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Conservative Wycombe candidate Steve Baker apologises over leaflet claim
A CONSERVATIVE election candidate has apologised to a Liberal Democrat rival over a claim in campaign literature – and is accused of potentially misleading voters over another.
Steve Baker apologised after saying ‘Lib Dems want to abolish grammar schools’ in a leaflet handed to shoppers in High Wycombe on Saturday.
Lib Dem candidate Steve Guy said this was not party policy – though he personally wanted selection at the age of 11 to end.
And he hit out at another leaflet which said Mr Baker would not claim for a second home – even though this right has been abolished in light the expenses scandal.
Mr Baker said of the grammar claim: “I was referring to Steve Guy and I apologise for not using Steve Guy specifically in literature.
“If you vote Lib Dem here you are voting for Steve Guy’s abolition of grammar schools.”
The leaflet also says Labour wants to abolish selection.
Candidate Andrew Lomas has said he wants the system scrapped but the party’s manifesto while ruling out a ‘return to the 11-plus’ does not pledge to close existing grammars.
Mr Guy accused the Tory candidate of ‘scaremongering’ He said: “It is categorically not true. There is no plan by me or the Lib Dems to do with the grammar school system in Buckinghamshire.”
The candidate said the party ‘do not have a national policy’ and said the issue is not mentioned in its manifesto.
Yet he said: “My personal view is, yes, I want to abolish 11+ selection.”
And he attacked another leaflet from Mr Baker which said the Conservative would not claim a second home – even though this entitlement had been abolished under expenses reforms (see link, bottom of story).
It said: “He lives in West Wycombe and will commute to Parliament, and will not claim a second home allowance.”
Mr Guy said: “If anyone has received the impression from that that any of the other candidates would be taking a second home then they would be misled.
“It is not an issue any more – and quite rightly.”
Yet Mr Baker said: “We just left it in to make it clear.”
He said: “There was no intention to mislead – it is simply stating that is the fact.”
Mr Baker – who is the bookies’ favourite to win the seat – said he had made it ‘absolutely clear’ he would not claim for a second home since being selected in October.
He is replacing Wycombe MP Paul Goodman, who announced last year he is stepping down over his disillusionment with Parliament. He claimed mortgage interest on a second home in High Wycombe.
Labour candidate Mr Lomas has also hit headlines over a leaflet which attacked Tory-run councils in Bucks over hospital bed blocking and a move to ‘hike’ council house rents (see link, bottom of story).
Buckinghamshire County Council said Mr Lomas did not use latest figures which showed the situation had improved – while Wycombe District Council said rents were set by Government.
Click the links below for more election stories and to view election leaflets from Wycombe candidates.