Azara Blog: Lib Dems in Cambridge opt for Julian Huppert

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Date published: 2010/01/18

The Cambridge News says:

The Liberal Democrats have voted in Julian Huppert to fight for the Cambridge seat in the general election.

The move came after the current city MP, Lib Dem David Howarth, announced his intention to step down at the next election.

The councillor, who has lived in the city since he was a child, was selected from a shortlist of six candidates who fought for the position in Hustings, at The Michaelhouse Centre, in Trinity Street on Friday night.

As with the Tory candidate selection, the Lib Dims seem to have opted for the least worst candidate. And Huppert has to start out as the favourite, given that Howarth has kept his nose clean over the expenses scandal. Huppert is at least clued up enough to have his own website.

Unfortunately the contents there are not encouraging. So, for example, in the economy section he quotes a nef (new economic foundation) report concerned with "calculating the real value to society of different professions". Well, thank god someone is worrying about that, eh, rather than doing something useful with their lives. Other than that he follows the usual national Lib Dem line on the economy, for example, he wants to replace the Council Tax with income tax, allegedly because that is "fairer". But there is nothing particularly more fair or less fair about basing a tax on property (which is an approximation of wealth) versus income. It's just that the Lib Dems think there are more votes in being anti-wealth tax and pro-income tax.

And on transport he follows the usual academic middle class mantra: "we cannot simply keep building more roads to relieve the congestion, especially since all studies show that new roads just generate more traffic". Funnily enough, no new (trunk as opposed to access) roads have been built in Cambridge in the last nearly forty years. And funnily enough, the same argument about generating more traffic never seems to apply to London train commuters. So Huppert is one of those promoting a new train station in Chesterton, and the the main effect of that will be to allow London commuters to push into north Cambridge (one of the few "affordable" areas of the city) and force yet more Cambridge workers to live out in the villages. Somehow Huppert (and the rest of the Cambridge ruling elite) never seem to figure that one out.

Howarth was a capable enough MP, even if he didn't particularly bother promoting the Cambridge hi-tech industry. If (and possibly when) Huppert becomes MP, it will be interesting to see how he does. Given that the next government will not be Lib Dem, it probably doesn't really matter what he thinks, one way or the other. But as MP, hopefully he would at least view it as his job to promote the city.

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