Liberal Democrats Overseas Team
2021 Executive Committee
George Cunningham: Chair
2020 has shown Lib Dems Overseas flourishing during the COVID-19 crisis where many found both motivation and time to make a significant contribution to the liberal cause abroad.
This year, we doubled our activist base, forming a North American branch and increasing our membership significantly in Hong Kong. We spoke out on frozen pensions. We were active during the party's autumn conference debates and held a fringe event. Our members published 14 articles in Lib Dem Voice, ran virtual pubs amongst members in different regions and held two webinars. Our party's new leader Ed Davey promised Brits overseas representation in Parliament by assigning a peer to deal with our issues. In 2021, we intend to increase our membership further and build up our campaigns, presence and activities in Africa and the Middle East in particular.
I am profoundly internationalist in outlook, having served in New York, Brussels, Cyprus, New Zealand and Afghanistan. I joined the Lib Dems in 2011, serving as Chair and Vice-Chair of Brussels and Europe Lib Dems 2014-17, standing for Parliament in GE2015. I initiated the creation of Lib Dems Abroad which the party's Federal Board approved in October 2017, leading to Lib Dems Overseas being formed late 2018. I am standing as Lib Dems Overseas Chair for 2021, my third and final full year.
Caroline Padbury: Vice-Chair and Head of Social Media
I live in Grand Cayman in the Caribbean with my New Zealander husband and dual-nationality daughter. I grew up in Cornwall, have lived in Bristol, Mid-Wales, and spent a large part of my working life in London. I am a marketing specialist with a focus on international finance, helping small businesses grow, and of course supporting the Liberal Democrats with a variety of marketing activities. I also have a love of anything to do with the sea. It is these experiences that have shaped my values to those aligned with the Liberal Democrats, specifically the benefits of a strong economy interlinked with a fair, free and open society.
I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015, just before the coalition came to an end. I felt and still feel passionately that the party has a policy position and place in British politics that represents a significant section of the population, and it is important for both current and future generations that this voice is heard.
Hauwa Usman: Secretary and Diversity Officer
I have over 5 years of experience to offer which was gained from being very active with the Lib Dems UK, Lib Dems in Europe Exec and Brussels & Europe Lib Dems Exec. I joined the UK Lib Dems after being inspired by active members who impressed me with their endless drive and ambition to achieve a better society and country for themselves and their family - a country they can be proud of and want to live in.
I have been politically active since 2014 with the Lib Dems. I campaigned actively during the 2015 and 2017 UK general elections, and also during the 2016 UK/EU Referendum.
I have attended all Lib Dem conferences in the UK as well as all Alliance of Liberal Democrats in Europe (ALDE) Congresses as a delegate throughout this period. In 2014, I campaigned as a volunteer for the Swedish Liberal Democrats party, Folkepartiet.
Victoria Bateman: Membership Development Officer
As Membership Development Officer my role is to help grow the global Liberal Democrat membership base and retain existing members. It is an important time to encourage active political engagement in UK politics regardless of where Liberal Democrats are in the world.
The EU referendum made me take stock of my involvement in politics, reigniting my passion to be more actively involved with the Liberal Democrats, support fair votes for all and act to stop the climate crisis.
I grew up in Dorset and spent my young adult life living in London before moving to Canada in 2017 settling in Toronto, Ontario. I now work in the Advertising Technology industry as a Data Manager. I have been interested in politics since my teens studying Political Science and Philosophy university. Since university I have been long-term supporter of Liberal Democrat policies.
Merlene Emerson MBE: Lib Dems Overseas Ambassador-at-Large for ASEAN countries
SingaporeI joined the Liberal Democrats over 15 years ago as I was drawn to the party’s core values of protecting individual rights and freedoms whilst balancing sound economics with a social conscience.
I co-founded Chinese Liberal Democrats in 2006 as a bridge between the party and the Chinese & SE Asian diaspora communities in the UK and stood as Parliamentary candidate in Hammersmith in 2010 and for the London Assembly in 2012 and 2016.
I worked as a solicitor in London and Singapore on cross border finance and international joint ventures and am a liveryman of the World Traders Company. Having recently returned to Singapore I am interested in forging closer social, business and political links with our ASEAN neighbours and to give a stronger voice to Brits living abroad.
I am currently a LibDem Representative on ALDE Party Council and serve on the Finance Advisory Committee.
Mark Iliffe: Interim Chair - North America Branch
As the interim chair of the North American Branch, I am aiming to build out our Branch to supporting the broader efforts of Lib Dems Overseas in bringing together people with our shared values.
A professional geographer, I am currently living in New York, with previous postings to Washington DC, Tanzania and Uganda working primarily on developing policy and strengthening technical capacity in developing countries. After six years of field work, I am currently sitting behind a desk at an international organisation.
I joined the Lib Dems in 2019 and following our nascent efforts to organise our ‘local’ branch, took on the role of interim chair to help promote and foster our internationalist and liberal principles.
Steve Castree: Executive Member
Stephen Castree is a serial entrepreneur who has lived and worked in the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda for the last 20 years having grown up in Buckinghamshire.
Having operated companies with a presence in more than 25 countries around the world, his current focus is in financial services, mine action and farming with a latest organisation focusing on climate change initiatives.
Stephen attended the Autumn Liberal Democrat conference in the U.K. as a first time attended in 2019 and holds central political views supporting the free market economy whilst focusing on provision of government services to target a balanced redistribution of wealth to ensure the divides in society are balanced and not extreme. He holds a BA Degree and MBA from the University of Birmingham, a DEUG from the Universite de Lyon, is a UK Chartered Accountant and is currently pursuing his BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the Open University.
Colin Bloodworth: Head of Policy
Most of my working life has been overseas in oil and financial services (Congo, USA and Indonesia). As I have children and grandchildren in the UK I still consider it my home and may return there one day. I joined the Lib Dems only recently after watching with frustration the developing disaster called Brexit.
I have also observed the main parties in the UK, as we are seeing in the US, moving further and further to their respective left and right, leaving a large void in the middle. I see the Lib Dems as the people who can fill that void.
I support a British expat action group in Indonesia fighting the long-standing injustice of frozen state pensions and have also pushed for the abolishment of the absurd 15-year rule.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in the promotion of the Lib Dems’ values.
Ian Martin: Executive Member
I am a lifelong Liberal born in Eastbourne, England and joined the Union of Liberal Students at Hull University in 1969.
I was active in the Liberal Party and am a founder member of the Liberal Democrats.
I have been living in Thailand for many years working as an English teacher. I am married to a Thai and we have a home in Bangkok.
Throughout the years I maintained contact with the Liberals while abroad and I am glad to become part of the Liberal Democrats Overseas.
I hope to improve the rights of British citizens who live and work abroad and support those who want a better liberal society.
John Shardlow: Webmaster
I was born in London and have also lived in East Sussex and Wiltshire. I have been living in Malaysia since 2009 and will probably be staying here for the long term. I started a consultancy company that provides services in the telecoms industry. I've been a member of the Liberal Democrat party since June 2016.
My wife and stepson are both Malaysian and my daughter is eligible for both Malaysian and British nationality although she will have to choose one or the other when she is older. Because of this I am particularly concerned about illiberal immigration policies that make it difficult for families to stay together.
I'm keen to help represent the unique issues that expatriates face and most of the policy objectives of the Lib Dems Overseas are things that either affect me personally or will do in the future.
I look after the LDO website.
Christopher: Executive Member
I am one of the 10,000 Hongkongers who has been beaten and arrested by the Hong Kong Police since June 2019.
Many people around the world speak up for Hong Kong. If you are one of them, I am thankful to you. It is important for us to know that friends in international society who believe in liberal and democratic values stand with us. I am also grateful to Lib Dems Overseas connecting us all with each other.
I joined the Liberal Democrats 4 years ago, shortly before I moved to South Korea. The decision to join was prompted by the 2015 UK election results, which I viewed from afar in China. I felt a deep sense of disappointment, and so I joined the party that most closely aligned to my own political views and personal values.
My membership card duly arrived, and I inspected the vision on the reverse of the card; the idea of a fair, free and open society, underpinned by values of liberty, equality and community struck a chord with me, and I felt a profound sense of pride and excitement that I had finally found my political home. With those values in mind, my aim is to ensure that 7,000 British citizens living in South Korea feel represented, with the hope that they also find their political home in the Liberal Democrats.
I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2008 as they stand up for the values which make a strong and united democracy. In a polarised time, I’m proud to be part of a party that promotes the values of a tolerant, open and liberal society.
I recently moved to Taiwan, prior to that I was living and working in South Korea having previously lived in Devon, Bristol, Sydney and London. I work in an International School and I travel regularly to other parts of Asia to work with other educators. As the co-founder of Salcombe Town FC, I still hold close ties with my hometown and regularly visit South Devon to catch up with family and friends.
I look forward to meeting and working with current and new members of the Liberal Democrats in East Asia.
Since 2018, I have served as a de facto advisor to several legislators in various British Commonwealth nations and I became the youngest person to be granted membership of the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel. I am also a member of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth of Nations.
I am a full Party member, Young Liberal and Legacy Society member of the Liberal Democrats (UK).
I am passionate about giving the right to vote in UK elections to more groups of people such as those with more than '15 years of non-residence' and also supporting British Nationals (Overseas) as well as residents of the former British Hong Kong in general.
I first became interested in the Liberals during the 1970 General Election during the hustings at College when only the Liberal candidate made any sense. I began supporting the old Liberal Party in 1974 and finally got around to joining in 1979. I was elected to St Albans District Council in 1982 and held my seat until I retired in 1998 after I moverd to Berkhamsted. I then was Parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems at the 2001 election in Hertsmere.
I moved to New Zealand in 2002 and became disenfranchised last year.
Lib Dems Overseas offers an opportunity to support the interests of expats as well as being an opportunity to reignite Liberal Democratic principles in my adopted home.