The coalition’s term in office is nearly over. With voters taking to the polling booths in less than six months time the 7th May election is quickly approaching. A recent survey of voting intentions undertaken by the Union of UEA Students, in order to raise awareness of the forthcoming election, asked the simple question: ‘If the election were tomorrow, which party would win your vote?’
The results have suggested that it will be the Green Party’s Lesley Grahame or the Labour Party’s candidate Clive Lewis that are going to win the votes of the UEA community for the Norwich South constituency, with 35% and 28% of support respectively.
Lesley Grahame has said that she is delighted with the result. Speaking on the poll she said: “This was a fantastic result and let’s keep it up. The Greens are the only ones offering policies that young people want to get involved with – like abolishing tuition fees, voting from 16 onwards and protecting the future of the NHS. I’m proud to stand for a party that offers a hopeful future for everybody”.
The Liberal Democrats, whose delegate Simon Wright currently holds the seat, came fourth with the support of only 7% of the 288 students questioned, behind the Conservatives in third place with 18% of student support and beating the UK Independence Party, backed by only 5% of the UEA population. The low level of Ukip support amongst UEA students is proving to buck the trend of the growing popularity of the party, who currently wield 15% of support nationwide.
Despite the evidence that the Liberal Democrats are struggling amongst the student population, a key demographic in a city with 15% 20-24 year olds (2011 census), when approached for comment on the results of the Student Union Survey, Liberal Democrat MP for Norwich South Simon Wright was seemingly unconcerned by the UEA findings and had this to say in response:
“Liberal Democrats are the only party that can build both a stronger economy and a fairer society, and what drives us towards this is the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to choose and succeed in their own chosen path in life. It shouldn’t matter what social background you’re from, or your race, colour, gender, or sexuality.
“In government, Liberal Democrats have worked to get the economy back on track and to create jobs. Unemployment has halved in Norwich since the last election. We have also introduced same-sex marriage, we are working towards putting mental health care on the same footing as physical health, and we strongly support our membership of the EU. Many students share our open, liberal and tolerant outlook and that’s why when the election comes, I am confident that our policies will resonate with students”.
Six months can prove to be a long time in politics, but, for the minute at least, it seems that the Norwich South constituency may be under the control of a different political party by next summer.