Sounding out the 2024 Election Candidates

No politics here. But democracy is another matter… 

In the United Kingdom, one thing you can rely on is that every four or five years, there will be an election to appoint a prime minister. At least, that’s how it normally works, but recently, we have had three prime ministers in as many years. This year, we may be choosing a prime minister to lead us through a full term – or even longer. 

The odd thing about how the elections work is that we don’t actually vote for the prime minister; we vote for an individual who will represent our locality, ie our constituency, in parliament, and then the party with the most MPs determines who is going to run the country.

This means that many people feel that their vote is not going to make a difference. You hear people saying, “there’s no point in voting, nothing will change” or “they are all the same”. That’s understandable if you look at the number of people who are allowed to vote. Your vote could be one of over 48 million, according to the Office of National Statistics. Your vote has as much chance of ‘counting’ as any other – but only at a local level.

There are many ways of making the choice. If you favour one particular party, then you probably won’t have to think about it for too long. But more so in this election than any previous, we hear people talking about voting for the ‘least bad’ option. Nothing that we can say at Wendover News is likely to change your mind if you are set on voting tactically. So we put our minds to what might inform your decision in choosing an individual who you would like to have representing you in parliament on local matters.

Before we continue: most Wendover News readers live in the new Mid Buckinghamshire constituency. Based on the time and resources we have available, we decided to focus on the majority, rather than to include those who are in Aston Clinton and Weston Turville. If you are one of the minority, we are very sorry, we didn’t forget you – and we hope you will forgive us.

We set out to find out which of the candidates was most likely to focus on local issues, rather than to follow the party line and disregard the needs of the people who elected them. Wendover News is constitutionally non-political and is in the business of providing you with local news that will keep you informed, interested and entertained. We don’t think we should be telling people who to vote for. What we have done though, is to get information from the candidates – giving them all the chance to answer the same question equally, so that you can make an informed decision.

We chose HS2 as our primary topic. It is the biggest single issue that disproportionately affects everybody in and around Wendover. There are others, but most issues are dealt with at a national level. To ensure impartiality, we sent identical emails to all candidates for the Mid Buckinghamshire constituency a copy of the email is shown below: 

We gave them a limit of 120 words for their response. They were given a deadline and those that required it were reminded when the deadline was imminent. To ensure fairness, the responses on the next page have been presented in the order their names were picked out of a nice little flower bowl by Eileen Lock-Macardy, owner of Eileen’s Flower Shop, witnessed by Jane Larkham and Simon Eccles.


The Responses

Wisdom Da Costa, Climate Party

“The High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act 2017 may have been passed by Parliament on the basis of strategic misrepresentations and the deliberate dumbing down of the projected costs of HS2. 

These cost estimates were at best complete fantasy and at worst may be considered fraudulent, meaning that the sovereignty of parliament was effectively negated. This has deprived public services of 30 billion pounds of funding; destroyed the lives or livelihoods of up hundreds of local people and businesses; caused environmental damage on a scale not seen since WWII.

I will cooperate with others to bring forward further evidence on the scale and extent of this scandal to identify those responsible and, to seek appropriate redress for local people and businesses.”

Greg Smith, Green Party

“As an MP, I would use my influence to empower local groups, ensuring that their concerns are heard and addressed. Local residents and businesses have a role in minimising ongoing damage and disruption. This involves monitoring heavy vehicles, managing chaotic road closures, and ensuring that HS2 delivers on its environmental commitments to nature recovery.

HS2 is failing short on its promise to restore wildlife refuges, nature reserves, and ancient woodlands. By galvanising local people into action and harnessing HS2 resources, we can hold them to account.

I would also push hard for a public inquiry to understand how such a significant public project could be so badly mismanaged. Gaining insight into these failures will help us avoid similar mistakes in future.”

Greg Smith, Conservative

“I’m a total opponent of HS2. I fight them every single day, in the Commons, on the Transport Select Committee and dragging Ministers and HS2 Ltd execs to Buckinghamshire. 

I’ve exposed the shameful acts HS2 Ltd think they can get away with. From endless closures of the A413 and Nash Lee Road, drainage issues, lorries tearing up our local roads, draining streams for water. No one should be expected to live with this or looking to the future, operational noise from the trains. I’ve heard Wendover HS2 Mitigation Action Group’s concerns and am ready to go into bat.  

Effective challenge of HS2 requires persistence, detailed analysis and unflappable patience. That’s what I have done – and pledge to continue to do.”

Stephanie Harwood, Reform UK

No response received.

Yvonne Wilding, SDP

“The HS2 project was ill-conceived and should never have been initiated. I would insist that all work on the current stage of the project is completed on schedule, to the necessary standards – ensuring strict controls on any further damage to the natural habitat. The contractual commitment to landscaping and environmental repair and enhancement, already factored into the project, must be completely fulfilled, and should remain a ring-fenced spending priority. 

No milestone payments should be made to the contractor until those impact environmental mitigation measures are delivered to the Wendover residents’ satisfaction. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party talk of revisiting the second stage of the project which was cancelled. I would oppose this vigorously.”

Carissma Griffiths, Labour

“It’s clear that HS2 has caused unforgiveable damage to this beautiful area and now – with its journey north suspended by the Government – all credibility for the economic case has been lost. As your MP, it would be my job to try to ensure the physical scars from this project are healed. 

If elected I would take the interests of our community to the heart of government, advocating on behalf of local opinion and interests. But also, I would work with the relevant agencies, tiers of government and build on my experience in the construction sector to salvage something from this terribly managed project. Something good must come from this. I will work with this community to make sure it does.”

Anja Schaefer, Liberal Democrats

“As MP for Mid Buckinghamshire, holding HS2 to account would have top priority for me. Following the example of Sarah Green, Lib Dem MP for Chesham & Amersham, I would raise HS2 oversight in parliament and committees wherever possible, and I would seek regular meetings with the construction company and with local stakeholders. 

I would focus on specific issues, such as mitigating noise and disruption, nature protection, eg water management and habitat restoration, and returning high quality assets to communities after construction. Wendover is one of the communities particularly badly affected and I would seek to work closely with Wendover HS2 Mitigation Action Group and other local activist groups to make sure communities are given a voice during and after construction.”