The Liberals chose Stanley Buckmaster to defend a seat the party had held since it was created in 1885. He had been Liberal MP for Cambridge until his defeat in January 1910. He had failed to regain Cambridge in December 1910.
Although a Socialist had stood here in 1906 and finished third, the Labour party had not contested the seat before. This time they chose to run a Scotsman William Crawford Anderson as their candidate. Anderson had been Chairman of the Independent Labour Party since 1910.