Summary: MP for South Cambridgeshire switches as the Liberal Democrats seek to consolidate their hold on the doughnut around Cambridge City.
It felt from the other side of the road that this was only a matter of time. The city council ward of Queen Edith’s in Cambridge is the only council ward that falls with South Cambridgeshire Constituency – but not South Cambridgeshire District Council. A couple of years ago, the Tories on the county council reduced the number of county councillors on that council, which led to the scrapping of county council divisions that overlapped the city council wards – leading to me living in Queen Edith’s for county council purposes but Coleridge Ward for city council purposes. Makes sense?
Unlike 2017, the next general election campaign in South Cambridgeshire risks becoming toxic on the back of Boris and Brexit
In the run up to the 2017 general election, the candidates actually liked each other and generally refrained from personal attacks, focussing on local and national policies. Which made for a refreshing change. As a result, residents could get stuck into some big things. Like nationalisation.
“Yeah Dan, why do you want to re-nationalise the water…and everything else?” was the Q. Mr Greef’s response is worth listening to.
The problem with the up and coming campaign is that the Tories have selected a candidate with a past record of writing inflammatory articles on immigration during the 2000s – and now wants to represent a constituency that has one of the biggest hospitals in the country with specialist staff from all over the world in – staff that treated me during my heart troubles just under 2 years ago, as well as two Cambridge University colleges and two large further education colleges. Personally I am horrified by the prospect that Heidi could lose the seat to such an individual, and am astonished that the Tories could have selected such an individual to be their candidate – a move I can only put down to a backlash against Ms Allen for leaving the party in the first place.
People will inevitably call for a by-election following the switch. For me, I’m not too bothered if a general rule change is brought in as part of a massive overhaul of UK politics and institutions – we’re long over due one. Note before the First World War, when an MP was appointed a government minister they had to re-stand for a by-election. And it’s still strange to think that we are still less than 100 years into having universal suffrage – even though the UK imposed universal suffrage on Germany as part of the Treaty of Versailles. Hence why I take the UK’s historical democracy credentials with a pinch of salt when commentators wax lyrical about the UK Parliament being ‘the Mother of Parliaments’ or ‘the home of democracy’ etc.
It’s worth noting that the announcement has been carefully planned.
Above – Heidi Allen MP with Ian Sollom, former PPC for the Lib Dems in South Cambridgeshire, who is standing aside as their party’s candidate at the next general election so Ms Allen can defend her seat.
In the meantime, the protests on the climate emergency continue…
[*Updated to add:*]
Labour’s Dan Greef gave a short interview to BBC Look East (see here) – just as the Labour Party did with the first group of defections earlier this year. So that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given over 70 MPs switched parties in recent times, and given the reactions to this, there is a case for by-elections to be triggered when this happens. But it needs to be on a consistent basis and applied to all, not just to one group of MPs and not to others. Inevitably it’s the women MPs who get it in the neck more than men, as was recently shown in the Commons which was debating a report by the Committee for Standards in Public Life.
Tory vs Labour in South Cambridgeshire
Given the inflammatory articles the Conservative candidate has written and had published in the previous decade – something picked up by his opponents in the Lib Dems, this may well be something that Labour activists campaign on given the presence of a number of groups campaigning on the issue of migrants’ rights. Not surprising given the presence of not just the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, but also Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
The other line is the links to the occupant of 10 Downing Street as mentioned here. Additionally, expect Labour’s policy of abolishing private schools to come up given the schooling backgrounds.
Heidi Allen has the Liberal Democrat machine behind her, but how does she defend the past year?
Here’s one of the prominent points from the 2017 manifesto.
The Tories did not deliver the above, and Theresa May was forced to resign. Then there is Northern Ireland – something that is in the news as Britain appears to be spiralling towards No Deal (as at the time of writing – not including The Benn Act mechanisms kicking in).
And those are just two examples. My take is that it’s perfectly understandable for any MP to resign from a party that has walked away from both those manifesto commitments – mindful that the 2017 general election was pitched as a Brexit election: to give Theresa May a working majority to deliver it. The electorate said otherwise.
Furthermore, the failure of the Cabinet to defuse the tense atmosphere (Downing Street has done the opposite) is something Mr Greef will pick up on for sure.