A blog by Sam Mathieson, Labour candidate in the Soham North by-election
Just over a month ago, I stepped into political campaigning for the first time (or should I say “hobbled” as I was on crutches recovering from an operation). I was proud to be chosen as the Labour candidate for the by-election here in Soham where I live.
During the campaign I spoke to many people on the doorstep. They liked my positive message particularly around community safety and my experience as a former Police Constable. Also the need to improve our local infrastructure and to make sure that any future development fits with the needs of the community.
People warmed to positive messages and didn’t really like that one of my opponents based her campaign around not being the Tory. It’s no wonder that I saw voters switch off with newsletters chucked out into the street and even signs up warning “no leaflets”.
The result was disappointing in two ways. Firstly that fewer than one in five voters turned out. Secondly that over half of those who did vote chose the Conservative candidate.
I noted that those voting were predominately older and retired people. It’s an issue for our democracy that younger voters are so much less engaged. It’s one reason I proposed to create a forum for young people to give youngsters a direct say in what the Council provides for them.
A big thank you to those who did vote for me and to people who came to support me. That included the Labour MP for Cambridge, Daniel Zeichner and the Labour Mayor for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson. They are examples of how Labour does win here. One day, I hope to join them in representing the local community.
In the meantime, I remain actively interested in the local community and will be keeping a close eye on our new Councillor and all that East Cambs District Council does, or doesn’t do, for Soham. You can follow my reports on Twitter @Sam4Soham.