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Labour woes tempt Ferguson to stand as Independent candidate in St Neots

‘I have some serious thinking to do’ says Cllr Stephen Ferguson

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Independent county councillor Stephen Ferguson lobbed a proverbial hand grenade into the St Neots controversy over Labour’s selection for a Parliamentary candidate by suggesting he now may enter the race. Responding to a statement by the St Neots and Mid Cambs Labour Party that they were “absolutely honoured” to have Lambeth councillor Marianna Masters as their candidate, Cllr Ferguson claims that Labour members locally are unhappy with the decision.

“The executive (St Neots Labour Party) might be happy, but I have been contacted by half a dozen members of the local Labour party who are ‘so happy’ with this decision that they’ve asked me to stand and pledged their support for me,” he said.

“I have some serious thinking to do…”

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His late evening post to X, formerly Twitter, came at the end of a tumultuous 48 hours for the St Neots and Mid Cambs Labour Party after CambsNews revealed that the first anyone locally knew of the selection of Cllr Masters was when Labour HQ announced it on Tuesday.

Local activists had no clue until then, local applicants had no clue, and even, it seems, the decision was not conveyed to Labour officials locally until they too all received the same email.

St Neots and Mid Cambs Labour Party admitted as much on their Facebook page yesterday.

“We found out the same time you did!,” they posted in response to a member’s query.

“We’ve been working yesterday and today on the comms plan after receiving the news only yesterday evening.”

Cllr Stephen Ferguson says he has Labour Party members support for him to stand as an independent candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire constituency

Cllr Stephen Ferguson says he has Labour Party members support for him to stand as an independent candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire constituency. Above: As chair of the county council he helped fly the LGBT+ flag at New Shire Hall, Alconbury

An earlier post said:Many voters have told us they would prefer a Labour MP to a Tory/Lib Dem one, particularly with Labour expected to be in Westminster.

“It will be better for our county to get behind the candidate to ensure we have access to central government and a voice in key votes, than to boycott Marianna before she has even had a chance to engage with residents, which she will be doing very shortly.”

Cllr Ferguson welcoming the Duke of Edinburgh to Cambridgeshire on Wednesday

Cllr Ferguson welcoming the Duke of Edinburgh to Cambridgeshire

The question remains, of course, whether the decision increases the likelihood of electoral success for the Tory candidate, Anthony Browne MP who is moving across from South Cambridgeshire following a boundaries shake-up.

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Or will the Labour selection aid Lib Dem candidate Ian Sollom – all predictions of course now possibly in need of revamp if Cllr Ferguson, a popular figure in St Neots, a former town mayor, and former chairman of Cambridgeshire, enters the fray.

He is also a district councillor but more importantly helps support the alliance running Cambridgeshire County Council. He will be balancing his electoral options against expected criticism from that alliance although if he were to be in any way excluded from that alliance, it would hardly raise an eyebrow.

So, who is Cllr Ferguson?

Well, he was elected to the St Neots East and Gransden division of Cambridgeshire County Council in May 2021, as an Independent member.

Three years earlier he was elected to St Neots Town Council and has served two consecutive terms as chairman of the town council and mayor of St Neots.

In 2021 he won election to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Cambridgeshire County Council political make -up

“I had wanted that seat at the top table of local politics so I could shape decisions and improve life for the 650,000 of us who live and work here,” he says.

“The sad reality is that I have spent far too much time and energy grappling with this region’s tangled mess of governance.

“There are simply too many layers of local government: too many cooks, and none agree on the recipe.”

A longer version of his political views can be read on the linked CambsNews article.

But with rumours in recent weeks that Cllr Ferguson was considering putting his name forward as an independent candidate, it’s probably fair to conclude that as of tonight, where an avalanche of tweets have discussed options, the lights, now on amber, look likely to turn green anytime soon.

There is even speculation of a website in early stages of production but, and unusually for him, Cllr Ferguson is expected to tread carefully, especially on social media, until his mind is irrevocably made up.

 

 

 

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