If you’re pressed for time, and don’t want to read my article, the cover picture tells you all you need to know about the Rochester (and Strood, which the Tories forgot about on one of their leaflets) By Election. In that constituency, the Tories are history, in the dustbin, whereas UKIP are Kings of the (historic) Castle. (Source: Survation Poll)
Thanks to the postings system of the British Army, one of my offspring, and her family, are now voters in said By Election, so I was able to obtain a bed for the night, therefore spending the better part of the weekend in the Medway towns. The added attraction (in addition to my lovely grand-daughters) was a spectacular Bonfire and Fireworks display, free of charge, courtesy of Medway Council on Saturday evening (local paper report with pictures here). We must never forget the event it commemorates, in oddly British style, of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament. However, in 2015, it looks like the UK parliament is going to be metaphorically blown-up with a vastly different complexion to it, blue, red and yellow tempered with purple, blue/white and perhaps a touch of green.
For those who have not yet made the pilgrimage to Rochester, here’s the UKIP shop in the High Street, strategically placed closed to a considerable selection of Cafes and Pubs:
On Saturday, I was sent out with some other UKIPpers from Essex to man a market stall in Strood Market, which seems to be a pretty popular place on Saturday mornings… not just with the voters, but also with political parties. The Tories had a stand (masquerading as a free newspaper, the Rochester and Strood News), the Greens wandered around the market looking lost with leaflets in their hands, and Labour (masquerading as “Stand Up to UKIP”). It is really sad that they cannot even attempt to promote any benefits of their own party, instead all they can do is to attempt to rubbish another party. Their leaflet (which I won’t glorify by publishing) was not quite as awful as the “Labour Lies” we have seen peddled before, but a lot of the material on it was distinctly questionable.
But, never mind all that, the weather was wonderful, some people were out in shorts, and we spoke positively with a lot of people.
Around lunchtime, I headed back to the shop. By now, a Britain First demonstration was marshalling at the other end of the High Street. Thankfully, the Police had the good sense to keep them away from the UKIP shop. Instead, a bunch of young “anti-fascists” (i.e. hard-lefties, probably more of the same “Stand Up to UKIP” types) tried to engage with them, as we have seen in today’s papers.
While I was there, a cheery local resident came into the shop and loudly announced, “Come on you lot, you’re slacking, you can do better than 48%!” All said with a smile on his face.
Parked up nearby were the same collection of panel vans that were in Clacton, this time with large Mark Reckless posters down the side. These are provided by a UKIP member in Southend, so making contact with him was useful for me, given I am standing in Southend West. These were out all Saturday, touring the constituency.
I was then sent off to canvass in a suburb out on the northern edge of Strood (Wainscott). Responses on the doorstep were mostly positive, slightly better than the Survation poll indicates, although there were a few disgruntled types who felt that Mark Reckless was wrong leaving the Tories, and were going to vote for Cameron’s car-crash candidate Kelly Tolhurst (Decide for yourself if that adjective is justified by listening to this… if you can… it’s painful I know)
Here’s Mark’s leaflet that we were posting through letterboxes where people were out, and giving to voters, who mostly seemed eager to have a copy of it:
The obverse had details of Mark’s local campaigns. The Hoo Peninsula campaign one is the most significant, having had national publicity, where the Tory-controlled Medway Council (who re-elect all their councillors every 4 years, last time in 2011, next time in 2015) are trying to concrete over the Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest and build 5000 houses, without any significant improvements in local infrastructure. See Mark’s campaign page here.
As had happened in Clacton, a lot of voters started to give me a long list of UKIP’s policies, or rather what they saw were UKIP’s policies based on their view of the problems Britain faces. Oddly enough, the match was very close, with very few of them having to be put right… other than the “gentleman” who wanted a return to capital punishment for all sorts of crimes, not just murder, and some more policies that I won’t repeat – however we were able to agree on the need to leave the EU and control our borders.
After a night’s rest and family socialising, and a morning out on the streets. Unfortunately, in the end, I was rained off – in fact, utterly drenched. So, it was back into town to deliver my canvass sheets and to meet a time from South Bedfordshire who’d come in Peter Reeve’s “family” minibus.
So, after coffee and cakes with the Bedfordshire team, it was back to Southend to continue planning for my own campaign leading up to May… and give my very best wishes to Mark Reckless and his whole team for another “earthquake” result on 20 November.