Local MP, John Grogan, is surprised he still has a job
At about 4am on Saturday 7 May I awoke with a start. My first thought was “When is the election count?”. My second thought I savoured in my mind for as long as possible “The count happened yesterday – I won!”.
Twenty four hours previously I had only recently arrived at the Abbey Leisure Centre in Selby to witness the count itself. Things are not done in a rush in Selby and from previous experience I arrived expecting to be there long afterdawn. I also expected to lose and just before my arrival local Tories had been doing briefings for the local press predicting a 5,000 Tory majority. I did my best to compose myself and then some of the most amazing 15 minutes of my life unfolded. From being well behind in the count of votes, suddenly we were ahead as the boxes from the stronger Labour areas were opened and counted.
One recount later the Acting Returning Officer was declaring that I was the newly elected Memberof Parliament for the Selby constituency and we were borrowing a discarded bottle of champagne from the Tories for the obligatory local newspaper photographs. There was just time for celebratory bacon or egg sandwiches from the local cafe? before the first phone call come through to my office. My constituent had two questions. The first was nothing if not succinct; “Did you win then?”. The second was nothing if not practical; “Now what about my housing benefit?”
On Sunday lunchtime whilst watching one of the football matches in the Roses contest I reflected on the important part the University had played in the election campaign.
Turnout figures are available foreach ballot box, which for the first time included one at Vanbrugh College. Altogether about 1200 students out of a possible 2488 on the electoral roll voted, but of course this does not include those who had postal votes in their home constituencies or indeed foreign students entitled to vote in EU but not parliamentary elections. Our best estimates are that Labour secured between 600-700 student votes with the Liberal Democrats very close behind and the Tories a distant third. As my majority was only 467 I would not be writing this article in my House of Commons office without support from the campus. Thanks very much indeed!
I now have two more home Roses contests to look forward to long after many readers of this column have left the University to make their own mark on the world.
Later this month at the meeting of the University Court, which is the supreme governing body of the University, I shall underline my support for the new Heslington East campus, but with the added proviso that central student facilities are provided and the principle of 24 hour-portering is extended to all the new colleges being built.