A mum-of-three who is campaigning to become South Ribble’s next Member of Parliament has vowed to be the champion of small businesses.
Seema Kennedy has been selected to replace current MP Lorraine Fullbrook as the Conservative’s parliamentary candidate for 2015.
After fleeing the Islamic revolution with her family and getting ‘hooked’ on volunteer work and helping others, she is now looking forward to bringing her background in law to help the people of Leyland and South Ribble.
She told the Guardian: “I was born in Blackburn. My dad is from Iran and met my mum at Blackburn College in the 1960s, so we moved there when I was six weeks old.
“When I was four, we faced the Islamic revolution and they took our family’s spinning mill business and our home, so we had to leave.
“We came back to Lancashire and I grew up in the Ribble Valley.
“I trained as a solicitor and joined my family’s business in Preston as a director, in commercial property.”
Ever since she was a teenager, Ms Kennedy has also been interested in volunteering, and worked with children with special needs during the holidays, before lending her talents to a law centre.
“I did a lot of campaigning for older people’s issues,” she said. “But there comes a point when you come up against a law and think, ‘I’d like to change that’.
“That’s when I became a Conservative activist.”
She and her husband are now in the process of moving to a new home in Hutton, and she’s hoping her experiences can help in her bid to become the borough’s next MP when Lorraine Fullbrook steps down in May.
“Because I’ve lived under an oppressive regime, it makes me feel so grateful that we live in a place which offers free speech and democracy,” Seema added. “In terms of my political interests, I really want to support small businesses.
“I know from my family’s experience that they have to pay a lot of tax and there’s a lot of red tape.
“The Conservative-led Government is trying to lower tax but the burden is still too high; there’s a lot more work to do.
“I want to be a champion for small businesses in South Ribble.”
She is also optimistic about the potential of the South Ribble, Preston and Lancashire City Deal, which is billed to create more than 20,000 new jobs and 17,000 new homes over the next 10 years.
“The City Deal is really exciting,” she said. “Lancashire is the workshop of the world and the Leyland name is known better than any.
“The revival of the North West in terms of infrastructure is great news.
“It will mean a more balanced economy, with more industry and infrastructure as well as houses.
“South Ribble has really driven this and recognised how important it is. It’s great for the people of Leyland.”
She also believes that the City Deal will be of great benefit for the armed forces and defence industry at Warton and Samlesbury.
“I’ve been speaking to businesses and residents already,” she said. “There are some excellent councillors and volunteers backing me up.
“I do love knocking on doors, and I will be out and about with Leyland councillors; I want to be part of that team and find out what residents want from their MP.”