Well, we did it! It was a tough fight, and there were times over the last few days I felt it might go to the wire, but in the end we won by a far larger margin than I thought possible. The full result:
Sophie Shrubsole Conservative: 769
Liberal Democrat: 472
English Democrat 57
Conservative majority 297
Sophie was a super candidate; hard working, credible on the doorsteps and willing to accept advice and guidance from her team. Her speech of thanks after the count was exemplary and she won warm applause from everyone present, and deservedly so.
Judging by the resources they poured into the campaign I suspect the LibDems thought they might just pull it off. I won't shed crocodile tears. In one of our leaflets we described some of their positions of local issues as disingenuous. According to the dictionary:
In hindsight, I could think of no better adjective.
In the end, we won the Leybourne ballot box by a significant margin, we won the postal vote by a country mile, and whilst the LibDems won today's vote in West Malling, I suspect (with the postal vote included) even there it was a close run thing.
However, no candidate or agent can win alone, and once again I have received the support of a truly super team, many of whom have been fighting elections by my side for over a decade. Here is the roll of honour (with apologies to anyone I have missed off the list):
From London: Phil Thomas, Steve O'Connell and Simon Hoare
From Tunbridge Wells: Greg Clark MP, Frank Williams, Bob Backhouse, William Rutherford, Caroline Derrick, Philip Young and James Tansley
From Rochester: Craig Mackinlay and Chris Irvine
From Brighton: Steve Bell and Maria Caulfield
From Chatham & Aylesford: Kathy Doody, Mike Franklin, Adrian Gulvin, Allan Sullivan, Peter Homewood, Dave Davis, Roger Dalton, John Balcombe, Joyce Gadd, Mike Parry-Waller, Russ Taylor, Jeannett Bellamy, Carol Gale, Anne Moloney and Stephen King
From Tonbridge & Malling: Jacques Arnold, Matthew Dickins, Gill Levine, Richard Brown, Edward Pugh, Monica Blight, Gill McDermott, Ann Charlton, Edward Pugh, Ella Weaver, Pat Baines, Jon Botten, Matthew Balfour, Sasha Luck, Howard Rogers, Jean Atkinson, Pam Bates, Owen Baldock, David Cure, Lynne Cure, Ben Elks, Jessica Elks, Russell Lancaster, David Evans, Nicolas Heslop, Maria Heslop, Sue Murray, David Godfrey, Sarah Hohler, Alice Hohler, Valerie Dagger Glynis Coates, Harry Rayner, Karen Stannard and Sir John and Elizabeth Stanley and Ann-Marie Nelson.
From CCHQ: Stacey Ingram, Victoria Goff, Stephen Ion and Stacey Siggins
And, of course, to David Hughes, Richard Beesley, Jackie Geddes and all the Officers and staff at T&MBC for their outstanding professionalism and efficiency.