Between now and the General Election on May 7 I'm highlighting a series of 'target seats', those where the candidate standing for re-election has supported anti-tobacco policies, and those where a leading candidate is an opponent of excessive lifestyle regulations and policies that infantilise us all. With a few exceptions I'm focussing on marginal or semi-marginal seats.
#39 – Bermondsey
Who would have guessed Simon Hughes would be listed as a 'friend' in a list of predominantly vulnerable seats? That shows how desperate my search to find opponents of excessive regulations has become and how far the Lib Dems have sunk in the polls! Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2010 to 2014 and a junior minister since 2013, Hughes surprised many observers when he voted against plain packaging, one of only two Lib Dems to do so. (The other was Jeremy Browne who is not standing again.) It was even more remarkable because in 1996 Hughes sponsored a Private Member's Bill to ban cigarette advertising. Three years later, when the Labour government introduced its own legislation, Hughes complained that it hadn't gone far enough. He particularly objected to the delay in banning tobacco sponsorship for F1 and snooker. Well, beggars can't be choosers and Hughes has to be better than the almost certain alternative, another Labour MP happy to tow the party line on further tobacco control.
2010 majority: 8,530 (19.1%)
Estimated number of smokers in Bermondsey: 15,530*
Principal opponents: Labour
Friend or foe: Friend (just)
Target rating: Vulnerable
*Based on 20% of the registered electorate in 2010
Note: marginal seats have been defined as those with majorities of 10% or less that require a swing of 5% for the incumbent party to lose.