Forest of Dean voters will have a choice between six parties when they go to the polls tomorrow

The candidates are: Matt Bishop, Labour; Stanley Goodin, Reform UK; Mark Harper, Conservative; James Michael Joyce, Liberal Democrats; Chris McFarling, Green Party; Saiham Sidker, Socialist Labour Party.

The former West Gloucestershire constituency has only had two MPs since it became the Forest of Dean in 1997.

Labour’s Diana Organ was the MP from 1997 until 2005 when incumbent Mark Harper was elected. 

The candidates have set out below the reasons why people should vote for them.

Matt Bishop – Labour Party

Matt Bishop, Labour
Matt Bishop, Labour (Forest of Dean Labour Party)

I love the Forest of Dean. It’s where I’ve chosen to live and work and I want to represent this area in the way it deserves. Labour can win here.

Tactical voting sites and all polling is showing that only I can beat Mark Harper, in spite of what other parties might claim. My home is Cinderford with my wife and teenage children.

I was born in Newport, South Wales, and joined the police aged 18. A car accident on duty resulted in injuries that led to the difficult decision to leave the police, and many medical interventions.

I’m proud of my time in the force and know how important it is to have strong, functional policing.

Since then, I’ve worked for children’s social Care, as a tenancy enforcement caseworker in social housing and currently I’m an education welfare officer at a secondary school.

My public sector experience, in areas that often impact the vulnerable, make me hugely aware of difficulties people face. I’m a governor and trustee for several schools, a member of Gloucestershire Schools Forum and a local leader in Governance.

I see the need for more teachers and Labour’s plans for breakfast clubs will give all children a better start. I will fight for a better, stronger NHS.

People need better access to high quality services and dentists. The Conservatives have rolled back environmental commitments, granted new licences for oil and gas drilling and allowed private companies to pollute our waterways.

The Wye and the Severn have been badly affected. Labour will sanction water companies, has bold policies for improving homes, tackling pollution and creating a new public energy company to drive renewable electricity and cut energy bills.

The Forest of Dean has the Secretary of State for Transport as its MP, but roads and public transport are in a terrible state. It’s time for change. Living standards are down. Ambulances don’t come. Schools crumble, sewage floods our waters. Mortgages and food prices are through the roof.

If I’m elected, I will hold regular surgeries. I will be visible. I will answer your questions and I will take matters to Parliament that are important to you.

Stanley Goodin – Reform UK

Stanley Goodin, Reform UK
Stanley Goodin, Reform UK (©Stanley Goodin)

Discovering the Reform Party through a friend was a game-changer. Their vision for rebuilding our nation resonated deeply with me, offering hope I hadn’t felt in years.

I’m passionate about their commitment to fixing the NHS, education, social care, immigration, and the cost of living. It’s time for real change, and the Reform Party is leading the way.

Help me represent you in Westminster. I will champion the causes that will make your lives better. Vote Reform. Vote Stanley Goodin

Mark Harper – Conservative and Unionist Party

Mark Harper, Conservative
Mark Harper, Conservative (© Mark Harper)

I’m Mark Harper and I am standing as your Conservative candidate for the Forest of Dean at the General Election on July 4th. The Forest of Dean has been my home for 24 years, and it has been my privilege to represent it in Parliament for the last 19 of those.

If re-elected, I will continue to build on my strong record of delivery. I have helped strengthen local NHS services by securing £23 million for a new community hospital in Cinderford which recently opened its doors.

This comes on top of the town’s new primary care centre. If re-elected, I will work to ensure that Coleford receives its new £5.4 million primary care centre and continue to work with NHS Gloucestershire to deliver a similar facility in Lydney.

I have used my role as Secretary of State for Transport to ensure that the priorities of the Government in London reflect the challenges of rural areas like ours. I worked with Conservative councillors to secure £100 million of funding to fix potholes in Gloucestershire. I also freed up nearly £88 million more funding to spend on our local roads by reallocating savings from HS2.

As Transport Secretary, I have capped bus fares at £2. I’ve also helped deliver the bookable, on-demand minibus – The Robin – to service harder to reach places. I plan to continue delivering more investment for local roads and buses.

I also worked with Rishi Sunak, when he was Chancellor, to secure £20 million for the Forest of Dean from the Levelling Up Fund which is already being spent on delivering new sports facilities at Five Acres, opportunities at Hartpury University and community spaces in Cinderford. If re-elected, I will work to complete the delivery of these projects.

Finally, I will continue leading the campaign to boost broadband speeds in the Forest. 70% of residents now have access to ultrafast broadband, up from 10% in 2019, and I will work to ensure that a £23 million investment recently announced by the Government sees this expanded to even more homes.”

James Michael Joyce – Liberal Democrats

James Joyce, Liberal Democrat
James Joyce, Liberal Democrat (© James Joyce)

James Joyce will be your Liberal Democrat candidate for the Westminster elections on 4 July. He lives in Ashleworth near Tewkesbury  and has a strong record of public service, currently being a parish councillor, a governor of Newent Community School and a trustee of Gloucester Sea Scouts.

He was deputy leader of Norfolk County Council for three years and – significantly for someone who would be representing our constituency in Parliament – has operated at the highest levels, for example mediating between multinational companies and foreign governments.

James says: “I have been campaigning for over 20 years and I’m proud to have used my voice to speak out on a range of issues at a local, regional and national level; from special educational needs and improving local roads, to protecting ourwildlife and our precious rivers”

He adds that among his proudest achievements is being asked by his local community if he and his wife would run the local post office that was threatened with closure. They did, and it survived.

The Liberal Democrats have a strong record of continuous service in their local communities. James is pictured above with two members of the team, Vilnis Vesma and Gill Moseley, respectively former and current Forest of Dean district councillors

Chris McFarling – Green Party

Green candidate Chris McFarling
Green candidate Chris McFarling (© Chris McFarling)

I am Chris McFarling, seeking your support to become the Forest of Dean’s first Green MP – offering real hope and real change. In the Forest of Dean, a Green vote is the only way to see off the Tories. In last year’s local elections,

Greens secured 25% of the popular vote, Labour only 9 per cent. That means voting Labour would be a wasted vote and let the Tories back in. Through fair taxation and by increasing taxes for the super-rich we will create a fairer society and provide proper support for people through the cost-of-living crisis.

Greens put wellbeing before corporate profit and will defend the NHS from the piecemeal privatisation we’ve seen under Tory and Labour governments. We will properly fund the NHS to bring down waiting lists and ensure everyone’s right to see a GP and a dentist. We will promote a thriving, sustainable local food economy and support farmers as they transition to regenerative farming.

Only the Greens will bring back the water companies into public hands and stop them dumping sewage in our seas and rivers. Only Greens in parliament will take the action needed to clean up the Wye and Severn.

For the sake of our own and future generations we will work tirelessly to protect nature and tackle the climate emergency. And, of course, we will protect our Forest from any further attempts to sell it off.

As your MP, I will listen to and work with young people and teachers to raise aspirations and encourage a culture of inclusion and empowerment for everyone in the Forest. I will continue to advocate for better public transport, greater support for sustainable local businesses and a green economy that benefits all residents, not just a select few.

I will back an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Gaza. There is no greater honour for me than to serve the people of the place I have called home for more than 20 years. Voting Green is the only vote for real change and real hope – the only vote for a fairer future. Your vote matters. Please make it count.

Saiham Sidker – Socialist Labour Party

Saiham Sidker, Socialist Labour
Saiham Sidker, Socialist Labour (©Saiham Sidker)

My name is Siaham Sidker. I am here to be the servant of the people of the Forest Of Dean.

The voice to represent the our area, the people and the communities. I am not a self serving voice to represent myself.

I am a true voice of Forest Of Dean for Forest of Dean. As we stand on the brink of a new era for the Forest Of Dean, we envision a beautiful area transformed by the principles of socialism, where the collective good triumphs over individual greed.

Our mission is to foster a community where every citizen’s basic needs are met, ensuring equality, justice, and shared prosperity. First, we will nationalise key industries, including healthcare, housing, and education.

By eliminating the profit motive, we can ensure that everyone has access to essential services, reducing inequality and improving quality of life. We will implement a robust public housing program to provide affordable homes for all, ending homelessness and housing insecurity.

Our economy will be restructured to prioritise workers’ rights and cooperative ownership. By supporting worker-owned businesses and cooperatives, we will create a more democratic workplace, where profits are shared among those who contribute to the success of the enterprise.

We will invest in sustainable infrastructure, focusing on renewable energy and public transportation, reducing our carbon footprint while creating green jobs. This will not only address the climate crisis but also stimulate economic growth.

Through communal decision-making processes, every citizen will have a voice in shaping the Forests future. Together, we will build a local community where resources are distributed fairly, opportunities are abundant, and everyone thrives.

Kier Starmer’s new Labour is not true Labour. It’s a self serving party.

We want our tax money spent our communities, our health, our NHS and our schools, not on wars thousands of miles away where suffering and pain is directly financed by our tax money. Please vote for fairness, true beliefs, equality and collective community working for the best of our community.

We are your voice the voice of the people.