Sainsbury’s Triumph – The Full Story

Lord Sainsbury has been elected Chancellor. Check out the latest reaction, have your say, and read a conclusive round up of the events right here.

abdul arain brian blessed chancellor election King's College labour lord lord sainsbury peer Sainsbury's

There’s a new Sainsbury in town, and no it’s not the one opposite Spoons.

Earlier today The Tab broke the news that Lord Sainsbury of Turville had been elected the new Chancellor of Cambridge University.

The Labour peer scooped a whopping 52% slice of the vote, a large enough share to win in the first round. If he hadn’t broken the 50% mark, the Single Transferable Vote system used for the elections would have started taking second and third preferences into account.

Sainsbury romped home

Understandably chuffed, Sainsbury declared he was “pleased and honoured” to win.

He added he was: “particularly pleased that the election did not turn into a battle between the arts & humanities and science, or between political parties.”

What of his rivals? Competitor Brian Blessed, tipped for victory by a variety of dubious sources, will be tasting the difference after his campaign left him with only 25% of the turnout.

Basics-range nominees Michael Mansfield (17%) and Abdul Arain (5.6%) trailed even farther behind, though if the vote progressed to more rounds the result could have looked very different. Disappointed Twitter users suggested that an “anything but Sainsbury” vote was fairly common.

Quiet scenes outside Senate House

The Uni may be disappointed that just 5,558 votes were cast – well under the 8,000 they predicted.

Sainsbury’s victory comes as no surprise, after a document was leaked suggesting that at least one university department was heavily encouraging voters to support Sainsbury.

Who is he anyway?

Meet David Sainsbury, our new chancellor. Lord Sainsbury was the first candidate nominated for the role and the Uni’s official choice. Despite the  frenzy of excitement created by Blessed and Arain, those most closely involved with the elections suggest the result was never in doubt.

The next head honcho

Sainsbury is a Cantab, having done his undergrad at King’s in the 60s, where he studied History and Psychology. He then worked in the family business, rising to become Chairman of Sainsbury’s between 1992 and 1997. Tony Blair awarded him a life peerage in 1997, and Sainsbury served as Minister for Science and Innovation in Blair’s government between 1998 and 2006.

Known for his charitable donations, our new top dog was the first Briton to donate more than £1 billion to charitable causes.

A substantial slice, £127 million, went straight to Cambridge, spread between the Botanical Gardens and the new Sainsbury Laboratory, opened last term by the Queen and Sainsbury’s predecessor Prince Philip as part of a royal visit.

More controversial were his millions-strong donations to Blair’s Labour party, which some saw as an unwelcome intrusion of big business.

 Sainsbury Laboratory, one of many donations made by the peer

Cambridge University Conservative Association Chairman Matthew Johnson said Sainsbury’s political history was: “a drawback for my association,” but added: “I believe having such a charitable, intelligent and successful gentleman as chancellor can only be good for the University.”

In an interview with The Tab days before the election, Sainsbury set out his plans for the role, saying: “I think I would emphasise championing the university, something that the Chancellor is capable of and has not been done in the past.

“As a member of the House of Lords, it’s possible for one to be involved in debates there. One could use this platform to make the case of the importance of Cambridge University both economically speaking and as an incredible base of education.”

So what?

Does the new Chancellorship actually effect us students? The answer is no, not really. While its nice to have a big name to shout about, we probably aren’t aware of a lot of things that the chancellor does for the Uni.

Prince Phillip will hand over the reins 

CUSU Preisdent Gerard Tully told The Tab: “The role of Chancellor has almost no impact on student life, as it is a honorary position. However, Lord Sainsbury does have his strengths – he has expressed good sentiments about the meaning and purpose of Higher Education, and will be able to attract the kind of investment Cambridge needs to stay at the top of the world rankings.”

Cuts to higher education mean unis may have to live well for less in future, but at least our representative is somebody who has proven themselves to be clearly committed to Cambridge – both through donations and interest.

READ: The Tab’s pre-election round-up and interviews with the candidates here.

WATCH: The candidates’ hustings from last week at the Union here, via CUS Connect.