Across Cambridge people are voting today, as polls continue to be close between Liberal Democrat incumbent Julian Huppert and Labour’s Daniel Zeichner. Although nationally conducted polls have given Huppert the lead, these typically under-represent the student vote and The Cambridge Student’s poll shows Zeichner in front. While most are now anticipating for Huppert to keep his seat, the result is likely to be close and recounts are expected. Representative of national trends, the Green party are expecting a surge in votes, while UKIP and independent candidate Keith Garrett’s share of the polls are expected to be marginal.
With the race so close, Cambridge has featured in many national campaigns. Party leaders, Ed Miliband and Natalie Bennett have visited multiple times, battle buses in tow. While the Green party’s chip fat powered bus was unorthodox, Labour received greater criticism for their “patronising” pink bus aimed at female voters. However, not all party leaders appeared eager to visit, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage cancelling his talk in support of candidate Patrick O’Flynn, in October.
There have also been a series of local campaign victories, with Cambridge Green Party membership quadrupling in a year, a CULC poster going viral and the National Union of Students supporting Julian Huppert.
Nonetheless, the campaign and its build up have also featured a string of local controversies. In January, Green candidate Rupert Read came under fire for questioning the use of the word ‘cis’ in a tweet. In April, Chamali Fernando also faced criticism after suggesting at a hustings that people suffering from mental illnesses should wear wristbands. Although both missteps received national coverage, with Fernando’s comment reaching the front page of the Daily Mirror and Natalie Bennett expressing “disappointment” with Read, they have since fallen from prominence.
Within the last week, there have been accusations of abuse of email lists, as Julian Huppert sent unsolicited and potentially triggering email about revenge porn to students’ Hermes addresses, while Rupert Read sent an unapproved email to the Cambridge University Vegan Society.
Local city council elections will also be taking place today. Labour currently holds the council and there is expected to be little net change in seats. Key focus points will be whether the Mayor, Gerri Bird, can fend off the Liberal Democrats in East Chesterton and whether the student vote will return a Green councillor in Market Ward.
To keep up to date with the election and Cambridge count as the night rolls on, follow the TCS election liveblog.