The General Election has resulted in little change in the Oxford area, with Oxford East re-electing Labour candidate Andrew Smith and Oxford West re-electing Conservative Nicola Blackwood.
Smith increased his majority by 7.5% in Oxford East, obtaining 25,356 votes – 50% of the constituency. In Oxford West (Abingdon), Blackwood gained 33% of the overall vote, with Labour candidate Sally Copley taking just over 7,000 votes.
The 2015 election marks Smith’s eight election in the Oxford East constituency. In an address at Oxford Town Hall following the result, Smith emphasised the emotional and personal challenges faced during the campaign and dedicated his success to his wife: “Given the gravity of Val’s health, this has been emotionally a very difficult campaign for me. I’m very grateful for the spirit and the support which people of all parties have shown at this time. I’d like to thank each and every one of my opponents for their understanding.
Most of all I want to thank Val, without whom everything I have achieved in politics would not have been possible. Thank you, Val, the dream lives on.”
In later interviews, Smith, who has also acted as Shadow Secretary of State, Minister of State for Education and Employment and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, affirmed his appreciation for the longstanding support granted to him by the constituency: “I’ve been really touched and heartened by the enormous number of messages I’ve had from constituents, including people who do not necessarily support me politically.There is an important message here; at a time when political argument and differences and principles quite rightly divide us, there is a common humanity that unites us.”
In comparison, 35 year old Nicola Blackwood was first elected as MP for the Oxford West and Abingdon in the 2010 General Election and was appointed a member of the Home Affairs Committee. Blackwood also served as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party between 2010-2013.
After the election, Blackwood was keen to thank her campaigners for their commitment during the campaign, affirming that: “They’ve been out in all weathers and really helped us win here.”
Blackwood also expressed a desire to instigate both local and national change, stating: “I want to make sure we continue to deliver on everything in the constituency, but I also want to make sure we have a louder voice nationally.”
Nicola Blackwood has not always enjoyed popularity among Oxford’s student population, with the Tory MP provoking anger for her oppsotion to same-sex marriage in 2013, and for her recent support of legal fox hunting. Andrew Smith’s Labour majority in the Oxford East has left him as the only Labour MP in the county.
Blackwood was one of 331 Conservative MPs elected nationally – a figure that gave David Cameron a surprise majority.