This morning, 10th February 2017, the UK Independence Party is boasting, waving its flags in fact, about winning a district council by-election in the Great Oakley and Little Oakley ward of Tendring, Essex. Tendring District, we note, contains two of England’s ten most deprived areas*.
The winning party is singing about its majority being 7.7% with a 36.8% share of the vote. But the voter numbers, as opposed to proportions, tell a different story. Within the turnout of only 35% of the electorate, the party won by 45 votes out of the 587 cast. That margin is only half the number of players in my local darts league in this small Sussex town.
Furthermore, apart from this result, UKIP’s vote has dropped in every single council election since October 2016 in a ward where it had previously stood (except Swanley, Kent)†.
Just up the road from the three villages in this ward, in the town of Harwich, the candidate with the 45-vote majority had opened a shop promoting his party. The word ‘Independance’ (sic) was mispelt on its signs‡.
Statistics, when kept, can be comforting. But the work outside this echo-chamber must carry on.
* UK Government, Department for Communities and Local Government, Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015
† Statistics compiled by Association of Liberal Democrat Campaigners and Councillors