Major upset in Mayoral vote as Labour’s Nik Johnson ousts Conservative James Palmer

Labour’s Nik Johnson has been elected mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in an electoral upset.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 7:54 pm
Nik Johnson is the new Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Cllr Johnson, a Huntingdonshire district councillor and NHS doctor, defeated the incumbent, Conservative James Palmer by 113,994 votes to 108,195. 

Cllr Johnson won in the second round, and in total secured 51.18 per cent of the vote, compared with Mr Palmer’s 48.82 per cent. 

The result is a significant change on Labour’s 2017 result, where the party came third, and did not make it through to the second round.

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In his first interview after the result, he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I’m over the moon, and I feel hugely honoured to be the lad who came from the north east and ended up adopting Cambridgeshire as my home. And feeling the support across the county – I’m just delighted”. 

His mum, Kath Johnson, who accompanied him to the count, said she is “very proud” of her son.

Reacting immediately after her son’s victory, she said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed. It’s been extraordinary. I was proud of him when he got to be a doctor and to have actually now, getting to a position like this, it’s just the icing on the cake. It’s a bit unbelievable, it’s a bit unreal at the moment. But I have every belief in him”.

Liberal Democrat Aidan Van de Weyer was eliminated after he came third in the first round. All three candidates improved their party’s vote shares in the first round compared with 2017, as a consequence of there being three candidates rather than seven as there were four years ago. 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor first round results 2021: 

Labour – 76,106 – 32.81% (approx +14)

Conservative – 93,942-  40.50% (approx +2.5)

Lib Dems – 61,885 – 26.68% (approx +3)

Cllr Van de Weyer said: “I’m obviously extremely disappointed that I didn’t get through to the next round. Our campaign was really good. The whole campaign I think was very interesting, we got to debate a wide range of issues that come under the remit of the mayor, which I think has really helped get people engaged in this campaign. Clearly, in some areas, people found the other candidates’ offer more attractive, but I think I made a good case. I’m particularly pleased to have strong results in South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge and East Cambs”.

He added: “There is a lot for us to look at for the future and I’m very optimistic that the Liberal Democrats in Cambridgeshire will continue to be strong”. 

He noted the wider range of candidates last time as a possible explanation for the Lib Dems dropping from second in 2017 to third this time, and also the increased voter turnout and the fact that Labour and Conservatives are a bigger presence on the national political stage at present. 

He said the first round vote reflected “disappointment” from residents in the way Conservative James Palmer ran the combined authority from 2017. 

He added: “One of the things that we can take away is that there was no support for many of the policies of James Palmer in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, where James Palmer resoundingly lost”.