Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Phil Rodgers: What might happen in the General Election in the Cambridge region – plus a look at the Queen Edith’s by-election





Opinion | Our political columnist Phil Rodgers looks ahead to the General Election, and considers the Queen Edith’s by-election.

It has certainly been a turbulent few years for British politics. Since 2016 we’ve had Brexit, Corbynmania, the pandemic, Partygate, Trussonomics, and no fewer than five Prime Ministers and seven Chancellors.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Picture: Geoff Robinson Photography
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Picture: Geoff Robinson Photography

Sometimes it seemed that the only element of stability in Downing Street was Larry the cat. And now that we’ve managed to keep the same Prime Minister for nearly a whole year, the next General Election is starting to loom on the horizon. Well, at least we won’t be bored.

At the moment Labour has an opinion poll lead of around 15 to 20 points, more than enough to put Keir Starmer into Number Ten with a comfortable majority. However, quite a lot of that lead is due to people who voted Conservative in 2019 now putting themselves in the Don’t Know column, and it remains to be seen just how that will change as polling day approaches. It’s also worth remembering how much British politics was dominated by Brexit in 2019 - the unwinding of the Brexit factor will certainly be significant.

Here’s a look at the prospects for Cambridge and the neighbouring seats. The graphs show the General Election results since 2010 on the old seat boundaries. However, the next election will be fought with new boundaries, another factor making the situation harder to predict.

Cambridge

The boundary changes leave the Cambridge seat mostly unchanged, with just poor old Cherry Hinton being lopped off and moved to the South Cambs constituency.

General Election results in Cambridge. Graph: Phil Rodgers
General Election results in Cambridge. Graph: Phil Rodgers

After a knife-edge contest in 2015, the city produced comfortable Labour wins at the last two General Elections, and another victory for Daniel Zeichner seems much the most likely result next time. Although Daniel is now the proud possessor of an older person’s bus pass, he shows no signs of slowing down politically, and I’m sure he is hoping to be a minister in a Labour government. The Lib Dems have selected Castle ward councillor Cheney Payne as their candidate, while the Greens will be represented by Coleridge ward activist Sarah Nicmanis. The Conservatives haven’t yet selected a candidate for Cambridge, but as they finished a distant third in the last three elections, it may not be their top priority.

South Cambridgeshire

The South Cambs seat is likely to be one of the most closely fought contests locally, and represents the Lib Dems’ best hope of gaining an MP in the county.

General Election results in South Cambridgeshire. Graph: Phil Rodgers
General Election results in South Cambridgeshire. Graph: Phil Rodgers

Their candidate Pippa Heylings has been in place for nearly two years, and was recently joined by Conservative hopeful Chris Carter-Chapman. As you can see from the graph, the Lib Dems were overtaken in South Cambs by Labour following the coalition years, but came back strongly during the Brexit turmoil of 2019. Labour will be hoping that the national swing in the polls will put them back in contention. The boundary changes mean that the seat loses some of its western parts and gains territory from South East Cambs, but this isn’t likely to make a big difference politically.

General Election results in South East Cambridgeshire. Graph: Phil Rodgers
General Election results in South East Cambridgeshire. Graph: Phil Rodgers

Ely and East Cambridgeshire

The boundary changes move the old South East Cambs seat to the north, and as a result it is being renamed to Ely and East Cambridgeshire. The changes are likely to favour the Conservatives a little, as the seat is losing a yellow-tinged southern edge and gaining bluer territory from the north. Cabinet minister Lucy Frazer has held the seat since Jim Paice retired in 2015, and it would be quite a shock if a rising opposition tide reached high enough to sweep her away. The Lib Dems have selected district councillor Charlotte Cane as their candidate.

St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire

The boundary changes are adding a new Cambridgeshire seat, stretching from St Neots in the west to Histon and Willingham in the east. Taking territory from the old South Cambs and Huntingdon seats, plus a little of South East Cambs, it has been awarded the rather unwieldy name of St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire. Politically it looks like being a bit better for the Conservatives than the new South Cambs seat, and this may well have been a factor in Anthony Browne’s choice to stand here rather than there - though it does contain about 30% of the old South Cambs seat which he currently represents. The Lib Dems have recently selected Ian Sollom, who came close to winning the South Cambs seat in 2019.

Queen Edith’s by-election

Whenever the General Election comes, we are guaranteed some earlier electoral excitement in Cambridge thanks to a city council by-election in Queen Edith’s ward.

Sam Davies resigned as an independent councillor in Queen Edith's . Picture: Keith Heppell
Sam Davies resigned as an independent councillor in Queen Edith's . Picture: Keith Heppell

This follows the resignation of Independent councillor Sam Davies, who is moving away from Cambridge with her family early next year. Personally I’m very sorry to see Sam go - she worked very hard at representing her ward, brought a fresh perspective to the city council, and did a great job of communicating with her constituents. The council will certainly miss her.

If Sam had resigned in a few weeks time, she would have been within the last six months of her term of office, meaning that no by-election would have been held. By resigning now she ensures that her successor will be in place much sooner, instead of leaving the seat empty until the May elections. So how is the by-election contest likely to pan out? The graph shows the results in the ward for the last few years.

Local election results in Queen Edith's. Graph: Phil Rodgers
Local election results in Queen Edith's. Graph: Phil Rodgers

As you can see, Queen Edith’s is usually fairly safe for the Lib Dems, at least when Sam isn’t standing. Labour have generally finished a little way behind the yellow team, with the Greens and Conservatives battling for the last two places. However, at the last election there was a noticeable swing to the Conservatives, who were campaigning against the congestion charge. I’m expecting a closely fought contest this time; while the Lib Dems are certainly favourites, they won’t be taking anything for granted.

Labour will be keen to give their formidable Cambridge campaign organisation some practice ahead of the General Election, and the Conservatives will be particularly interested in this contest as, unlike most city council wards, Queen Edith’s is in the South Cambridgeshire Parliamentary constituency.

The Greens will also be hoping to continue the recent increase in their strength on the council. And as we saw in King’s Hedges earlier this year, local by-elections don’t always turn out as you might expect.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More