Election day, 6 May, was, as expected, the most busiest day of all, from getting up at 4am to delivering the election day leaflets, through to the last knock-ups at 9pm, and on to waiting for the result at 5am – a 25 hour day, then four hours sleep, before up again for the council results. I might sleep for two days before going back to work on Monday.
But there’s no denying it – the Liberal Democrat results nationally and locally were very disappointing. It seems many people lost their nerve and went back to the devils they knew. We discovered this quite a lot in the last few days of canvassing.
To my own results:
Sittingbourne and Sheppey:
Gordon Henderson (Conservative) – 24,313 (50.0% - up 8.3%)
Angela Harrison (Labour) – 11,390 (24.6% - down 17.1%)
Keith Nevols (Liberal Democrats) – 7,943 (16.4% - up 3.6%)
Ian Davison (UKIP) – 2,610 (5.4% - up 3.1%)
Lawrence Tames (BNP) – 1,305 (2.7%)
Mad Mike Young (Loony) – 319 (0.7% - down 0.5%)
David Cassidy (Independent) – 158 (0.3%)
I enjoyed the campaign very much. It has been very tiring but also invigorating and already I am thinking about what I can do differently next time. But I have to admit that given all the work I and we put into the campaign over four months, an increase of only 3.6% is a bit disappointing – although larger than the national average Lib Dem increase.
Obviously national factors played the major part. We expected the Tories to win the seat but we certainly didn’t expect such a surge to result in a majority of 12,383. Although I have commented on the collapse of the Labour vote, I didn’t expect such a large collapse and nor that most of it would swing to the Tories.
Some bright spots – as I said, I enjoyed the campaign. I was pleased that UKIP kept their deposit, as Ian and the UKIP guys are likeable chaps, and my earlier fears of a sizeable BNP vote were not realised. Maybe they will go and look elsewhere.
The biggest disappointment was to come the following day.
Swale Borough Council
Ed Gent (Conservative) 845
Keith Nevols (Liberal Democrat) 695
Shelley Cheesman (Labour) 618
There were 16 of Swale’s wards up for election (13 with us in Sittingbourne and Sheppey and the other three in Faversham). Because of our limited resources we decided to throw everything at our defence of Murston. The whole ward was canvassed, leafleted three times, and chased up on election day. We could not have worked harder.
Yet the higher turnout, due to the general election and the Tory increase, saw us lose this seat and reduce our number of councillors to three. The only consolation is that the whole council is up for election next year – so if I had won, I may have been a councillor for only a year.
For now a break – it will seem strange not to go knocking on doors for a while – but very soon we, and I, will think about our future strategy and where we go from here.