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Kingston students back Labour for General Election with Lib Dem support at all-time low

By William Lloyd Mar 17, 2015
Ed Davey could be kicked out of the Kingston and Surbiton seatEd Davey could be kicked out of the Kingston and Surbiton seat. (Photo: Joel Goodman/Rex Features)

Kingston students will overwhelmingly vote to support Labour at the 2015 General Election while support for the Liberal Democrats has sunk to a new low, an exclusive River poll has revealed.

The survey showed a tidal wave of support for Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Lee Godfrey, who is set to gain 52 per cent of the student vote, ahead of the Green Party in second place on 21 per cent, and the Conservatives on 20 per cent.

But students, who voted in their thousands for the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 election, have deserted the Liberal Democrats, spelling potential disaster for Kingston and Surbiton MP and Climate Secretary Ed Davey.

The poll revealed that less than five per cent of Kingston students intend to vote for Davey’s party at the General Election, down from nine per cent in October 2014, when The River carried out a similar survey. A similar poll carried out prior to the 2010 General Election put the Liberal Democrats top, with a 56 per cent share of the vote.

In 2010, Davey held the seat with a majority of 7,560 votes, but relied heavily on the KU Lib Dem student vote.

Ed Davey’s campaign manager, Jonah Oliver, said: “Voting for Labour or the Greens just puts the Tories one step closer to winning here and gives them one more vote in Parliament for their dangerous plans to cut taxes for the wealthy and make £50bn of cuts to vital public services.

“A vote for Ed Davey and the Lib Dems will guarantee a strong liberal voice for Kingston in Parliament, tackling climate change, fighting for an inclusive and open Britain playing its part in Europe and across the world and creating more jobs for a stronger economy.”

Davey’s main challenger will be the Conservative candidate, James Berry, in one of the country’s various marginal seats.

Kingston Conservatives association chairman Phil Doyle said: “The Conservative Party focuses on having a successful economy. This creates jobs, and the wealth of the country increases. That allows for hospitals, schools, universities, and everything that has to be paid for.

“I am a Conservative, so I want students to vote for us. But, for me, the most important thing is that they believe in something.”

Labour has increased its lead in the KU poll since October when it took 45 per cent of the vote.

Lee Godfrey, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, said: “It is very encouraging that students in Kingston have increased their support for Labour over the past six months to over 50 per cent. I think the main reason for this is that we are the only major party that are giving young people hope for a better future.

“Every poll that comes out in Kingston and Surbiton, be it student polls or polls across the general population, show that Ed Davey will lose in May. The most recent Ashcroft poll shows Ed Davey down on only 21 per cent and that Labour is the only party that can keep the Tories out locally.”

Support for the Green Party has also increased at the university, moving ahead of the Tories since our October poll, when the Greens were third with a 16 per cent share of the vote, and the Conservatives second with 19 per cent.

Siobhan Cockram, President of the Kingston University Young Greens, said: “I think that students are becoming increasingly aware that mainstream politicians are content to ignore them. We have the policies and the mentality that best represents the student body. We believe in free education, living wage, scrapping letting agent fees and capping rents. We also value diversity and want a better deal for our international students.”

“I think students respect that we propose to pay for tuition through taxes on the kind of elitist snobs that brought fees in, in the first place. Many students are seeking an alternative to business as usual politics, and the Greens are presenting the only legitimate challenge to the austerity agenda.”

Phil Doyle said: “I am not sure that the policies of the Green Party are fully understood by everyone. I would simply hope that before anyone uses their vote, they understand properly what they are voting for.”

Our poll surveyed 400 students at Penrhyn Road, Kingston Hill and at Knight’s Park campuses from Tuesday March 3 to Wednesday March 11.

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