Fresh voice backed for Lib Dem future

The Liberal Democrats deserve a candidate with a “fresh-sounding voice”, activist candidate Chandila Fernando has said.

The claim came in the last of a trio of interviews with the party’s contenders to replace outgoing president Simon Hughes.

Mr Fernando, a 30-year-old business developer who is the director of Liberal Vision and describes himself as “the troubleshooter” and “the activist, on your side, to turn it around”, told he does not like to focus his campaign on himself.

“Sod the candidate, it’s the agenda,” he said.

“It’s not about me – I’m a vehicle for something which lots of people across the country realise I must do.”

Advancing the activists’ agenda is central to Mr Fernando’s campaign. He questions the necessity of maintaining such a large number of staff in Cowley Street, suggesting more localised working would be better use of the party’s money.

“Our whole objective has been to raise as much awareness as possible to these issues. The bigger victory for us really is that the agenda attracts votes and that means it has to be discussed,” he added.

Mr Fernando attacked rival Lembit Opik’s “primary colours” campaign, downplaying the importance of media presence and a public profile by saying it would not make a big difference even if Hollywood stars Sylvester Stallone or Tom Cruise were to become president.

“Even if the party president has developed an enormous profile it’s not a big advantage for the party,” he said.

“More of what you say should be about what the Lib Dems think and not about any one individual.”

Despite this he admitted it is “no secret” he would prefer Mr Opik to win against Baroness Scott, whose campaign focuses on improving the party’s internal procedures.

“There’s been three very different characters in this election,” he finishes.

“Me, an activist who cares very strongly about the issues. An establishment candidate in Ros Scott. And then, a maverick MP.”

Lib Dems have until noon on November 7th to submit their choice, with the result expected the following week. Voting continues.