By now longstanding tradition, each year I make an attempt to predict the outcome of the Cambridge local elections in each ward. Last year I very nearly got fourteen out of fourteen, with only Market escaping my crystal ball, and even then by just seven votes. Admittedly this was ever so slightly overshadowed by my prediction of a narrow Huppert victory in the contest for Cambridge MP, but hey ho. This year, I have to admit I’m feeling a good deal less confident in predicting the City Council results; now that I’m more involved in election campaigning since rejoining the Lib Dems, it’s harder to get a dispassionate view of what’s going on. Another factor is that it seems, well, a little rude to suggest that some of my hard-working colleagues aren’t going to triumph at the polls; and I’ve also had quite enough of being quoted in other parties’ leaflets. Consequently I’m going to delay publishing the remainder of this blog post until the polls close at 10pm on Thursday. I hope it’ll give you something slightly interesting to read before the first results are announced in the early hours.
So, for what it’s worth, here are my predictions:
- Abbey: Labour hold. Richard Johnson hasn’t faced any significant opposition in his re-election campaign, and should hold his seat comfortably.
- Arbury: Labour hold. Another ward that has seen little activity from other parties; Mike Todd-Jones’s considerable personal vote should see him home.
- Castle: Independent hold. The Lib Dems have fought an active campaign hoping to unseat Independent John Hipkin, but I expect John to hold on reasonably comfortably; his long record in the ward and network of supporters are key factors in his favour.
- Cherry Hinton: Labour hold. It’s been many years since Cherry Hinton was a marginal ward, and it’s now one of Labour’s safest strongholds. Add to that a popular candidate in Rob Dryden, who is approaching the end of his third term as Mayor and 21st year as a councillor, and a large Labour majority seems virtually assured.
- Coleridge: Labour hold. Coleridge saw a relatively close result last year, as the General Election brought it a more vigorous Lib Dem campaign that it usually sees. This year, however, the Lib Dem campaigning focus has been elsewhere, and we’re likely to see a return to the usual pattern in recent years of reasonably comfortable Labour majorities.
- East Chesterton: Labour hold. East Chesterton has been one of the most closely contested wards this year, and it could go either way. I hope I’m not being unduly partisan in describing Labour’s candidate, Margery Abbott, as one of the lower-profile City Councillors, but she’s had a lot of support from Labour campaigners. The Lib Dems have also been campaigning strongly in the ward, but I think on balance a Labour hold is more likely.
- King’s Hedges: Labour hold. Another fairly safe Labour ward that has seen little campaigning action; Nigel Gawthrope should be re-elected comfortably.
- Market: Lib Dem hold. Last year saw an amazingly close result with just thirteen votes separating the top three candidates, and the Greens winning the seat for the first time. This year they’ve been focusing their efforts on adding a second seat, with Green candidate Stuart Tuckwood hoping to oust Lib Dem incumbent Tim Bick. Labour have also been working hard in support of their candidate Danielle Greene. It could go three ways, but on balance I think Tim Bick will hold on.
- Newnham: Lib Dem hold. Newnham is far from the safe Lib Dem seat that it once was, but it doesn’t seem to have had quite the level of Labour campaigning that it has seen in recent years. Lucy Nethsinga should hold on to it for the Lib Dems, adding a City Council seat to her existing County Council one.
- Petersfield: Labour hold. Another no-longer-marginal ward, Richard Robertson can expect to be re-elected comfortably. The Greens may well take second place.
- Queen Edith’s: Lib Dem hold. Queen Edith’s is probably the safest Lib Dem seat in the city now, and while that still doesn’t make it entirely safe, Jennifer Page-Croft can expect to succeed Viki Sanders with relative ease.
- Romsey: Labour gain from Lib Dem. I really hope I’m wrong about this one. Lib Dem incumbent Catherine Smart has a large personal vote, and a long record of hard work in the ward, but I think the greatly improved Labour campaign organisation in Romsey together with the continued absence of the Cambridge Socialists from the ballot paper could finally be enough to oust her after eighteen years.
- Trumpington: Lib Dem gain from Conservative. The lone Conservative on the City Council, Shapour Meftah, has faced a strong challenge from Lib Dem Donald Adey. The Lib Dems have certainly out-leafletted the Conservatives, and from what I’ve seen have been more active on the doorstep as well. While it’s possible that the Conservatives will hold on, I think a Lib Dem gain is more likely.
- West Chesterton: Lib Dem hold. This is one of the predictions I’m least confident about, as the Lib Dems face a strong challenge from the determined and well-organised Labour campaign for Mike Sargeant. Both Chesterton wards have proved particularly tricky to predict in previous years, but this time I’m plumping for a Lib Dem hold.
If I’m right, the overall result will see Labour up one seat to 25, the Lib Dems steady on 14, two Independents, one Green, and a Conservative wipeout. But, as noted above, the outcome in a number of wards is far from certain, and this could easily be my worst year yet for prediction accuracy.
In the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner elections I’m expecting a Conservative win, though perhaps with a smaller majority than last time.
We’ll know soon enough whether I’m right. The local election results are expected in the early hours of Friday; the PCC count gets underway at midday on Friday and should be declared some time in the afternoon or early evening.