Sakeena is a penultimate year Global Sustainable Development student at the University of Warwick. Passionate about applying sustainability in a multidisciplinary manner, she is currently Deputy Editor-in-Chief for GLOBUS, the university sustainability paper, and a former intern at Alma Grande, a mangrove conservation organisation. She has a passion for assisting organisations to initiate positive social and environmental change, completing her cycle as an associate consultant with 180 Degrees Consulting and her role as challenge leader of Warwick Raising and Giving Society, working closely with selected charities. Sakeena also enjoys working with young people, enrolling as a support worker at Watford Mencap and as a tutor in her spare time, aligning with her interests in health, social care and educational policy.

On the 16th of August, the Patchworkers from the ‘High Fliers’ cohort had the opportunity to have a Masterclass with Sir Edward Davey MP, chaired by Patchworker Chloe Twiselton at the Liberal Democrats Headquarters in London. Since 2020, Sir Ed Davey MP has served as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Party, with his previous roles including Deputy Leader in 2019 and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change under the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government from 2012 to 2015.  He is also the MP for Kingston and Surbiton. 

Below are some key points that I took away from this Masterclass:

Leadership and personal values within political careers

Through the career and personal development questions asked during the Masterclass, a point that I valued was when the conversation turned to facing difficult decisions in your political career. We discussed the juggle between personal life and politics and the importance of prioritising family in certain situations, which, as a carer for his son, Sir Ed has had experience with. This demonstrated to me that one can still hold on to one’s personal values and commitments in a political career, and this does not have to act as a hindrance. Instead, it can be translated into the party values and plans. It also reinforced that our values often reflect what other people feel and need. For example, the Liberal Democrat social care plan includes free personal care, a real living wage for care workers and a preventative approach to social care. And recently in the Liberal Democrats Party Conference, the new legal right for cancer patients to start treatment earlier as part of a larger five-year plan was at the centre of Sir Ed’s speech.

The environment and sustainable energy policies 

As concerns about the Earth’s future continue to intensify, it was great to see Sir Ed’s enthusiasm to care for the environment and mitigate future effects of climate change in the Masterclass since the environment inspired his journey into politics initially. This is also reflected in his work as local MP for Kingston and Surbiton on protecting the Seething Wells Filter Beds. 

As a Global Sustainable Development Student interested in the energy trilemma, it was fantastic to hear Sir Ed’s thoughts on what the critical steps in tackling climate change and promoting sustainability on a national and global level are –especially since he had set up his own consultancy in the climate change and energy field. This included offshore wind investment and confronting the misconception that climate-friendly energy investment- (such as solar power) is more expensive than fossil fuels so that renewable energy can be internationally deployed in an accessible way. In terms of national steps, we discussed the need for domestic policies on insulation within homes and green policies that are socially inclusive and accessible. 

Political campaigning on a community level 

The final point that stood out to me in this Masterclass was Sir Ed’s advice about building a successful and meaningful political career. I realised how crucial it is to consider the public views when campaigning and to interact with individuals across all different communities to ensure effective local governance. Since community politics, inclusivity and local government are central to the Liberal Democrats, I also learnt from Sir Ed that whilst evidence-based policy is greatly important, to win elections, this needs to be translated into emotion, empathy and relatability to the community. 

Final thoughts 

Overall, Sir Ed’s friendly and down-to-earth approach made this Masterclass really enjoyable for me. As a sustainability student interested in consulting, the environment and politics, as well as a support worker part-time and previously a young carer in my A-level studies, I found this Masterclass insightful and thought-provoking. I left reflecting on where best I could find my personal values lining up with political party values and further interest in the Liberal Democrats. 

An enormous thank you to Sir Ed Davey MP, Chloe Twiselton, Maddi Crickmay, Jessica Russel and the rest of the Patchwork and Liberal Democrats team for the session.

~ Sakeena Rajpal, 2023 Masterclass Programme Participant