The Economist talks up Lib Dem revival in Chesham and Amersham

There is a buzz of excitement down in South Bucks. The Lib Dems are fighting hard in in the Chesham and Amersham by-election. Sarah Green, our Liberal Democrat candidate, is gaining ground. While not going as far as suggesting she will win, this weekend’s Economist makes much of the leafy commuter belt in South Bucks becoming more socially liberal as younger people move out of the capital.

We could win this by-election. Ways everyone can help are detailed below.

Cheryl Gillan was a popular, albeit Conservative, politician in Chesham and Amersham. She was president of CPRE Buckinghamshire and a defender of the leafy hills of the Chilterns. She was fiercely opposed to HS2, the construction of which is wreaking havoc in South Bucks but remained in the cabinet despite the go ahead for the project. The by-election was called after her death from cancer on 4 April.

Yesterday, Lib Dem Voice reported that a letter to the Guardian told of anxiety among Conservatives about the by-election.

Today, we bring news that The Economist is reporting that victories in the May local elections in Tory areas like Oxfordshire and Surrey, and in Amersham itself have given the Lib Dems confidence they can make ground in the leafy commuter belt around the capital.

The magazine says:

Graduate voters with young families flock to places like Chesham and Amersham, attracted by the large houses, beautiful countryside, excellent rail links and top-notch schools. Socially liberal and squeezed by high house prices, this group has been drifting away from the Conservatives. Brexit reinforced the trend.

That’s the opportunity we have.

Sarah Green, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Chesham and Amersham needs help from all of us:

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliamentary by-elections.
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15 Comments

  • ” She was fiercely opposed to HS2″…… which I’m afraid was not the case with official Liberal Democrat policy which supported it. Time will tell whether this boomerang will return.

  • Graham Jeffs 11th Jun '21 - 2:53pm

    Oh dear, here we go again!

  • Chris Bertram 11th Jun '21 - 4:24pm

    @David Raw – HS2, whether you support it or oppose it (personally I’m in favour and I think the party was right to support it), is a done deal, and the workers and machinery are on the ground and working already. It’s too late to stop it, but there can be mitigation of the local effects, and that should be what we pursue. We should not join in with the “not one tree” wing of the Greens who will oppose all development regardless of the benefits to the country at large.

  • @Chris Bertram “HS2, … is a done deal, and the workers and machinery are on the ground and working already. It’s too late to stop it…

    The myth of “sunk costs”… HS2 can be cancelled at any time, the sooner the lesser the drain on the public purse (currently £106Bn construction costs and still growing) and environmental damage including the noise blight that residents of the Chilterns will have to suffer both during construction and once trains start running.

    It really is time people stopped looking back to the 1960’s thinking that is the future. The events of this past year will only accelerate in the coming decade: CoViD is here to stay; adding another dimension to the perfect storm…

  • @ Graham Jeffs and Chris Bertram “HS2, the construction of which is wreaking havoc in South Bucks”……. Not me, chums, but Lib Dem ‘The Voice’, more convenient/disingenuous to keep quiet about official Lib Dem policy ?

  • Andy Boddington 12th Jun '21 - 6:01am

    I penned this article for Voice. It though it wrong to mention Cheryl Gillan without her opposition to HS2. How this figures in the current campaign, I don’t know as I am not on the ground. Also, my opposition to HS2 and my belief that the Lib Dems have pursued the wrong policy is documented here on Lib Dem Voice.

    This said, it is time to concentrate on getting another MP. Let’s get on the phones and turn the voters out.

  • Peter Watson 12th Jun '21 - 10:23am

    Apparently, “Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has said that his party’s candidate Sarah Green will be a strong voice against the project [HS2]” (https://www.buckinghamshirelive.com/news/buckinghamshire-news/chesham-amersham-election-green-party-5483258).

    If the party’s policy on HS2 can be ignored in order to win a seat, what could this mean for other party policies?

    A few years ago, a conference vote called on the government to “abandon the selection by ability and social separation of young people, into different schools”; is that being mentioned in Chesham & Amersham with its “top-notch” grammar schools? (I sometimes think I’m the only person in the UK who remembers that ‘policy’ so I very much doubt it! 🙁 ).

    UBI and alleviating poverty gets a lot of coverage here on LDV; is that being discussed just as much in an affluent constituency with a lot of people whose tax bills might rise to redistribute wealth to pay for it?

    What is the image of the party that is being portrayed in Chesham and Amersham (“we’re the conservatives you can vote for between meals without ruining your appetite”?)? And, despite activists apparently flocking into the constituency from across the UK, is it an image that Lib Dems in other parts of the country would recognise?

  • Andrew McCaig 13th Jun '21 - 8:39pm

    There are plenty of Lib Dems who oppose HS2. And there are many Lib Dem MPs who do not agree or vote for every official policy. I would like to think that the Lib Dems would allow MPs to follow their conscience rather than slavishly follow the Whip.

  • Like all parties there is divison of HS2, even in the Greens. I am very, very much in favour and wish it had been done in the 1980/90’s. To me the arguments rolled out against it replicate many that were ushered in rural areas when the railways and motorways were first built, remember the M40 and the tunnel through the Chilterns.
    By the time of the next General Election it will be so far advanced we won’t hear much about it.

  • Peter Watson 14th Jun '21 - 9:07am

    @Andrew McCaig “there are many Lib Dem MPs who do not agree or vote for every official policy”
    I think there’s an important distinction between a sitting MP maintaining a position that contradicts their party’s policy (whether that’s Cheryl Gillan on HS2 or Stephen Lloyd on Brexit – though the latter received pretty short shrift from his party!), and selection of a new candidate to work opportunistically against party policy on a locally popular issue. What is the point in members from across the country agreeing a national policy if it can be ignored and undermined so readily? It risks simply giving the impression that the only truly consistent policy is “what do we say to win here?”. 🙁

    Having said that, I don’t know if Sarah Green is actively campaigning against HS2 or, despite the influx of activists, even talking about grammar schools, poverty, UBI and other national issues. Looking at her website and little “meet the candidates” profiles in the media, I get the impression of a local council election with a “not in my backyard” platform, cashing in on a sense that the Tories have taken local voters for granted. Perhaps the strategy is to present a “don’t scare the horses” small-c (with a dollop of big-C) conservative facade which disguises a more radical core. One can but hope!

  • William Francis 14th Jun '21 - 1:27pm

    @Roland.

    Building new railways is if anything anti-1960s thinking. That was the era of mass motorway expansion and the Beeching cuts. This country’s continual dependency on car-based transport has been economically, socially, and environmentally disastrous.

  • HS2 was originally proposed to relieve congestion on the Euston to Birmingham route and the higher speeds would be possible because of changes in technology and land procurement since the original route was built as presumably landowners could not prevent their land being used but the time savings were not spectacular and could have been achieved by reducing the number of stops on some trains. If we really wanted to have a true High Speed route it would only make sense if it ran from London to Edinburgh/ Aberdeen or Glasgow but that is not planned although time savings would be sufficient to enable trains to compete with air travel. The Government must be hoping that the fall in the number of passengers caused by Covid19 will be reversed or the whole thing would become a white elephant and a huge burden on the taxpayers.

  • John Littler 15th Jun '21 - 8:52pm

    I used to support HS2 in the manner that any rail infrastructure has to be good, but examination of the facts show it to be uniquely bad.

    High speeds and enormous, broad concrete facilities, plus the destruction of 100’s of ancient woods make it impossible to be Green. The trees are being dumped on a handful of businesses who cannot cope with them all.

    Other technical systems that exist now or will appear soon, would be greener using less energy and concrete.

    Since the Zoom meetings revolution, many business and work trips are no longer needed and the business plan will be long out of relevance

    For everyone between outer London and Birmingham, it is in the way rather than means of transport. I have found some journeys by road in Northamptonshire seem impossible due to endless closed roads. Hundreds of lorries rattle through villages very day.

    HS2 does not properly integrate with existing rail and would dump people between cities without easy options. The real task is to allow London to hoover up more workers from Birmingham, in a south East centric vision. The money should have been spread around everywhere

  • Thomas Smith 15th Jun '21 - 9:25pm

    @David Raw
    One can be for high speed rail links, including HS2, without necessarily being good with how it is actually being managed and made in reality. In reality without checks and proper management HS2 will cause even more damage to south Bucks and Herts, and there is a (currently unmanaged) risk of water supply contamination.
    And even if the party position was to be unthinkingly pro-HS2, we aren’t a party that forces everyone within it to hold exactly the same opinions on absolutely everything.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '21 - 2:31am

    The Lib Dems are also taking advantage of local disquiet about the effect of Tory planning reforms. This might be wrapped up in such sentiments as that “the wrong homes will be built in the wrong places” but what is really meant is that there shouldn’t be any significant development in C&A.

    So once again we have a Lib Dem policy which is ultra flexible. LibDems, nationally, are saying we need more houses built to solve the housing problem but locally it is a different story. Then there are different considerations. Especially in places like C&A if there are votes to be had in campaigning to the contrary.

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