Yesterday there was a local Council election in Haddenham and Stone, a ward on Aylesbury Vale council in Buckinghamshire. The seat had been held by a long-serving Conservative Cllr who had passed away at the age of 82. In yesterday’s election the seat was won by the Green Party’s David Lyons, a well known local Green party member who’d stood before, coming second in 2015. Here’s the result, thanks to the excellent Britain Elects website and Twitter feed
So, with no UKIP or Independent candidates standing and the long-standing Cllr deceased, The Greens won the seat with an impressive 36.5% swing. Picking the bones out of this one would be interesting as it suggests a lot of voters have swapped allegiances for a whole host of reasons. Does anyone seriously believe UKIP voters decided to go Green en-masse?
Here’s a background on the constituency and the players from Britain Elects. It adds some valuable context.
Of course, Hs2 passes through the area and antis are falling over themselves to claim this is a backlash against the project. No doubt some of that is true – especially as preliminary construction work has started. This is no longer a project that was on the drawing-board. Now there’s visible evidence on the ground, which tends to concentrate a few more minds. However, it’s clear that Hs2 isn’t the only issue in the area, as some local Tweeters have pointed out. Housing is also a big issue with 500 new homes due to be built in the area.
As is often the case in Council elections the party that won had put in a lot of effort on the ground and built up a following behind a local man. Add this the demise of a long-standing incumbent and some local issues like Housing and Hs2 and you can see why the Greens have managed to go from 2nd to 1st place. Was Brexit a factor as some people are claiming? Probably, but again, these are local elections which tend to reflect local issues, so you can’t read too much of the national picture into them and get a true image.
So, what does this mean for Hs2? Absolutely nothing.
For a start, these decisions are way above a local Councillors pay grade. Parliament, MPs and the Lords decide on these things, not Councils. This is the political equivalent of a flea trying to bite a rhinoceros. It’s also worth noting that the Council David’s been elected to will be abolished in 2022, so his shelf life isn’t long.
If those opposed to Hs2 had real political muscle they would have shown it long before this. 2010 would have been good, or in any of the local or national elections since. It never happened. Even if Hs2 was the primary consideration (locals suggest it isn’t), this is very much a case of someone shutting the stable door long after the horse has bolted!
I’ve done a bit of digging and found the actual numbers of votes cast, and the results from the May 2015 elections which is the last time the seat came up. You can draw your own conclusions…
Meanwhile, the Independent’s Europe Correspondent, Jon Stone (@joncstone on Twitter) has added this, detailing why some of the Nimbys in the area just might be upset with Hs2!
Could we be faced with a delicious irony here? A Green party win because of a few disgruntled golfers? After all, golf courses aren’t exactly on top of the Green Party’s list of favourite things!
I’ve a favour to ask.
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