Absence of Conservative candidate from Stafford climate election hustings seen as ‘disappointing’

Stafford green election hustings at Oddfellows Hall

Nathan Hine

Conservative party candidate Theodora Clarke was absent at Stafford’s 2019 general election hustings about climate change and the environment.

Nearly 100 people attended this topical election hustings at Oddfellows Hall on Greengate Street, Stafford on Tuesday November 26. Labour’s Joyce Still and Green party candidate Emma Carter debated issues ranging from the climate emergency to bin collection in Stafford. 

Left-right: Green candidate Emma Carter, chair Alison Thomas, and Labour candidate Joyce Still at Stafford green election hustings

Liberal Democrat candidate Alex Wagner was due to come until a work commitment at the last minute prevented him from attending.

Green Party candidate Emma carter said: “I think that every hustings should have environment at its core. We are in a climate emergency and we need to make sure that we talk about the environment at every possible opportunity.”

But despite the ‘elephant’ that was not in the room, it was a very productive debate with both candidates presenting their own positive visions on this important issue.

On the absence of Miss Clarke, Ms Carter added: “I think it is really disappointing that Theo wasn’t here tonight. I think to miss the opportunity to be questioned by people who care so much about sustainability was a real shame and I encourage her to spend some time talking to people about sustainability in the election as there are people who really care.”    

Stafford Conservatives were asked to provide a statement to be read out at the event but were unable to do so.

The biggest difference in policy was over the proposed high-speed rail link (HS2), with Labour supporting the scheme, whereas the Green party opposed the policy, which has already cost over 10s of billions of pounds to date.

Ms Carter cited the huge ecological cost of the project, and made the case that the scheme should be scrapped, with the money better spent on a new national railway scheme to more efficiently connect the existing railway network.

Flooding also took centre stage, with recent flash flooding events in Stafford having devastated some parts of the town last month. So much so that the Wetherspoons pub in town remains closed, with freak weather events only likely to get worse. 

Labour Party candidate Joyce Still’s message was: “Vote Labour because Labour have got the green industrial revolution where we have pledged to substantially cut carbon emissions by 2030. We have got the most radical programme to tackle climate change in any manifesto.”

The event was organised by Sustainability Matters as part of a series of five election hustings which will take place in Stafford before the general election on December 12. 

Stafford voted for outgoing Conservative MP Jeremy Lefroy at the 2017 general election by a majority of 7,729.