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Five lessons to learn from Wythenshawe

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

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About Nigel Jones (25 Articles)
Nigel Jones is UKIP PPC for Eastbourne and was an MEP candidate for the 2014 European elections. The Eastbourne branch has a YouTube Channel, which has the whole 2014 South East Conference on it.

13 Comments on Five lessons to learn from Wythenshawe

  1. As somebody born and bred in Wythenshawe UKIP made a tactical error by placing it’s campaign HQ in Sale.

    Wythenshawe was a constituency on it’s own before boundary changes. It is solidly working class. Sale East was tagged on to the constituency and is middle class.

    Wythenshawe voters substantially outnumber those of Sale East and for a long time now there has been no visibile symbols of Political representation there.

    For instance the Labour clubs were pulled down long ago. If UKIP had based itself in the local shopping area of Wythenshawe they would have gained instant access to many disillusioned voters who no longer vote Labour.

    • The Labour HQ was in northern Wythenshawe on the Sale Road, at the junction of Carloon Road, as shown in the picture. I had exactly the same thought when I arrived in the constituency and saw the lie of the land.

      • I am aware of that but as you will notice in your own statement “was in” it is not a permanent fixture

    • Very true however don’t assume that this wasn’t the plan. The labor run council simply refused to rent us a shop in Wythenshawe leaving Sale as the only possible option.

      The shop was in an awful state and had no heating or electricity, which as of when I left still had not been connected by engineers who no doubt had political affiliations. No phone line and peoples phone batteries dying as they were used as torches. A dodgy generator provided power to a set of lights more commonly used at roadworks. All of this was the best that could be done at the time, it wasn’t ideal but you can only play the cards you are dealt.

      After our last by elections I resolved to get up to sale as early as possible, though I was rather surprised at the turnout. I had the impression that we would have dozens of activists there when the truth was less than a dozen at the beginning and for the first week. I did see mention of much higher numbers later in the campaign but if the postal votes are going to be the key we need a small army there in the first week.

      • Squalid politics from Labour but I am not shocked.
        Wish I had known you could happily have recharged your phones at my house.

      • Why don’t you film this stuff while it’s happening. Let people see in real time, the council refusing you access to campaign venues. The awful state of the premises you obtained, it would garner sympathy and a fair amount of indignation, and much more effective than moaning about if afterwards, as that can come across as sour grapes.
        Let councils know what you are doing, it might make them think twice about their obstructive nature.

  2. Why don’t UKIP utilise digital media more. You can put your message in front of the latest music video etc, for next to nothing. Maybe if you looked at all forms of digital advertising, and exploited them ruthlessly up and until the next election, it could make a substantial difference.

    • We did, there was an email campaign, using an agency who had 22,500 email addresses for the constituency, and there were 6 mailshots. Average open rate was between 12% and 16% (which is on par for ALL types of mailshot, from whatever type of organisation). Difficult to determine the effectiveness of it though

      • Donna InSussex // February 14, 2014 at 8:03 pm //

        I think Steve is talking about online advertising, for example, on YouTube or on news outlets. It’s a good idea – if we have the budget and expertise to produce decent enough adverts to justify it.

        • Difficult to target online advertising at a single constituency, with a snap by election even registering domain names, producing a website and getting the seo right is barely going to happen without adwords.

          The trouble then being that labor supporters will merrily click your cash away.

          I did a website for UKIP Newport recently and it took well over a week for google to index it and rank it accordingly.

        • Exactly. How hard is to make a video of houses drowning in water with a simple caption saying. THANK YOU EU, with a link to further info if interested. maybe you could test the popularity of other policies as well, without committing to anything substantially.

  3. How sad it is that the turnout was only a little over 28%. But maybe not surprising in a solid Labour area where the electorate don’t expect anything else but a Labour win. Perhaps Ukip coming second has shown some people that they have the power to change things if they will just use their vote.
    More should be done in schools to initiate children in the democratic process and impress upon them the importance of taking part in elections.
    In the meantime, well done the Ukip Campaign team and John Bickley.

  4. Steven Whalley // February 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm //

    The LibDems were well down in this by-election, but it is interesting that in the constituencies where the LibDems are the first or second party, UKIP are also seeing good possibilities such as at Eastleigh. There is a political mid ground.between the traditional heavy Labour voting North and the South coast LD enclaves, which is prime material for UKIP to capitalise on the loss of LibDem confidence and their falling support. This is encouraging news for those of us in that mid ground.

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