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Opinion: Nigel Farage’s impact on general election results in Kent is indisputable

Nigel Farage may have finally found a political berth 90 miles away in Clacton, but the Reform leader has indisputably had a huge impact closer to home.

Attention is focused on the drastically reshaped political landscape in Kent and Medway, with Labour winning 11 seats and the Conservatives holding onto just five plus the new Weald of Kent constituency.

Nigel Farage came to Dover in May to announce the Reform candidate for Dover and Deal – days before u-turning on his decision not to stand himself
Nigel Farage came to Dover in May to announce the Reform candidate for Dover and Deal – days before u-turning on his decision not to stand himself

Farage’s Reform party have not gained a single seat here, but analysis of the results shows the seismic impact of his decision to re-enter the fray.

Of the seats the Tories won, the impact of Reform on the traditional right-of-centre vote is startling.

Of course, it can’t be taken as a given that Reform voters would otherwise have voted Conservative - but it is a reasonable assumption that many would have done so if given no alternative.

In Ashford, veteran Damian Green lost to Labour’s Sojan Joseph by 1,779 votes. How different would that result have looked without the 10,141 picked up by Reform’s Tristam Kennedy Harper?

It’s a similar story in Chatham and Aylesford, with Labour’s Tris Osborne securing a 1,998 majority over Tory Nathan Gamester. Which way would the 9,989 votes attracted by Reform’s Thomas Mallon have gone had the party not fielded a candidate?

Labour picked up 11 seats in Kent – but how much impact did the Reform vote have?
Labour picked up 11 seats in Kent – but how much impact did the Reform vote have?

It’s a pattern repeated across the rest of Kent and Medway.

In Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Labour’s Kevin McKenna pipped the Tory candidate Aisha Cuthbert by just 355 votes, while Reform’s William Fotheringham-Bray picked up 10,512 votes in third.

Reform even pushed the Conservatives into second place in Dover and Deal, with Howard Cox bagging 11,355 votes - 7,000 behind Labour’s Mike Tapp.

In Folkestone, long-standing Damian Collins lost to Labour’s Tony Vaughan by 4,000 votes - Reform, in third place, secured 10,685.

In Rochester and Strood, Labour’s Lauren Edwards defeated incumbent Kelly Tolhurst by 3,000 votes - Reform’s Daniel Dabin picked up 9,966.

The political map of Kent may have changed from overwhelmingly blue to overwhelmingly red - with a little splash of yellow - but a close look at the results should give all parties food for thought.

Labour have achieved a significant majority in terms of seats, but not in total votes cast - in fact the Conservatives achieved more.

The Tories’ 251,733 votes represented 30.4% of the total, compared to Labour’s 249,035 (30.1%). Reform’s 161,966 represented 19.6% of the vote.

Labour will rightly be celebrating a historic victory but, when the dust settles, will be only too aware that they have not been given an overwhelming mandate in Kent and Medway and will have much to prove.

And, loathe as they may be to admit it, they may just have Farage to thank for getting the opportunity to do so.

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