Last year saw UKIP take the media by surprise and the country by storm in the local elections, with 147 councillors elected. Many in the media questioned if this could be repeated again this year, with the locals scheduled for the same day as the EU elections on 22nd May.
After an intensive campaign, the highlight of which saw Nigel Farage totally demolish Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg in two live TV debates on our EU membership, the answer was an emphatic YES!
In Hillingdon, we fielded a total of 24 candidates across 22 wards (Single in each, with 2 in both Heathrow Villages and South Ruislip). This was a quantum leap forward from 2010, when we fielded a sole candidate in South Ruislip (Robin Kirby) who finished 10th with 611 votes (3.9%)
Our tactics with limited finances and a small campaign team very nearly paid off, with some near misses in Harefield, Yiewsley, Charville & Uxbridge South. Out of 22 wards, we finished 4th in 8 and 3rd in the only two councillor ward (Harefield) where our candidate Gerard Barry beat incumbent councillor and former Boris Johnson deputy, Richard Barnes.
A strong UKIP showing in Yiewsley saw a Labour target revert to full Conservative control, whilst conversely our presence in Charville, Heathrow Villages, Uxbridge South and West Drayton saw the Conservatives lose seats, most notably former Mayor Mary O’Connor in Charville.
In the Labour heartlands of Townfield and Botwell, UKIP are now the main opposition whilst in the Tory North we outpolled Labour in Cavendish, Eastcote & E Ruislip, Ickenham, Uxbridge North, Northwood Hills, Northwood, Harefield, Manor and West Ruislip.
These results have seen us become comfortably the third party in Hillingdon with over 17000 votes cast, with the Lib-Dem’s defeated in every ward where they stood against us. If we take the best performing candidate from each party in the ward to get an average vote share, UKIP took 21.6% – Better than one in five people who voted put a cross against a UKIP candidate, an encouraging portent of things to come.
Hopes were high that we could improve on 2nd place nationally in 2009 and claim top spot in this contest – As the numbers came in from the count on the night of Sunday 25th , it became apparent that UKIP had become the first political party outside of Labour and The Conservatives to win a national election in over 100 years – The ‘Earthquake’ had well and truly hit!
24 UKIP MEP’s were elected, including our first in Scotland (David Coburn), with Gerard Batten holding his seat in London and Paul Oakley just missing out on joining him as our vote share increased.
In Hillingdon, we had taken 10033 votes in 2009, which we easily eclipsed this time out with 19746, just 1452 short of victory. The Conservatives finished second having lost an 8000 majority from their 2009 result in what had turned in to a tight, 3 way contest.
The night may even have had a triumphal ending if it had not been for 2 ‘spoiler’ parties at the top of the ballot paper, UK EPP and An Independence from Europe – UK Independence Now! (The latter being formed by former UKIP MEP, Mike Nattrass) They garnered over 2000 votes between them, and appeared responsible for at least 100 of the spoiled papers that were scrutinised by myself and officers from Labour, Conservative & Greens.
Compared to the establishment parties, we had a smaller team fighting on much more limited resources but certainly punched above our weight! In my own Charville ward, the Conservatives put out 5 leaflets in a month and had a full canvassing team at their disposal yet still lost a seat and failed to put clear daylight between their candidates and UKIP
Here is the campaign in pictures –
Braving the cold to get an early leaflet run out in Harefield with candidate Gerard Barry back in February
A decent sized team out to distribute leaflets advertising a public meeting in Heathrow Villages in February
We love Heathrow Villages public meeting – John Stewart from independent campaign group HACAN Clearskies addresses the audience on Heathrow expansion, whilst Gerard Batten MEP and myself look on.
Banners started popping up all around the borough in February extolling the virtues of Hillingdon Council whilst extra editions of the Council magazine ‘Hillingdon People’ were despatched to every house in the borough. Special ‘Ward’ versions also appeared (below). A freedom of information request showed that Hillingdon Council spent £97000 of public money last year (Excluding design costs) on the magazine.
During an action day in Ickenham in early March, we came across these fine fellows delivering Hillingdon People magazine. Only one spoke broken English and they enjoyed some refreshment on their rounds as can be seen in the picture.
Ilyas out campaigning in Ickenham in March sunshine. A committed campaigner, he spent every day with us in the 2 weeks before the election leafleting target wards for hours and was a prime factor in our West Drayton result.
Christine Taylor in Heathrow Villages putting out our literature in privately owned notice boards. Numerous complaints went in from the other parties about this to electoral services – When they drew a blank the boards were vandalised, triggering a round of tear it down, put it up. Much of the campaigning across the borough was good natured, but not in this ward.
The BBC paid us a visit on a street stall in Uxbridge. Here, myself and Jack Duffin are interviewed by Andrew Cryan for The Sunday Politics
Early April saw a very busy public meeting featuring UKIP Culture spokesman Peter Whittle and London Chairman Roger Gravett in Charville ward (Hayes)
The audience look on
The following week saw another meeting in Harefield, with Gerard Barry centre stage after the late withdrawal of guest speaker on HS2 councillor Chris Adams
Bryan and Christine kept the public constantly updated via their Heathrow Villages Notice Board – Here, Bryan poses with yet more dumped rubbish in the ward that the council failed to deal with
With Labour terrified of the UKIP surge, they put out leaflets misrepresenting our policies. When challenged, I pointed to their pledge on tough action on immigration which immediately invalidated the authenticity of the rest of the leaflet.
A big thank you to all those in Hillingdon who voted for UKIP in these elections – We look forward to coming back even stronger next time and with your help, changing the tired two party system in effect in our borough that is stopping your voices being heard in the way our area is run.