Cambridge candidates for General Election react to Labour Conference

Colm Murphy 24 September 2014

Labour’s Daniel Zeichner, the 2015 Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge, has welcomed pledges from Labour Party Conference in Manchester. Whereas Cambridge MP Julian Huppert of the Liberal Democrats, has questioned them.

Both are considered to be the two most likely candidates to win Cambridge in the 2015 election.

Speaking to The Cambridge Student, Zeichner discussed the contents of the main speeches, including those by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. Pledges included an increase of the minimum wage to £8 by 2020, and a jobs guarantee for young people.

“I’ve been part of the campaign for a Living Wage and a pay rise is very important to the working people of Cambridge.

“The Jobs guarantee for young people is also really important. We had an effective policy in the Future Jobs Fund, which the current government has scrapped, so we are more trustworthy on this issue. Ed Balls’ pledge will see guaranteed jobs for young people."

When contacted by TCS, Julian Huppert was unconvinced by his political opponents. “An increase in the minimum wage is a very good thing. However, current projections expect it to rise to £8 by 2020 anyway. What’s important is lifting the point where people start paying income tax, which I have supported and Daniel has personally opposed.”

He criticised Ed Miliband and Ed Balls for not mentioning this issue, and said he supported the threshold to continue to rise to £12,500 a year, roughly the minimum wage, saying: “It’s the ‘minimum’ for a reason”.

The Liberal Democrat MP also said it had not been explained where the money for the Jobs Guarantee was coming from, and that “In Cambridge, youth unemployment has been plummeting and is now just over 1%, as a result of what we’ve been doing.”

On Ed Miliband’s speech, Zeichner said: “it could have been written for Cambridge. The promise to make Britain a world leader in green technology puts Cambridge at the heart of Labour's vision for our economic future – with high quality, well-paid jobs the key, rather than the race to the bottom that we have seen in recent years."

Huppert said he supported Miliband's pledges on apprenticeships, the mansion tax, the NHS and votes for 16 year olds. He said: “I am pleased that Labour have finally accepted Lib Dem arguments on these important issues.” He argued the current government had already “created 1.8 million new apprenticeships” and “increased NHS spending by £12.7 billion since 2010, allowing 850,000 more operations per year”

Zeichner also expressed why he believed students should vote for him and not re-elect MP Julian Huppert.

Julian has voted with the Tory government 782 times. Cambridge is not, in my view, a Conservative city. I am, clearly, not a supporter of the Tories, and I can provide a radical, Cambridge agenda. Also, I believe I have a much broader life experience. Julian has only ever been an academic, whereas I began my working career as a milkman.”

In response, Huppert rejected this claim. Whilst saying he had voted with the Conservative Party, he did so for issues such as “the introduction of same sex marriage, of which I am very proud. I also voted to levy billions and billions of pounds from the banks. However, where it was important, I have disagreed. I voted against Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill, against tuition fee rises and against military intervention in Syria”, as well as stopping the Communications Data Bill

He also highlighted the fact he was “one of the few scientists in a Parliament that is short on people who understand science”, whereas Zeichner is a “full time trade unionist and has spent 20 years as a Labour Party candidate.”

TCS plans to contact both candidates again after the Liberal Democrat conference in the beginning of October.