1) The Wythenshawe and Sale Parliamentary by-election, in which UKIP came second to Labour with almost 18% of the poll and knocked the Tories into third place and the Lib Dems out of the ring entirely, was a triumph. A modest triumph, maybe, but a triumph all the same.
2) UKIP played a blinder on a bumpy pitch. The party had no ‘history’ in the seat, scoring a tiny 3% when we fought it last, and had a rudimentary branch organisation. To go from this in the space of a few weeks to runners-up to Labour is not only a tribute to our local candidate John Bickley and to the party’s seasoned by-election team, but to the fact that our message is resonating with the voters.
3) UKIP is now the official opposition to Labour in the North. As previous by-elections in the region at Rotherham and South Shields had already demonstrated, it is UKIP which is appealing to traditional working-class voters sickened by the betrayals and corruption of Labour, a party which views them merely as voting fodder to be kicked around at will. Needless to say, the Tories and Lib Dems find no favour with a class they despise.
4) The Tories are splitting the UKIP vote. As the Eastleigh by-election showed one year ago, the picture of UKIP trouncing the Tories into third place at by-elections is now becoming a regular pattern. As people get used to the idea that we can and do beat the Camservatives, those true Tories fearful of ‘letting in Labour’ by voting UKIP will increasingly vote for us with a full heart and a clear conscience.
5) It’s going to get dirty. Make no mistake: LibLabCon are panicking at UKIP’s relentless rise. The Tory Press is scrabbling round to dig up dirt and fling it at UKIP; Labour and the Liberals have set up special dirty tricks units to smear the party; and Labour activists are using violence, vandalism and intimidation to try and scare us away from what they regard as their feudal territory. Such nasty stuff will only increase in the run up to this May’s European elections and next May’s General Election. We should be on our guard, but also glad: it means we have them on the run.
Photo Caption: Hampshire County Councillor Tony Hooke with his UKIP campaign car outside the Labour Party’s offices in Wythenshawe – a bit of a cheeky shot taken by Brian Otridge