General Election 2017

Varsity election poll shatters Cambridge college stereotypes

Students at King’s and St John’s colleges are not as politically polarised as people think, Violet Editor Danny Wittenberg discovers

Danny Wittenberg

Cambridge colleges don't entirely align with the expected candidatesLouis Ashworth

Whilst Varsity’s pre-election opinion poll appeared to confirm the received wisdom that Cambridge is a Labour university, the survey seems also to have dispelled a college stereotype or two.

For starters, King’s doesn’t reign supreme as the leading ‘lefty college’ and St John’s by no means deserves to be the ‘Tory one’.

Despite the communist flag hanging in the college bar, King’s is no more ‘full of lefties’ than Newnham, Diane Abbott’s alma mater, where 77% of respondents said they intended to vote Labour. Nor does King’s rule over Trinity Hall, whose best-known alumnus Stephen Hawking recently endorsed Daniel Zeichner for re-election, where just under the same proportion of respondents also plan to support him.

“One Lib Dem voter, perhaps an aspiring Footlight, amused Varsity pollsters by describing their gender as ‘attack helicopter’”

At 76% Labour, King’s is actually only a fraction more in favour of Jeremy Corbyn’s party than Christ’s, Clare and Robinson.

On the other side of the coin, St John’s may be one of the richest and most extravagant colleges, but that doesn’t make it the most Tory. That gong belongs to Downing for the second election running, with 18% of respondents planning to vote Conservative on Thursday.

St John’s, at 9% Conservative, barely even figures amongst the most Tory establishments, significantly less strong and stable than Sidney Sussex (14%), Gonville & Caius (14%) and Trinity (13%).

If you happen to be a shy Tory, you might be best to steer clear of Emmanuel, where only 1% declared themselves as Blues.

Meanwhile, Corpus Christi can boast the most Lib Dem backers, perhaps fitting for a college with both red and blue on its crest, after 38% of those surveyed said they would support Julian Huppert.

Tim Farron’s pro-Remain platform has predictably struck a chord at Fitzwilliam, which was exactly one-third Lib Dem, given nobody from the college told Varsity they voted Brexit last summer.

One Lib Dem voter, perhaps an aspiring Footlight, amused Varsity pollsters by describing their gender as ‘attack helicopter’.

Another added a crucial caveat to their decision to vote Orange: “The Lib Dems, with intention of crowbarring them into a coalition in which they are unable to deliver their pledge to remain in the EU – thus finally destroying them as a political force in British politics.”

The biggest honour, however, should go to Queens’ for its determined participation in the democratic process, accounting for 103 of the 1,373 replies from official university accounts. Peterhouse, providing just 13, disappointingly failed to pull even its diminutive weight