Well, it’s been a quiet election campaign period here in Queen Edith’s. If you have friends or family in the city parliamentary constituency, they’ll tell you it’s been a lot busier there. The close nature of the race next door has drawn members of all parties into the city, and left just a tiny number of candidates and supporters to campaign for the South Cambridgeshire parliamentary constituency and the Queen Edith’s city council ward elections.
I don’t have access to any privileged information, but what the heck, let’s take some educated guesses as to what will happen on Thursday. It’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it? I’ll probably be miles out, but it’s just a bit of fun.
South Cambridgeshire parliamentary election
In the South Cambridgeshire parliamentary election, nobody is suggesting anything other than a comfortable win for Heidi Allen (Conservative). Although she is a first-time candidate in a constituency which is not used to change (Andrew Lansley has been the MP here for 18 years), and she is not a born-and-bred local, all Heidi has needed to do is to avoid any catastrophes, and that she has done with ease. Indeed, many people have been very impressed with how hard she has campaigned around the constituency. Prediction: 43% (–4%).
Sebastian Kindersley (Liberal Democrats) is standing for the second time, has fought a good campaign, and of course is extremely well known in his local council roles. However, Liberal Democrat fortunes in general are widely presumed to have peaked at the last general election. An Ashcroft poll in North East Cambridgeshire suggests that the party’s vote might be hugely reduced there, which may be the case here too. Prediction: 22% (–12%).
Conversely, following their miserable vote share in 2010, surely things can only get better for Labour, especially in areas such as Cambourne and Queen Edith’s. The party’s candidate Dan Greef appeared in this election relatively late on the scene, but has proved to be lively and likeable. Prediction: 16% (+6%).
UKIP have struggled to break just 3% in previous South Cambridgeshire elections, and their candidate Marion Mason hasn’t been given much to work with. However, the Ashcroft poll in North East Cambridgeshire looked very promising, and suggests that the party might give Labour a race here. Prediction: 14% (+11%).
Finally we have the impressive Simon Saggers (Green), who has done well at the hustings and may benefit from it being his fourth attempt at winning the seat. I can’t see the party making dramatic strides forward in the constituency, but the so-called “surge” in Green Party membership might take him over the line to deservedly retain his deposit. Prediction: 5% (+3%).
Queen Edith’s city council election
Here in the city, it’s been an interesting if slightly neglected race to be the next Queen Edith’s city councillor. George Pippas (Liberal Democrat) has a massive recognition advantage, having been a councillor for four years and having appeared all over his party’s frequent local communications to residents. I think it’s fair to say that George has worked hard, and it would take a remarkable campaigning effort from one of the other parties for him not to win again. There’s been no sign of anyone else having had the resources and the will to do that.
If we do get a change, I think that it may see Andy Bower take second place for the Conservatives. With the Labour party focusing so strongly on the city, we’ve heard very little from them, and Queen Edith’s may revert to the 1-2-3 we were used to before 2012. Andy polled strongly in the November by-election, and has at least some local recognition now.
As an aside, my recent survey, although small (40 local respondents), suggested that only George Pippas and Andy Bower have more than 50% of local residents recalling having had literature from them, although over 50% say they’ll decide who to vote for based on what they read. Interestingly, 80% of responders say they haven’t had a single local election candidate or representative speak to them on the doorstep.
Labour’s Matt Worth has some attactive ideas, but will surely suffer from a lack of exposure, and the fact that he’s not from the area and hasn’t had long to campaign. Joel Chalfen (Green) has a longer track record locally, speaks well, and undoubtedly has support for his party amongst students, so should poll decently.
Which leaves Candido Channell, the first UKIP candidate in Queen Edith’s for several years. To the candidate’s own surprise, his strongly-local campaign is proving to be very interesting, as evidenced by the number of people who read the pages about the council election on this very blog in the last 10 days:
This may be in part from a front-page link on the new South Cambs UKIP website. But even if it’s the case that UKIP candidates tend to get interest from a wider catchment area than your average politician, that’s still quite remarkable. Will it translate into votes on the day? If Candido can get a few people out who might not normally vote (a typical UKIP achievement), and if there are a number of residents who appreciate his “man of the people” appeal, he should achieve his aim of “putting UKIP on the map” in Queen Edith’s and getting one of the strongest UKIP votes in the city.
Queen Edith’s Online prediction:
George Pippas (Liberal Democrat): 32% (–11% compared to May 2014)
Andy Bower (Conservative): 24% (+8%)
Matt Worth (Labour): 23% (–7%)
Joel Chalfen (Green): 14% (+3%)
Candido Channell (UKIP): 7%
For the city council prospects elsewhere in Cambridge, do have a read of My predictions for the 2015 Cambridge local elections on Phil Rodgers’ blog.