Local election? What election?


By the time the earliest of our readers dash to their computers/tablets/smartphones to get the latest news of Rye hot off our just-published pages, the polls will have closed and we will be awaiting the results of a local election that is likely (providing the voters have not already suffered from terminal election fatigue) to prove more interesting than usual.

On the last occasion the results for East Sussex as a whole (and not just Rother, which we gave last week) were:

  • Conservatives  21 seats
  • Lib Dems   10
  • Labour   7
  • UKIP   6
  • Various independents   5

All the parties will be looking to draw conclusions from the results as to how the voting in next month’s general election might go. Normally these would be mid-term elections and the governing party (in this case the Conservatives) would invariably be expecting a bit of a drubbing from the electorate. To hold on to all 21 seats, even in this Conservative stronghold, would be regarded as a success. To come out with less, would not be regarded as too much of a setback.

However these are not normal times. The polls and newspapers are all predicting something of a Conservative landslide in June, but as we have seen both here and abroad, the electorate is becoming ever more unpredictable and nothing can be guaranteed. The government will be hoping to take an extra seat or two in Thursday’s elections as a sign that they are on course for the June result that they want, and Labour will be desperate to gain ground so that they can demonstrate that they do, after all, have credibility as a future government or, at the very least, are likely to come out of a general election strong enough to have influence in the Brexit negotiations.

As for the Lib Dems and UKIP, they both have their problems. The Lib Dems still do not want to accept the result of the referendum and are promising a second one if they are returned in sufficient numbers to wield any form of influence. However, although the second largest party on East Sussex County Council right now, they are fighting in an area that voted to leave and after their near-extinction two years ago, their ability to hold on to all 10 seats must be in doubt. Both Labour and Conservatives will be hovering vulture-like.

UKIP has lost its charismatic leader (and love him or hate him, you could not ignore him) and now that it has achieved their goal of prising the UK away from Europe, it does not as yet appear to have found another cause round which to rally the faithful as well as new recruits. But maybe that will change with the publication of their manifesto. We shall see.

So, potentially, a far more interesting local election than we might have expected. But will the public turn out in sufficient numbers to enable any conclusions to be drawn? Or with the current focus so much on the Brexit Election . . . er, sorry, General Election, will they prefer to stay at home and watch the latest unmissable cop drama on the telly? By the time most of you read this, we will probably know.

Rother, together with some of the other districts is not expected to start the count before 9am Friday morning so the overall result for the county will probably not be finalised much before midday. We will however be posting the full result on the front page and in the news columns just as soon as it is known.

Photo: library image

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