Well, after a very long night and a couple of hours snatched sleep I thought I’d write about what the heck happened yesterday.
Firstly the UKIP victory in the Parliamentary By-election. To be honest it was
no big surprise. A month ago when it was announced there was a belief that it
was all flash in the pan and that Mark Reckless would be handed an embarrassing
defeat at the hands of his former masters or even Labour.
As the time has gone on the amount of UKIP activists, doners and support has
grown (or been bussed in) and Rochester has been worked hard. This was met by
the Tories and Labour who have had MP after MP down and even the Prime
Minister. This was never going to be a normal election.
Ultimately the majority attained was nothing to significant. With a turnout of
over 50% Mark only managed to get a majority of 3000 over Kelly Tolhurst (his
majority back in 2010 was 10,000). The Tories were celebrating this last night.
They know that come May when UKIP will be spreading their activists and money
over a larger area of North Kent, especially if Farage is going to stand in
Thanet, that Mark will see this lead eroded.
What does this mean for Medway politics in the local election (held on the same
day as the General)? Well it could lead to one of two outcomes.
The first is that this victory may buoy up the local party and they will make a
valiant charge snapping up council seats drastically altering the shape of the
local authority. This is their aim.
The second is that with the removal of resources could force them to make tough
decisions. As Mark’s lead is fairly tenuous they may be forced to through what
resources they have available to keep him at the cost of local councillors.
This of course is fairly hypothetical we’d have to see.
Needless to say that the Tories are stung and will be coming for them.
As will the Labour party. Naushaba Kahn fought a tough campaign with a lot of
support from the local party and Westminster elect. If anything there was a belief that this was Labour's chance to regain the swing seat with the usual right of centre voters torn between UKIP and Tories.
Although they worked hard and attracted a lot of support they failed to make much of a media imprint and ultimately ended well shy of Mark scoring only 6.713 votes.
This has massive ramifications for Ed Miliband and the Labour party, not necessarily the hard working local party.
Labour's main definition at the moment is not the Coalition and let's face it the Tories (and we've signed off on them or are guilty by association) have pushed through some really nasty stuff - badger culls, ATOS, cuts to services, tuition fees... the list is exhaustive and all along, week after week we have to suffer Ed saying he and Labour would never agree to any of this and Ed Balls promising that Labour's economic plan (whatever it is) was much better.
With the extreme views of UKIP and the unpopularity of the Conservative Government you would have thought the swing seat may have swung back to Labour. The fact it didn't suggests another two things.
The first that voters saw the Conservatives with Kelly Tolhurst's Local girl, local issues campaign as the best alternative and didn't want to split the anti UKIP vote or, and perhaps more alarmingly for Labour, that there is a serious problem with their message.
The whole situation must be even more concerning for the Conservatives. They threw the Kitchen sink at UKIP and although performed really well coming short by a small margin in both the parliamentary and the Hoo Peninsula ward by-election (Ron Sands (CON) got 1965 against Chris Irvine's (UKIP) 2850) they still failed, despite the resources flung, to make it closer.
As I've said, this could be a temporary blip or it could be the opening of the flood gates. Already some of the old stalwart supporters of the Medway Conservatives have already jumped ship and it might be the beginning of a landslide. There is also a general malaise against the local Tories and should UKIP erupt like a tumour with a handful of Tory Councillors going purple between now and May it could change the face of Medway's Council.
Now with heavy heart I turn to the Libdem result. It looks awful. Geoff Juby got under 1% in the parliamentary and I gained just over 1% in the Hoo by-election. Geoff's share of the vote collapsed by 15% of its 2010 share. It is being hailed as the worse performance of the Liberal Democrats in a By-election ever...
Now this will sound like a lot of excuses but here is the truth.
Geoff worked hard, and I mean damn hard with a dedicated team of local activists with a few visits from Westminster but this was not Eastleigh. This was not to be our battle ground, not a target seat this time around and Clegg et al did not appear with armies of Libdems busing in from across the country bank rolled by HQ and shadowy donors. This was a local battle led by a local candidate backed up by local activists.
This was always going to be a battle between the Tories and UKIP.
As for me. I am ecstatic about my 1% after all I did absolutely no canvassing or campaigning. Hoo was never a seat we could have won, nor did we have any presence out there. As many regular readers know my son was born on 10th October, had his first operation on 13th and I have been busy with my family settling in George. I'm amazed I got that many votes by doing nothing and I would like to thank everyone who did vote for me, next time will be definitely different.
The two great stories to come out of this election was firstly -
Britain first only got 56 votes. This, although depressing that they got more votes than some of the Independents is uplifting (I got more votes than them in one ward by election!!!) because even the Monster raving loony party did better than them! Truly a laughing stock.
The other is the results of the Green party. They fought a good campaign with a good candidate and scored a respectable fourth place with (1692 votes) in the parliamentary and local (314 votes). This was a great result for them and I've already sent my congratulations via Twitter.
Not to take anything away from them but the rise in support may be because they are now the non-UKIP protest party. Ten years ago that was the Libdem party (though my Mum always voted Green!) but with the Coalition we've become part of the establishment so people tend to vote for a non-governmental party. If you don't want UKIP then the next best choice is Green. We could see some serious gains by the Greens next year if UKIP continue to develop in the towns.
I know a lot of this is all speculation bolstered with educated guesses but there is so much that could happen that at this moment in time (with four hours sleep) I'm not prepared to tie my colours to the mast until February or even April.
I will however close with a warning however to the other parties. The results of last night belay how strong we are in our wards, getting rid of the Libdems in Medway is going to be a tough proposition.