Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview : June 4th 2015

Harry Hayfield’s Local By-Election Preview : June 4th 2015

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Rothwell on Kettering

(Deferred Election, Two Con defences, One Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 26, Labour 9, Independents 1
Result of ward at last election (2011): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives: Ian Jelley 1,103 (E), Margaret Talbot 1,079 (E), Neil Matthews 1,052 (37%)
Labour: Alan Mills 1,077 (E), Mark Hughes 847, Martin Fage 778 (36%)
Independent: Alan Pote 616 (20%)
Liberal Democrat: John Holt 230 (8%)
Candidates duly nominated:
Conservatives: Ian Jelley, Karl Sumpter, Margaret Talbot
Labour: Kathleen Harris, Malcolm Jones, Alan Mills
United Kingdom Independence Party: Sally Hogston
Green Party: Alan Heath, Rob Reeves

The traditional addage is “a week is a long time in politics”, but for the residents of Kettering in Northamptonshire, it’s almost as if the last twenty three years never happened. In 1992, Roger Freeman was the Conservative MP for the constituency with a very healthy 12,187 majority over Labour, this election saw Phillip Hollobone re-elected for the Conservatives with a majority of 12,590 over Labour but that seemingly no change results hides a multiude of sins. Firstly, Labour’s vote is down seven percent on 1992, the Liberal Democrat vote is down 12% on that election and UKIP are now on 16% (having only really started in 2005) however during this time the council has been solidily Conservative racking up majorities of 15 in 2003, 20 in 2007 and 16 last time in 2011 and with these results still outstanding if nothing were to change, the Conservatives would still have a majority of 16 but there was a 4% swing to the Conservatives in the constituency of Kettering so could the Conservatives (as they did in a large number of councils) knock out that sole Labour member and make a gain?

Wisbech South on Cambridgeshire (UKIP defence)

Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 32, Liberal Democrats 14, UKIP 12, Labour 7, Independent 4 (No Overall Control, Conservatives short by 3)
Result of ward at last election (2013): UKIP 774 (38%), Conservative 636 (31%), Labour 333 (16%), Liberal Democrats 281 (14%)
Candidates duly nominated: Susan Carson (UKIP), Samatha Hoy (Con), Josephine Ratcliffe (Lib Dem), Dean Reeves (Lab)

It is safe to say, that whatever you may think of them, UKIP have made their presence felt. Contesting 624 constituencies, they polled 3,881,099 votes (13.14% of the total) and although they only won one seat (Clacton), they came second in 120 seats and have up to seven realistic targets for the next election (Thanet South, Hartlepool, Boston and Skegness, Heywood and Middleton, Dagenham and Rainham, Rochester and Strood and Rother Valley). However, and this is a problem that UKIP have failed to tackle, they don’t have a very good track record of holding onto support. In 2014, UKIP had eight by-election defences all over the country and of those eight, they only managed to hold three (West Heath on Rushmoor, Peninsula on Medway and Aveley and Uplands on Thurrock) and in one of those losses (Penydarren on Merthyr Tydfil) they didn’t even field a candidate! If UKIP are really determined to challenge both the Conservatives and Labour at the next election, they are going to have to do what we Liberal Democrats were more than able to do in selected constituencies after we burst onto the scene in 1983 with the Alliance and that is hold on to your support.

Harry Hayfield

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