General Election 2015 (Pt.2): How does South Cambridgeshire vote?

In the first part of my guide to the 2015 General Election for Queen Edith’s voters, I explained that our constituency is South Cambridgeshire, not Cambridge as you might expect. So it’s time to examine how South Cambridgeshire is likely to vote.

South Cambridgeshire was only created as a constituency in 1997, so we have just four General Elections to look back on. They results have a consistent pattern.

South Cambridgeshire Elected MPs
1997 Andrew Lansley Conservative 42%
2001 Andrew Lansley Conservative 44%
2005 Andrew Lansley Conservative 45%
2010 Andrew Lansley Conservative 47%

1997 was Mr Lansley’s first parliamentary election, and his share of the vote rose on each occasion. He was appointed Secretary of State for Health from 2010 until 2012, and Leader of the House of Commons from then until last year. On any measure, it can be described as a successful parliamentary career. However, last year he announced his retirement, and the local Conservative party has had to appoint a new candidate, potentially making the upcoming election more interesting than usual.

A Liberal Democrat candidate was in second place in each of these four elections, and intriguingly, they too increased their party’s share of the vote on each occasion. If it wasn’t a two-horse race back in 1997, it certainly was by 2010:

Andrew Lansley Conservative 27,995 47.4% +0.9%
Sebastian Kindersley Liberal Democrat 20,157 34.1% +5.8%
Tariq Sadiq Labour 6,024 10.2% –9.5%
Robin Page Independent 1,968 3.3%
Helene Davies-Green UKIP 1,873 3.2% +0.4%
Simon Saggers Green 1,039 1.8% –1.0%
Majority 7,838 13.3%
Turnout 59,056 74.8% +6.6%

Graph of South Cambridgeshire General Elections results

Based on the trends above, you might expect the leading two parties’ combined vote share to be heading towards an incredible 90% this year, with the other three all below the 5% mark, the point at which they lose their deposit. But trends in politics rarely continue indefinitely, and there are several factors which will come into play:

  • The Conservatives have a new candidate who will be unfamiliar to electors;
  • The Liberal Democrats are polling much lower nationally than in 2010;
  • The Labour Party is polling higher nationally than in 2010;
  • UKIP and the Green Party are polling much higher nationally than in 2010.

Most people I’ve spoken to think that if national trends are followed even to a small extent, the Conservative vote could fall but the majority could easily increase, perhaps substantially. One thing is for sure: although they’re not admitting it in public, all the parties in South Cambridgeshire know who’s going to win here – and at least three of them (if not all) are redirecting their canvassing manpower and effort to the more interesting contest taking place in the Cambridge constituency next door. There, it’s set to be tight between Labour and the Lib Dems, but all the other three parties think they have a chance of making an impact.

The bookies certainly think that a Conservative win in South Cambridgeshire is a foregone conclusion. At the time of writing, Paddy Power and William Hill are offering odds of a miniscule 1/50 – bet £50 with them on a Conservative win here and if it happens, they’ll give you just £51 back. You can get between 10/1 and 16/1 on a Lib Dem victory, and between 16/1 and 25/1 on UKIP coming through from 5th place last time to win. One bookie has Labour at the longest odds, 150/1.

Now read the third and final part of this guide to the 2015 General Election for Queen Edith’s voters, where I take a look at the individual candidates.

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