South Cambridgeshire constituency member of parliament Andrew Lansley has announced that he will be retiring as an MP at the next General Election. Mr Lansley has been MP for this area (which includes the Queen Edith’s ward of Cambridge city) since 1997. There had been widespread speculation that he could be nominated as the UK’s next European commissioner, but the Prime Minister announced today that the former Leader of the Lords, Lord Hill, had been put forward. Channel 4 journalist Victoria MacDonald suggested in a piece entitled Why I feel a bit sorry for Andrew Lansley… that “When push comes to shove, Mr Lansley was well and truly shoved.”
At the last General Election, Mr Lansley had a comfortable majority of 7,838 over his closest challenger. With the Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates receiving over 77% of the votes between them, and Liberal Democrat popularity now substantially lower than in 2010, the South Cambridgeshire seat must be considered a safe one for the Conservatives. This has led to some speculation that it might be used by the party to “parachute” a favoured candidate into parliament. In the selection of a successor to Mr Lansley, the Conservative hierarchy will certainly wish to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing scenes in neighbouring South-East Cambridgeshire earlier this year.
The other two main parties already have candidates in place for 2015. The Liberal Democrats have again gone for former South Cambridgeshire District Council leader Sebastian Kindersley. And the Labour Party has chosen our own Queen Edith’s city councillor Sue Birtles. No other party, including local independent Robin Page, got even close to a 5% share of the vote at the last election.