Many congratulations to my comrade and friend Gareth Snell for giving UKIP a good drubbing in yesterday's by-election in the Silverdale and Parksite ward on Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. The result was:
Dean (UKIP) 174 (24.6%, -21.2)
Snell (Lab) 399 (56.4%, +19.5)
Vernon (Con) 80 (11.3%, -0.4)
White (Ind) 54 (7.6%, +7.6)
Turnout 710 (22.7%)
The seat was held by the late Eileen Braithwaite, who won the seat for UKIP before defecting to the council chamber-based Newcastle Independent Group.
I door knocked during the campaign on two occasions, which isn't enough to form an impression beyond a tiny clutch of anecdotes. One bloke observed the divisions in the Labour Party, but was voting for us regardless. And another,
"Sorry mate, I haven't made my mind up. I've just got back in the country"
"Really, go anywhere nice?"
So no Corbyn-as-a-factor for me. Asking other comrades, it seemed no one expressed hostility or enthusiastic support. It was just a local by-election fought on local by-election issues.
It is worth noting that UKIP were buried in this ward like a tic. The nucleus of their support was around former Labour councillor, Derrick Huckfield. Not only did he have a strong personal vote off the back of decades of work, he knew elections and what the hot button issues were. For UKIP to snag him was a bit of a coup. For them to lose him within a year just goes to show what a shambles they are. Without him, it seems the UKIP brand wasn't sufficient enough to work its dark magic.
Now, those wedded to the idea the purples are going to swoop in and seize Labour strongholds would find nothing to dispute their thesis here. Local factors won and, oh, UKIP took a seat elsewhere off Labour last night. They might have a point, but the trend in by-elections has been away from the party for well over a year now, and the double whammy of Brexit and Farage's resignation can only accelerate this process.