Friday, May 8, 2009

Runners and Riders for June 4th

The City Council has just announced nominations for the elections to be held on June 4th in the City Council area – 14 County Council seats, and 1 City Council by-election in East Chesterton.

Best wishes to Martin Ballard who is standing down as Coleridge County Councillor.

As usual, the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens will contest all seats up for grabs – it is important for supporters of a (more-or-less) mainstream party to know they have a candidate to vote for, even if they are unlikely to win the seat. UKIP have local candidates in the usual wards – including Coleridge. This is very frustrating for us as they really cannot win locally in Coleridge, but tempt some of our supporters to vote for them, thus helping Labour (whose policies are completely contrary to what I think UKIP claims to stand for!) – we can but try to explain this to the electorate.

Labour nationally have plummeted in the polls, on the back of Gordon Brown’s disastrous Boom and Bust leadership. But local factors can reduce the impact of this, and many wards that would be lost on a straight national opinion poll swing may be held, or could even be gained.

Additionally, the gloss has finally come off the Lib Dems running the City Council – it is long overdue for a re-evaluation of just how well they are running things. You can’t pretend to be ‘just local people doing their best’ and ‘almost non-political’ when fighting elections, then act like ruthless and highly political automatons in Council without the electorate eventually noticing the obvious inconsistencies and treating them on their record. £9m in Icelandic banks, £650k of Folk Festival ticket sales apparently lost, mature trees chopped down in the Cambridge chainsaw massacre, Councillor disgraced at the standards committee for blockading an ambulance but still supported by his group, Council tax up 4.5% regardless of the economic situation the list goes on.

The results of the elections in the City are some of the least predictable for a long while, but here are my tips as to where the main action could be, and guide to who needs to win where to say they have had a good result.

Petersfield is a key battleground – the Lib Dems picked up one city seat in 2004 and then won again at County level in 2005 on the back of David Howarth’s parliamentary victory. Since then Labour have reclaimed many of the voters that were lent to the Lib Dems, and won the seat back at City level. But Lib Dem County Councillor Nichola ‘Focus on’ Harrison is a feisty woman (Nichola - what was that abuse at East Area committee last night all about – Andy Bower was only asking a question about Speedwatch effectiveness…I digress) – she won’t be giving up without a fight. The Conservatives also have an extremely strong candidate with popular Mill Road businessman Shapour Meftah.

Abbey saw Labour lose a rock solid seat to the Greens last year, by a surprisingly large margin – I think Labour had been half-asleep in the ward for some time, and it isn’t clear they have woken up yet. It would be an excellent result for Labour to hold the seat, but it is unclear if the Green party candidate for the ward this year has anything like the profile of the winning City Councillor last year – although he is a former Labour Councillor! Julian Huppert the retiring Lib Dem Councillor for East Chesterton is standing in the ward he now lives in - doubtless tasked with stopping the flood of votes from the Lib Dems to the Greens with one eye to the general election - lets hope they won't resort to lying about the Conservatives excellent prospects again - but knowing the Lib Dems, I somehow doubt it. The Lib Dems have come fourth in Abbey on the last two occasions, last time scoring a dismal 6.6%.

Arbury is another seat the Lib Dems won by borrowing a lot of voters from Labour (and I dare say the odd Conservative too – they’re not known as the all things to all people party for nothing). This started with a Lib Dem by-election victory in Feb 2000 (I wonder what happened to the Labour agent that told their activists not to do any campaigning in case it woke up the opposition…). But thanks to perseverance of Cllr Mike Todd-Jones, Labour seem to be regaining ground. Possible Labour gain from the Lib Dems. Look out for a strong showing for Conservative Daniel Whant!

Anything could happen in Castle, John Hipkin, the independent who won for the City last May is also standing for the County. John has previously stood as a Labour and Liberal Democrat councillor (and has just divorced from the Green-Independent group on the Council), so who knows what his politics really are, but he knows how to win local elections. Yes John, the Conservatives do put up candidates against independents - apart from some obvious common sense on some aspects of housing and planning, it is hard to see why he should appeal to Conservative voters at all on policy grounds. The Lib Dems will want to make sure it isn’t a repeat of last year, but they are going to be pushed for resources around the City, so may no longer be in control of elections in Castle. It will all come down to the student vote in Castle, which should be more accessible to mainstream political parties than independents, but possible independent gain. The Conservatives have a great chance with Eddy McNaghten, in a ward with much latent Conservative support.

Kings Hedges is a ward that had some very favourable boundary changes for the Lib Dems in 2004, and this may be a simple mopping up exercise of the County seat – gain from Labour, but watch out for local resident and Conservative candidate Matthew Adams. 

Its worth also commenting on Romsey – and how formerly ‘Red Romsey’ is now looking quite solidly Lib Dem. Labour seem to have completely lost the plot here – on a very bad night they may even be pushed back into third- the Conservative vote, with candidate and Cockburn Street resident Sam Barker has been improving rapidly in recent years - now only 250 behind Labour compared to nearly 900 behind a decade ago. Popular candidate Tom Woodcock is now standing as an independent rather than Respect or whatever the looney left call themselves these days.

Finally, interesting choice of Labour candidate in Newnham - former Lib Dem City Councillor Malcolm Schofield. Local resident and well known in the division - who knows what could happen.

So what of the Conservatives chances overall – we have some excellent candidates with a great chance of winning across the City - with a fair wind and the strong Conservative support in recent opinion polls we could win anywhere, but we haven’t won a County division in the City since 1989, so any victory this year will likely be hard fought and a good result. The Conservatives polled around 25% of the vote last time (comfortably enough to be within reach of winning the parliamentary seat), this situation is almost (I said almost Colin) enough to persuade me of the merits of proportional representation.

Coleridge is likely to be a hard fought and close battle again this year – every vote will count. We have huge amounts of support in Cherry Hinton. And with the Lib Dems pressed across the City, and the Conservatives a strong second in many places, I think we are favourite to take at least one division from the Lib Dems – but which one I think most likely, I’ll leave you to guess…

Here are the candidates:


HAIRE, Timothy J. Conservative

HUPPERT, Julian L. Liberal Democrat

SALES, Paul* Labour & Co-operative




KIDMAN, Ian C. Labour & Co-operative

MOSS-ECCARDT, Rupert W.G.* Liberal Democrat

TERRY, Catherine E. Green

WHANT, Daniel Conservative



BROOKS-GORDON, Belinda M. Liberal Democrat


HIPKIN, John Independent

LAWRENCE, Stephen R. Green

MACNAGHTEN, Edward A. Conservative



CARTER, Christine M.* Labour

EDKINS, Laurence K. Liberal Democrat

FORD, Neil A. Green

HARCOURT, Charles S. Conservative



BOWER, Andrew J. Conservative

HOPKINS, Valerie T. Green

TARIQ, Sadiq Labour


YATES, Thomas S. Liberal Democrat


EAST CHESTERTON – County Council Election


FREEMAN, Leonard A. Labour

POPE, Peter H. Green

STRACHAN, James A. Conservative

WIJSENBEEK, Siep S. Liberal Democrat


EAST CHESTERTON Ward – City By-election


FRANCIS, Kevin Conservative

KERR, Susannah Liberal Democrat

POPE, Peter H. Green

WAKEFORD, Samuel R. Labour



ADAMS, Matthew W. Conservative

HUGHES, Primrose E.* Labour

PELLEW, Andrew R. Liberal Democrat

YOUD, James C. Green



GARRETT, Keith A. Green

LAWLOR, Sheila Conservative

OWERS, George B. Labour

WHITEBREAD, Sarah C. Liberal Democrat


NETHSINGHA, Lucy K. Liberal Democrat

SCHOFIELD, Malcolm P. Labour

SHARPE, James A. Conservative

YOUNG, Robert Green



HARRISON, Nichola J.* Liberal Democrat

MAY, Jennifer Labour

MEFTAH, Shapour Conservative

MITCHELL, Shayne M. Green



DOUGLAS, Donald F. Conservative

GOODACRE, Jonathan H. Labour

HEATHCOCK, Geoffrey* Liberal Democrat

WESTCOTT, Brian Green



BARKER, Samuel J.W. Conservative

BARR, Marjorie R.H. UKIP

BOURKE, KILIAN* Liberal Democrat

FREEMAN, Christine Labour

RICHARDS, Philip Green

WOODCOCK, Thomas A. Independent



GALLOWAY, Ceri B. Green

IONIDES, John M. Conservative

SHEPHERD, Caroline Liberal Democrat

STACEY, Pamela M. Labour



COLLIS, Alexandra L.J. Green

MORLEY, Michael J. Conservative

SARGEANT, Michael G. Labour

WILKINS, Kevin* Liberal Democrat


Phil said...

"I wonder what happened to the Labour agent that told their activists not to do any campaigning [in the Feb 2000 Arbury by-election] in case it woke up the opposition" - Hmm, I think this must be a bit apocryphal. The Labour agent in the by-election was Mike T-J, and they were certainly working very hard.

Phil Rodgers (LD agent in the by-election)

Chris Howell said...

That was the story I heard! Have to say I never saw any evidence whatsoever of Labour activity in terms of canvassing in that particular by-election - the result supports the story as well...

Phil said...

That certainly doesn't accord with my recollection of the campaign...but we must agree to differ. In any case your colleague Viv Ellis did very well out of the by-election as we often ended up at his fish & chip shop in Arbury Court!

In other news, have you seen the statement of nominations for the Euro-elections? 14 parties and an independent...the ballot paper will be the size of a bath sheet.

Anna Smith said...

God help us if the Lib Dems take control of the County. After their scorched earth policy of destroying the finances and real services of the City Council the thought of that lot taking control at a County level is truely horrifying.

Anonymous said...

Do you know any more about the fracture of the Hipkin - Wright dream team?

Come on Chris - spill the beans!

Chris Howell said...

Sorry for late comment approval - been away for the weekend.

No specific information, we were just told: "the CEx has been advised today that Cllr Wright has indicated the wish to leave the G&I group. This takes effect today, Friday 8 May."

No idea why - they had claimed it was a non-political grouping despite the clear evidence to the contrary, perhaps the Greens in Cambridge have belated realised that they won't be able to convice the electorate of this and they would end up being associated with policies they didn't want to be.