The second part of our campaign in Hillingdon for the GLA elections saw a serious ramping up of general activity and visits from high profile members of the party to help boost our profile around the borough
Saturday 14th April – Ruislip
GLA Ealing & Hillingdon candidate Helen Knight was on the stall to greet local shoppers with able assistance from Ilyas, Geoff, Martin and the rest of the campaign team.
The HS2 rail link was a big topic for discussion, with virtually universal condemnation of the plan that will bring so much disruption.
The mayoral newspapers were grabbed with much gusto by the locals, and a great deal of interest was generated for the appearance of Nigel Farage at Ickenham Village Hall the following week.
Saturday 21st April – Ickenham – No to HS2 Meeting
A busy morning’s leafletting in Ickenham was followed at 5pm by the appearance of Nigel Farage as a guest speaker at the Village Hall to talk about the HS2 rail link
After a brief introduction by myself, Helen Knight took the stage to run through the technical issues surrounding the project and then handed over to Nigel for a talk which can be viewed below
Questions were then taken on stage by Nigel, Helen and our UKIP London Mayoral candidate, Lawrence Webb (Below)
Over one hundred local people attended the meeting as reported in the following week’s Uxbridge Gazette, and many joined the participants for a drink in the nearby Weatherspoon’s for an informal chat afterwards
Saturday 28th April – Final street stall in Uxbridge
The team were joined by UKIP Beaconsfield Chairman Tim Scott and Midlands MEP (member of the European Parliament) Derek Clark for our final street stall before polling day.
High winds and driving rain made positioning the stall and keeping the newspapers and leaflets dry tricky, but a good quantity were distributed and more signatures taken for the ‘Save Lake Farm’ campaign.
Hillingdon Against Cuts were also out braving the weather, as were a group of Mormons who pitched up next to us and a firebrand preacher who positioned himself at the top of Windsor street with a soap box and a megaphone!
A big thank you to Derek, who made a long journey and stayed until the end in the most appalling conditions.
The Final Push
The last week in the run up to polling day saw a frenzy of leafletting, canvassing and street campaigning.
Twenty four hours before our final street stall, the battle bus was due to come to Hillingdon but couldn’t get through the traffic in central London. Cue an impromptu appearance by The UKIP taxi with party leader Nigel Farage and Young Independence luminary Emmett Jenner in our area!
After a quick pit stop for refreshment at The Bell pub in Ruislip, walkabouts followed first in Ruislip, then Ickenham, and finally in Uxbridge town centre.
In Ruislip, a local school politics teacher interviewed Nigel on his camcorder for his students, whilst a number of people asked me, “Is that the bloke off of Question Time last night?”
After the street stall of Saturday, Sunday and Monday saw mass leafletting across our key areas before the re-scheduled Battle Bus arrived in the borough on Tuesday. Preceding it was a large LCD screen mounted on a flat bed van flashing various images and blaring out ‘maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’ at volume.
I had first seen the van used in the Feltham & Heston by-election last year – It certainly gets noticed!
With a route planned out that took in both North and South of the borough, the van made it’s way off – The open-topped battle bus turned up around a half hour later, crewed by a number of the candidates for the various London Constituencies including Geoff Boulter, Mick McGough and party list No 1 candidate Steve Woolfe.
With a PA system manned by Young Independence stalwart Sean Howlett, we set off from Ruislip station via Ickenham and Uxbridge to Harefield, where we stopped and mass leafletted around the village green for half an hour.
From there, the bus had to make it’s way to Kingston for an afternoon TV appearance – Hillingdon branch members remained on board and helped out with the canvassing in the town centre before the bus made it’s way back to the stand at London Embankment.
Most of us stayed with the bus and took the opportunity to use the PA system to spread the message on the way back.
Sean Howlett was making an impassioned speech about having no future with the ‘old’ parties at one point, until a smiling Steve Woolfe pointed out that it might not be the best thing to be talking about whilst driving past Mortlake cemetery!
The driver took us over Parliament bridge and past The House of Commons and St Stephen’s Tower (Big Ben) on the way back as can be seen from the images – A cry of “Cameron, Osborne, Clegg – Give them their P45’s before they give you yours!” boomed from the PA to a series of cheery waves from passers by.
Wednesday and polling day saw last minute canvassing and leafletting – Branch members turned out at local tube and main line rail stations to hand out the mayoral newspapers in an attempt to pick up last minute floating voters.
I found myself on the Thursday afternoon at Hayes & Harlington main line rail station, where by 5pm I was surrounded by the local Labour group including their GLA candidate for Hillingdon, Dr Onkar Sahota, and local leader Mo Khursheed. A member of the public introduced himself to me as ‘TJ’, a UKIP supporter, and proceeded to help me distribute our leaflets whilst berating Cllr Khursheed for his lack of help for the local community!
I met with Helen Knight and our Hillingdon branch secretary, Martin Shelvey, early in the afternoon and we made our way by tube to the West London count at The Olympia, where we were joined by local activist Ilyas Hussein.
It soon became apparent that an upset was in the offing from the screens mounted at the end of the counting tables which showed Labour ahead of the incumbent Conservative, Richard Barnes, at the 90% of count stage. The screens stop at this point so that the final 10% can be counted and the official result announced after scrutiny.
After what seemed a lifetime, the candidates agents were called by the returning officer and the procedural niceties ran through. Labour had taken the directly elected Ealing and Hillingdon seat from the Conservatives by just 3100 votes. UKIP had polled 6500, less than we had anticipated but enough to influence the outcome – Indeed, Dr Sahota came over and shook our hands and ‘thanked’ us for our help. He was then called to the stage for the official announcement, where surprisingly the other candidates were not asked up (Helen managed to get on to the end of the stage and have a quick photo taken by one of our other candidates, Liz Jones).
My full take on the results can be viewed in my previous blog post from 5th May (GLA and local Elections – The momentum continues).
Boris Johnson retained his status as London Mayor and bucked the national trend of Conservatives losing their seats, although the Labour party gained 4 assembly seats at the expense of the Tories and Lib-Dem’s. I can’t help but feel that this was in the main down to the well-deserved bad publicity that Ken Livingstone got about his tax affairs and discriminatory speeches in the run up to the ballot rather than Boris being an outstanding Mayor.
The Lib-Dem’s had an awful campaign and their candidate for Mayor, Brian Paddick, was beaten to third place by the Green Party’s Jenny Jones, who also held her assembly seat along with their other sitting candidate, Darren Johnson. It was interesting to see the reactions of the Greens at the count to Labour victories, which were greeted with cheering and clenched fist salutes – Proof of the old saying about them being the watermelon party, green on the outside and red on the inside?
From a UKIP point of view, we have made great strides in Hillingdon and increased our vote massively from 2008. Studying the ward figures, we have moved from having none in the top performing 100 in GLA2008 to 7 in GLA2012, a good sign for the local election campaigns to follow.
England needs a party that will look after the interests of her own people first with good,common sense answers to the state we currently find ourself in. In 2014, we intend to make UKIP that party.