Thursday, 24 July 2014

Staplehurst By Election

Tonight we lost the Staplehurst (Maidstone Borough Council) by-election to the LibDems by a majority of six votes.

Conservative 603 36%
Lib Dem 609 36%
UKIP 311 19%
Labour 117 7%
Green 41 2%

Over the last few years I have helped win by-elections by margins of 2 votes, 4 votes and 5 votes. Tonight we lost by 6 votes. I am happy to claim my share of the credit when we have won, and I am big and ugly enough to take my share of responsibility when we don't. Losing elections is part of the majesty of the democratic process and thank goodness for it.

One of the team asked me tonight "what went wrong?"  I never blame the voters (they are totally free to vote however they see fit). I don't blame the opposition - they, like me, fight like tigers for what they believe in, and have every right to do so.  Nor (unlike quite a few in my Party) do I blame UKIP for allegedly "splitting our vote" - we don't own our supporters or have a right to their loyalty.

Tonight, however, there is someone who should shoulder part of the responsibility, the ward's former Conservative councillor who resigned from the council within a week of the 22 May election and caused the vacancy. Why did he resign?  Because he wasn't given a job by the new Conservative Group leader in her administration. Not only that, he compounded matters by confirming his reasons to the local newspaper (see HERE), who splashed it on their billboards outside every shop in town.  In taking this course of action he betrayed his council colleagues, he betrayed the Conservative Party and he betrayed the residents of his ward. Some might not like me for writing this, but his behaviour was deplorable and in my opinion he should be booted out for bringing the Party into disrepute.

Our candidate today, Louise Brice, was a true star who could not have worked harder. I was proud to be her agent and get to know her over the last 5 weeks. I hope she stands again and wins the seat back in 2015.

It is ironic that the Conservative vote went up by 3% compared with 22 May (despite the cause of the by-election). Sadly the LibDems managed to establish themselves as the main challenge and pipped us at the post. That's life!

Congratulations to Staplehurst's new LibDem councillor, Paulina Watson.


  1. A great result for the Lib Dems down to sheer hard work day in, day out.

  2. No Andrew. My fault & fault of all Kent Conservatives for not coming over to "do a bit". Sincere apologies.

  3. Not at all Craig. You have a marginal Parliamentary seat to fight and that is your priority.

    Alan - if you won Staplehurst due to "hard work day in day out", can we assume that you have continually come third or fourth in every Tunbridge Wells election you have fought as you are bone idle? :)

  4. Wrong, wrong wrong. Don't you get it even now? We lost because of the previous Maidstone Tory administration's lunacy in seeking to build all over places like Staplehurst. To build more than is actually required. What was the Staplehurst Tory majority 4 years ago - over 1,000. The only reason the Liberals didn't win by far more is because many of us rumbled the fact they hadn't made any hard commitments themselves. I actually turned out to vote for Louise last night because she and the new Group leader have disowned the previous policy - hence Lusty going (and not before time). But some of those in the Group and the Association need to look at themselves and their complicity in all this.

  5. The cream floats to the top - congratulations to Paulina, a very worthy winner indeed. As Medway LibDems, we were delighted to come over and put our shoulders to the wheel. Only sorry we weren't able to make it every day......but a win is a win is a win!!! Well done.

  6. Ironically, the Lib Dems voted for every planning application in Staplehurst, and they also voted to lift the 'greenfield moratorium' which protected the village. However, they managed to evade this inconvenient truth during the election campaign by dominating the agenda with personal attacks.

    We'll win the seat back in 2015 - the Lib Dems will sacrifice Staplehurst to shore-up their urban vote (they're brutal like that!)