Lembit Öpik adds passion and power to MAG's Communications and Campaigns Team
Former MP Lembit Öpik is renowned for his 'full-on' approach to all he does. Now he's channelling his irrepressible drive to protect and promote two core passions: Liberty and Motorcycling. Lembit joins MAG's newly streamlined team of professionals. Their mission is to take a leading role to stand up to threats to riders' rights and expand the use of motorcycles and scooters in the UK.
Lembit's new role as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) was announced today at the National Motorcycle Show in the NEC. This puts him at the heart of UK motorcycling and the new team at the core of MAG's Campaigning and Lobbying activities. 'People know me for a lot of things! But few of them know biking's been an enduring part of my life. I rebuilt my Yamaha YB100 in 1982, and have ridden two wheels ever since. Currently I've got a Suzuki GS1000, and am as passionate as ever – and that's why taking on this new role feels like coming home.'
Lembit isn't tackling the communications and public affairs challenge alone. He's working with biking campaigns guru, Dr Leon Mannings, who's got an exceptional pedigree. Lembit says of Leon 'if Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance came to life, it would be Leon. He's a combination of perspective and limitless resilience, and he has a tremendous record of winning for powered two wheeler riders.'
Lembit and Leon have clear ambitions for MAG. Lembit says 'as an MP, I chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group for Motorcycling. Back then, the Department of Transport saw bikers more as a hassle than an answer to congestion and pollution problems. Now, the mood at the Ministry is changing and we've got a rising number of great allies in Government. Steve Baker MP is an outstanding Chair of the All-Party Group. I get on well with Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MP and know he will engage on bike policy.' Leon adds 'with a newly sharpened approach, a better relationship between bureaucrats and bikers is evolving. It's about to become even more productive. I've worked and won on issues before, and we now have better prospects than ever for really moving the positive role of motorcycling further up policy agendas – at Local and Central Government levels.'
MAG Chairman, John Mitchell, underlines MAG's determination to boost the strength and penetration of its voice for bikers. 'We've always been at the forefront of battles over issues for bikers since we formed to fight the authoritarian helmet law in 1973. Other threats have come our way, most involving the replacement of common sense with patronising over-regulation. Lembit and Leon are a tremendous new force in the fight-back for freedom: the Institute for Economic Affairs even identified Lembit as the most 'libertarian' MP in the country, and he really does 'walk the freedom talk' in word and deed. Leon has an excellent mental map of the policy jungle, and has a key role in our awesome team. Changing the regulatory tide is bigger than just biking – it's actually about liberty. With Leon's insight, clarity and stamina, real progress looks likely. And, if one person combines political focus with the passion needed to fully reflect MAG's determination to defend the heart and soul of biking – it's Lembit Öpik.'