|Picture Credit Eastcliff Richard|
Once again, the UKIP vote prevailed (see results below) and I really don't believe that anyone was really surprised at the result. Yesterday, I had an exchange of views with an old friend, Michael Fabricant, the Government Whip and he assured me that at Westminster local results of this kind are being taken very seriously indeed. I'm at a meeting in Parliament on Monday evening and so will be very interested to hear the opinions of my colleagues in the committee room.
What the last seven days illustrates is that Labour are no longer the main party of opposition and the LibDems have become locally irrelevant to the point of non-existence, as the public's resentment over their grip on coalition policy grows.
Labour have nothing really new to say other than deliver promises on the economy and welfare, they know they can't possibly keep. The big debate has moved elsewhere. Not to a financial crisis and a national debt accruing at £1,600 per second but to our place in Europe and most of all, immigration, which until not long ago was a subject that would raise howls of 'racism' from the socialists and politically correct; not be discussed in polite company.
Quite how David Cameron's Government now disentangles itself on central issues of Europe and Human Rights, from the corrosive brand of Nick Clegg and the LibDems, I really don't know. By voting UKIP, people are telling Government what they want but only one Party, the Conservatives, are prepared to listen or even consider a referendum on Europe, amending the Human Rights Act or far-reaching changes on immigration. Both Miliband and Clegg are now on the same page on Europe. They believe that David Cameron’s promise of an in/out referendum by 2017 could put job-creating foreign investment at risk and lead to the EU exit door.
I have a sense that Government is now trapped in a cage and the public are now enjoying the opportunity of poking it with sharp sticks. But like UKIP, aren't really able to express what they really want beyond leaving Europe, the introduction of passport control at Birchington, bigger sticks for the police and if we are really lucky, free beer and the Sky Sports Channel on Sundays.
The real losers of the last week's results are likely to be the people of Thanet, because there will be no overall control of the Council, more facile bickering over subjects that have no real place in local government and new members of Kent County Council, with large budgets to administer locally and no clue about the gears of local government or influence over the big machine that holds a responsibility for our schools and roads. In one example, a retired, elected member for Herne Bay is still, I'm told away on a cruise because he never expected to win at the polls last week.
Meanwhile, here's a favourite clip to revisit with last week's military coup in Maidstone and the overall political balance in Kent in mind.
Cliftonville East Results: Rozanne Duncan (UKIP) 699 (41%) Wendy Chaplin (Conservative) 526 (31%) Alan Currie (Labour) 352 (20%) Louise Oldfield (Independent) 112 (7%) Proctor (Liberal Democrat) 32 (2%) Total votes 1,721 (35% turnout).