WHEN Seema Kennedy’s family fled Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, it had a fundamental effect on how she viewed life. It also fuelled a passion for politics which has seen her become the prospective Tory parliamentary candidate for South Ribble.

They headed back to Blackburn where her father, an Iranian Muslim and her mother an Irish Catholic had met and Seema had been born. In fact, her father had learned his trade at Blackburn College before taking it back to Iran.

“Ayatollah Khomeini came along and seized our home and our spinning mill business and people had to leave because it was too dangerous.

"My dad was apolitical and still is but at the beginning it was was more of a socialist revolution. Things were seized and taken over in the name of the revolutionary state but it morphed into an Islamic revolution.

“Although I didn’t realise it at the time, those experiences of living through the dislocation and seeing what politics can do in a really bad way made me very aware of current affairs. When I was growing up I did a lot of public service, volunteering for the NSPCC and special needs children at Stonyhurst.

“It carried on when I became a student at Cambridge University. I had this sense of wanting to serve and help people. But it was when I was volunteering in a law centre that I found that certain laws didn’t make sense and I wanted to be able to influence that.”

One of the cases that had a profound effect on Seema, a lawyer who now works in the family property business in Longridge, involved an asylum seeker from Blackburn who left a girl dying under the wheels of his car.

Although jailed, he was not deported as it was considered to be in contravention of his human rights.

“The Human Rights Act often protects criminals in a way that is detrimental to society and I don’t think that’s right. People have committed criminal acts but because they have a right to family life they are not deported. I came across many cases like that. If you’re a good legislator you could introduce a piece of legislation that could change millions of people’s lives.”

But why would a respectable businesswoman, wife and mother want to get involved in the dirty business of politics?

“British politics is not corrupt or dominated by dirty dealings, but there’s a public perception that it is. That came to the fore in 2009 with the expenses scandal. Some people were imprisoned and some had to pay the money back.

"But there is still a trust deficit between politicians and the public. The biggest offenders have left Parliament now and the 2010 intake are aware that they have to be completely transparent and account for every penny of the public purse that they spend.

“The problem is that we as politicians don’t engage with people. Most don’t have time to watch Prime Minister’s Question Time or BBC Parliament and they don’t go to public meetings. So it’s a question of how do politicians reach out to people to find out what they are most worried about.

“The best MPs are very accessible and I want to be like that. I will publish all my expenses so people can question me because that’s the only way we can build up that trust so the public doesn’t think we’re just in it for ourselves.”

The issues closest to Seema’s heart are small businesses and treatment of the elderly. “The majority of people in this country are employed by small and medium enterprises and we have had schemes for helping to set them up. But there’s still too much of a regulatory burden and they pay too much tax. If we want the economy to grow we need to put more thought into supporting them. I want to be a champion for small business in South Ribble.”

On the subject of seniors, she is a trained Dementia Friend and campaigner. “Most elderly people have worked all their lives, paid taxes and been good citizens, but they are often left alone at the end of their lives. The scale of loneliness is really shocking.

“We need to see a culture shift and not just look at older people as being funny. I find that dismissive attitude very disrespectful and counter productive because they can still contribute. Diagnosis of dementia would be helpful - that’s a bit patchy.

“The PM and Jeremy Hunt are acting on it because it’s a ticking time bomb with around 800,000 people affected with Alzheimer’s.

“We need one million people to sign up as Dementia Friends by May and the message is that you can live well with this illness and it’s not a natural part of ageing.”