With the general election approaching, we sat down for an exclusive interview with Chris Lucas, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hitchin.

Mr Lucas was born in Singapore, with his father serving in the RAF and his mother working as a nurse, and lived in a variety of places before settling in Hampshire for secondary school.

He credits his upbringing with giving him a "very international outlook", getting a "wide perspective of different languages, different cultures, and the things that are important to different people", which he links to his becoming a Liberal Democrat.

And, while his parents didn't stand for elected office themselves, they made clear that politics and voting were important. His father was "always political, always had a point of view".


After school, Mr Lucas studied Law at the University of Middlesex before a career in media sales, working for others and for his own companies while living in Bath and Rickmansworth.

It was in Bath that he began working with Don Foster, then Lib Dem MP for the city. For Mr Lucas, it was an inspirational moment that shaped his future career, with Mr Foster (now Lord Foster) becoming a mentor.

"That was really my first taste of what it was like to be an MP ... watching a real archetypal, excellent Lib Dem constituency MP".

Mr Lucas then moved to Hitchin in 2018, and now lives in the town with his two sons, working as a Business and Law lecturer at North Herts College after studying for a PGCSE at the University of the West of England.

He sees both teaching and politics as "a calling", and says he doesn't teach "for power or for influence ... you do it because you really want to do it".

Party politics

Mr Lucas's long membership of the Lib Dems dates back to a formative moment, when he was walking through Hyde Park and happened upon Charles Kennedy speaking about his opposition to the Iraq War. Encouraged by Kennedy's "galvanising force and spirit", Mr Lucas signed up to the party and began campaigning.

The Comet: Chris Lucas with Lib Dem activists in Hitchin town square.Chris Lucas with Lib Dem activists in Hitchin town square. (Image: Chris Lucas)

From there, Mr Lucas became a councillor in Three Rivers and then in Hitchin, where he has represented Hitchin Priory ward since 2022. He was also parliamentary candidate for Ealing North at the 2010 general election, and for Hertford and Stortford at the 2019 general election.

Other issues that he says inspired him to become a Lib Dem include parliamentary reform, support for proportional representation, "fostering closer ties with the EU" and environmental issues. 

Becoming a councillor, for Mr Lucas, was about "representing people", particularly those who may not "know how to go about getting answers to questions to help them with their everyday lives". He says "that desire to help people is what drives me forward in politics", whether it's with potholes, bins, education or any other issue.

Until shortly before the 2010 general election, becoming an MP hadn't crossed his mind. But at Lib Dem conference, former party leader Paddy Ashdown suggested he "set his horizons wider", recommending that he consider it as an option. For Mr Lucas, it was when he "realised that I could do this ... ordinary people like me could become MPs".

He joined a national leadership programme, alongside other MPs of the future including Daisy Cooper and Layla Moran.

Politics in Hitchin

While Mr Lucas's first parliamentary candidacies, in 2010 and 2019, did not lead to a seat in the Commons, he thinks his chances of winning in Hitchin are "very high".

While Labour are polling well nationally, he argues that this "doesn't necessarily translate to every single seat", and says that Lib Dem internal data shows that the Conservative vote will "capitulate" in Hitchin and that they are best placed to take advantage.

The Comet: Chris Lucas and Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem MP for St Albans, were part of a national leadership programme together.Chris Lucas and Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem MP for St Albans, were part of a national leadership programme together. (Image: Hitchin Liberal Democrats)

He believes that the Lib Dem messaging on "a fair deal for all families, whether it be in schools, education, or transport" will "resonate with an awful lot of people in the centre ground", and that Labour's offer is not "compelling enough" for those voters.

And he warns that "the Loony Left Corbynistas" in the Labour party may be "dormant" but "aren't going anywhere", suggesting that Labour would "without a doubt" be more left-wing in power than they appear in opposition.

Mr Lucas's Labour opponent will be Alistair Strathern, currently MP for Mid Bedfordshire after winning a by-election last year.

Mr Strathern lives in Shefford, a part of Mid Beds constituency that will become part of the Hitchin seat after boundary changes take effect at the election, and Mr Lucas has strongly criticised him, saying "one could argue [he] has jumped ship for opportunistic purposes".

But when asked if Mr Strathern should have stood in Mid Beds again instead, Mr Lucas says that it is "not really for me to say". He adds that if he was a voter in Mid Beds he would "not be happy" that Mr Strathern is "ditching them in favour of a potentially more winnable seat".

Both candidates will be up against Conservative candidate Bim Afolami, who has been MP for Hitchin and Harpenden since 2017.

Mr Lucas, however, thinks Mr Afolami's incumbency may be a "disadvantage" with, as he sees it, a "very tainted" Tory brand after 14 years in power.

Those 14 years began with a Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition government and, while Mr Lucas won't be drawn on whether it was a mistake for his party to join it, he believes they went into it "with the best intentions, to benefit the country as a whole", and would have to think "think very long and hard" should another Coalition opportunity arise.

Since 2015, the Conservatives have governed alone, and Mr Lucas says "it's hard to see what they've done", accusing them of "constantly playing to their base" of "slightly older, white, middle class people".

Asked whether he can think of any achievements or positive changes they have made, he says "sorry, I can't think of anything" before adding that the closest he could come would be to say they "had a tough job with the pandemic".

If elected, Mr Lucas rules out ever taking a second job, saying that he would be Hitchin's MP "day in, day out, seven days a week, 365 days a year".


Asked which local issues he would focus on, Mr Lucas points first to housing, which he says is a "huge" challenge in an expensive area like Hitchin - according to RightMove, the average house in the town now costs £475,000.

Mr Lucas says it isn't "fair or right" for people to have to move elsewhere when they don't wish to, and asks "what are we doing to ensure we have somewhere for people on modest incomes to live"?

The Comet: Chris Lucas speaking to voters in Hitchin.Chris Lucas speaking to voters in Hitchin. (Image: Chris Lucas)

He wants housing to be "both built and affordable to those from all different demographics" and, when asked which policies he'd like to see enacted to make that happen, he suggests areas including the planning system, environmental issues and housing density could be ripe for reform.

Mr Lucas favours getting local people more involved in decision-making, and believes that if you "talk to local people and help people to understand, yes, your sons and daughters want somewhere to live, do you want to send them off to somewhere else ... or do you want them to be able to buy a place in the town in which they were raised?". He also thinks, for example, "if you're going to build on Green Belt, can you do it in a much more sensitive manner?"

Another priority for Mr Lucas is the environment: "There is no politics if you don't have a country or a planet".

He wants the UK to "make sure that everything we do as a country ... takes [environmental] needs into account", saying that it should be "part and parcel" of the process across all policy areas including healthcare, transport and defence as we are currently "running headlong into ecological disaster".

And, finally, on one of the issues that has defined Lib Dem politics across the last decade, Mr Lucas believes leaving the EU was a "massive mistake" that the country is "suffering the consequences of now".

But he adds that rejoining is "easier to say than to do".

"If we think that the right thing to do in the interest of Britain and the British people is to rejoin the EU, we have to win the argument ... that starts with fostering closer ties.

"Then maybe the argument can be put, and fought for, to rejoin. But that's not anything that's going to happen anytime soon."

Quick fire questions

Beer or wine? Wine

Question Time or Strictly Come Dancing? Question Time, sorry!

Conservatives or Labour? Lib Dems

NIMBY or YIMBY? It's a false narrative, they're both important

Political idol? Paddy Ashdown

What's in your supermarket meal deal? A bottle of red wine, a bag of crisps, and a bar of chocolate