North East Cambridgeshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 28524 (55.1%)
Labour: 7476 (14.4%)
Lib Dem: 2314 (4.5%)
Green: 1816 (3.5%)
UKIP: 11650 (22.5%)
MAJORITY: 16874 (32.6%)

Category: Very safe Conservative seat

Geography: Eastern, Cambridgeshire. The whole of the Fenland council area and part of East Cambridgeshire council area.

Main population centres: Wisbech, March, Whittlesey, Chatteris, Littleport.

Profile: This seat broadly covers the historic Isle of Ely (indeed, the seat was called the Isle of Ely until boundary changes moved Ely itself out of the seat), a old administrative unit covering the marshy fenland around the tiny city of Ely. This is a rural area, a wide stretch of flat agricultural land reclaimed from marshland in centuries past. The electorate is concentrated in a handful of market towns like Chatteris, Wisbech and March and the economy remains built upon the food industry, basic agriculture but also food processing, storage, packaging and distribution..

Politics: The old Isle of Ely seat was won by the Liberals in a 1973 by-election and represented by Sir Clement Freud, the chef, columnist and television and radio personality. After a surprise by-election win he held the seat for fourteen years through, he used to say, trawling through birth, deaths and marriages in the local paper and writing to congratulate or commisserate with constitutuents at every such opportunity, funded by the money he won backing himself to win the initial by-election at 33 to 1. After Freud was finally unseated in 1987 Liberal support in the seat rapidly faded, becoming once again a safe Tory seat.

Current MP
STEPHEN BARCLAY (Conservative) Born 1972, Lytham St Annes. Educated at King Edward VII School, RMA Sandhurst and Cambridge University. Former Solicitor and army officer. Contested Manchester Blackley 1997, Lancaster and Wyre 2001. First elected as MP for Cambridgeshire North East in 2010. Government whip since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 26862 (52%)
Lab: 9274 (18%)
LDem: 10437 (20%)
UKIP: 2791 (5%)
Oth: 2700 (5%)
MAJ: 16425 (32%)
Con: 24181 (48%)
Lab: 15280 (30%)
LDem: 8693 (17%)
UKIP: 2723 (5%)
MAJ: 8901 (17%)
Con: 23132 (48%)
Lab: 16759 (35%)
LDem: 6733 (14%)
UKIP: 1189 (2%)
Oth: 238 (0%)
MAJ: 6373 (13%)
Con: 23855 (43%)
Lab: 18754 (34%)
LDem: 9070 (16%)
Oth: 1110 (2%)
MAJ: 5101 (9%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
STEPHEN BARCLAY (Conservative) See above.
LUCY NETHSINGHA (Liberal Democrat)
ANDREW CHARALAMBOUS (UKIP) Born 1967, Highgate. Educated at William Foster School and Queen Mary College. Non practicising barrister. Contested Tottenham 1992, Edmonton 2010 for the Conservatives, Feltham and Heston 2011 by-election for UKIP.
Comments - 63 Responses on “Cambridgeshire North East”
  1. Clement Freud’s electoral record in Isle of Ely and North East Cambridgeshire-
    1973 by-election- 17, 390 (38.3%, N/A, 2, 483 (6.8%) majority)
    February 1974- 27, 647 (49.0%, N/A, +10.7%, 8, 347 (14.8%) majority)
    October 1974- 22, 040 (41.7%, -7.3%, 2, 685 (5.0%) majority)
    1979- 26, 397 (46.7%, +5.0%, 3, 330 (5.9%) majority)
    1983- 26, 936 (50.5%, +3.8%, 5, 195 (9.7%) majority)
    1987- 25, 555 (44.5%, -6.0%)

  2. Changes in this seat from 1983-
    Conservative- +10.6%
    Lib Dem- -30.5%
    Labour- +9.0%

    Says it all really.

  3. A closer look at the result here in February 1974-
    Freud (Liberal)- 27, 647 (49.00%, N/A, +10.7% against 1973 by-election)
    Stevens (Conservative)- 19, 300 (34.20%, -25.74%, -0.8%)
    Ferris (Labour)- 9, 478 (16.80%, -23.26%, -9.9%)

    Majority- 8, 347 (14.79%)
    Swing- +37.37% From Con to Lib.
    +5.75% From Con to Lib.

  4. Defeat for the Tories in the March North town council by-election on Thursday 19th September 2013. Lib Dem candidate Stephen Court gained almost 50% of the votes cast and a majority of 156 over the defeated Conservative candidate.

    Stephen becomes the first Lib Dem councillor on March Town Council.

  5. A closer look at the result here in 1983-
    (With notional vote share changes in brackets)
    Freud (Liberal)- 26, 936 (50.5%, +6.7%)
    Duval (Conservative)- 21, 741 (40.8%, -0.3%)
    Harris (Labour)- 4, 625 (8.7%, -6.3%)

    Majority- 5, 195 (9.7%)
    Swing- +3.5% From Con to Lib.

  6. Harry Legge-Bourke’s electoral record in Isle of Ely-
    1. 1945- 15, 592 (40.6%, -8.4%, 2, 321 (6.1%) majority)
    2. 1950- 21, 528 (45.0%, +4.4%, 4, 963 (10.4%) majority)
    3. 1951- 26, 319 (56.9%, +11.9%, 6, 404 (13.8%) majority)
    4. 1955- 24, 862 (57.4%, +0.5%, 6, 446 (14.8%) majority)
    5. 1959- 26, 173 (57.0%, -0.4%, 6, 468 (14.0%) majority)
    6. 1964- 25, 317 (56.2%, -0.8%, 5, 625 (12.4%) majority)
    7. 1966- 21, 320 (46.2%, -10.0%, 1, 754 (3.8%) majority)
    8. 1970- 28, 972 (59.9%, +13.7%, 9, 606 (19.8%) majority)

  7. Isle of Ely had a tradition of candidates from the Armed Forces during its long existence- Mr. Legge-Bourke was a Major himself, while his Labour opponent Alfred Francis Colenso Gray was a Lt. -Cmdr.

  8. Prediction for 2015-
    Barclay (Conservative)- 49%
    Labour- 22%
    Liberal Democrat- 16%
    UKIP- 9%
    Others- 4%

  9. wrt TR’s prediction – I’d have thought this was territory where UKIP should certainly be looking at double figures, traditionally Conservative but not very affluent with some demographic similarities to, say, NW Norfolk.

  10. I think this is a seat the Liberals used to hold because of one effective personality, which allowed them to hold this traditionally safe Conservative seat for 14 years. I think in the elections that followed (1992 and 1997 in particular) there was reasserting in the natural Conservative and then Labour votes respectively. It seems to have gradually reverted in terms of safeness for the Tories to how it was pre-Clement Freud.

  11. Yes, I don’t disagree with the large CON lead, but I’d expect UKIP could be as high as 14 or 15 here given the demography.

  12. Perhaps so. But it will definitely be a good vote for them.

    It is strange though to think how different Isle of Ely and then this would have been without Mr. Legg-Bourke’s death. I go back to the above-average increase in Labour’s vote here in 1997 as an indication of how much of their natural support Labour were getting back, even in the midst of their landslide victory, this increase was a special case in that way.

  13. Indeed – though I suspect that some of those “natural” Labour voters, particularly the circa 4% of the vote that deserted Lab for Con in 2010, may in large part be in the WWC demographic that UKIP appeal to though. Which may mean that, certainly in the fens, these are actually more “natural” for UKIP in the times we now live in.

    All of this of course is dependent on how UKIP play their hand. But if they play it well this sort of area should, I feel, yield a significant increase in vote share.

  14. It could happen and indeed it may well. But what I was talking about and I’m not sure if you were aware of the context I was placing this in James but I was referring to the tactical squeeze on Labour’s vote that had happened under Freud and how they bounced back in 1992 and 1997 after he was defeated in 1987.

    RE UKIP, the WWC demographic is certainly a good one for them when it comes to new votes. How many in other seats than just this one is another question entirely.

  15. The Tories recovered very well here under Malcolm Moss in 1987 (+6.2%) and 1992 (+7.0%), so that when they fell in 1997, they were 2.2% above where they were in 1983, when Clement Freud was still the MP.

  16. LD GAIN Sutton on E Cambs after huge tactical switch from LAB
    LD 523 50.9% +27.0
    CON 280 27.2% -19.2
    UKIP 162 15.8% +15.8
    LAB 63 6.1% -23.6

  17. Positively Plopwellian momentum for the Lib Dems in Sutton.

  18. The only thing that could have defeated the Tories there was a huge swing from them to UKIP, combined with a big swing from Lab to LD. Unfortunately for them that’s exactly what happened.

  19. Either Labour didn’t bother campaigning at all (deliberately or through incompetence) and the Tories screwed up royally in this ward, or the Lib Dems have some brilliant policy ideas for Cambridgeshire.

  20. Only the Lib Dem candidate lived in the ward. Makes a big difference in a place like Sutton.

  21. Suitably snarky comment there, Tory… Maybe the Labour voters voted tactically.. that then leaves some explaining of the Conservative slump… maybe they voted tactically too.. LoL… Edward’s rationale sounds more like it… but how come the Tories can’t rustle up a candidate from the ward in a seat they hold?

  22. And last week’s result…

    May 8, 2014

    Conservative 763 (48.1%; -8.8%)
    UKIP 537 (33.8%; +33.8%)
    Labour 193 (12.2%; -14.5%)
    Independent 70 (4.4%; +4.4%)
    LD Stephen Court 24 (1.5%; -14.9%)

    Majority 226
    Turnout 29.7%

    In this case the LibDem (from out of ward) got trounced…. a rather daunting UKIP surge took a bite out of everyone else’s apple

  23. Left out ward name…. its Fenland DC.. Roman Bank..

  24. Actually, its not really a UKIP surge.

    They won the CC election here in 2013, so really if anything its a pretty poor result to not even get close in the DC.

    The tories have to pleased with this result.

  25. The UKIP candidate was the same guy who won if the CC election if I read the press report correctly..

    Not sure its bad for UKIP as CC electorate is obviously a much larger territory.. Roman Bank was such safe Tory ground that the three Tory candidates were elected unopposed in 2010..

  26. Fenland DC was one of UKIP’s better EU Parliament results.

    UKIP 10,591
    Con 6,682
    Lab 2,520
    Green 976
    LD 778

  27. I find the strong resentment of immigrants and UKIP vote in these rural East Anglian seats puzzling. The last thing the locals want to do is pick turnips for minimum wages, so it’s not their jobs being taken. That’s why the East Europeans are here. Indeed the extra income brought in by the turnip pickers helps to support the rural and small town services where most locals work.

    Send all the turnip pickers home, and local jobs elsewhere will decline, and the DWP will force the locals to pick the turnips or starve…..

  28. What you have to remember is that the towns in these seats are quite small and have had stagnant or declining populations for decades. An arrival of several thousand outsiders is going to put pressure on services, schools etc. and is going to have much more of an impact on the feel of an area than a similar number of arrivals in a larger metropolitan area would do.

    Also, I’m not entirely sure that defining those coming in as ‘immigrants’ is helpful. If they were coming from Yorkshire, or London, or even from Thetford they’d still be making waves. If they don’t speak the language and aren’t familiar with local cultural mores then it’s more disruptive, but you shouldn’t underestimate the us vs. them mentality that grows up in isolated and ignored small towns.

    In other words, it’s cultural much more than it is economic, and immigration is only the proximate cause of an underlying unhappiness that’s been building up for various reasons for at least a generation.

  29. To expand upon that, it should be pointed out that not all immigrants here are going to be employed as agricultural labourers. There’s a decent amount of factory employment, especially on the outskirts of Peterborough, and that’s a sector which the locals would like to be involved in more than agriculture.

    Which is not to say that nobody locally wants to pick turnips. It’s fairly undeniable that the eastern European immigrants originally entered the sector because there weren’t many volunteers to do it locally, but at the time unemployment was much lower. Many of the unemployed now would like to work in the sector (or at least think they would) and many of the employed certainly think that’s where the local unemployed should be working.

    Lastly, the degree to which immigrants benefit the settled economy is perhaps debatable. Whilst they are spending money, in towns like Wisbech they’re often doing it in Polish-speaking shops and pubs, at which the English population don’t always feel welcome. Part of the reason these shops arose may be that the immigrant population weren’t made to feel welcome when they first arrived, but regardless of the rights and wrongs it’s not hard to see why this sort of thing could create tension.

    Essentially, putting a few thousand young manual labourers into a settled community is always going to cause unrest. The best analogy is probably Irish navvies building the railroads in the 19th century. My hope would be that things will settle down in a decade or so as the children of the first generation finish school along with their local contemporaries, but until then tensions will never be entirely eliminated.

  30. ECB – that’s a good point re factory workers. 25% were Polish in one featured in Peterborough by the BBC. I don’t think many put down those roots however. Hence many sending £ back home and in some cases Child Benefit.

  31. Some do. A friend of mine taught at a secondary school in Peterborough, which had new (predominantly eastern European) pupils turning up on a weekly basis. Enrolling your children in a secondary school implies a desire to remain at least semi-permanently.

  32. I more or less agree with ECB.

    A large proportion of the UKIP vote isn’t actually to do with EU legislation per se. Iif it were, they would have been a lot more popular a lot more quickly. In a significant majority of (but by no means all) cases it has nothing to do with overt or underlying prejudice either.

    A lot of them simply take the view that the country’s infrastructure is not going to be scaled up fast enough, by any government of any colour, to support an average annual population increase in excess of 400,000 people, and also take the view that even if a government were minded to do it, the EU should meet a proportion of that cost.

  33. Interesting result in East Cambridgeshire DC, Soham South – 19 June 2014… UKIP seem to have prospered mainly at the expense of an Independent and Labour..

    Conservative 363 (34.4%; -1.5%)
    UKIP 201 (19.1%; +19.1%)
    LD Charles Warner 191 (18.1%; – 1.0%)
    Independent 148 (14.0%; -14.8%)
    Independent 80 (7.6%; +7.6%)
    Labour 71 (6.7%; -9.4%)

    Majority 162
    Turnout 20.5%

    Conservative gain from Independent.

    Percentage change is since 2011.

  34. I don’t think most UKIP voters would necessarily express themselves in those terms, even if they might agree with the statement. It’s fundamentally about a rejection of the situation, not a diagnosis of its reasons.

  35. Sure.

    But the decisive element is the perceived negative effect that population growth is having on things that are important to people, rather than a groundswell of opinion based on constitutional or racial grounds.

  36. @ Edward Carlsson Browne

    Thanks for a very interesting and persuasive response to my comment, which has got me thinking. It’s some time since I was last in Wisbech.

    Your point about large number of young manual workers gets me thinking that there might be an element of sexual competition here. I suspect the female immigrants go to the cities.

    It is of course true that as the Poles and Lithuanians settle here and improve their English they will compete for jobs the locals want to do, as well as fill the schools up with children who I’d guess perform considerably better.

    What do we do about the “underlying unhappiness that’s been building up for a generation”?

  37. Sexual competition might be part of it – you can never rule it out with young men. But I was thinking more about the propensity of young men to get riotously drunk whenever the opportunity presents itself, particularly when they need to unwind. Put a couple of thousand young men into an area, especially when their work is physically exhausting, and you’re going to get alcohol-related disorder. It’s just that if those creating the disorder are Lithuanian, it may be less likely to be written off as boys being boys.

    As for the generalised malaise, one of the reasons it’s been building up for a generation is that there is no easy solution, so people have preferred to not approach the question. I suspect one thing that’s needed is a clear idea of what these towns are for. We talk more about regional development now than we did a few years back, but that’s almost entirely in terms of cities. Nobody’s really given a justification for the continued existence of small semi-rural towns beyond inertia. That needs to change.

  38. I remember the surprise when Clement Freud lost the seat in 87. It was due to the failure of the Liberals to build up a decent base in local government and the strength and resilience of the Conservative organization. They never gave up, even after the very disappointing result in 83 – in fact they redoubled their efforts. Freud, as I recall, blamed the result on the concern of yuppies at the prospect of a Kinnock government, a rather idiosyncratic analysis.

  39. Idiosyncratic is putting it mildly. This constituency is not and never has been very replete with yuppies.

  40. Green Candidate here is :-
    ” The Green Party has announced Helen Scott-Daniels as its general election candidate for NE Cambs. ”



  41. Having visited Wisbech I have to say that it is amongst the most depressing places I’ve ever been to in this country. Strange that Ukip aren’t looking overwhelmingly strong here.

  42. Depressing? The centre of the town by the river is quite nice IMO. (I know the likes of Tim Jones don’t like flat landscapes).

  43. It also has an excellent brewery (Elgoods) & some more than decent pubs owned by that brewery, some on the riverside which Andy mentions.

  44. Conservative Hold. 13,000 maj.

  45. UKIP councillor resigning makes Wisbech South one of the first by-elections – June 4th

  46. The LDs lost their deposit in Clement Freud’s former seat:

  47. I wonder, are we seeing the second ‘death of Liberal England’…

  48. Brutal drubbing for UKIP here (and a poor LibDem result

    Cambridgeshire CC, Wisbech South- 4th June 2015

    Conservative 1,020 [63.8%; +32.4%]
    UKIP 298 [18.6%; -19.6%]
    Labour 219 [13.7%; -2.7%]
    LD Josephine Ratcliffe 61 [3.8%; -10.1%]
    Majority: 722
    Conservative gain from UKIP
    Percentage change since 2013

Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)