Cambridge student running for local County Council seat

Caithlin Ng 4 May 2017

The local elections for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor and the Cambridgeshire County Council will be held today (Thursday, May 4). In the running for one of the 12 positions on the County Council is Cambridge University student Connor MacDonald, who stands as a representative of the Conservative Party.

MacDonald, a Canadian undergraduate reading HSPS at Emmanuel College, will be making a bid for the Chesterton seat. The incumbent East Chesterton Councillor is Liberal Democratic candidate Ian Manning, who, aside from MacDonald, will also face Labour member Kelley Green, Peter Burkinshaw for UKIP, and Green Party candidate Stephen Lawrence.

The Cambridge Student spoke to MacDonald, who observed that “local politics matters enormously – it affects the bread and butter issues of every resident and a good council can vastly improve quality of life in an area.”

On his decision to represent the Conservatives, he added, “The Conservative Party has a stellar record on Councils across the country, and we have delivered strong public services while keeping costs low. I am also really proud to be supporting Theresa May as she tries to secure the best Brexit deal for Cambridge and the United Kingdom.”

Although Macdonald is representing the Party in Chesterton, he will be running as a paper candidate – because the area is unlikely to vote Conservative, being instead a battleground for the Liberal Democrats and the Labour candidates, Macdonald has been campaigning instead in areas where Conservative support is more likely. A vocal supporter of Mayoral candidate James Palmer, he notes that Palmer is campaigning on a platform of infrastructure reforms to alleviate congestion in the city.

“The idea of a Cambridge Underground is radical and promises to unlock an enormous amount of potential,” he adds.

Despite being an international student, Macdonald asserts that “there is really no difference whatsoever” when it comes to the impact of local politics. “Local issues – though many students may not know it – affect all of us! The recent street lights issue is a perfect example.”

His interest in politics has long been evident elsewhere, being the current Emmanuel Student Union President, and having recently been the campaign manager for CUSU Presidential candidate Jack Drury. Although he notes that Cambridge offers ample opportunities for students to be involved in political activity, he also suggests that “our generation has fallen prey to clicktivism a bit.

“My rule is that I don’t post anything too political unless I’m willing to go out and campaign for it in person!”

MacDonald is not the only Cambridge student running in the local elections – Henry Mitson, an undergraduate at Caius College, and James Mathieson, a student at Churchill, will be running as Conservatives in Market Ward and Cherry Hinton respectively, while Joe Dale, who is currently studying for an MPhil in Planning, Growth and Regeneration at Clare Hall, is making a bid as Labour representative for the Newnham seat.

There will be 49 polling stations open across 37 sites in Cambridge today, and residents will be able to cast their votes between 7am and 10pm. Counts for the elections will begin at 9am on Friday, May 5.