A new poll released this week by Lord Ashcroft suggests that Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert may be on course to retain his seat at the General Election.
The latest in Ashcroft’s series of constituency polling reports, respondents in Cambridge preferred the Liberal Democrat to his closest rival, Labour’s Daniel Zeichner by a margin of 9 percentage points.
This represents an 10-point jump from a poll carried out in September, which placed the Labour candidate ahead by 1 point.
The result is complicated, however, by the response to a simultaneous question of national preferences. On this measure, Labour outperformed the Liberal Democrats, commanding 32 per cent of support to the Liberal Democrats’ 27 per cent.
The polling data also did not include students, whose votes count for roughly 30 per cent of the seat. It was, by and large, the votes of students, which delivered Cambridge to the Liberal Democrats from Labour in 2005 following the Iraq War.
The poll will make happy reading for the Liberal Democrats nationally, who claim they will outperform expectations in areas of local strength. Julian Huppert is seen as a popular MP, voting against the Coalition’s decision to treble tuition fees in 2010, though he has been subject to criticism for supporting the government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ and for his confused voting record on the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
The response to the question, “Which of the following would you most like to see as the outcome of the next general-election?” saw most favour a Labour Government on 27 percent, followed by 24 per cent favouring a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Reacting to this latest poll, Naomi Farhi of Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats, told The Cambridge Student: “Julian has a proven track record of being a fantastic MP on a national and local level. In addition to securing an extra £23.2 million funding for Cambridge schools, as well as £1 billion for improvements to the city, Julian has also shown himself exemplary on national issues, voting against military intervention in Syria and being a key voice in the campaign for equal marriage.”
Imogen Shaw of Cambridge Universities Labour Club again highlighted the importance of the student vote, telling TCS: “While the data for Cambridge is obviously a little disappointing, it’s worth remembering that the poll only takes into account the opinions of residents, not the students who will form a substantial part of the Cambridge electorate.”
She added: “We have confidence that the student vote will make a real difference to the level of support for local Labour candidate Daniel Zeichner, who has pledged to support the student living wage campaign, work to end sexual harassment in Cambridge, and ensure all of his staff receive mental health awareness training.”
This latest poll comes as UKIP candidate for the city, Patrick O’Flynn MEP suggested that young people ought not to be allowed to vote in a potential EU referendum because they are brainwashed in schools by pro-EU propaganda.
His comments followed calls from the Liberal Democrats to allow 16 and 17 year olds a say in any referendum, with Mr O’Flynn claiming this as an attempt to “gerrymander” the outcome of the vote.
Patrick O’Flynn polled support of only 3 per cent in the latest Ashcroft poll. Chamali Fernando of the Conservative Party polled a distant third at 17 per cent, while the Greens’ Rupert Read came in fourth on 9 per cent.
Cambridge will go to the polls on Thursday 7th May, with eyes fixed on the constituency as a key Labour-Lib Dem battleground.