Friday, July 06, 2012

Winners & Losers in Westgate

While Labour's Jodie Hibbert was declared the winner of yesterday's council by-election in Westgate yesterday, it was arguably the UKIP vote from disaffected Tories, that determined the result and as a consequence, handed the historically Conservative ward to Labour on a plate. Strangely enough, the overall winners remain John Worrow's TIGS as they now firmly hold the balance of power at Thanet council.

From the results and a turnout of 30.56%, one can also see that Ash Ashbee's Independent supporters also drew-in many Conservative voters and that the LibDems and John Worrow's 'TIG' party, are almost equivalent in terms of total voter indifference to their policies, whatever these might be.

Jodie Hibbert [LAB] - 482 James Maskell [CON] - 377 Ash Ashbee [IND] - 316 Jeffrey Elenor [UKIP] - 298 Bill Furness [LIB] - 64 Claire Mendelsohn [TIG] - 22.

A look at the May 2011 local election results for Westgate may help put yesterday in a little more perspective and in particular that Labour's position actually appears to have gone backwards as a percentage of the overall votes cast but they still managed to win.

Several thoughts of my own here. The first, is that this sends a strong message to David Cameron, that Europe remain an important if not pivotal issue, even in local politics and that the groundswell of support for a national referendum on leaving the European Union is too great to be ignored by the Conservative party.

European membership, in a town or village like Westgate, isn't such an issue for Labour, as their votes are normally consistent with a firm Orwellian, tribal loyalty to the Party; i.e. "We've always voted Labour and always will." Conservative voters are for more likely to switch their votes along personal issues as yesterday's result clearly demonstrated.

Of the main parties, only the Conservatives campaigned on purely local Westgate issues and I'm sure that with yesterday's shock result, Westgate residents will be delighted that the Minnis Bay Community centre, among other matters is now safe in Labour's hands!

Congratulations to Jodie Hibbert, commiseration to James Maskell on a well-fought campaign and a plague on UKIP for muddying the water. This goes to show once again, that many voters have little true understanding of the difference between local, county and national politics. That begs much deeper questions over the value of local democracy, where the political  fate of a community may be determined by sentiment towards a something that has absolutely nothing to do with their council tax or cleaning their streets.

I now wait to see with some interest how Labour plans to reverse the benefits 'cuts' here in Thanet and particularly here in my own ward of Westgate-on-Sea as the surviving Conservative Councillor.

Off for a walkabout in the village and I may write more as the day passes.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Irrespective of your politics I think you do a very good job for the citizens of Westgate and Thanet , but enjoy it while you can, it looks like the writing is on the wall for Conservatives there.

Tommo said...

Surely, If Labour now have another councillor will that not weaken the grip of the TIG's on the Labour council ?

simon moores said...

Weakens yes but as long as TIG hold all the main committees, business as usual

Tom Clarke said...

We Conservatives have to get the message and stop looking for excuses, like UKIP split the vote. What makes a traditional Tory voter switch to UKIP other than dismay at Conservative led coalition government policies.

It also does not stop at Europe and there is disappointment at the failure to get a grip of immigration, a botched defence review, throwing some of our finest youngsters onto the streets at a time of high unemployment, and then their are the unnecessary feely touchy projects like gay marriage and reform of the House of Lords. Real top priorities at a time of economic crisis.

Anon 9:09 is probably right that the writing is on the wall for the Conservatives which, sadly, also means it is for the country as well. We need another term of Labour governance like a hole in the head, but, short of Boris ousting DC, that is porobably what we are going to get come 2015.

Anonymous said...

All said and done and the Conservatives lost to a better campaign. In Lymington Road, the ONLY candidate that knocked on my door or posted any literature was Labour. If the Tories can't be bothered then that's their own fault.

Hopefully at the next election there will be some Westgate Residents standing as true Independents ( Not aligned to anyone and therefore proper Independents doing what's best for Westgate and Thanet !!!).

I think that you may then find that New Councillors, and missing ones who never bother to come and see their electorate may have a big surprise!

Tony Beachcomber said...

A result I would say is consistent with all the other by election results held in the UK yesterday.
Lets face it, the announcement of defence cuts, capitalism in crisis,no clear policy on europe and a government totally out of touch with "joe average" is not the right time for the coalition parties to fight a by election. Did the Conservatives and the Lib Dems honestly think they were going to win this one. Even their combined vote is less than the Labour candidate in what some would regard as a "safe" conservative seat.

simon moores said...

While I take your point Lymington and Linksfield roads were certainly canvassed and I can only apologise if your were missed for some reason.

I'm not John Worrow said...

I didn't really like any of the candidates, so I didn't bother voting for any of them.

Nothing to do with politics or policies for me. It's a plain old popularity contests.

Would like a Rowenna Davis calibre candidate though.
No!!! James Maskell in a wig and heals is not an acceptable substitute before anyone offers!!!

Anonymous said...

I am sure the electorate in Westgate will feel suitably humbled and reprimanded by your words Simon!

Lorraine H said...

Simon did you go for a walk in Birchington village as westgate is a town!

simon moores said...

I know that Lorraine but some people here use it interchangeably as you may have noticed' i.e. go for a walk in Station Rd which some interpret as the village or wander around the wider town.With our community, it doesn't always feel like a town as I'm sure you may agree.

Anonymous said...

I think that Tory whinging about UKIP misses the point - UKIP are not the Tory party in protest, we are a Party in our own right, and we took votes from across the spectrum in Westgate, plus brought a lot of people out who hadn't voted in years because they were so fed up with the other parties.

And we campaigned largely on local issues.

As an outsider who just came along to help out, I found the tribal politics in Thanet amongst some of the Tories and Labour to be some of the most spiteful and petty I have ever experienced. There were of course several individual exceptions to this!

But perhaps that is also partly why so many voted UKIP - and why the Independents are so strong too...

simon moores said...

Sorry 7:48.. just remind of a real local issue you campaigned on? Minnis bay Community Centre perhaps. Just one will do. You forget, I was here and your winning candidate didn't even turn-up to talk to the local residents association and find out what they were most concerned over!

If you look at the figures dispassionately, Labour's vote is broadly unchanged from previous elections and UKIP's dented the Tory vote without any shadow of a doubt.

Suggesting to people that Labour could somehow reverse their benefits cuts was cynical electioneering of the very worst kind I thought, through offering a degree of hope to the vulnerable that you couldn't possibly fulfill and knew it too!

Mike said...

Was our candidate invited to the residents association meeting?
We campaigned on, amongst other things, the state of the paths and the weeds that are becoming ever more unsightly, and will cause greater longer-term expense in repairs, for a Westgate Parish Council, for a binding referendum over major developments such as Sainsbury's, full support for Manston Airport and local jobs, and for cllrs to put their residents before party politics...

That's just from what I remember at the moment withut literature in front of me.

Mike said...

Just to clarify in case it wasn't clear... my candidate was the UKIP candidate!

simon moores said...

In that case.. add wind farms and other non-local issues to the material..

Any candidate could have attended the residents meeting they are on the second Monday of the month

Weeds are a KCC not TDC issue so that an immediate fail!

Nobody to date wants a parish council because of the cost and the incessant bickering which plagues other parish councils in Thanet.

Sainsbury's is before planning on 18th July and recommended for refusal

I could go on but it was quickly clear that UKIP was only there to 'Damage' the Conservative vote, and had absolutely no clue on local issues or indeed, where separate TDC and County responsibilities lay.

Mike said...

Oh do get over yourself - UKIP have no interest in damaging the Tory vote - the Tories - contrary to their over-egotistical assumption that they are all that matter to UKIP - are merely just one of many opponents as far as we are concerned. All UKIP are about is getting the best vote for UKIP and offering voters a genuine alternative to the rest of you. It is hardly our fault if your party has so disillusioned more of its followers than Labour have at this time.

And for any party to whinge about other parties campaigning on non-local issues will soon find themselves confronted with leaflets from their own party that commit the same 'fail'...

You will find that UKIP are there to stay in Thanet from now on, and will maintain an ever stronger presence. If the voters like that, they will vote for us - that is, after all, democracy... and Cllrs who indirectly suggest their residents voted the wrong way often tend to come unstuck!

simon moores said...

The 'Damaging' statement is a direct quote from the Minster road polling station and the rest of your statement is simply a poor attempt to distract the argument away from the indisputable fact that at best your election pledges were a cynical attempt to deceive people in Westgate with initiatives that you had no possible hope of delivering. "Weeds" and "Windfarms" I ask you!

You might just as well pledge to reintroduce cock-fighting on Sundays and free beer!

So to recap. You had no policies and you had no idea of what people in Westgate might perceive as important issues because other than reading my weblog, you simply didn't bother to ask!

Tom Clarke said...

Simon, please think about this UKIP business carefully. They exist, have some following and are most likely to attract disaffected traditional Tory voters. The real questions for any of us who care, locally and nationally, is why are people we should be able to count on going elsewhere.

I do not find that a difficult question and could produce a list too big for any blogsite, but Ark Royal, overseas aid before defence, gay marriage, immigration and the announced PSNI investigation will do for starters.

Until DC realises he is a Conservative and starts to act like one we are doomed. Difficult, I know with Clegg and pals to keep happy, but is that so different to what Labour are doing in Thanet with the TIG trio. If you sell your soul you have to face the consequences. Sadly, it would seem, so do our soldiers including long retired paratroops.

Anonymous said...

Game set and match to Simon.

Mike said...

Hardly game set and match - he has had to admit that we didn't campaign on the EU at all, and his comments 'a plague on UKIP for muddying the waters' is a damning statement on the voters and his somment "that many voters have little true understanding of the difference between local, county and national politics" is insulting...

In UKIP we know that voters are far more aware than Simon seems to think, and perhaps the greater respect we have for the voters will be something they might think about in the future as well...

simon moores said...

Certainly not insulting but absolutely true and I would challenge you to prove otherwise on a simple day to day basis.

In fact a number of people I come across have a hard time telling the difference between an MP and a ward councillor and it's not unusual for me to have letters addressed to me as the MP.

I would guess that the number of people who can tell you what a county councillor does or is responsible for, in contrast with a district ward councillor's duties, is equally small.

I also find that on occasions, the people requiring the most help from a ward councillor are those least likely to vote or be registered to vote.

If you think about this then in a society that celebrates the dystopic world of Jeremy Kyle a large swathe of society has lost touch with the democratic process and this is reflected in both the turnout at elections and the confusion that exists between local and national issues.

Anonymous said...

Simon,I voted for Ukip. I am a disillusioned former Tory member and cancelled my membership of the party and took membership of Ukip. I am sick and tired of the petty bickering amongst the mainstream parties and quite frankly would not vote for Labour or the Tory party again. I consider both parties to be destructive and an emabarrassment to this country, we've had the mess of Tony Blair and now the ominous potential of the same mess with Cameron. Time for a complete change, and if that change has got to start at local level, then so be it. Regarding the Labour win in Westgate, all I can say is, God help Westgate residents if there's a problem because I cannot see Miss. Hibberd being much use. Time will tell, but I think, as you are the only intelligent sitting councillor in Westgate, your workload is about to get a lot bigger !

Anonymous said...

As regards your comments at 11.26on the thicko electorate who are simply not worthy of you...do you complain when their ignorance benefits the Tories?

simon moores said...

When the greater part of the adult population in our society don't vote or watch the news, one wonders how much informed opinion plays a part in our democracy.

Anonymous said...

Is that the same Martyn Heale who has been a Thanet tory for about 15 years, former Councillor and County Candidate for the Tories?

Martyn Heale said...

Own goal simon. I was a member of Thanet South Tories for 15 years. TDC Conservative candidate many times for Northwood and also Kent CC. Northwood Ward Chairman for 12 years and was also elected Ramsgate Chairman.Rejoined STCA two years ago, back to UKIP Dec last year. 2 years in the NF in the seventies does not compare to the years given to the Tories.