This is the Sixth instalment of ‘My Vote, Our Election’. You can read the rest here.
I started postgraduate studies at the University of Birmingham last October. By chance, upcoming general election falls within the academic year. This meant that for me, probably the only time in my life, I would have a chance in choosing from two very different constituencies. These two constituencies are as follows; the first is my home constituency of South West Herts and the other is my university constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston. While I will only vote for one MP like everyone else, I will have far more options, and my vote will go a lot further in my university constituency then my home constituency. I will explain this further in my article.
The constituency of Edgbaston is mostly urban or suburban and middle class, with fairly lower rates of social housing and deprivation, albeit certain areas inside the constituency are an exception. It has a total of four wards. The constituencies best recognised ex-MP would be Neville Chamberlain, former Prime Minister between 1937 and 1940 and the first few months of WWII.
Traditionally Edgbaston was a Tory seat until the election of 1997 when it was won over by Labour, as part of the “Labour Landslide”. In successive elections, it has become more of a marginal seat between Conservatives and Labour with the Tories gaining ground on Labour. The current MP is Labour’s Gisela Stuart and has been since 1997. In 2010 she won by a narrow margin of just 1,274 votes (this represents a 3% lead over the Tories).
Edgbaston also houses the majority of the student halls at the University of Birmingham (me included). This means that the sitting or prospective Edgbaston MP would have to give greater importance to students and their issues than otherwise normal, as students are a represent such a large part of the voting population. As a student I feel that it is my duty to campaign with other students to help win a swing seat, something I plan on doing more over the Easter break.
On the other hand, we have my home constituency. It is in the commuter home county of Hertfordshire with the southern most part being within range of the London Tub. In size and population it is much greater, and much more spread out than Edgbaston. There are many settlements with the most recognized being Rickmansworth, Moor Park, Berkhamstead and Tring. There is also a sizable rural population within the constituency. In total, there is 23 large wards.
South West Herts, as so happens, is the third safest Conservative seat in Hertfordshire. The current sitting MP, David Gauke has been the MP since 2005, and prior to that there has been a Tory MP since the creation of the constituency in 1950 with four different Conservatives having held the seat. The nearest competition, albeit significantly smaller, is the Liberal Democrats. Hence compared to Birmingham Edgbaston, my vote will not have much of difference in the constituency of South West Herts. Conservative MP David Gauke won the 2010 election with 54.2% of the vote. As mentioned earlier this seat is one of the safer seats in Hertfordshire, realistically the Conservatives will hold this seat. However, if I vote in Edgbaston, my vote go further could have a much greater impact as I plan on voting for one of the two parties that are leading the swing (Lib Dem or Conservative).
This election I plan on voting Tory, a party I have grown to respect more as I learnt more about their policies. I support many areas of their Long Term Economic Plan, such as creating alternatives to higher education (apprenticeships), and reducing the deficit. Another area I support is the creation of localised more jobs via small enterprises, as well as reducing income tax, and a referendum on the EU. The only major areas I don’t support would be the fox-hunting issue and certain issues regarding the NHS and privatisation.
I have made contact with two out of four prospective MP’s for Edgbaston- one who I have interviewed for an article for this website, Lee Dargue, of the Liberal Democrats and other I am interviewing at the moment, Dr. Luke Evans. They are both quite varied in their backgrounds, passions and areas of interest. There is also a green candidate, Phil Simpson and a UKIP candidate, Graham Short, who I may interview at a later date for this website. All four of the prospective MP’s, alongside the current MP Gisela Stuart, will be attending a talk later this month at the University itself.
All four of these candidates have very differing interests and views. Personally, I believe that UKIP and the Green’s have little chance at taking the seat, both parties having scored poorly in the past in this constituency. Phil Simpson has also stood before in 2010 as an electoral candidate. The Liberal Democrats have a more realistic chance and are more vocal in the area, however, they too are not strong enough in this particular Birmingham seat.
Labour and the Conservatives are the two strongest in this particular marginal seat. Gisela Stuart is known for being one of the few Labour MP‘s who strongly praised George Bush’s 2004 re-election..for a left wing party politician she can be described as a “Blairite”(which makes sense as she was part of Labour Landslide). It will be a close contest between Labour and the Conservatives. I for one will be supporting the Conservatives. The current Conservative Parliamentary candidate, Dr. Luke Evans, believes that there are many strong similarities between being a GP and an MP. He also backs the Conservative Long Term Economic Plan, something I thoroughly endorse.
In short, I changed the constituency I am voting in for two reasons: (1) I felt that I had more of a chance that my vote would go a lot further in Edgbaston than in South West Herts. (2) I would vote for Conservative in both areas as they are the party which I feel suits my values more.
I want my vote to count.
By Neil Marathe, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.