THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED AT THIS YEARS ELECTION
By Chris Osbourne
While all the headlines have been about the Conservatives victory and the Labour defeat in this years election, there were some things you might have missed. The battles for the minor placings produced some interesting results.
In the South ward, Labour’s Janet Goodwin retained her seat with 532 votes and UKIP’ s Jane Bramley won the battle for the one year tenure in the contest for resigned Labour leader Ray Oxby’s seat only 4 votes short of Goodwin’s total with 528 votes. After a strong showing in 2014 when they won 7 seats on the council UKIP have steadily declined. Internal wranglings led to a number of their Councillors defecting to the Conservatives and in 2018 their vote completely collapsed, allowing the Tories to lay the foundations for this year’s success.
This year however, saw a robust performance from a UKIP contingent. In the Heneage ward ex Councillor John Stockton secured 552 votes, splitting the vote with the Conservative’s Mark Smith who notched up 595 enabling Labour Cabinet member Matthew Patrick retain his seat with a scant 800 votes. Compared to the 1,730 he achieved 4 years ago he might be forgiven for feeling a tad relieved.
Thursday night also saw a rise in the vote for the Independent candidate’s across the board. Independents are those hardy souls who seek election without the backing of the party machine to help them. In Freshney, Mick Kiff ran a strong campaign which was badly affected by the announcement of his ill health. Despite his campaign he increased his share of the vote from 357 to 432. Mick is an immensely popular figure on the ward and we wish him well in his fight to recovery. In South ward the ever popular Debbie Hill increased her share of the vote from 314 to 364. Debbie works tirelessly on the ward, and that work with the community was rewarded on Thursday night.
The star of the night was undoubtedly Kieran Barlow who stood for the Socialist Alternative in the Yarborough Ward. Kieran has campaigned ceaselessly both under the TUSC banner and the Socialist Alternative banner. His aim has always been to bring a message of socialism to the voters as an alternative to Labour. Fairly ordinary results over the years have never dampened this man’s enthusiasm, and this year he achieved 421 votes. Some have said this was a protest vote, some have been won over by his tireless efforts and some by his message of a fairer society. On Thursday the Labour voters of the Yarborough ward turned to him in their droves. It was enough to see Labour stalwart and Cabinet member Peter Wheatley lose his seat. In the biggest shock of the evening. Conservative candidate Gary Abel took advantage of the chasm in the left’s vote and secured the seat for the Tories.
Independents and the minor parties are the lifeblood of local politics. Whether it be fringe groups getting their message out or well meaning community activists. It could be one of the many eccentrics we have enjoyed seeing in the past. They have an enormous role to play on the local election scene. This year they had a greater impact than normal and it will be interesting to see if any of them can use this year’s results as a springboard for further success in elections to come.