Saturday, 4 May 2013

Winning an election isn't difficult; it's just hard work!

This is the first of two articles outlining my thoughts on the 2013 Kent CC Campaign. This post covers Tunbridge Wells. I will post about Tonbridge & Malling later today.

I would like to thank a former agent colleague for Tweeting to suggest the title of this post!  It sits comfortably with my own offerings on the matter, "where we work, we win" and "more leaflets = more votes"

So, what happened in Kent, and in particular our little corner of it?

Firstly, do not take comfort from the huge swathes of blue on the above map. These Kent County Council Divisions are all in parliamentary seats where we weigh our majorities. The ones that matter are the small, tightly populated divisions along the north and east Kent coast, as this is where the marginal seats are which we must retain (or Labour must gain) to form a government. And there is an awful lot of red and purple now on the map!

It would be silly and churlish to deny that UKIP did well. Across Kent they took 17 seats and are now the official opposition, though after this outburst CLICK HERE I suspect the main focus of their opposition will be to each others egos rather than any political agenda.

Where they failed, however, was the place they (and the media) expected them to win; in Tunbridge Wells. So sure were they that True Blue TW would turn purple that Michael Crick came along in search of scalps that were not there to be found. On Twitter he confessed:

The seat we did lose was the one we expected to; Tunbridge Wells East, which we were delighted and somewhat surprised to have held in a by-election last year. This is a classic marginal, just 200 votes separated us from UKIP and the Lib Dems last time. This year, with the intervention of a so-called independent candidate, who was a former Conservative councillor, it tipped away from us. UKIP's majority of 300 votes was half the number polled by Terry Cload (the independent) who ran a fierce Tory-bashing campaign. What he didn't admit in his literature was up to a few weeks ago he was actively seeking selection as a Conservative candidate. In fact, so desperate was he to get back on the council that he felt the need to stand for selection against every incumbent Conservative councillor in the Borough. Being rejected time and time again by those who know you and have seen your work, must have had a dreadful impact. I hope he might now accept that his disingenuous behaviour perhaps justified the decision of those who declined his offer to represent them.

Despite winning five out of six seats, it was a close shave. It would be wrong for any of us (especially me in my role as agent) to allow a narrative to take hold that we had done well. We didn't.  Without our huge lead on the postal vote, rather then preening ourselves for winning five out of six, we would be licking our wounds, as we would have lost four of the six.  It is very easy when you have an 18,000 parliamentary majority and hold 40 of the 48 seats on the Council to believe elections are won by right. They are not. They are won by keeping a high profile in your community, winning the respect of those you serve and taking your message to voters throughout the year - not just in the few weeks before polling day.

As I said at the top of this post: winning an election isn't difficult; it's just hard work. My message to my fellow Tories in Tunbridge Wells - we've got to work harder.

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