The Monster Raving Loony Party’s pledge to capture moonbeams using lunar panels brought little cheer to Tories who looked on grimly as Sheppey Central fell from their grip in yesterday’s by-election on the Isle of Sheppey.
In contrast, UKIP activists gathered in eager anticipation of the result at the Count, shuffling from table to table following their growing pile of ballot papers, like a pack of penguins.
The nervous smiles of the gathered Tory faithful slowly slipped away as the turnout was announced revealing less than 1 in 5 people had bothered to make the effort. The futility of the ceremony playing out before their eyes began to dawn.
Sheppey Central was once the jewel in the Tory crown. In 2011, just three years ago, they polled 911 votes with UKIP trailing a poor third on 326. They had held the seat at every election since 2002 during the long years of Labour Government. The exception was a temporary spell when it fell into the hands of Sheppey First, a group of right-wing, libertarian anti-establishment political misfits led by Chris Boden.
Boden, himself an eccentric Thatcherite businessman who was once reported as going to the assistance of a stricken resident in Minster in the middle of the night, promised a new style of politics extending as far as independence for the Isle of Sheppey.
Boden disappeared soon afterwards chasing an elusive pot of gold as an alderman on the City of London Corporation. Meanwhile his followers took refuge in the Tory Whip on the Council. Who would wager how they are reviewing their options after last night’s declaration?
Politics is full of opportunists. They come and go. The UKIP bandwagon rolls on, oblivious to the forces that carry them onward threatening to consume them at any given moment.
Blog post written by Cllr Mike Haywood, Leader of the Labour Group on Swale Borough Council