General election 2019: Extinction Rebellion turns up the heat on Milton Keynes general election candidates over climate policies

Climate activists at Extinction Rebellion put the heat on general election candidates over their environmental credentials at a hustings event in Milton Keynes.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 6:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 11:30 am

The meeting even attracted the attention of the police, with organisers telling the audience that they had explained to officers that no-one was planning to superglue themselves to anything.

While the boys in blue did turn up to the hustings held at Emerson Valley Community Centre, neither of the city’s true blue Conservative candidates did.

Labour’s candidate in MK South, Hannah O’Neill, lambasted her Tory opponent, Iain Stewart, for his parliamentary record in voting against climate change issues.

Standing up, Labour's Hannah O'Neill

“The only way to beat Iain Stewart is to vote Labour in this election,” she told the crowd, outlining her party’s environmental policies.

She lost to Mr Stewart by 1,665 votes in 2017, with 1,895 voting Lib Dem and 1,179 casting their cross for the Greens two years ago.

Labour’s candidate feels confident of winning on Thursday (December 12), but she admitted to being “really new to understanding the issue of climate change”.

And on Labour’s policy of supporting nuclear energy in the short term she came under criticism, asking the crowd “please don’t hold it against me.”

Lib Dem Aisha Mir

She said Labour locally and nationally had many green policies such as insulating homes to reduce carbon dioxide.

Green party candidates Alan Francis (MK South) and Catherine Rose (MK North), were playing on home turf.

Mr Francis, who gave up his car 20 years ago for environmental reasons and who was arrested during peace protests in the 1980s, disagrees with the Green party nationally over its opposition to the HS2 train line through Buckinghamshire.

“I am not as hostile to it as my party is,” he said. “We need more capacity on the railways. If we are going to get a modal shift in the way people travel, we need another railway between the north and the south.”

Catherine Rose of the Green Party

Independent candidate in MK South, Stephen Fulton, said his attention is “MK Centric” but he “struggled to see what the value of HS2 is”, as well as the estimated £100 billion costs.

Lib Dem Aisha Mir said her party’s top priority is to stop Brexit, but that they want to set up a new government department for the climate. The Lib Dems also support HS2, she said.

The two Conservative candidates weren’t the only ones absent. Labour’s MK North candidate Charlynne Pullen, Amarachi Marilyn Ogba, the Christian Peoples Alliance candidate in MK South, and Lib Dem Saleyha Ahsan (MK South) also passed on their apologies.

After the meeting, responding to criticism of his environmental record Mr Stewart said it has been his "privilege” to work on issues including tackling climate change and decarbonising transport which are of “great concern to many residents”.

Standing up, Alan Francis of the Green Party

“I will continue to work hard to ensure that this generation leaves the planet in a better condition for the next ones,” he said.

Standing up, independent candidate Stephen Fulton