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Buckingham Liberal Democrats

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Hustings this week

November 28, 2019 9:33 AM

191115 Winslow Hustings

This week has been the week of the first two hustings, one in Winslow on Monday night, thanks to St Laurence Church, and the second in Buckingham at the University. Both events were very well attended, the second one so packed that some people couldn't get in, due to the auditorium being at capacity.


8-10 pm on Wednesday December 4th at Haddenham Community Junior School, Woodways, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, HP17 8DS.
Parking is available in the school playground and opposite, next to the tennis courts.

Some images taken by people in the audience that were sent to us for use:

191125 Winslow Hustings 2 191125 Winslow Hustings 3 191125 Winslow Hustings 10

Stephen's Opening Speech at Winslow:

A conservative member of parliament, I was John Major's Health Secretary, I chaired Health Committee in the House of Commons, between 2010-2014 and I was 49 years a member of the Conservative Party.
I joined a member of the conservative party in 1970, when Ted Heath was leading this country into, what became the European Union. I left it earlier this year because I think, that to leave the European Union in 2019 or 2020 is, in the words of John Major, a man whom I served as Prime Minister, an "historic mistake". That is why I left the Conservative Party.

I'll come back to that, but in terms of introduction, I'd like if I may, to say a few words about the local position and then move to the national issues.
In terms of the local position, I am the Liberal Democrat candidate, and proud to be so. I am also the candidate of the Remain Alliance, which brings together not just the Liberal Democrats but also the Green Party, and if there are any members of Plaid Cymru present, then I'm also standing in the name of the Remain Alliance which includes Plaid Cymru.

That's important in the context of this debate because it makes it clear in the local context of the Buckingham constituency I'm setting out my views both as a Liberal Democrat and as a Liberal Democrat putting particular emphasis on the agenda of the Green Party.

And this is of course a key constituency in which to do that, given the range of infrastructure projects which impact on the Buckingham constituency and I'd like to say a word about those before moving to the national position.

There are three major infrastructure projects, and I think it's relatively easy to identify different attitudes to each one.

East-west rail is a project that I think has broad support. It has impact on the local communities, and we need need to ensure that impact is respected and handled properly and carefully. But I am in favour of east-west rail communication between Oxford and Cambridge. At the other extreme is the east-west Expressway, which I regard as being a typical example of a national road project and national development proposal imposed on a community without proper engagement with the local community.

The Liberal Democrat group on the County Council has opposed east-west Expressway and I oppose east-west Expressway, not because I am against east west communications, and not because I am against development in the county of Buckinghamshire, but because I think that in the world of the 2020s it is important that those kind of decisions reflect local views and local priorities.

The third is of course HS2 . I voted for HS2 as a member of the House of Commons. The Liberal Democratic Party nationally is in favour of improved north-south communications. We are a national party. It's important in Birmingham, a city that I know well, in Manchester and Leeds. Improved communications north-south is an important national priority. But since I voted for the HS2 project, two things have happened. There's been a radical improvement in train control technology, so that it's possible to put more trains onto existing rail lines than was the case when the project was first mooted.

Secondly, the cost of the project has more than doubled.

And if those two facts don't constitute grounds for rethinking HS2 from the beginning, I don't know what possible facts could be put on the table that would lead people to rethink.

So I am in favour of a rethink on HS2, but I am not in favour of losing sight of the commitment to improve north-south communication between London and the South East, the Midlands and the North.

There is one final local issue I want to turn to, and that is a question I am often asked on the doorstep, which is whether I'm a son of Buckinghamshire. I'm very clear. I was born and lived most of my life, all my life in truth, in the Midlands between Worcestershire and Leicestershire. If I am elected as the member of parliament for Buckingham, it would be to the great relief of my wife, who always thinks that Worcestershire is virtually Wales, that we should move to Buckinghamshire. So that is a commitment that I intend to keep.

I want now to come back to the two key defining issues in this election.
The first, I have already mentioned, is the green agenda.
This is something that has come up the political scale since the day I was first elected a Member of Parliament in 1979.

Nobody looking at the science of climate change could possibly think that we can go on living our lives in the way that we live them now, and have lived them in the recent past. And if politics means anything, it means ensuring that government priorities reflect the changing priorities of the nation. And that's why I'm proud to have the support in this election of the Green Party, and I insist both as a Remain Alliance candidate and as a Liberal Democrat, that our priorities in the country need to reflect the urgent requirement to repair the damage, not just to stop or slow the damage, but to repair the damage done to our planet by industrialization and carbon release; and to not just moving to carbon neutrality but to taking carbon out of the atmosphere.

That is the first thing, and it links directly to the second; because it's, I think, inconceivable that we can make that commitment effective, deliver improved environmental policy, deliver a higher priority for environmental concerns in the context of a single nation state. It is another example of why we are better able to deliver our priority as a member of the European Union, that we can possibly do as a single nation state. When Michael Heseltine speaks in support of continued membership of the European Union, he always end his speeches with the words: "I was born in the year Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. That is why the European Union is known on the continent as a Peace Project, it's a reflection of our values and our commitment to make the world for our children a safer place than it was for our parents." It can be, not just a safer place, but also a place where our environment is properly protected if we reverse Brexit and focus back on delivering an improved future for our country.


The University of Buckingham Hustings were recorded on video and can be seen here:

We will be releasing more videos over the coming weeks, keep an eye on our social media platforms as well!

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Buckingham Hustings Panorama