Friday, 4 November 2016

Rainham Central By-Election

The Rainham Central by-election was held yesterday (3 November 2016), caused by the sad loss of Mike O'Brien to cancer, and the insistence of at least one opposition party to stand where perhaps (as some have said) it should have been uncontested. In the event, a total of six candidates stood, representing the six enduring parties that we have around Medway. Others have come and gone, but these six can be relied upon for fielding candidates in Medway – though not necessarily in all seats or all cases.

Anyway, the by-election result is now in. The solid Conservative win is no surprise, with no less than 61% of the total vote; but perhaps Labour's third-place position will have been unexpected by some – though I had a strong feeling that it might go that way.

Indeed, I well recall rubbing my hands with glee at seeing the Statement of Persons Nominated – i.e. list of candidates – when it was published. That is always the moment when I know more or less what is going to be the outcome, and when I make my (sometimes public) predictions. It is always a delight when the ever-arrogant Medway Labour end up in third place or lower, as has happened a few times in recent elections, both local and national (e.g. Rochester & Strood last year).

Here are the vote numbers, in descending order as usual...
  • Jan Aldous (Con) – 1,448
  • Mark Mencattelli (UKIP) – 389
  • Simon Allen (Lab) – 320
  • Paul Chaplin (Lib Dem) – 137
  • George Meegan (Green) – 61
  • Mike Russell (Eng Dem) – 14
Percentages (including changes from May 2015) are...
  • Con: 61.1% (+9.9)
  • UKIP: 16.4% (-5.2)
  • Lab: 13.5% (-2.9)
  • Lib Dem: 5.8% (+5.8)
  • Green: 2.6% (-5.2)
  • Eng Dem: 0.6% (+0.6)
As with the recent Strood South by-election, again we see a huge divide between the current 'big three' parties and the rest. The norm nowadays seems to be that the English Democrats have become the dependable last place party, now coming behind even the Greens(!)

Even more noticeable is the sheer size of the winner's majority – over a thousand votes more than the runner-up, and in fact a good three and a half times the votes of UKIP and more than four times the Labour candidate's vote.

There's a real message for some of the parties in there somewhere...

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