Georgina Thomas (Con):- 603 (61.2%)
Lab/Progressive Alliance:- 204 (20.7%)
UKIP:- 178 (18.1%)
Depending how you analyse the result, this represents either a 8% increase in the Conservative vote (my figures) or a 17.4% increase in the Conservative vote (@BritainElects figures) compared with 2015. And given the 2015 result was our best ever performance, to increase our vote share by a further 8% or 17.4% is somewhat satisfactory!
To the outside observer, our 61% share would indicate a comfortable middle class ward in the midst of True Blue West Kent. Far from it. Trench was safely Labour for over 50 years (from 1950 - 2007). Even now, even after helpful boundary changes brought 200 or so owner occupied houses into the ward, over 60% of voters live in social housing.
Just think about this for a moment.... What was once a Labour working class heartland now has a higher Conservative vote share than Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge & Malling parliamentary constituencies, which are three of the UKs safest Conservative seats. After 6 years of Conservative-led government, for Labour to poll just 20% in this ward is prime example of how far they have to climb to re-establish themselves as serious contenders for office. Even worse for Labour, in this by-election they launched a "progressive alliance" with the Greens and LibDems, both of whom stood aside and backed Labour. This unholy alliance where political parties attempted to trade their voters resulted in many absurdities which provided us with no end of amusement:
First the Greens took great exception to our candidate claiming they "couldn't be bothered" to field a candidate. This resulted in them delivering not one but two leaflets (the trees, the trees) clarifying their position. This was twice as many leaflets as they deliver when they are fielding a candidate. This added little to the debate other than confirming the view of most people that the Greens are "not quite like the rest of us".
Then they took to Facebook to bemoan the nasty attack, which resulted in the majority of their own followers agreeing with me that they had let down their supporters. On and on they droned about the injustice of it all. And just as the debate was dying down I intervened with this helpful comment.....
Which kicked them off again into another round of foaming at the mouth invective, which was just what I intended!
The consequence of this "progressive alliance" is, compared with 2015, the three parties of the Left saw their vote fall from 35% to 21% proving that you cannot act like feudal barons and trade your supporters as if you owned them.
So, how did we win...?
1. Pick a strong local candidate
2. Fight a positive campaign on the issues that matter to local people (which are not the issues politicians think matter to local people)
3. Work hard
Winning elections isn't difficult, it's just hard work,
MORE LEAFLETS = MORE VOTES.
MORE LEAFLETS = MORE VOTES.