James Oates has been selected by the Liberal Democrats for the Westminster constituency of Gordon, formerly held by Malcolm Bruce. The seat was won by the SNP in 2015 and then by the Conservatives in 2017.
After graduating from Aberdeen University 30 years ago, James Oates became a campaigner for human rights in Central and Eastern Europe. Multi-lingual, he later worked in the region for large investment firms such as JP Morgan, Robert Fleming and UBS, and for the past 10 years he has been working with technology businesses in Tallinn, Estonia and building investment across the region.
“The lessons I learned right here in our community have been my guiding principles.”, Oates says. “I have been fortunate to serve as a government and business advisor in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Croatia, throughout Europe. I have worked for decades for freedom, prosperity, and intelligent service. I am coming home because the battle I thought had already been won here is still being fought. Our democracy needs renewal.”
“I’m running to be Gordon’s MP because our country needs and wants to change. It’s time to bring new energy, after the negativity of the past four years. It’s time for us to look to the prosperity of the future and let go of the failed politics of the past. It’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities in Gordon and in all of Scotland are recognized by the whole of the United Kingdom. Our contributions are not appreciated and our needs have been ignored for far too long,” he said.
The 53-year-old, honoured as a Global Scot in 2017 and the nephew of Malcolm Bruce, pointed to growing support for the Lib Dems as they now attract an increasingly young and diverse generation. He says that Theresa May has dropped the ball and the Conservatives are eating themselves alive:
We are constantly being asked to pay any price for separation: economic disruption, alienating our neighbours and impoverishing the next two generations for backwards-looking, narrow Tory ideology. It’s populism at its worst. I want to represent the real open-minded and business-minded Gordon to the United Kingdom and to the world.
Too many politicians are prepared to overlook the needs and wishes of their own constituencies in order to keep their place at the trough.
We need to renew our democracy. We cannot allow justice to be reserved for the rich, for citizens seeking universal benefits to be crushed by government bureaucracy, for our schools to become neglected, for local councils to be starved of funding, even for a by-pass for Aberdeen to take an entire lifetime to be finished.
Our future depends on investment in digital and physical investment. We need better air services, an upgrade to our railway, fast digital connections. People will not stay in the north east if they cannot download Netflix. We need to build for the future!
Oates said he has already been hearing from local residents who are asking him to campaign on their behalf:
Everyone knows someone who has been helped by Malcolm Bruce and I hope to continue that tradition of service to this community.
I will not be one of those MPs that sits in London ignoring the people who put him there in the first place. If I learned anything from Malcolm, it’s that cooperation, effective representation and respect for our communities are the most important traits I could have. My door will always be open. I will bring Gordon and the needs of the Northeast to the Government, not the other way around. Its time our voices were heard again.
Malcolm Bruce, now Lord Bruce of Bennachie, added:
I am delighted that James is taking on the fight. He is a candidate that I know the whole community will warm to. He is approachable, hardworking and a genuine Liberal.
The SNP deservedly lost after only two years because they did not listen to the majority of the people of Gordon on independence. The Conservatives deserve to lose the seat because they are not listening to the majority of the people of Gordon on Europe. James is with the majority of the people of Gordon and will be a strong voice for the North East against the centralising policies of both the Conservatives and the SNP.
Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, welcomed the news:
James Oates will be an outstanding MP for Gordon, a real national heavyweight champion for the North East. Based on our strong local tradition James is well placed to take the seat back for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
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