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BLOG: What do the results in Kent and Medway mean for the parties?

11 June 2017
by Paul Francis

If the election campaign itself was lacking in drama, the result was not, with the Conservatives plunged into chaos and with a Prime Minister facing a leadership crisis.

But what did the results tell us about the contrasting fortunes of the parties in Kent?

  • The Conservatives remain the dominant political force in Kent, notwithstanding the shock defeat in Canterbury. Its majorities in most seats remained broadly intact with the swing against them to Labour in the other 16 seats varying from less than 1% to 3.6% 

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Ramsgate

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Ramsgate

 

  • Labour - again, with the exception of Canterbury - are still some way short of representing a significant threat to the Conservatives. It secured second place in 16 seats after being leapfrogged by UKIP in 2015 but failed to push the Conservatives close in any.

 

  • UKIP looks like a spent force in the county where it first planted its purple flag. Hard to see where they go from here after its vote in the county drop like a stone by a staggering 62% on 2015. On the other hand, there’s always the ‘Farage factor’ to consider.

Pictured doing what he does best. Nigel Farage relaxes with a pint. Picture Nigel Farage

Pictured doing what he does best. Nigel Farage relaxes with a pint. Picture: Nigel Farage

 

  • The Liberal Democrats much-vaunted resurgence in Kent failed to materialise. It had hoped to benefit by positioning itself as the pro-European centre ground party - which Labour and the Conservatives have vacated. It failed.

 

Rosie Duffield enjoys a glass of champagne after becoming Canterbury and Whitstable's first Labour MP.

Rosie Duffield enjoys a glass of champagne after becoming Canterbury and Whitstable's first Labour MP.

 

  •  The parties all pretty much underestimated the impact of younger voters and the so-called snow flake concept - again, with the exception of Canterbury - and the fact that they had been energised by Jeremy Corbyn. From being disinterested in 2015, they became engaged in 2017 in a way nobody really grasped. It won’t be a mistake they will make again.

 

  • The impact of social media was not decisive in the results but it was used less effectively by the Conservatives despite the huge sums the party spent nationally on Facebook.

 

  • Kent has always been critical in determining who gets the keys to Downing Street but was bypassed by all the main parties’ battle buses and big hitters. VIP visits don’t on their own change results but on the other hand, to ignore the 17 seats completely was a mistake.

 

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