Opinion: Is #UKIP uniting non-Labour voters in UK?

| June 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

BrexitBrus Ward, Hartlepool and the year is 1995; Labour win all three councillors with around 81.4% of the vote. A truly thumping win, De Bruce Ward (as it is renamed) saw Labour take 52% of the vote. That has seen a drop of over 30% in Labour voters. De Bruce is the crudest example, because it has always been Labour, no other party has even got a whiff of victory there, writes UKIP Councillor for Jesmond Ward John Tennant – Hartlepool Opposition Leader (Principal Minority Leader).

However, 5 May 2016 saw a dramatic collapse of the Labour vote in nine of the eleven wards up for election. Let us take Fens and Rossmere Ward as the starkest example. Fens and Rossmere used to be separate wards Fens being one and Rossmere the other, in 1998, Labour won 67.4% of the vote in Rossmere, fast-forward eighteen years and Labour lost the Fens and Rossmere Ward with just 32% of the vote; UKIP romped home with 52% and one of the biggest majorities in the Council – 416.

Other examples include the Council Leader’s own seat in Foggy Furze, where he only scraped back in by just 80 votes and 45% of the vote. If we go back to 2011, Labour would return a Councillor there easily with 61%.

That’s enough figures, I’m sure. However, the point is clear that Labour are not a dominant force in Hartlepool any more. There have been many attempts to break the Labour stranglehold before but to no avail. That is until today. I think we have to take into account the state of the Labour Party in terms of a party in opposition at Westminster. Since Corbyn’s leadership win, more and more people are not seeing him as a viable Prime Minister when up against the smooth-talking Cameron. Governing parties historically get a hiding after winning a general election, but not this time; it would be the opposition who were told where to get off.

Labour have taken for granted their status as the party of the North, last year’s general election in Scotland showed millions of voters just how vulnerable Labour are in the North when an effective opposition comes into play, notably the SNP, who reduced Labour to just one Scottish MP. This woke voters up, especially voters who haven’t voted for a long time, that Labour CAN be beaten in their heartland.

This appears to have happened in Hartlepool and I would argue that Labour has had no real effective opposition in Hartlepool until UKIP changed its campaign style and focussed more on local issues than National ones. UKIP laid down the gauntlet and won three Councillors, two of which from Labour and came second in all other Wards bar one. UKIP won 6857 votes across the town, to Labour’s 6923, just 0.3% behind. This demonstrates that Labour have their work cut out and cannot rest on their laurels any longer.

Times have changed too, Labour has reverted to type and gone back to the days of militant tendency and the recent anti-semitism row. The Conservatives are happy with their opposition and have taken advantage of the situation in Scotland by coming second to Labour’s third in the Holyrood elections. This is the national picture, the local picture is that under Labour’s watch; the quality of life and what Hartlepool has to offer residents and visitors alike have not moved with the times. Hartlepool’s voters have increasingly turned away from Labour, and despite a few years of abortive attempts by local opposition, it is only UKIP that can truly unite the non-Labour voters of Hartlepool.

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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, EU, Nigel Farage, Opinion, UK, UKIP

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