On the campaign trail in Cambridge

I have just come in from a day on the streets of Chesterton West, one of the wards in Cambridge City, with Nick Hillman, the recently elected PPC for Cambridge.  Nick and I spent the morning canvassing together then split up for the afternoon to distribute as many leaflets as possible.

Cambridge is one of the most volatile constituencies in the country: In the last 25 years all three parties have held the seat, and all three have come in third place.  2005 was a bad year for the Conservatives, taking just 16.5% of the vote, with the Lib Dems and Labour taking 44% and 34% respectively.  Nick has a huge hill to climb! 

However all three parties are fielding new PPCs and there is a general sentiment that the Lib Dems have failed to deliver against their 2005 election promises, nationally or in the constituency.  Furthermore Conservative MPs hold all neighbouring constituencies around Cambridge, as well as the County Council, and polls show huge gains over the last 2 years since the council elections.  2010 could be the Conservative’s best opportunity to win back Cambridge City in years.

Nick has to seen as a huge asset for the Conservatives in Cambridge.  Since his selection in December he has moved to Cambridge with his wife and thrown himself wholeheartedly into campaigning for the election, come snow, wind or rain (and we had a lot of that today!).  He has an engaging style and is quick to detect the sentiment of voters as he canvasses.  I am sure he will capture a huge share of the swing from both Labour and Lib Dem which is, from what I saw today, very strong.


About Stephen Oliver

I am a management consultant/non-executive director and charity trustee based in Switzerland.
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2 Responses to On the campaign trail in Cambridge

  1. Phil Rodgers says:

    I’m a bit curious about your statement that “polls show huge gains over the last 2 years since the council elections”. Firstly, Cambridge has council elections every year – in the most recent lot, the Liberal Democrats won 10 seats, Labour 2, the Greens 1, and the Conservatives none at all, out of the 13 in the new Cambridge constituency. Hardly compelling evidence of a Conservative resurgence. Secondly, looking at the graph of polling intentions at http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/voting-intention, the Conservative poll rating is (marginally) lower than it was two years ago, whereas the Liberal Democrats have (slightly) increased. Which polls are you referring to?

  2. Hi there.

    I don’t consider Cambridge City Council election results to be representative of parliamentary voting intention. For one thing voters don’t look at the two elections the same way and won’t necessarily vote for the same party in local or national elections. Also the ways that wards are structured distorts the picture completely – you need to look at overall share of vote, not seats won, to gauge party support in the City. The report you link to shows that all major party support plummeted last years as a result of the expenses debate and overall Conservatives and Lib Dems are up on the situation at the last election (with Lib Dem up marginally over the last 24 months).

    The local voting intention polls I have seen tend to show a very strong swing from Labour to Conservative in the City. I wouldn’t say that there is a particularly strong swing away from Lib Dem, but subjectively (talking to voters while canvassing) I would say the Lib Dem vote was softer (more prone to influence by external factors).

    Regardless of whether you think it’s right or wrong, local voting in general elections is influenced by the national situation. Compared to 2005, many more Lib Dem voters now will look at the national position, want to see Labour out and vote for a change at Westminster by voting Conservative, whilst quite possibly wanting to support Lib Dem in the local elections.

    That’s my view, anyway! I agree that polling is a black art and whichever poll you look at you can see a range of possible outcomes.

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