Saturday, 4 May 2013

UKIP target Medway?

Are UKIP's sights on Medway?
Over the last few days we've witnessed something that a few years ago would have been considered the
waking dreams of Nigel Farage and his inner circle. Eastleigh was the first warning flare but this round of local elections have shown the possibility of them making serious gains in the future.

One possible site is Medway.

The current Conservative council has done some good work over the last decade or so and has some good councillors.

However they also stand accused of some awful cockups. Massive overspends on capital projects like the bus station, the Medway test and ofsted fiascoes, a recent budget that was so hurriedly and ineptly put together that it displayed the wrong information and even failed to balance, accusations of not consulting or providing adequate safety on the Isle of Grain, taxation and cuts that are causing severe anguish and debt amongst residents.

It would seem likely that an opposition party could make real headway against them. Indeed Labour do seem intent on making serious inroads into the Local scene and stand to make some serious gains in certain areas of Medway, often using the national problems as a way of catching peoples eyes. However there is a vast swathe of people who do not trust Labour still (mainly on National politics) and there are vast areas of Rainham, Wigmore, Hempstead and areas of Rochester who are true blue and wouldn't vote Labour BUT could turn to UKIP instead. Many high profile Conservatives could find themselves losing seats or votes being split by UKIP if their local party could get organised and funded properly.

The downside for them is that the Medway Local elections will be on the same day as the General Election of 2015. This could be detrimental to the UKIP vote as if they are a protest vote which many still think they may be, they will not see the same returns during the General election as people prefer to vote for the big two parties (maybe Libdem on a good day) but we will have to see.

On the General Election side I can't imagine them fielding a candidate against Mark Reckless who already embodies their anti European stance and I believe that Tracey Crouch is critical enough of the current EU contract and campaigning for reform so she too should be safe especially combined with her good work ethic and generally liked by her constituents. Indeed Mr Farage offered both Tracey and Mark positions in UKIP should they wish to defect when they voted "Eurosceptically" back in 2011. Rehman Chishti however seems broadly pro-European and not generating as much interest as he did prior to 2010 and could be a target seat especially as there are rumblings from Conservative supporters that he has been too supportive of the Coalition and a reported lukewarm reception to Paul Clarke's announcement as Labour candidate. Will voters be swayed by another party? It is all conjecture at this stage but food for thought.

There is genuine scope for UKIP to do well in the Medway towns given the right amount of organisation etc but obviously we will have to wait and see how things develop and transpire. I am sure that some members of the Conservative Council will be watching things very carefully.

As a Liberal Democrat member and campaigner I'm certainly going to keep my eyes open and watching things develop.

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