Labour MP Jim Cunningham has held onto his seat in Coventry South with a strong, if reduced, majority of 3,845 votes, down from 6,255 at the 2005 election.
Although there was a 3.6 percent swing to the Conservatives, Cunningham still managed to stay in the seat he has held since 1992 with 19,197 votes. Conservative Kevin Foster came in second with 15,352, with Liberal Democrat Brian Patton some way behind on 8,278. Labour also won Coventry North-East and North-West comfortably.
Cunningham has enjoyed popularity during his time in office and has been a keen protector of local industry, having served on the Trade and Industry Select Committee in the 1990s and leading the campaign to save Jaguar’s Browns Lane assembly plant in Coventry in 2004.
In terms of student issues, the MP has a mixed record. He voted strongly in favour of introducing top-up fees and raising the cap to £3,000, but he has been talking to small businesses and wants to “subsidise them to a certain extent to take on graduates.”
When reminded of the Labour pledge to help 50 percent of young people into higher education, he called this merely a “yardstick” to measure success, without stating whether he thought it was an appropriate target. Nevertheless, he has appreciated the support of students.
“We did one debate at the University of Warwick with the students, but they were mainly very much about getting the vote out,” Cunningham said. “We’ve had one or two students from the different universities help us, so we’ve had a degree of support.”
When asked whether he would vote in favour of raising the cap further, Cunningham was unequivocal. “I’ve said I’d vote against it,” he told the Boar simply.
Despite this clear rejection of fee rises, he was less definitive on the matter of widening access to university, suggesting we “wait for the Browne report [into fees] to see what that suggests. I would have thought there’d be a number of amendments to that report; you’d have to make a judgment then.”
His record shows he is unafraid to rebel, however, and with parts of the Browne report that have been leaked to the Times apparently suggesting a complete removal of the fee cap, Cunningham could be faced with a conundrum as his personal convictions conflict with his party’s recommendations.