For the last couple of years, I’ve published some predictions for the results in each seat at the Cambridge local elections. Unlike most articles on this blog, these aren’t really based on any concrete data, beyond the previous results – and unlike the city’s political activists, I haven’t been busy knocking on doors to find out the political mood of local residents. So as Peter Snow used to say, as he waved his arms about on election results programmes, this is just a bit of fun.
In 2012 I got 12 of the 14 results right; the ones that got away were Shapour Meftah’s win for the Conservatives in Trumpington, where I thought the Lib Dems would hang on, and Sue Birtles’s dramatic win in Queen Edith’s, where again I expected a Lib Dem hold.
Last year I only got 11 right; I thought the Conservatives would take Trumpington (partly on the basis of a hot tip from the Tory camp), where the Lib Dems held on by 28 votes; and I got East and West Chesterton the wrong way round, saying that Labour would win East and the Lib Dems West, whereas the voters went the opposite way.
So, here are my predictions for this year. Let’s start with the easy ones:
- Abbey: Labour hold
- Cherry Hinton: Labour hold
- Coleridge: Labour hold
These are all safe Labour seats, where Labour should win easily with a comfortable majority. Next comes a seat in a category all its own:
- King’s Hedges: Labour gain from Lib Dem
This is a seat that the Lib Dems hold, but that they have been putting relatively little effort into retaining. Labour should win this pretty comfortably.
Next come two seats that the Lib Dems also hold, having won them in 2010, but where Labour have won every election since then. Unlike King’s Hedges, however, the Lib Dems have been putting considerable effort into them. But I still think the results will be…
- Arbury: Labour gain from Lib Dem
- Petersfield (two seats due to a by-election): Labour gain one from Lib Dem, hold one
Now another seat in a category all its own:
- Market: Labour gain from Lib Dem
Normally I’d be forecasting a Lib Dem hold here, but as the Lib Dems have suspended their candidate Colin Rosenstiel, a Labour gain now seems more likely. Colin’s long record of hard work for Market residents will still tell in his favour, though.
So far it’s not looking great for the Lib Dems. So let’s turn to…
- Newnham: Lib Dem hold
- Queen Edith’s: Lib Dem hold
- Romsey: Lib Dem hold
There are no longer any safe Lib Dem seats in Cambridge, but Newnham is the nearest there is. I expect them to hold on here. Romsey is more marginal but after good wins in the last two years, mayor Paul Saunders should retain his seat. Queen Edith’s may also be close, but again I think the Lib Dems should get home.
Castle ward was once a safe Lib Dem seat, but this year I’m expecting…
- Castle: Independent gain from Lib Dem
From what I’ve seen of the Castle campaign (which isn’t a great deal, to be honest) I think the Independents will manage to double their number of councillors.
That leaves three wards which are really hard to call – and all of which I got wrong last year. So take these with an extra-large pinch of salt:
- East Chesterton: Lib Dem hold
- Trumpington: Lib Dem hold
- West Chesterton: Labour gain from Lib Dem
East and West Chesterton could go either way between Labour and the Lib Dems; and in Trumpington the Conservatives are in with a very good chance. I’m expecting fairly narrow majorities, in any case.
So of the 15 seats up for election, I’m predicting Labour to take nine (four holds and five gains), the Lib Dems to hold five, but lose six, and the Independents to gain one.
What would this mean for the City Council? Here’s the situation before this year’s elections, with seats up for election as hollow blocks – this includes the by-election in Petersfield where Labour are defending. Remember that only one-third of councillors are elected at a time:
If all my predictions are correct, the new council will be:
giving Labour a majority of six. Of course, what the voters have actually decided we won’t know until around the time that dawn breaks over a weary Guildhall on Friday morning. I’ll be there to bring you live coverage (quite possibly including a few graphs) direct from the count.