has turned a blind eye to repression by regimes it considers its allies, but has all too quickly rushed to military action against those it opposes, resulting in catastrophic consequences.

I look forward to campaigning to ensure that the UK plays a positive role in the world, acting as a leading advocate for peace, human rights and poverty eradication across the