Can Labour form a minority Government?

In a slight change to this blog’s regular topic, here’s a look at the political picture nationally rather than just in Cambridge. One question that has been raised since Labour’s better-than-expected showing in the General Election on Thursday is whether or not Labour could realistically form a minority Government. Here’s a look at the numbers, starting with the composition of  the new House of Commons:

comp

The Conservatives are the largest group with 317 MPs – or 318 if you include the Speaker, but as he is neutral and does not normally vote, I have listed him separately. Labour are 55 seats behind the Conservatives, with 262. Amongst the minor parties, Sinn Fein now have 7 MPs, but they do not take their seats in the Commons and so do not vote. The other seats in Northern Ireland are now all occupied by the DUP, except for North Down which is held by an Independent, Lady Sylvia Hermon.

As I write, the Conservatives are busily trying to conclude an agreement with the DUP which would make the Commons arithmetic look like this:

suppgov

The 317 Conservatives plus the 10 DUP MPs would add up to 327, while all the other MPs, apart from Sinn Fein and the Speaker, would total 315 – this would give the Government an effective majority of 12. However, if the Conservatives cannot ultimately enlist the support of the DUP, then their 317 MPs would face a combined opposition of 325 – enough to defeat them by eight votes.

So could Labour form a minority government instead? Their immediate problem, on putting forward a programme for Government in a Queen’s Speech, would be that their 262 MPs would be outvoted by the 317 Conservatives, by a margin of 55. Clearly, they would need support from other parties. Let’s look at what those parties have said about this.

The SNP’s Nichola Sturgeon has said, “If there was to be a hung parliament and the parliamentary arithmetic allowed it, I would want the SNP to be part of a progressive alternative to a Conservative government, not in a coalition.” So that’s probably enough of a basis, at least in theory, to add the 35 SNP MPs to Labour’s total. That brings it to 297, still 20 votes behind the Conservatives.

What about the Lib Dems? On the face of it, their policy would seem to rule out any sort of pact or deal with Labour. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they find some way of supporting Labour against the Conservatives. That adds 12 more votes, bringing the total to 309, still eight votes short of the Conservative total. Let’s throw in the four votes of Plaid Cymru, and the vote of the lone Green MP, Caroline Lucas. We’re now up to 314 for our theoretical anti-Conservative alliance, still three votes behind the Conservative total of 317.

With Sinn Fein and the Speaker out of the picture, that just leaves the 10 DUP MPs, and Lady Sylvia Hermon. Even if the DUP MPs abstain on the Queen’s Speech, that’s not enough to put Labour in power – the Conservatives would still have three more votes. For Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, he would need the active support of the DUP as well as all the other non-Conservative parties. The DUP have explicitly ruled this out, saying that they would not support a Labour Government while Jeremy Corbyn remains leader. So barring something completely unexpected, such as mass defections, or a Conservative-Labour Grand Coalition, there is no way that Labour can form part of the Government as things stand.

Update: Julian Huppert points out that as well as the Speaker, there are three Deputy Speakers, who don’t vote either. The rules state that one of them comes from the same side of the House as the Speaker, and two from the other side. This doesn’t change the conclusion that Labour can’t govern without DUP support.

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The 2017 General Election result in Cambridge

As I left the Guildhall in the early hours of Friday morning, following Labour’s resounding victory in the contest for Cambridge MP, I met a large and very happy group of Labour supporters. Several of them expressed a keen interest in reading my next blog post. So here it is – I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.

It was already pretty clear by the time the polls closed on Thursday evening that Labour were going to win, but I’m not sure anyone was expecting the result to be quite as overwhelming as it was. My own best guess at the time was 41% for Labour to 35% for the Lib Dems, but this was well wide of the mark – Labour’s actual margin of victory was 52% to 29%. This is the first time any candidate for Cambridge MP has won over half the vote since Anne Campbell’s 53.4% in the Labour landslide of 1997. Before that you have to go back to Robert Rhodes James’s victory in the 1976 by-election to find a candidate winning more than half the vote.

Both main parties put in a huge effort on polling day, significantly in excess of what they managed in 2015. As I was out knocking on doors I was particularly struck by how many campaigners there were on the streets whom I didn’t recognise, a marked contrast to the situation in local elections.

I’m sure you’re expecting a few graphs at this point. And I’m not going to disappoint you. Here are the Cambridge vote shares compared to the last General Election in 2015:

ge1517vs

In contrast to 2015’s knife-edge result, Labour’s 2017 win can only be described as emphatic. I’d been expecting the Conservatives to improve on their terrible showing in 2015, with Brexit playing a role and no UKIP candidate, but in the event they managed only a tiny improvement. The evaporation of the Green vote was a marked feature of the result, with much of it presumably going to Daniel Zeichner, despite a determined campaign from Stuart Tuckwood. Here are the graphs again, this time showing the actual numbers of votes, rather than the percentage share:

ge1517vnos

This graph makes clear how much Labour’s win was due to the increase in their vote, rather than the Lib Dem vote falling. Julian Huppert’s tally was down by 1,676; but in contrast Daniel Zeichner added 10,386 votes to his 2015 total. It’s likely that Labour’s victory came primarily from turning out previous non-voters, rather than in converting Lib Dem supporters. They probably also got a net benefit from former UKIP voters.

Back in May, Lib Dem hopes had been raised by a relatively competitive showing in the County Council elections. Although Labour won seven seats in the city to five for the Lib Dems, in terms of vote share they ran Labour pretty close, and were heartened by the fact that previously their Parliamentary vote share was ahead of their vote share in local elections. Here’s a comparison of the vote shares in the local and General elections this year:

gevslocals17share

As you can see, the 2017 local election graph looks a lot like the graph of the 2015 General Election, with the two main parties pretty close and the Conservatives and Greens well behind. But just five weeks later the picture looked very different. One reason why is clear from a graph of the absolute number of votes in the local and General elections:

gevslocals17votes.png

As you can see, the turnout at the General election was much larger than in the locals – for every ten votes that Labour got in Cambridge on May 4th, they got 23 on June 8th. Meanwhile the Lib Dems got only about 14 General Election votes for every ten in the locals. (These figures are based on the estimated local election vote in the Cambridge constituency; boundary changes mean we don’t have exact totals).

Commiserations, then, to Julian Huppert and the other unsuccessful candidates, and congratulations to Daniel Zeichner, as he enjoys his victory party this evening. As I cycled to the count across Jesus Green on Thursday evening, with bats flying low around the trees, I reflected what an enormous privilege it is for Cambridge’s MP to represent this amazing city. I’m sure Daniel would agree with that.

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My prediction for the Cambridge 2017 General Election result

Update: I’m now expecting a Labour hold in Cambridge. See the final paragraphs for more.

With polling day nearly upon us, here is a look at the prospects for each of the candidates for Cambridge MP, and some predictions as to how they will fare on June 8th.

Locally, this year’s campaign has had a lot in common with the 2015 contest – once again it has been a closely-fought contest between Labour’s Daniel Zeichner and Lib Dem Julian Huppert, with a less well-known Conservative candidate struggling to make much impact. Nationally, of course, circumstances are radically different from 2015, with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory, the Brexit vote, and David Cameron’s sudden departure having transformed the political landscape. Of course, there are some points in common too. In an article about the 2015 campaign in Cambridge, I said:

Ed Miliband has come across better than many people (including me) expected, and has not turned out to be as much of a liability as he once seemed. Meanwhile the Lib Dems have struggled to make much impact nationally, a far cry from the Cleggmania of 2010.

Arguably it’s a similar story this time – Labour’s poll average has increased significantly during the campaign, though from a low base, while the Lib Dem poll rating has languished.

On, then, to the candidates, in reverse order of how many votes I expect them to get. As ever, bear in mind that I’m a Lib Dem member, and I’ve been actively involved in campaigning this year, so this is probably all a cunning ploy to get you to vote for Julian.

I’m expecting last place to be occupied by Keith Garrett, running once again on a platform of government by randomly-selected groups of citizens. Last time Keith garnered just 0.4% of the vote. This time his ballot paper description is “Rebooting Democracy” instead of 2015’s “Removing the Politicians”, but I’m not expecting this to make a great deal of difference to his level of support. I think Keith will win less than 0.5% of the vote this time, well short of the level needed to retain his deposit – so he could have saved himself a good deal of trouble by making a pile of a hundred £5 notes and setting fire to them. I hope he has enjoyed the campaign.

Fourth place is likely to go to the Green party candidate, Stuart Tuckwood. Cambridge has proved a frustrating constituency for the Greens in recent General Elections. Despite having a solid level of support in local elections, a large part of it tends to melt away when it comes to choosing Cambridge’s MP. Here are the results from 2015, with the General Election results in darker colours and the Council election results in lighter colours.

As you can see, the Greens got more than twice as many votes in the Council elections as they did in the General election. The graph suggests that much of their missing support went to the Lib Dems, though the vote switching pattern is probably more complex than this. I’m not expecting a Green breakthrough in Cambridge this year; Green support has fallen since the last General Election, and nationally their focus is on retaining Brighton Pavilion and winning Bristol West. In Cambridge, Stuart Tuckwood has had nothing like the resources that were squandered so ineffectively by Tony Juniper in 2010, or the repeated visits by Green leaders that supported Rupert Read in 2015. Given all this, I’m expecting the Green vote share to fall slightly this time to around 6%. If this does happen, it’ll be no fault of Stuart’s – he’s a passionate, committed and likeable campaigner who I’m sure we’ll see more of in Cambridge politics.

Along with almost everyone else who is politically active in Cambridge, I’m expecting Conservative candidate John Hayward to finish in third place. A last-minute selection for a seat where the Conservatives were already a distant third, he has struggled to make much impact on the campaign, with few canvassers on the streets, little leaflet delivery, and activists of other parties competing to spot the rare Conservative posters. I think it’s fair to say that he has found little support amongst hustings audiences – though (at least at the ones I’ve attended) these have been noticeably more partisan than in 2015, with fewer “ordinary voters” in attendance. There are of course some points in John Hayward’s favour. He has an unusual and impressive backstory compared to many Conservative candidates; the Conservatives, despite recent wobbles, are still higher in the polls than in 2015; and with no UKIP candidate in Cambridge this time, he is the only mainstream Leave supporter on the ballot paper. While Cambridge did only have a 26% Leave vote, this is still 10% higher than the 16% vote share recorded by Conservative Chamali Fernando in 2015. While the 2010 Conservative candidate, Nick Hillman, managed to snatch second place from Daniel Zeichner by a few hundred votes, that was after a much longer campaign that was more attuned to Cambridge. I think a top two Conservative finish is wildly unlikely this time. However, with UKIP’s 5% of the vote up for grabs, and starting from the low base of the 2015 result, I do think John Hayward will increase the Conservative vote share slightly. My best guess is that he’ll end up on 18%.

Rounding Keith Garrett down to 0%, that leaves 76% of the vote for the two leading candidates, Labour’s Daniel Zeichner and Lib Dem Julian Huppert. This is of course their third contest for the Cambridge seat, with the score standing at 1-1 so far, though with Julian’s 2010 majority of 6,792 just slightly more comfortable than Daniel’s 2015 knife-edge lead of 599. Both are battle-hardened campaigning veterans with large and effective teams of activists behind them. How will they fare this time?

As noted above, while there are a lot of similarities with the 2015 contest, a great deal has changed too. One of the most significant factors in Cambridge election results is the extent to which the Lib Dems manage to “squeeze” the Conservative vote by persuading natural Conservative supporters to lend the Lib Dems their vote in order to keep Labour out. My impression this time is that the Conservative vote was a bit less squeezable at the start of the campaign, with Brexit clearly a factor, but has softened somewhat as the campaign has gone on and Labour have reduced the gap in the national polls.

In terms of “feet on the streets”, there has been plenty of activity from both main parties. My impression is that, as usual, Labour have probably done more canvassing, and the Lib Dems are ahead in leaflet delivery. There seem to be more Labour posters on display across the city, but that was also the case in the last two General Elections, and in any case, as we saw with the Greens in 2010, posters don’t necessarily translate directly into votes. One noticeable change from 2015 is that the Labour student organisation, CULC, while still active, hasn’t been quite so prominent in the campaign this time – hardly surprising with University exams underway at the moment.

So my best guess for the result of the 2017 General Election in Cambridge is… aggravatingly, not going to be revealed until the polls close at 10pm on Thursday. I can only apologise for this after you’ve read so much of the article, but with activists from the two main parties going all-out over the next few days to win those extra votes, I’m not going to pre-empt their efforts now. Check back here when the polls close for an update. But here’s a prediction to keep you going until then: I think it could well be even closer than the 1.2% margin of victory in 2015.

Update: The polls have just closed, and I’m at the Guildhall to watch the votes being counted. I’m now expecting a Labour hold in Cambridge; while it could still be a close result, I think it’s mostly likely that Labour have done enough to retain the seat with an increased majority – my best guess is 41% for Daniel Zeichner to 35% for Julian Huppert. This is partly due to the increase that we’ve seen in Labour’s national poll rating as the campaign has gone on, and partly due to the effective local campaign that Daniel Zeichner’s team have run, successfully mobilising an army of activists. The Lib Dems have put in a strong campaign locally too, but their national poll rating has only gone sideways during the campaign from its already low 2015 base, as their strong anti-Brexit position failed to gain much traction. As a Lib Dem member I would very much like to be wrong, but I’m expecting to see Daniel Zeichner returned to Parliament for Cambridge.

However, I don’t think it’ll be unalloyed joy for Cambridge Labour supporters, as I’m not expecting a Labour government. It’s been an unusually volatile campaign, and Labour have certainly improved their position against a lacklustre performance from Theresa May, but I’m just not convinced that they’re going to oust the Conservatives from power. Recent electoral history is littered with unexpected events, of course. We’ll know soon enough how close it is this time. As the next few hours unfold, follow me on Twitter for a running commentary live from the Guildhall.

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Cambridge General Election Hustings events

I’ll aim to keep this page up to date with details of General Election hustings events in Cambridge. If you have any corrections, or details of one that isn’t listed here, please contact me on phil@philrodgers.co.uk. I’ll add links to any recordings that become available.

  • FeCRA Virtual Hustings: Available on YouTube here.
  • Mon 8 May, 8pm: Arts and Culture in Cambridge: The Election Debate. Junction 2, Clifton Way. Coverage: Cambridge News live blog; Antony Carpen’s video; Richard Taylor’s video; Cambridge 105 interview.
  • Tue 9 May, 5pm: Europe Day Hustings: General Elections & Brexit. LG19, Law Faculty, Sidgwick Site. More details here.
  • Wed 10 May, lunch: Hustings for Hills Road Sixth Form students, details here.
  • Tue 16 May, 7:30pm: Jubilee Centre, Eden Baptist Church, 1 Fitzroy Street. More details from @JubileeCentre. Coverage: Richard Taylor’s video.
  • Wed 17 May, 7:45pm: Human Rights, Equality and Refugees hustings, Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street. More details from @CamRefugees.
  • Tue 23 May, 10:30am: Disability hustings at Papworth Trust. Details from @PapworthPolicy. – Postponed following the Manchester attack.
  • Tue 23 May, 6pm: BBC/Cambridge News hustings, Churchill College – invited audience only, but details of how you can apply for an invitation are here. –Postponed to 1 June following the Manchester attack.
  • Wed 24 May, 8pm: Cambridge Cycling Campaign hustings, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane. More details here. – Cancelled following the Manchester attack.
  • Thu 25 May, 7:30pm: Cambridge Questions Election Special, hosted by Cambridge 105’s Julian Clover. Portland Arms. Tickets are free; you can get one here.
  • Tue 30 May, 10:15am: Cambridge Network hustings, William Gates Building, 15 JJ Thomson Avenue. Free to attend, but register here. – Claire Ruskin of Cambridge Network tells me they are now diverting their audience to the other hustings as there are rather too many now clashing following the postponements.
  • Sun 28 May, 12 noon: Broadcast of Cambridge Questions Election Special on Cambridge 105 (recorded on 25 May). Repeated on Monday 29 May at 6pm
  • Tue 30 May, 7:30pm: Cambridgeshire NUT Education Election Question Time, NCI Sports and Social Club, 1 Holland Street. Details here.
  • Wed 31 May, 5:30pm: Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge University Students’ Unions hustings event, Lab 002, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road. Tickets are free; you can get one here.
  • Wed 31 May: Live debate featuring senior figures from seven parties on BBC One, broadcast from Cambridge. Details to follow.
  • Thu 1 June, 12:00-2pm: Cambridge Assessment hustings, Howard Theatre, Downing College. Free but book here. Also live online.
  • Thu 1 June, 6pm: BBC/Cambridge News hustings, Churchill College – invitation only.
  • Sat 3 June, 6:30pm: Cambridge University Television: Cambridge Debates GE17, Trinity Hall and live-streamed on Facebook. Details here; book free tickets here.
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What do the local election results say about the contest for Cambridge MP?

I am currently sitting in the Guildhall waiting for the conclusion of the mayoral election count, so here’s a very preliminary look at the local election results for Cambridge, which were declared earlier today. Labour won seven seats to five for the Lib Dems:

  • Abbey: Labour held off a strong Lib Dem challenge to win with a majority of 75
  • Arbury: A relatively comfortable 412-vote win for Labour ahead of the Lib Dems
  • Castle: Independent John Hipkin lost out in a tight three-way race, finishing 27 votes behind Labour but 14 ahead of the Lib Dems
  • Cherry Hinton: A comfortable win for Labour in their safest seat
  • Chesterton: Lib Dem Ian Manning scored a solid win, 308 votes ahead of Labour
  • King’s Hedges: An improved Lib Dem performance, but Labour held them off by 191 votes
  • Market: A fairly comfortable win for Lib Dem Nichola Harrison by 287 votes
  • Newnham: Lib Dem Lucy Nethsingha won 51% of the vote and a 548-vote majority over Labour
  • Petersfield: Another seat where Labour won ahead of an improved Lib Dem vote, with a margin of 249
  • Queen Ediths: A very solid win for Lib Dem Amanda Taylor, 716 votes ahead of Labour despite boundary changes
  • Romsey: Similarly to Petersfield, Labour won by 274 votes from the Lib Dems
  • Trumpington: A Lib Dem victory by 269 votes from Labour, with the Conservatives third once again.

Labour and the Lib Dems were neck-and-neck in the vote across the city, with the Lib Dems winning 13,572 to Labour’s 13,542, just 30 ahead.

So what does this mean for the Cambridge result in the General Election in five weeks? There are a couple of reasons why we can’t extrapolate directly. Firstly, the Cambridge local election results include Queen Edith’s, which isn’t part of the Cambridge Parliamentary constituency. The Lib Dems won a majority of 716 votes in Queen Edith’s, and although boundary changes cloud the picture a little, this means Labour won more local election votes in the Cambridge Parliamentary constituency overall. On the other hand, Labour tend to do slightly better in local elections compared to General Elections, though this factor is far from constant. The bottom line is that the contest for Cambridge MP looks very close, with only a few votes likely to separate Daniel Zeichner and Julian Huppert on June 8th.

Update: Across Cambridge (including Queen Edith’s), Rod Cantrill got 13,273 first-round votes in the mayoral election, 1,051 votes ahead of Kevin Price, who got 12,222. Allowing for the Queen Edith’s effect, this also points to a very close race between Labour and the Lib Dems in the Cambridge constituency.

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My predictions for the 2017 Cambridge local election results

This year I’m going to be one of the Lib Dem counting agents at the election count, whose duty it is to scrutinise the process, so blogging and tweeting will have to wait until after the results are declared. The count takes place in two phases – the verification stage, which checks that the right number of ballot papers are in each ballot box, followed by “counting into favour”, i.e. separating the ballot papers to see how many votes each candidate has got. Normally these phases take place one after another, straight after the polls have closed, with the results usually being declared in the small hours of Friday. By closely observing the verification stage, party workers can get a pretty good idea of how the vote has gone in each polling station area, and will know which seats are going to be close and thus need special scrutiny during the counting into favour stage.

Things are a little different this year, partly because both the council and mayoral elections are being held on the same day. The verification stage will take place straight after the polls close as usual, but the ballot papers will then be locked away for the remainder of the night until Friday morning. Counting into favour for the County Council seats will begin at 9am, so we should get these results declared by mid-to-late-morning; counting into favour for the Mayoral election will begin at 12:30pm. Unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the first choice votes (which is unlikely), there will be two stages to the mayoral count. The two candidates with most first choice votes go through to a second round; all the other candidates are eliminated, and second choice votes from those ballot papers are then added to the first choice votes for the surviving two candidates. The whole thing has to be coordinated across several different counting centres across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, so it all takes some time – I’m expecting the mayoral result to be declared some time in the late afternoon.

Because of the verification stage, party workers will have a pretty good idea overnight of what results are going to be declared on Friday. However, the law requires that the secrecy of the count must be maintained, and I won’t be sharing any information about how things have gone until the results are declared.

For the last few years I’ve published predictions for the local council results beforehand, but this year I’m not going to until 10pm on Thursday – just after the polls close but before the count starts. Look out for them on Twitter.

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What do the new boundaries mean for Cambridge’s local elections?

As Cambridge goes to the polls on Thursday in the local and mayoral elections, we’ll get some indication of how political opinion is moving in the city ahead of June’s General Election. The last General Election, in 2015, was held on the same day as the local elections, and there was a marked difference in voting patterns. Here’s a comparison of how the Cambridge constituency voted for its MP (darker colours) and local councillors (lighter colours):

As you can see, while Daniel Zeichner won his seat from Julian Huppert with a knife-edge 1% margin, Labour council candidates outpolled their Lib Dem rivals more comfortably, with an 8% lead. The other notable feature was that Green MP candidate Rupert Read scored less than half the vote share of his council colleagues.

This year the Cambridge local election results will be announced after 9am on Friday 5th of May, rather than overnight. As the results come in, we’ll have some idea of how the parties have fared relative to 2015. If Labour manage a bigger margin of victory in the local elections, then it’ll be good news for Daniel Zeichner, but if the Lib Dems close the gap, then Julian Huppert will be more hopeful of recapturing the Cambridge seat. But because of the difference in performance between the local and general elections, it’s quite possible that Labour could lose the Parliamentary contest while winning locally at Council level.

As well as the impending General Election, another factor making this year’s local elections harder to predict than usual is the boundary changes. As I’ve discussed in a previous article, most of Cambridge’s County Council seats have new boundaries this year, making it harder than usual to predict the likely winners. To try to throw some light on the situation, I’ve put together projections for each new seat, estimating the votes cast in each of the new boundaries for the last five local elections.

It’s impossible to know exactly how many votes were cast within the new boundaries at previous elections, but we can make an educated guess. We know how much of each old seat is included in each new seat, so by taking appropriate proportions of previous election results, we can estimate the votes cast at previous elections within the new boundaries. For example, the new Queen Edith’s seat consists of 87% of the old Queen Edith’s seat, 26% of the old Coleridge seat, and 7% of the old Cherry Hinton seat. So if you add up the previous election results in those seats in those proportions, you get an estimate of how people living within Queen Edith’s new boundaries voted at previous elections. This method isn’t perfect, of course – party support isn’t uniformly distributed across seats, and people don’t just vote for the party label – but it does give us some idea of the baseline that the parties are starting from in each of the new seats. If you’re interested in the exact ingredients of each seat, refer to Colin Rosenstiel’s tables here – electoral divisions (EDs) are the new seat boundaries for this year’s County Council elections; wards are the old boundaries, which will still be used for City Council elections.

Let’s look at the projections for each of the new seats. As ever, remember that I’m a Lib Dem member, so adjust your confirmation bias accordingly.

abb1216p

Unlike all the other County Council seats in Cambridge, Abbey’s boundaries are unchanged, so this graph simply shows the previous local election results. As you can see, Labour have enjoyed a commanding lead over other parties in recent years.

arb1216p

The new Arbury seat consists of 86% of the old Arbury seat, 11% of old West Chesterton, 10% of old Castle, and just 4% of old King’s Hedges – so this graph shows the previous results for all those seats added up in those proportions. This heady mix still gives Labour a pretty comfortable lead over the Lib Dems, though less so in 2015, the last General Election year.

cas1261p

With Castle, the projection method does break down a bit, though it still gives an interesting illustration of the electoral situation this year. The new Castle seat is made up of just 57% of the old Castle, plus 20% of old West Chesterton, and 14% of old Arbury. The Castle Independents, huband-and-wife team John Hipkin and Marie-Louise Holland, have won Castle on the old boundaries in four of the last five years – the exception being 2015, when they did not stand. However, with a big chunk of the old Castle gone from the new seat, and parts of two other seats mixed in, the projection shows a knife-edge Lib Dem/Labour contest in recent years, with Labour ahead last year, and the Independent vote some way behind. However, this is somewhat misleading, because there were no Independent candidates in either Arbury or West Chesterton in recent years, and if there had been they would certainly not have got zero votes. This factor artificially lowers the projected Independent share of the vote – indeed, I think John Hipkin is still front-runner even on the new boundaries. But it does illustrate the challenge that the Castle Independents face in persuading the “new” Castle voters to support them – and we certainly can’t rule out a surprise result in Castle this year.

che1216p

The new Cherry Hinton seat is made up of 93% of the old Cherry Hinton, plus 39% of the now-dismembered Coleridge seat. This doesn’t do very much to change its electoral makeup, which in recent years has been dominated by Labour.

chs1216p

The new Chesterton seat promises one of the most intriguing contests this year, with well-known Lib Dem councillor Ian Manning facing a strong challenge from Labour newcomer Kelley Green, who has proved herself to be a formidable campaigner. The new seat is made up of 68% of the old East Chesterton, plus 60% of the old West Chesterton. The projected results show a close contest between the two main Cambridge parties. Labour will take heart from the 2016 projection, which put them 8% ahead on the new boundaries, while Lib Dems will note that in 2013, the last time Ian Manning stood for the County Council, they had a 5% advantage.

kgh1216p

The new King’s Hedges contains almost all – 96% – of the old King’s Hedges, plus 32% of the old East Chesterton and 9% of the old West Chesterton. This mixture slightly reduces the lead Labour had on the old boundaries, but not by a great deal – Labour will be hoping for a comfortable win ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

mkt1216p

Market is enlarged by the boundary changes, and includes all its previous voters plus 23% of the old Castle ward. This doesn’t change its basic makeup very much – it remains a tight Lib Dem/Labour marginal, with the Greens also potentially in contention. Although fading last year, the Greens polled strongly in 2015, narrowly winning the seat on the old boundaries, and could perhaps make a come-back this time.

new1216p

Newnham sees little change with the new boundaries, retaining all its old area and adding just 9% of the old Castle ward. It remains a reasonably close Lib Dem/Labour contest, though with the Lib Dems ahead by a small margin.

pet1216p

Petersfield is expanded significantly by the boundary changes, keeping all its previous voters and adding 34% of the old Trumpington ward, a Lib Dem stronghold. However, Labour have been doing well enough in Trumpington in recent years that this doesn’t do much to dilute their lead, and on the projection they retain a comfortable lead.

qed1216p

The Queen Edith’s projection is particularly interesting. The old Queen Edith’s  was generally a Lib Dem stronghold, with the exception of a surprise Labour win in 2012, but on the new boundaries it looks like a much closer fight. The new Queen Edith’s seat includes 87% of the old Queen Edith’s, but adds 26% of the old Coleridge seat and 7% of the former Cherry Hinton – both being strong Labour areas. This is enough to erode the Lib Dem lead and put Queen Edith’s firmly into knife-edge marginal territory. Indeed the projection shows Labour slightly ahead on last year’s votes. Much will depend on how effective the rival party campaigns have been this year.

rom1216p

The new Romsey includes all of the old Romsey’s boundary, and extends it some way to the south to include 34% of the old Coleridge ward. Coleridge has been a strong Labour area for some time, so this extends Labour’s lead in Romsey over the Lib Dems. Labour will be hoping for a comfortable win this year on the new boundaries.

tru1216p

The new Trumpington seat is somewhat smaller than before, including just 66% of the old seat, plus 13% of the old Queen Edith’s. The projection is not very different from the previous Trumpington results, with the Lib Dems having mostly comfortable leads in recent years.

Overall, then, the projections show Labour leading in nine of the new seats on last year’s votes, with the Lib Dems ahead in just three – Trumpington, Newnham, and (by a whisker) Market. However, these projections definitely need to be taken with a pinch of salt – and a whole handful in the case of Castle. Nevertheless, they do indicate that there might be one or two surprises in store when the results are announced on Friday morning.

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