Julian Huppert, banking on visibility

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem PPC for CambridgeVarsity – the Cambridge University student newspaper – has profiled Julian Huppert. It doesn’t begin too well:

“Huppert the Muppet, I call him,” says the cab driver taking me to see Cambridge’s most visible politician, Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for the city since 2010.

But it gets better.

“I think it will be a very tight race,” he says, “and it’ll be a question of whether people like my track record as someone who has worked for Cambridge and delivered for Cambridge.”

He does work hard in Parliament: They Work For You ranks him “well above average” for his participation in debates and questions, and he is in several all-party groups, as well as the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Yet Huppert cites constituency work as the most rewarding part of his position, talking at length about a constituent whom he had assisted in finding housing.

He admits he does get his picture in the press quite a lot, to the annoyance of the taxi driver, but he is hoping that his high visibility and the incumbency effect will counter the Labour challenge in May.

Unprompted, he raises the Lib Dem push on ‘revenge porn’ as a particular success. He says “it would never be on the front page of the newspapers… but is actually something that would make a big difference.”

Huppert comes alive when we talk about drugs. Recently, he co-wrote an article with Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, advocating major reforms in UK drug law. I ask him to elaborate.

“The aim of drugs policy should be harm reduction… the traditional approach has been not to aim at harm reduction, but to aim at use reduction, and… that’s increased the harms.

“What I would do immediately is to decriminalise on the Portuguese model: possession [of] any drug is not a criminal offence. You can do that quickly and easily and say we should have police efforts, not focused on the users, but focused on the gangs. There’s a lot of very, very nasty, violent behaviour there… That’s the first step.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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18 Comments

  • I hope he doesn’t base his campaigning on “revenge porn” and “drug laws”, neither are likely to be in the top 20 of most peoples concerns. Either way he will have a very hard time defending his seat, he has a large majority but the bookies have it about 50/50 with Labour.

  • malc
    I agree with you about the top 20 priorities of most voters.

    Porn and drugs do however seem to help other political parties with fund-raising. I understand that at least one national newspaper supporting UKIP is in the hands of its proprietor thanks to the profits from his pornography empire.
    The booze barons traditionally support the Conservatives. The influence of Big Tobacco on UK politics is well documented . The influence of those with a vested interest in illegal drugs is less well documented.

    It would be amazing to think that with all those millions available to them the Drug Barons would not be trying to use their cash to buy politicians.

    Every other big money interest does this – although they launder their cash through supposedly respectable “lobbyists”. Look at the Health Care Giants who in recent years have been buying up MPs of various parties in their drive to break up the NHS and replace it with a crazy insurance based system.
    It is just another example of the ” free market” I suppose.

  • Tsar Nicolas 19th Jan '15 - 11:25am

    John Tilley,

    If the drugs barons support anyone, it surely won’t be Huppert, because decriminalisation will lead to sharply reduced prices and profits.

    On a more serious note, the Oakeshott poll showed the party losing this seat. I can’t remember what the Ashcroft poll said – wasn’t it something similar?

  • Tsar Nicolas 19th Jan '15 - 6:23pm

    Simon Shaw,

    Thank you for confirming the fact that Julian Huppert is in trouble..

  • Tsar Nicolas,

    Why? What’s he done?

  • Simon Shaw

    I agree that sometimes it’s nice to be on someones shoulder and then finish strongly and overtake them just before the finishing line. However, when you had a 13% majority in 2010, it’s not very comforting to be behind so near to the GE. It’s very close to call, but as in some other seats I think the tuition fees problem will give the seat to Labour.

  • Malc – he’s talking to the Student newspaper though so fairly reasonable choice of issues.

    IIRC Julian voted against the Tuition Fee proposals so will have a certain degree of insulation on that point

  • Martin Pierce 20th Jan '15 - 12:48pm

    Julian is my MP and quite simply he is outstanding. Amidst the sell outs and the incompetence of Clegg and his team, Julian is everything most Lib Dem members would want from a Lib Dem MP. Our literature contains a lot of the usual 2-horse race stuff and pictures of Julian but also attempts less obvious stuff as well – good mix. It will be close but in yesterday’s Independent Iain Dale’s assessment that we will win only 24 seats had Julian’s as one of the 24. 50/50 is probably a reasonable assessment but for most LD MPs in 2015 that would count as a good place to be

  • Chris Keating 20th Jan '15 - 12:54pm

    When Julian’s pressed on tuition fees his answer tends to be “Unlike the last Labour MP, I kept my promise to vote against tuition fees…..” which is probably the best message of any of the Lib Dem MPs.

  • David Allen 20th Jan '15 - 1:30pm

    A confession – and I wonder whether anyone else has similarly mistaken Julian Huppert’s identity. If you type “Julian H” into LDV’s search engine, it will remind you of a string of postings under that attribution, mostly from around 2009, expressing an extremely aggressive Orange Book point of view. I have since laboured under the misconception that this must have been Julian Huppert. It wasn’t. It was a “Julian Harris”.

    Mr Huppert, henceforth I will take you seriously… sorry!

  • How old’s that photo???

  • I hope very much that Julian Huppert keeps his seat after the May election. We need MP’s like him, thoughtful, prepared to work across party ie paper with a green MP ON DRUG REFORM. If I lived in Cambridge he would get my vote 🙂

  • Just to say he’s right on drugs – harm reduction the grown up answer for society. Re tuition fees – folks round here accept that Clegg ‘nutmegged’ blame Labour duplicity, and move on. But then we’re pretty clever in Cumbria.

  • SIMON BANKS 20th Jan '15 - 9:27pm

    I knew Labourites were pretty right-wing and totalitarian at heart, but I didn’t realise they were Tsarist.

    Common knowledge: Liberal Democrats will struggle to defend seats against Labour in May. Any number of polls show us doing better defending against Tories. Common knowledge: we did ourselves no good with our U-turn on student finance, however much Simon Hughes may have improved the proposals. In the light of this, Julian Huppert is doing remarkably well in Cambridge. None of the polls adequately reflect the shift as people start thinking during the election campaign more about the local situation and who their vote could elect or defeat, and that includes decisions to vote tactically. If the current situation in the polls is 50/50 with Labour, we have a very good chance of holding the seat – and there are few MPs the House of Commons needs more.

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Jan '15 - 9:49pm

    @Martin Pierce,
    Cambridge is full of clever scientists. Is there any possibility of cloning him?

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