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Bonkers Blog May 2014

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23 May (Part 3) - The rise of UKIP - How to succeed in politics without really trying

The plan was to get a few hours sleep and then see if there was anything worth saying about the statistics that came out of the overnight count. Half a dozen badly timed phone calls put paid to that and nearly 40 hours after my head was last on a pillow it is probably not in any fit state to play with figures. I fear I am in danger of getting this all wrong.

If there is one lesson to be taken on board today it is that the party machine is hard to beat. Teresa O’Neill can call on a three line whip to get her people on to the Brampton doorsteps while at the other extreme one man, Mick Barnbrook for example, must do everything himself. There is no way that one candidate can speak to enough people with little or no support and he gets the postal vote data far too late to do much with it.

Despite that he rakes in best part of 1,000 votes. Money was not the problem as was suggested to me several times last night, the problem was time and resources, pure and simple. The only easy way to become a councillor in Bexley is the same as it always was. Join the Tory party.

UKIP must have found the same problems. Now that the election is over I can give up attempting to sit on the fence and say my piece. In my opinion UKIP Bexley is not big enough or experienced enough to seriously threaten anyone yet. Yesterday I said that I saw no evidence that UKIP had done anything over the past month and and have since found a few others who felt the same; where were they, yet they got so close to total success and as I understand it, achieved about half the UKIP gains in London. All from doing not a lot. Maybe that is a measure of Bexley’s discontent with Teresa O’Neill. Maybe there is a connection with the daily ration of Bexley scandals to be read here. 40,000 page views a month should have some effect but I often think I am preaching to the converted.

Except in Lesnes Abbey UKIP came second to the winning party - or better - in every ward they contested. It translated into only three seats and the reason for that was lack of candidates, which UKIP Bexley would acknowledge, and wrong tactics, which they might not. It shows the potential though. Three Independents robbed the sitting tenants of 2,100 votes. Each single UKIP candidate was stealing away only around 1,000. Their efforts should have been more concentrated on fewer wards. Allowing their candidates to do whatever they please is laudable but it has its price.

The Blackfen Independents set out to damage councillor Craske and they succeeded. His vote is down by more than half (on a smaller turnout) and he now has the support of only one in seven voters instead of one in five. In the event the casualty was cabinet member Chris Taylor, now £90,000 the poorer. Not a bad return for a few hundred quid and a big cobbler’s bill for the Independents.

I’ll leave the few items of tittle tattle picked up yesterday for another time. A time I hope when my brain will have recovered to the point I can avoid the worst indiscretions. Apologies for no pictures. Blame Bexley council.


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