Julian Huppert’s Tory opponent in Cambridge next May will be… an ex-Lib Dem London mayoral hopeful

chamali fernandoThe Cambridge News reports that Chamali Fernando has been chosen by the Conservatives to contest Julian Huppert’s Cambridge constituency:

A barrister and Liberal Democrat defector has been named as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cambridge. Chamali Fernando, 35, was adopted by party members to fight the 2015 poll at a special general meeting. She joined the Tories in 2009, two years after she unsuccessfully sought the Liberal Democrat nomination for the London mayoral poll. And it’s a case of second time lucky in Cambridge for Ms Fernando, who missed out on the nomination to run for MP as a Conservative last time around. She was beaten by Nick Hillman, who came second in the 2010 general election.

In May 2010, Julian held Cambridge with a majority of 6,792 over the Tories, with Labour a further 650 votes behind in third place. Recent local election results point to Labour being the more likely challenger than the Tories – it would need a swing of 8% from Lib Dem to Labour to defeat Julian. Those Lib Dems living in near-by non-target seats might like to think about what they can do to support him in holding Cambridge.

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  • There aren’t many LD MP’s I’d like to see lose their seat for the good of the nation, Julian Huppert is probably top of my list. He’s been easily manipulated by big business (see his “digital bill of rights”); he claims support technological civil rights but when it came to DRIP he endorsed rushed legislation that made little sense at all. He even claimed he helped improve it, even though it granted the Secretary Of State the power to legislate at will on data retention for the next 2 years.

    I’d rather vote Monster Raving Loony than give him another term, bring back David Howarth (who took time on this site to help us understand the legal implications of DRIP, which turned out to be much more illuminating than Hupperts contribution). We deserve better – I hope campaigners will desert him come the election and the local party will find a better candidate next time.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Aug '14 - 12:43pm

    I always thought she had rather more about her than her brother has. This is well worth reading:


    But I do think that her choice of seat is both foolish as well as potentially-damaging for the Lib Dems. Naivety, as well as sincerity, is easy to spot.

  • Cambridge looks like a Labour gain

  • If Labour had selected Lord David Sutch, theakes would still predict a Labour gain.

  • Tim, sarcasm, sarcasm, the evidence points to a Labour gain, the general situation in the country, the problems this party has and has made for itself and of course the local election results there over the past 2 – 3 years. We must accept that the malaise this party is in has existed for over 2 years, the national polling shows no real sign of improving and in the most University Towns things are very poor indeed. We need to get real.

  • Adam Robertson 3rd Aug '14 - 8:06pm

    There seems to be some pessimism about Julian Huppert, holding Cambridge. From what I have heard from the sabbatical officers from Anglia Ruskin University, although there is anger at the Lib Dems nationally, there is a lot of respect for Julian Huppert for his individualistic stance. I think Julian will do better than places like Norwich South, where there is a lot of anger at Simon Wright, for not communicating at students, at how he was going to vote on Tuition Fees.

    I think Julian has a 75% chance of holding to Cambridge, so I’m optimistic, then some other comments, which have been made on here.

  • Lib Dem Candidate 4th Aug '14 - 8:46am

    My recollection is that she was actually selected as Tory PPC for Cambridge last time and then stood down before the election, or something.

    She should never have been shortlisted for the London Mayoral candidacy. She was not ready.

  • Daniel Henry 4th Aug '14 - 8:57am

    I take the opposite view to ChrisB.
    Julian is one of the few MPs in parliament that fully understands many of the bills going through and their effects and has done a fantastic job in scrutinising them and securing significant changes.

    I don’t see how a digital bill of rights could be considered “pro big business”

  • The imbalance of women in parliament is important; another equally important imbalance is the lack of MPs who are scientifically literate. There are too many lawyers and media types in parliament who are stronger on opinions than on understanding.

    Julian Huppert stands out from the crowd. Just because the lawyers and media types hate his ability to trump their opinions with an understanding of the facts is no reason to join the Westminster, anti Huppert tribal bandwagon.

    I very much agree with Daniel Henry and Ian Sanderson. I respect someone who respects and demonstrates the ability to understand the evidence.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Aug '14 - 11:43am

    Ian Sanderson (RM3)

    I met Chamali Fernando and her brother when she was seeking the London Mayoral nomination for the LibDems in 2008. I thought then that Brian Paddick was a much more formidable candidate but that she showed a great deal of promise. So I was very disappointed when she left us.

    Sorry, but someone who goes off in a huff like this when they don’t instantly get a plum political position is NOT the sort of person we want as a potential office holder in our party. It’s not just her, I’ve seen FAR too much of this. It seems to me indicative of a failure in our process for approving and selecting candidates. We seem to be far to ready to go for those with superficial charm and the gift of the gab at the expense of those who have long term commitment to the party and who therefore would stick it out if given the chance rather than ruled out on superficial grounds because they don’t have that smooth upper middle class image and extrovert personality which it now seems you have to have to get anywhere in politics.

  • “There are too many lawyers and media types in parliament who are stronger on opinions than on understanding.”

    Is this comment meant to be ironic? Considering that less than one sixth of our MPs could be in anyway defined as a lawyer, I am going to just going to ignore the massive supposition that lawyers must only hold opinions and scientists must only work on fact.

  • @Liberal Al
    Percentage of Lawyers in UK population: 0.2%
    Percentage of Lawyers in Commons: 17% (your figure)

    Pro rata there should only be one lawyer out of the 650 members of the Commons, not over 100. Lawyers are massively over-represented.

  • @Daniel Henry

    >I don’t see how a digital bill of rights could be considered “pro big business”

    This is Julian’s Digital Bill of Rights EDM : http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/869

    …and this is Google, Apple, Microsoft, AOL’s, etc, anti-government website (compare the wording) :

    Any explanation for that Daniel?

  • So, Steve, you think that we should scrape democracy and start having quotas for our MPs based on their previous work experience? Somehow, I cannot see it catching on and think it may be quite difficult to work our the percentages, especially when trying to work out how to implement a system which represents the 0.001 of population who work as tree surgeons. Currently, under your model, they are underrepresented.

  • PS Steve, currently, there are fewer than 100 lawyers in the House of Commons (86).

  • There is some argument to be made that a knowledge of the law (whether obtained as a practising lawyer or otherwise) could be a rather useful skill for people who intend to make or amend the laws.

  • stuart moran 5th Aug '14 - 5:42am


    That seems a nonsensical post sorry to say

    You need people who understand the law when it comes to drafting a bill but that is what the civil service and the Parliamentary authorities to do

    I have just arrived on here and am amazed how reactionary and conservative liberals are!

    It seems that when something different or radical is proposed a whole raft of people come out and explain why the status quo is fine after all……..quite strange

  • @Stuart there is a difference between being a Conservative and thinking that change for the sake of change is an innately good thing. This is because there is a difference between change and progress!

    However, I am not even arguing against change here, I am highlighting a fallacy and the factual inaccuracies in a point which was ‘ironically’ based on opinion rather than understanding.

    I happen to think Julian is a great MP and wholly agree that more people with an understanding of the difference sciences would be a beneficial thing for the elected part of our Parliament. I also agree that policy should be evidence based and that one should understand what he is making policy on.

    However, these two things do not make it true that ‘scientists are men of facts’ and ‘lawyers/media types’ are no good ‘opinionated spin doctors’! Even if this were true, the solution presented (i.e. that we should only have percentages of MPs from any employment group representative to the percentage of people in society who do the same role) would not solve this issue because there are fewer ‘scientists’ in society than there are ‘lawyers’ and ‘media types’.

    I really should not need to explain why these things are illogical and part of me thinks you are ‘trolling’ me (as the young people would say)!

  • stuart moran 5th Aug '14 - 2:51pm

    Liberal Al

    Firstly I resent your accusation of ‘trollingt’ – there seems to be a bit of strange posting on the board at the moment focused on personal attacks which I find bizarre. I have better things to do with my itme

    The point I think being, rightly, made is that the MP population is drawn from a very small section of society, public school, white, mate, middle and upper middle class. I wish there were more scientifically-literate MPs then we would not have cases where one of the members of the science committe advocates the use of astrology in healthcare!

    Notice I have used ‘scientifically-literate’ rather than scientists. It is true to say though that most pronouncements from politicians show very little understanding of ‘evidence’ and ‘data’ though – whether on purpose or through ignorance who can say!

    I want my politicians to be intelligent, rounded people who can think laterally and understand complexity.

    I think these people are in the minority

    I did respond to David-1 point that laws need to be made by lawyers – I think this is completely erroneous. Laws need to be made by people who understand what they are talking about or are prepared to admit when they don’t but are capable still of asking intelligent questions

    Lastly, I didn’t say Conservative, I said conservative – there is a big difference. I also have found since reading these boards that there is a lack of radicalism and preparedness to challeng the status quo. That is a general point and a perception. You seem to use words in your reply though that I didn’t use such as ‘Conservative’ and ‘change’……I expect6ed to see some radical ideas from this party – a different approach to old problems – but too often I see a coalescence around the status quo.

    If the LD are not a radical party then what exactly are they?

  • @stuart moran: ” David-1 point that laws need to be made by lawyers ”

    When one compares this characterisation of what I wrote to my actual words, “There is some argument to be made that a knowledge of the law (whether obtained as a practising lawyer or otherwise) could be a rather useful skill for people who intend to make or amend the laws,” one notes a strange inconsistency.

  • @Liberal Al
    “So, Steve, you think that we should scrape democracy and start having quotas for our MPs based on their previous work experience? ”

    No, that is not what I said. Are you a lawyer by any chance? The evidence I presented in my comment showed your argument about lawyers being ‘only’ less than one sixth to be a fallacy and that they are actually massively over-represented in the Commons compared to the composition of the population. That is not the same thing as saying their should be quotas for MPs based on work experience.

    “PS Steve, currently, there are fewer than 100 lawyers in the House of Commons (86).”

    I was using your figure of less than one sixth, as stated. Now you are telling us that there are less than one seventh. Numeracy skills indeed. I apologise for believing your figure.

  • stuart moran 5th Aug '14 - 4:09pm


    Okay, I accept that I may have over-egged my comemnt and for that I apologise

    I think though the gist of what you said was that ‘lawyers are the best people to make laws’ but you said it in a politician’s way of speaking/writing. I translate it thus

    There is some argument = I believe that
    could be a rather useful skill = is a required skill

    It is one of those ways of writing that doesn’t really help me understand what you are trying to say or what you believe.

    Should those making laws have a background or law (either practising or otherwise – not sure what the otherwise is though….)? If you say yes then I disagree with you, if you say no then I agree.

  • stuart moran 5th Aug '14 - 4:14pm

    I have just read that back – lesson to self – avoid the word ‘should’

    I rephrase the question

    Is having a background in law a pre-requisite of being able to make laws?

    If you say yes I disagree
    If you say no I agree

    I still stand by my feeling that your original comment really didn’t add much to the debate – especially if your answer is no to my question, as I think nobody has made the case for stopping lawyers being MPs – rather that there are possibly too many of them and that they are over-represented.

  • Peter Davies 5th Aug '14 - 9:53pm

    “By contrast BAME communities are under-represented by 140%.”
    The figures may be shockingly bad but we don’t actually have a negative number of BAME representatives.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Aug '14 - 11:17am

    Lester Holloway

    Steve – by those figures lawyers are over-represented in the Commons by 8,400%. By contrast BAME communities are under-represented by 140%.

    What about social class? How many of our party PPCs come from a working class background?

    If you look at education and life prospects, you find working class white people at the bottom and upper middle class white people at the top, with BAME groups in between. The biggest division in our country is social class, not ethnicity.

  • Simon McGrath 6th Aug '14 - 11:49am

    @lester – are you suggesting that our party discriminates against BAME people who put themselves forward for selection in winnable seats? If so can you provide evidence please ?

  • Simon McGrath 6th Aug '14 - 4:12pm

    Lester – I am glad you are not saying our Party directly discriminates against BAME candidates. But I still don’t understand what point you are making. Had Chamali Fernando stayed in our party what about her race would have stopped her being selected ?

  • @Stuart, I believe trolling actually refers to purposefully making contentious and hyperbolic comments on controversial topics in order to ‘get a rise out of people’! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)
    However, I was only joking with that comment (the point being that I think you are too smart to need me to explain why Steve’s point is illogical!) If I did cause offense, I do apologise, I realise I am no comedic genius.

    As for the conservative/Conservative point: just a typo because in Chinese, there is no such thing as capitalisation, so I was just on auto-pilot when I wrote it. As for why I used ‘change’, well, that is simple, what is a ‘radical’ proposal? It is an extreme and often rapid change from the status quo. My point still stands, being ‘radical’ for the sake of it is not an innately good thing – most of the worlds worst war crimes and oppressive acts were committed in the name of radical ideas. I am more than happy to accept a radical proposal for change, but only if it is one based on reason, logic, understanding, evidence and can be shown to have a progressive benefit. I apply the shame principles to a non-radical change, as well, because change the key thing happening here, whether it is radical, or not.

    Finally, on the non-substantive points, David-1 never said Law had to be made by lawyers, as he has already pointed out.

    However, with your substantive point, there is no disagreement between us. I agree whole-heartily that we need a more representative House of Commons and that MPs should be scientific literate. The problem is that David’s attack on ‘lawyers and media types’ far from solving these problems, only reinforces the problems that allow them to continue by making people concentrate on prejudicial and opinionated dislikes of certain groups than actually working to fix the problem. By turning people against a professional (admittedly, one which does not always help itself) that actually has much power to hold Parliament to account, those making policies based on opinions and prejudice greatly help themselves.

    So far, I have stayed away from stating whether I think lawyers make good parliamentarians, or not, because: one, I think there are more important things than one’s career to access their viability; two, much of the attack was based on a factually inaccurate presumption that the majority of MPs are media types/ lawyers; and, two, I think it would have been a pointless debate based on many an assertion and very little substance. However, I think you are reasonable and can accept that:

    1 – presuming lawyers are opinion based and scientists are fact based is at best ignoring logic. Even if we ignore that humans are individuals who can act against our presumptions and look at how those working in the legal profession are trained, one will see, they are trained to concentrate very much on facts, understanding and knowledge. The tails of the silver tongued lawyer are generally speaking just that, a tail or story. Most lawyers are poor public speakers, but very good advocates – the difference being that one is meant to use their words to persuade people of something, the other is meant to use their words to prove something. To prove anything, one needs to understand facts and understand the area he is speaking about. This leads to my second point.

    2 – Many lawyers do not just understand the Law in vacuum, they actually need to understand how the Law works in practice in relation to the field, industry or social demographic it is affecting. This requires them to, therefore, understand that field, industry or social demographic in great detail. This means many lawyers actually have wide range of knowledge about a multiple of different fields, industries and demographics. I am not saying other groups do not have this, just that if one wishes to question a lawyers ability to make good policy, they need to grabble with this point.

    3 – The third point and the one which deals with both yours and Lester’s point: the problem with a lack of diversity in Parliament is a non-comparative with careers because one can be from an underrepresented group and still be a member of a certain profession or work in a certain industry. The fact that the legal profession has been quite successful in improving the number of female and BME lawyers highlights how saying that ‘Parliament has many lawyers, but is not representative enough means that lawyers are bad for making Parliament more representative’ is at best a fallacy because lawyers could easily still help make Parliament more representative. The fact that the Lawyer in question in this article is from a BME community (I believe) highlights this point quite nicely. (Note, I wholly accept that the legal professions can still improve on their equality front and I do have much time for Lester, so I apologise for lumping my response to him in here.)

    “Law Society annual statistics reveal that in 2008-9 women made up 46% of solicitors on the Roll and 60% of admissions to the Roll, while the Bar Council reports that 34% of barristers in 2009 and 52% of those called to the Bar in 2008-9 were women. There has been a similar sharp increase in the proportion of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) lawyers; for instance the numbers of BME solicitors with a practising certificate rose by 243.7 % between 1996 and 2006, and in 2008-9 BME individuals made up 13% of solicitors on the Roll, 24% of admissions to the Roll and 16% of barristers.”

    The fact is that I think this all goes to show that whilst I agree Parliament must work to be more representative and that MPs should be basing their decisions on understanding and be scientifically illiterate, attacking the legal profession is at best really not solving these problems and seems more just to be attacks made by those who dislike lawyers.

    @Steve, I do apologise that the basic maths sum I did off the top of my head was ‘precise’ enough for you, I figured that as you are a man who dislikes baseless opinions, you would have actually known the number of lawyers in Parliament before making comment on it. I could highlight that, technically speaking, I said fewer than 1/6, which could still be fewer than 100 and that if it is fewer than 1/7, then fewer than 1/6 is still accurate; however, you would accuse me of being a spin-doctor, so instead I will just highlight that fewer than 1/7 actually makes my point stronger.

    As for you not saying something, well, first, you said they should only have one representative based on their percentage ratio to society, but anyway. The key point is that if your ‘perceived’ problem is that the percentage of Lawyers in Parliament is not proportionate to the percentage in society, then the only way to solve this is make it proportionate; however, considering that this would mean that Parliament would only be able to have 1 quarter of a person being the representative from the legal professions means this greatly undermines the electorates choice of there representative. Now, you were charitable and did give the legal profession a whole person when proposing that Parliament should be professionally representative, but due to there being more than 650 different types of jobs and careers, this simply would not be administratively workable (this is why it is fundamentally different to similar proposals made for gender equality.) You may say you never intended to explicitly propose such a solution, but you were arguing that Parliament should be more representative along the lines of proportional representation in society, so I am allowed to highlight how absurd your ‘proposed’ problem is in practice by fleshing it out how absurd even its solution is.

  • Lester Holloway 7th Aug '14 - 11:53am

    @Liberal Al – 8.3% of the legal profession is BME, less than 10% nationally. The vast majority of the 8.3% are Asian. A Law Society survey found that just 0.7% were African-Caribbean – the longest-established significant BME community in Britain. So I think there is a long way to go.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Aug '14 - 12:51pm

    @ Lester Holloway,
    I agree with you Lester. The gross under- Representation of Afro Caribbean people in the professions is a national disgrace.

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