Skip to content

Day: January 24, 2014

The story of the West Leigh by-election is the rise of UKIP

So here we are. UKIP are four months away from having potentially several councillors on Southend Council. 410 votes in West Leigh was a staggering result but the thing that is worth noting is that people on the doorstep weren’t canvassing as UKIP at all. The UKIP vote is silent but it is there. The disenfranchised vote is loud and unless the three main parties address this quickly then it will be carnage come May in local elections, although I still think in the General Election things will be slightly different.

In Southend, UKIP and the Independent’s are either in an unofficial nod and wink allience or they are not depending on who you talk to and what their mood is at the time you speak to them. However lets put it this way, the UKIP literature is rather similar to what the independents have been saying, just with added anti-immigration phrases thrown in for good measure.

West Leigh is not where you’d expect a strong UKIP vote and clearly they did well on a minimal campaign. We have seen this before in Southend is more favourable wards for them, but with the next local elections being on the same day as European Elections they will fight a more vigorous campaign that will see them make their Southend breakthrough.

Nationally though this news is positive for the Lib Dems. In areas where we work hard our vote seems to be holding up whereas the Tories vote drops with UKIP sweeping up that vote. So when you look at these Lib Dem/Tory battlegrounds then the Lib Dems can either hold or take them at the next General Election. For ages the hope that Lib Dems have been clinging to is UKIP can split the Tory vote and it is perfectly possible it can happen.

However for us locally this is a rude wake up call and all parties should have taken really note of this result. Even though they came 17% away from winning, the fact they canvassed so badly (and we did a lot of canvassing) yet came through so strong says so much. At the count the votes counted from ballot boxes today actually had UKIP right up there with the Lib Dems and the Tories but the postal votes were a lot stronger for the two other main parties.

As for Labour, well it was nice of them to turn up. 7% is around what we expected so that canvassing data held up well. We also thought we’d be nip/tuck with the Tories and who got their vote out today would win it. That UKIP vote though came right out of left field.

UKIP will win seats on Southend Council, they will win seats on many councils, they’ll send more people to the European Parliament than any other party, yet I firmly believe they’ll do all this not because people support them but because they are so disenfranchised. This is where the three main parties have to step up and better engage people on issues and policies. If we fail to do that then I fear for the future.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

A very close second place in West Leigh, so close yet so far away

Losing an election by 55 votes is never ideal but when you consider the last time this seat was up for election we lost by 500 odd then you can see that progress is being made. The Tories held West Leigh yesterday on a 26% turnout with 743 votes with the Lib Dems get 688. However the big story wasn’t who won and who came second place but who came third. I shall deal with that is a separate blog post.

I want to say a big well done to the Lib Dem team in West Leigh, who put up a terrific fight. We had people working Virtual Phone Banks, people coming in from Thurrock, Braintree and Colchester, swelling the numbers of local activists attempting to get the vote out. We knew the turn out would be low and the weather certainly didn’t help. The morning and lunchtime was rainy and at around half five we had a ten minute hailstorm that no doubt would have put voters off going out.

However the big LD news is how well we did considering our candidate had what the doctors described as a minor heart attack a fortnight ago. He underwent a by-pass operation on Wednesday and is doing very well in Basildon hospital and if all goes well he’ll be home again early next week.

Special thanks must be made to Leigh councillors Cllr. Crystall and Cllr. Wexham who both worked extremely hard canvassing. I know Cllr. Wexham wrote to 19 constituents who had passed on issues to the party during the canvass, which he then took up with the Council on their behalf. So even though we didn’t win, we still managed to help 19 people with issues that councillors can help out with, isn’t that what it is all about?

Plenty of others to name but I won’t name them all here, they know who they are. The most important thing is clearly our candidates speedy recovery from his by-pass and all the signs are positive. We mounted a strong campaign and ran the Tories extremely close. Had things fallen for us, certainly with the weather and Chris’s health then I firmly believe we’d have stolen West Leigh. That isn’t me typing through yellow tinted spectacles, that is just how it was going.

We can be proud of running a solely positive campaign. We said nothing negative about any party or any candidate. Chris just spoke about what he felt he could bring to the council and what his main concerns were for West Leigh residents. This is how I believe politics should be. I know negative politics works but I just don’t like it.

So anyway, so close yet so far away and now I best write the real news story of the night – the rise of UKIP…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.