The rag, tag and bobtail phenomenon that is UKIP demolishes much in its path swallowing up swathes of Fenland
- Credit: Archant
IF defeated candidates appeared shocked at losing their seats that was nothing compared to the disbelief of UKIP officials who barely knew the names never mind the faces of some newly elected councillors.
Ken Perrin of Chatteris, NE Cambs organiser for UKIP said that when he began in January putting together a county council campaign he had no help, no cash and no resource.
“I thought right we’ll fight Wisbech North and Roman Bank/Peckover and if we win one out of the two I will be happy,” he said.
On Friday afternoon he stood in the Hudson Leisure Centre in Wisbech almost speechless as result after result came in confirming UKIP had won five of the 11 Fenland seats on Cambridgeshire County Council.
“We fought nine and won five, that’s truly a remarkable result,” he declared. “We had nothing in the beginning. No helpers, no volunteers, absolutely no one. But somehow it came together.”
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It mattered little as Fenland – like many other parts of the county and country- was in an unforgiving mood towards those who had gone before and voted UKIP in extraordinary numbers.
Mark Buckton, a retired chief inspector of police with 30 years service, expected a comfortable, if close, battle to retain for the Conservatives the Chatteris seat previously held by Alan Melton. He seemed stunned when he realised he’d lost it by five votes to UKIP’s Sandra Rylance.
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Whether Mrs Rylance – a veteran of recent elections who came third with just 107 votes in the 2011 district council poll- expected to win or not is unclear as she was not at the count to see her proclaimed victor.
Mr Buckton was unimpressed and in a speech after the result was announced said it had been his “first go at this and I would like to thank everyone in this room, it’s been a brilliant experience.
“I would also like to commiserate with the people of Chatteris who voted for a paper candidate and I look forward to an early by election.”
However Mrs Rylance has lived in Fenland for over 20 years, took a science degree with the Open University whilst working at Cambridge University and bringing up a family.
Eight years age she took early retirement to become a full time carer to her husband Terence. She has also written of her liking for taking her dogs for a walk locally.
“This gives me the opportunity to meet and talk to Chatteris folk and to hear and see for myself what is good or bad about my local area,” she wrote.
For years Alan Lay has been the ‘nearly man’ of local politics - his UKIP rosette always on hand for the odd by election- and five weeks earlier had come third in a by election
But no more for he beat sitting councillor Steve Tierney by 11 votes to win the sprawling division of Roman Bank and Peckover.
“People are saying we have got to have a change,” he said. “People have been telling us they can’t go to the Conservatives and have nowhere else to go.”
Mr Lay was criticised for not being at the count when the result was announced but he had been looking after his sick wife – though he did arrive when called by UKIP officials to tell him he’d won.
“We get a lot of mud thrown at us but we are all really nice,” he said of his fellow UKIP supporters and friends. “I am afraid there are some of other parties who are a bit toffee nosed but not us.”
He has made the issue of immigration a plank in his campaign, provoking anger from political opponents earlier this year by his support for a petition to halt the numbers coming into the UK.
His organiser Ken Perrin at one time distanced UKIP from some of his other remarks but Mr Lay has also campaigned on local issues; he has been a long time objector to the £1milliin Waterlees adventure playground.
For whatever reason though many found UKIP’s brash, in your face message what they wanted to hear over and above the melee of achievements set out by other political parties and former councillors.
Successful Whittlesey Conservative councillor Martin Curtis was emotional about the loss of so many colleagues when he spoke briefly after being re elected.
“I stand here with so many mixed feelings,” he said. “I am absolutely devastated about friends I have lost on the county council. The reason they lost is nothing to do with local political but national politics and politicians of all three main parties need to sit up and take note very quickly.”
By comparison with others his was a relatively cheery post election analysis but not so from Steve Tierney.
On his blog he wrote of his overwhelming sadness that Wisbech had also lost his colleagues and friends Simon King and Samantha Hoy from the county council.
“What a dark turn I believe this is for our town,” he said. “I am by nature an optimist. I don’t feel very optimistic now. In fact I feel crushed to be honest.
“What a sad, sad day.”