Category Archives: Election

Same Old Same Old

Same Old Same Old

Before any election our local Conservatives get together to discuss it, plan our campaign, think about the issues and how best to communicate and address them.  I commonly predict a number of things every single time which will happen.  The first is that any and every thing that crops up along the way, regardless of how innocent it may be, will be spun as though it were a conspiracy by the Usual Suspects.  The second is that the Wisbech Standard, particularly its editor, will help nudge those conspiracy theories along wherever possible.  The third is that as the last month progresses there will always, always, always be a front page in a local paper carefully designed to “appear” like election coverage, while simultaneously pushing the opposition.

I did smile at the “online poll” carried out by the Wisbech Standard.  No way to check the submissions for cheating, no recognition of the weighted nature of responders to such things, no verification of the locations of those filling it in, nothing more than the most basic test for duplicated submissions (anybody who knows a little about the internet can bypass their check easily.)  They said they: “Didn’t ask which party would be voted for to prevent individuals from cheating.”  So removing that question removes the temptation for some parties to cheat does it?  What nonsense.

This didn’t stop them draping the front page with “the results” as though it were somehow qualitative and quantitative data.  Nervetheless, let’s take it at face value and have a think about it.  Apparently 48% of people said: “The Government has had a negative impact on my life since 2010.”  The question is nebulous at best.  It doesn’t say an “overall negative impact” and so what people do or don’t think it negative becomes a very wide field indeed.  You could argue that PAYE is a “negative impact” in that without it you would have more money.  You could argue thousands of things were.

One of their “big bullet points” was “not to privatise the NHS.”  Which is odd, since no party is proposing privatising the NHS, except Nigel Farage, who said something about it which was quickly revised or retracted or something.  They are all accusing one another of damaging the NHS, because it’s a powerful “scaremonger” issue close to people’s hearts.  But unless you believe one party’s propaganda or anothers, what use is the question?

So “Stop cutting the Fire Service and the NHS,” was interesting.  The Fire Service can increase their budget via the Council Tax if they want to do so.  The NHS budget was protected the last four years.  This is precisely the problem with these broad brush questions, they get nowhere and offer very little in the way of detail.

So how about 95% of people saying: “I am registered to vote and will do so.”  Okay then.  Let’s see if we have a 95% turnout shall we?

Then there was “get the Rich to pay their taxes.”  Definitely no party bias there then! :)  Clearly there is this idea that the vague “the rich” must all be tax cheats.  Of course, there are tax cheats amongst the rich, just as there are tax cheats amongst all income groups.  There are, equally, a majority of perfectly honest tax-paying “rich.”  Though what precisely is meant by “the rich” is not specified.

I did enjoy “Make election pledges legally binding.”  I made a proposal just like this a few years ago and was roundly mocked by all and sundry.  How things change.

But my favourite is the one that John Elworthy and the Bucknors are making hay with on Twitter, in a way that doesn’t look at all orchestrated. :)  Apparently, forth percent of voters are going to vote “differently” to how they voted last time.  This is pronounced as though it is some death knell for something.  But it is meaningless.  We don’t know which way they are switching or to whom.  We don’t know that it’s not two way traffic which will balance itself out.  We particularly don’t know if any of this data is actually meaningful at all, given how easy it would be to fix it if somebody with the knowledge had a mind to do so.

We put out five thousand surveys across Wisbech last month.  We have had just over one thousand returned.  The returns are comprehensive and include many with details notes and points, from people of all sorts of political persuasions.  I reckon that’s probably more valuable than the Wisbech Standard’s vague, afterthought of a poll which become front page news.  But even though our survey includes quantitative and qualitative data, much of which is verifiable, it would be wrong to presume ours was “right” too.  Because the sort of people who will fill in a Survey  sent to them by the Conservatives are every bit as weighted as those who will fill in an online survey in a politically-active local newspaper.

The question: “Has a candidate knocked on your door asking for your vote yet?” was an odd one to ask, at the very start of the campaign period.  I was surprised the number was as high as seven percent.  You wouldn’t expect candidates to have reached everybody at that point.  In fact, as election periods go, this seems quiet at the moment.  We Conservatives are doing a full canvass as usual, but I have only encountered one other party so far and there were only two of them.  Normally we’d be running into them everywhere.  I guess this is because the Liberal Democrats have left the building, the Labour Party seem to be really struggling even to find candidates.  And UKIP?  I have no clue what they are doing.  Their choices are either utter utter madness, or some kind of genius I cannot comprehend.  Time will tell.

Candidates, everywhere!

Candidates, everywhere!

So the candidates are announced, and it’s a pretty strange state of affairs all told.

If I get time I’ll talk about the wider Fenland situation, but in this blog post I’m going to concentrate on our Wisbech scene.

Peckover
There are only two District Council candidates to choose from in Peckover.  Nick Meekins, who used to be a Conservative but is now standing for UKIP.  And David Oliver, Leader of Wisbech Town Council, Cabinet Member at Fenland District Council.  Both men have previously been Mayor of Wisbech.  Nick Meekins and David Oliver used to be best friends, I believe.  I don’t know if that remains the case.  I think Nick Meekins is also Godfather to David Oliver’s daughter Jess, who is also standing in Peckover as a Town Councillor.  So Nick Meekins has switched parties and is standing against his best friend and God daughter?  It’s like a Shakespeare plot.  At Town level, it’s the same two candidates with Jessica Oliver in the mix also.  Which means that one of the two Oliver’s is certain to win a seat.  I very much hope it’s both of them.

Waterlees
The Bucknors are apparently suggesting that all the other parties has “stepped aside” because they are doing such a good job.  In fact, Labour simply couldn’t find candidates I hear, otherwise they’d be standing there.  UKIP though probably did step aside for the Bucknors.  Only they know, but they’ve been thick as thieves for ages now and the rumour they were going to stand aside in their strongest ward has been in the air for many months.  Turns out to be true.  So the only competition for the Bucknors at District level are the Conservative team.  Our guys are working hard and are great candidates, so i’m sure it’ll be a worthy battle.  The feeling on the ground, I am told, is like a clash of misery and gloom versus positivity and energy.  The Bucknors, being the incumbents, clearly feel they are going to walk it.  I reckon the people of Waterlees might be ready to let the sunshine in.  There are only so many times you can be told the world is going to end before you want to stretch your legs, take a walk outside, and say: “Hey, things aren’t so bad after all.”  We’ll see.

Kirkgate
It’s another straight battle between Conservatives and UKIP.  Garry Tibbs takes on Dave Patrick.  Sure, it’s a little David and Taxi Goliath, but Garry’s a dab hand with a virtual sling.  It doesn’t always pay to bet on the Big Dog.  They may be able to puff themselves up and look big and scary, but they often turn out to be all sound and fury signifying nothing.  There is a broad feeling in Walsoken that they have been neglected versus other areas of the town.  They’ve also had Dave Patrick as their Councillor for quite a few years.  I think that people are able to put two and two together and work out the cost of that particular taxi meter.  At Town level Garry is joined by Rob McLaren for the Conservatives, while Taxi Dave is joined by somebody called Robert Castleman from outside the ward.  There’s a lone Green there too, who might do quite well by hoovering up any hard left votes that are looking for a cause.   Meanwhile, Dave Patrick is on Facebook attacking Rob & Garry for painting some garages.  Apparently, Councillors shouldn’t get their hands dirty doing menial things like, you know, helping clean up the neighbourhood.  They should just send emails to Roddens and log it in a website, no doubt.  What a novel idea.  We could call it “Slob Track.”  A list of jobs that haven’t been done, to look busy and active.  I suspect Garry and ROb will simply carry on getting their hands dirty.  I also expect people quite like it when Councillors stop talking and start doing stuff.  Who ya gonna call?

Hill
So Hill Ward, or Octavia Hill Ward in the modern vernacular, has got a slightly more nuanced battle than the previous two.  Dean Reeves and Kathy Dougall, pretty much the “big two” in Wisbech Labour, versus Sam Hoy & Simon King the sitting Conservatives, versus Andrew Hunt for UKIP.  You might remember Andrew.  He’s the guy who previously scored a tiny vote when he stood against Simon King as a Libertarian Party candidate a few years ago.  He was telling everybody at the time how he was going to win, and then he came last and that was that.  Gone.  Last year he returned as a ‘Kipper and stood against me at Medworth.  Once again, sure he was going to win, his team said to us at the Count: “If you’d like to join UKIP just sign here, you might as well because you’ll be begging to by the end of the night.”  And then they lost.  So Andrew is back fighting as the lone UKIP candidate in a two member ward, in a sort of rematch against Simon King.  You have to wonder why UKIP couldn’t field a full set of candidates here – they have a full set for Town Council.  Very strange.

Staithe
Three way fight here.  David Hodgson as the sitting Councillor, defending against Labour’s Reg Mee and UKIP’s Caroline Smith.  Reg Mee is a nice man, but David Hodgson is popular and well-respected in Staithe.  I really don’t know anything about Caroline Smith at all.  Paper candidate?  No idea.  The Conservative town team is Will Schooling and Irina Kumalane, versus Reg Mee for Labour and Caroline Smith for UKIP.  It’s certainly an interesting match up.

Clarkson
Another three way battle in Clarkson between Conservative sitting Councillor and ex-Mayor Carol Cox, versus somebody called Adrian Booth for UKIP and the Labour stalwart Ann Purt.  Carol has been challenged before and seen off the opposition, mostly because people just tend to like her immediately when they meet her.  I wish her the very best of luck.

Medworth
Medworth is my ward and it’s a really diverse battle.  I’m up against not one, but two Parliamentary candidates.  Which is a fun challenge.  I have somebody called Paul Edwards who lives in Waterlees.  Apparently, UKIP have not yet learned their lesson that Medworth folk tend to prefer Medworth Councillors.  Fair enough.  Then there’s Jo Reeves, who also doesn’t live in Medworth (but is much closer than Paul Edwards.)  And Mary Helen Scott-Daniels for the Green Party, who also happens to be their Parliamentary candidate.  I guess that tells you how likely she thinks she is to beat Steve Barclay. :)  I haven’t met her, unless she was the Green lady I spoke to on the Market Place a month or so ago?  If so, she seemed nice.  At Town level, most of the same people are up except that I am joined by my colleague Michael Hill, Mayor of Wisbech.  Paul Edwards is joined by Andrew Charalambous, who is also the Parliamentary Candidate for UKIP and the District Council candidate for Roman Bank.  I was surprised he didn’t put his name up for the County Council election taking place in Whittlesey.  In for a penny, huh?  but I suppose he couldn’t because UKIP already had a candidate for that County Battle in Whittlesey.  Paul Edwards, who is standing against me for District.  They get about, this handful of UKIP guys, huh?

Conclusions
However you spin it, this is a poor showing for UKIP.  Having boasted they would stand candidates in every seat for Town & District, they fail to do so in both cases in Wisbech.  Outside Wisbech they are so sparse that there are tumbleweeds between ‘Kipper candidates.  The self-styled “People’s Army” doesn’t seem to be very good at enthusing the people to get involved with it, does it?  Their big announcement today was that they “intend to take control of Wisbech Town Council.”  So they’ve given up on Parliament and District, clearly.   The first thing I heard when this ambition was relayed to me was: “isn’t that the ambition of every party?”  I mean, we have elections to try and win them, and we’d all like enough of us to win to take control of the various Councils.  That’s part and parcel of the whole point of it all.  Saying they want to take control of a Council is something of a non-statement, in my view.  I reckon the people of Wisbech will consider the idea of Alan Lay organising the Christmas Lights, Virginia Bucknor stewarding at the Rock Festival and a bunch of UKIP paper candidates in charge of protecting and maintaining the Town Council’s assets and run a mile.  But if, by some chance, UKIP were to succeed in their aim?  Well, it’d be tragic and funny (in an “I told you so” kind of way) in equal measures.

Then again, if its a poor showing for UKIP it’s positively horrible for Labour, who seem to have lost so much support here that they can barely find candidates for anything outside their usual small team.  But if its positively horrible for Labour, imaging being a Liberal Democrat?  They have no candidates at all, anywhere in Wisbech, at any level.  How the mighty have fallen.

Roll on May 7th.  Let’s see what the outcome is.

Campaign Month Begins. Vote Conservative!

1
3
4
2

Labour Launch

A constituent of mine phoned me up the other day to tell me they had been called upon by what they described as a “looney Lefty” called Ken, representing the Labour party.

Now I rather like the NE Cambs Labour people that I’ve met, to be honest, and find them to be quite sensible Lefties even if we don’t agree on much of anything.  But I thought it interesting that they are out canvassing already.  Clearly more organised than they’ve been in a while.

I put this down to Dean Reeves, who is an exceptionally bright and eloquent gentleman who I am very fond of.  He’s been a driving force behind local Labour for some time.

A little scouting and I turned up their “Campaign Launch” event.  Here it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AymTfijzrU&feature=youtu.be&a

I guess the “Ken” in this video is the same Ken who was seen canvassing in Medworth.  Hello Ken!  Welcome to Medworth!

It has been edited to show the “highlights.”  I think they need to get somebody else to edit it.  It looks like Dean Reeves, talking for about four hundred years, and some balloons.  :)  As parties go, i’ve seen some that were more kickin’ than this, but I expect it was meant to be a very serious intellectual event, so that’s to be expected.

Our local Labour folk have always been the most honourable and genuine opposition group, sticking to the issues and not getting into dirty tricks.  So with that in mind, my red flagged friends, I’d like to wish you well with “break a leg” in the theatre tradition.  May the best men and women win.

Jobs you want doing? Who ya gonna call?

Jobs you want doing?  Who ya gonna call?

I had to chuckle at the Bucknors attacking local Conservatives, and particularly Rob McLaren, for doing voluntary work in the community.  They tried to make it look like he was going it “for the election” – while apparently missing the fact that he (and the rest of us) are involved in social action projects and volunteering all the time.  Naturally, John Elworthy was out in support of them as ever.  No longer making even the slightest effort to appear unbiased, it seems.  So be it.

I think Bucknor made a mistake attacking Rob.  She and Michael Bucknor can attack me all they like – I’m a Human Shield. :)  But Rob is far more well-liked, probably because he’s a much better man than I am.  I suspect they may have bitten off more than they can chew.  I did have some advice for Rob, though.  In case he finds it helpful.

You know what you *should* have done, Rob? Held a consultation that nobody turned up to because you didn’t advertise it, then blamed your residents for your own failings. Made a webpage listing all the “jobs” you’ve done which mostly features just a few phone calls. Driven your car without proper insurance cover. Benefits fraud. Used your elected role to promote your private business. Claimed to have received “hundreds of calls” while on holiday on the other side of the world. Claimed that local schools didn’t have chairs. Run a petition and proposed a crossing only to completely fail to put a bid in for it. Run a petition to stop the Post Office moving, only to completely fail. Repeatedly reported your enemies to the Standards Board in the hope you would stop them pointing out the things you do. Failed to turn up for pretty much every civic event since the day you were elected. Swore blind that you were going to prevent the taxi rank from moving, then completely fail to do so. Publish your plans for a speed reduction, then go into hiding when it becomes apparent the public don’t support you. Claim that things were going to get closed down which were not going to get closed down, in order to then pretend you had prevented them from closing down. Started an Infrastructure campaign with a website and fifty scrappy flyers and then spend years pretending it was more than a website and fifty scrappy flyers. Oppose and support the Wisbech Rail Project simultaneously. Vote for a rise in Council Tax even though you claim to be from a very deprived ward. Try and stop the Wisbech Adventure Playground from opening, then become Chairman of it and find that nobody wants to serve on the Committee with you. Try and get on the board of the Oasis Centre and be furious that they wont let you on there because they know what you are like. Call UKIP members “bigoted and racist” and then do a sleazy deal with them to protect yourself. Start a political “group” with only two people, which just happens to come with a generous group leaders Special Responsibility Allowance. Call Children in Care “Takers From Society” after they have given you a heartfelt presentation. Propose paid parking for all of Wisbech’s free car parks. Spend every day of your life claiming everybody in the opposition party is “nasty” to you when you are, in fact, the nastiest political individual the Town has ever seen. That’s what you *should* have done, Rob. But you wouldn’t. Because you’re not like that.

But I would like to thank Virginia Bucknor who said: “Wisbech Tories helping us sweep our streets and now painting a garage. If there’s any odd jobs you want doing, who ya gonna call?” (or something very similar) – beautiful quote and headline for next election leaflet, and WHAT an endorsement!

Less Than 50 Days

1
2
3
4

Variations On A Theme

Variations On A Theme

I was glancing at the ballot paper picture on Elliott Johnson’s excellent blog post today.  As Elliott pointed out, there are a lot of UKIP clones and cast offs appearing.  Plus other strangeness.  Curiosity piqued, I did a bit of research into some of the other weird and wonderful offerings that voters have the option to choose.

“An Independence From Europe”
– UK Independence Now
These guys seem to be based around Mike Natrass MEP, who UKIP deselected as a Candidate, and ousted UKIP Member Chris Pain, who dramatically and colourfully fell out with his party last year and formed a break-away group.  Other than the clever plot to get to the top of the ballot paper, I’m not sure how they are any different to UKIP, except maybe angrier.  If such a thing is even possible.  They have a YouTube video here, which uses a War Of The World spoof of sorts.  It’s pretty amateur looking and the start is silly, but they’ve had a good go at it, I guess.  Interesting that they say they will “take the UK out of the EU without a referendum” and “scrap VAT.”  Neither are powers available to MEPs, but hey ho.

“British National Party”
– Because we can make Britain better
The British National Party, withering away as their members are sucked to UKIP and elsewhere, are still trying to cling on.  They want to “make Britain better.”  Luckily, they’re never going to get the opportunity to enforce their vision of a “better Britain” on the rest of us.  Thank God.

“English Democrats”
– “I’m English. Not British. Not EUropean.”
I don’t really get the English Democrats.  I’ve tried, but I can’t get my head around it.  You can be proud to be English, or British, or whatever you like.  But what’s the point of being so insular about it?  We have a long history with the Welsh and the Irish and the Scottish – why all this xenophobic dislike for people who are an intrinsic part of our shared past?

“Harmony Party”
– Zero immigration. Anti-EU. Pro-Jobs.
This one cracks me up.  ZERO immigration.  Zero?  No new person is ever, ever, ever allowed to come and live or work here? Ever?  Luckily, they are also “pro Jobs”.  Because all the other parties just hate jobs, right?  #facepalm  They have no website, there’s virtually no information about them.  Not sure I’d have chosen the name “Harmony Party” if I was running on that ticket.  Maybe “North Korean Appreciation Society” or something?

No2EU -Yes To Democracy
Are you getting deja vu yet?  There’s definitely a theme developing here. :)  What makes this bunch interesting is that they “oppose nationalisation and support Workers Rights.”  So they are a further left version of UKIP.  They want to leave the EU, but only after a referendum.  So, sort of like Labour, if they supported the Conservative’s referendum.  Which they don’t.

The Christian People’s Alliance
On its website, the party says the EU must be reformed to reflect the “Christian vision” of its founders and unless this happens, the UK should seek to leave.  So they want a reform attempt followed by a referendum?  Sounds familiar.  After all the arguments about whether or not the UK is a Christian country, it seems they want a debate about whether or not Europe is a Christian continent!  :)  Controversial stuff.

Socialist Party Of Great Britain
The party says it will be campaigning for common, democratic ownership of public services, the abolition of property rights and an end to inequality.  So a vote for them is a vote to lose the ownership of, well, all the stuff you own?  I can see that going down well on the campaign trail.

Britain First
Another candidate in the “who can look the grumpiest” competition.  On its website, the party promises to promote a “robust and confrontational” message about the need to leave the European Union, end immigration and put British workers first. Candidates: Fielding candidates in Scotland and Wales only.  So a bit more patriotic xenophobia, coupled with some good old price and movement controls.  Very retro!  Having fund-raised the money to stand their website says: “The leadership sends our deepest thanks to our army of supporters for helping us reach our target.”  An army of supporters?  An army?  But, but … I thought UKIP were the “People’s army?”  Handbags at dawn, I say.

The Peace Party
You’d think, given the names, there might be some cross-over with the aforementioned “harmony party.”  No such thing.  The party supports the UK’s continued membership of the the European Union, which it says is a “force for peace”, but urges the EU to be more pro-active. On its website, it also calls for a living wage and all foreign troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.  So it’s more like competition for the Lib Dems.  I feel a bit sorry for the Lib Dems – they could really do without competition giving the electoral kicking that most people think is coming for them.

Communities United
On its party website, Communities United says it is campaigning for reform of council tax and business rates and a university education for all.  I have some questions.  First of all, what has council tax and business rates to do with the EU.  Council tax is set but – um – Councils.  Business rates set by parliament and collected by councils.  Also, what if somebody doesn’t want a “university education?”  Are they going to compel them to go?

4 Freedoms
The party is vowing to give London a “strong voice” within the EU. On its website, it commits to aligning its MEPs with the European People’s Party, the largest grouping in the European Parliament. Fielding candidates in London only.  Which is a shame, because I’d liked to have seen them field a candidate somewhere like Liverpool and still beat the Lib Dems. :)

Socialist Equality Party
The European Union should be replaced by a United Socialist States of Europe, the party says, with “workers’ governments” and an end to the “age of austerity”.   Designed for the militant who wakes up in the morning and says: “Do you know what?  Ed Miliband just isn’t Socialist enough.”  This lot are about as Left Wing as you can get before you fall off the edge of the world.

We Demand a Referendum Now Party
At its launch, the party said it had just one policy, to force a referendum on EU membership. On its party website, it says the debate must be settled “once and for all”.  You have to admit, they are the party who can best be described as “what it says on the tin.”  But still not as radical as “An Independence From Europe” who don’t even want to bother asking the people before they leave.

Liberty GP Party
Yes, it’s getting pretty dull to hear the same thing over and again.  But here we go.  On its website the party says it is campaigning for withdrawal from the EU, the repeal of existing EU laws, the abolition of the Human Rights Act and legislative guarantees for freedom of speech.   I guess that means they are not quite the same as UKIP then, who are presently apparently calling for people who criticise them to be arrested.  (Steve has sudden vision of being carted off by the Old Bill.)

Pirate Party
Actually, I’m not going to take the mick.  I have a soft spot for the Pirate Party.  “All institutions, including the EU, should be more transparent and accountable,” the party believes. It also wants EU data retention and intellectual property rights directives to be repealed.

Yorkshire First
One of my personal favourites this.  Yorkshire First says it is campaigning for a stronger voice for the region in national and European politics and more devolution, including … a Parliament for Yorkshire. If any more bits of the country threaten to break off and become autonomous we may have to rethink the old Feudal system,  :)  Crop rotation, anybody?

YOURvoice
YOURvoice is pledging to deliver “a better democracy”. It states that constituents will be able to vote online to directly influence how its MEPs represent them in the European Parliament.  Now I know I’ve read a sci-fi novel about this one! :)  Exactly what the world needs is  the electronic empowerment of the Tyranny Of The Masses with all that completely incorruptible data empowering people in positions of power to enact any populist policy at the whim of the people – and the media.  Joy.

Roman Party
Campaigns for increasing knowledge of the Romans’ contribution to modern Britain.  Okay then.  Good for them.  Also, an end to injustice and greater educational opportunities.  But not world peace, apparently.

No Ifs, No Buts

The Prime Minister couldn’t have been clearer on Monday night’s call: any government he leads will hold an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017.

No ifs, no buts. As he said to the thousands of supporters on the line, he will not be Prime Minister of a government unless it carries out this commitment to hold an in-out referendum.

And this commitment is at the heart of our European Election campaign. It’s on our leaflets, it’s on our party political broadcasts – and now, it’s on our posters.

 

European Election campaign poster

 

From tomorrow, this image will be going up on billboards and digital adverts around the country – but I wanted you to see it first. Please share the poster on Facebook and Twitter and let everyone know: while Labour and the Lib Dems won’t give you a say, and UKIP can’t give you a say, the Conservatives can and will give you the in-out referendum Britain needs.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

Thanks, SignatureLynton Crosby Election Campaign Director If you want a referendum, donate £10 to our campaign today.


To opt out of messages from David Cameron and the Conservatives, send a blank message to this address Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ

Teamwork

Teamwork

2013-12-19 23.46.19
Conservatives at the Elm & Christchurch count
Left to right;
Cllr Jonathan “Teflon” Farmer
Richard Tanfield
Debbie Clark
Me
Cllr Michelle Tanfield
David “The Viking” Gutteridge
Janet Tanfield
Cllr Will Sutton
Cllr Samantha Hoy
and Elliott Johnson (taking the photo)

After The Fact

After The Fact

I broke the news of the Conservative win as it was announced tonight in the Elm & Christchurch By-Election.  It was a well-deserved victory for Michelle Tanfield, who has worked exceptionally hard in this campaign.  I know she’ll be a great councillor.

Already people are out there crunching the numbers and for once I am in a position where I know more about the actual facts than most others do.  I was there in May when the County seat was lost and I watched the boxes get counted – so I know which portion of the Waldersey County Division delivered UKIP the victory.  UKIP are spinning their +34% rise, the truth is that they just lost an area that they won fairly easily a few months ago.  Had they done a bit more legwork they would have known this was coming because people on the doorstep were saying as much.  Gillick’s alleged “Takers from society” comments probably didn’t help, either.

Of course the real story is the continuing poor showing for Labour, and the absolutely tragic showing for the Lib Dems.  Phil Webb handily came in third as an Independent – which is cool because Phil is a good guy.   Looking at the figures more closely makes for some interesting reading.  UKIP votes seem, on balance, to have come from a mixture of Labour, The Independent, Liberal Democrats and people who haven’t voted before.  Our vote share fell by only 3% from the last District Council elections.  UKIP may think this is because they appeal to a “broad range of voters” but my personal view is that UKIP are simply the “not-Conservatives” of choice.  Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have held this position in the past.  I wouldn’t place bets on who might hold it in the future.

No doubt the Usual Suspects and sections of the Local Press will be spinning the “strong challenge” of UKIP.  That’s okay.  They know the truth.  Following May’s result, UKIP were the favourites to win today.  But a few months of experience of the sort of representation people can expect appears to have delivered a surprise result.

Thank you, people of Elm & Christchurch.  Michelle Tanfield is the real deal and I am confident you will not regret your choice.