London, May 12, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Thanasis Gavos
The UK General Election of May 7th returned a mixed result as far as the representation of Cyprus’s interests in the House of Commons is concerned.
Candidate MPs of Cypriot origin didn’t manage to upset the odds and were left out of the new House of Commons, and while a considerable number of friends of Cyprus retained their seats, several others were defeated.
Bambos Charalambous of the Labour Party came in second in Enfield Southgate of north London, but the seat was retained for the third time in the row by Conservative David Burrowes, one of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus Vice-Chairmen and an established friend of the Cypriot community. This was a fight in the constituency with the largest number of UK Cypriot voters. In the end Mr Burrowes got 49% of the votes with Mr Charalambous ending up with 39%.
The second UK Cypriot candidate was the 33 year old Labour starlet Suzy Stride, who got 30% of the votes in Harlow, Essex, behind the Tories’ candidate who secured a percentage of 48.9%.
The group of the very supportive of the Cyprus cause north London Conservative MPs did fairly well. Apart from Mr Burrowes, Theresa Villiers, Mike Freer and the APPG for Cyprus Chairman Matthew Offord got re-elected (over another old friend of the Greeks, Andrew Dismore of the Labour Party). The one that lost was Nick de Bois in Enfield North, with the seat returning to Labour’s Joan Ryan, a former British Government Special Representative for Cyprus under Gordon Brown. Mr De Bois lost for just over 1,000 votes.
Two veteran politicians who are counted among the strongest and most vocal friends of Cyprus secured yet another win. The Conservative Sir Roger Gale and Labour’s Sir Alan Meal got comfortably re-elected in North Thanet and Mansfield respectively. Sir Roger has been representing the Kent constituency ever since its formation in 1983, while Sir Alan first entered the Commons four years later.
A major blow for UK Cypriots was the debacle the Scottish voters reserved for the Labour Party. A number of friendly MPs got wiped out, with the loss of Jim Sheridan a particular cause of sadness.
The UK Cypriots also regret the defeat of Julian Hupert in Cambridge, where the Liberal Democrat MP paid for his party’s overall capitulation and lost by fewer than 600 votes. Simon Hughes, a former Lib Dem Vice Chairman lost his south London seat for the first time since 1983 and Andrew George did not succeed in his attempt to defend his Cornwall seat in St Ives.
Andy Love, a Labour Co-op MP for decades, decided not to stand in this election, so he is included in the significant losses of support by the organised UK Greek Cypriot diaspora. On the other hand, Labour’s Gareth Thomas and Chris Bryant won again, and the fresh face of Catherine West in Hornsey and Wood Green, where a large number of Cypriots live, won her seat having already expressed her will to work with the community.
Re-elected Members of Parliament who are considered to be friends of Cyprus include: Sir David Amess, Caroline Nokes and Andrew Rosindell of the Conservative Party and Labour’s Barry Gardiner, David Crausby, Ian Lavery, Wayne David, Jeremy Corbyn, Mike Gapes, Emma Reynolds, Rosie Winterton, Fabian Hamilton and Gerald Kaufman, now ‘Father of the House’ at the age of 84.
Speaking to IBNA, the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Peter Droussiotis said that “the duty of the Federation and the entire organised community now is to foster relationships with newly elected MPs from all of the main parties, including, of course, the Scottish National Party which will be the third largest party in the House of Commons.”
He also stressed the need to work towards promoting credible parliamentary candidates of Cypriot origin for selection by the main parties in seats where they can have a realistic chance of success.