Friday, 29 March 2013

Wisbech St Mary Byelection- Lessons Learned

Yesterday I was helping out all day at the Wisbech St Mary District by-election, a two member ward in which one position was up for election. This by-election occurred due to the sad dead of Cllr Robert Scrimshaw who I knew reasonably well and helped get elected in 2011. These were the candidates:

I walked loads and knocked on so many doors across the whole area. I also did 3 hours of telling at the most boring of times of lunch and early in the morning. I probably saw about 10 people. However, we worked hard on the campaign and beforehand Cllrs like Sam Hoy, Will Sutton and Steve Tierney were about on the streets of the area. So these were the results.

David Broker (Conservative)-  384 (44.9%)
Maria Goldspink (English Democrat)- 33 (3.71%)
Mary Lane (Liberal Democrat)- 240 (27.5%)
Alan Lay (UKIP)- 214 (24.5%)

The turnout was 22.8%; which is good for a local by-election, especially considering the coldness. Well done to David Broker who will make an excellent councillor. 

So what does this tell us. Well a few things. Firstly last time we had an election the Lib Dems got one seat and the Conservatives the other. But Labour also stood in that election and got a substantial part of the vote. We were at first worried that the Labour voters could go Lib Dem and then beat us. Obviously this didn't happen as they voted UKIP.

Also the Lib Dem portion of the vote decreased notably. This was especially so in the village of Parsons Drove, a Lib Dem stronghold. We believe that we beat the Lib Dems, by about 3 votes, in Parsons Drove from provisional vote counting we did during the verification. Some of the Lib Dem voters turned to UKIP, as they vote only to protest. This must worry the Lib Dems, especially in South Cambridgeshire where the Liberals are strong.

Lib Dem Cllr Gavin Booth (who is very nice) and great Tory Cllr Will Sutton

Also notably the Conservative vote held up very well. There were few if any changes to UKIP because we ran a very good campaign in which we leafleted every single house and canvassed most of them. We ran with the line of voting for UKIP is one step back as the Tories are the only party who can deliver nationally on Europe, Immigration and locally for better local government. This clearly went down very well. UKIP voters were mostly Labour and Lib Dems.

This may not be repeated elsewhere, this is my caveat as everywhere is different, but this gives hope. If the Conservatives run decent campaigns then we can beat UKIP and sustain our vote. Always engage well with the electorate.

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