Ukip has been cultivating the county of Kent for many years, and on Thursday they reaped a small dividend: a seat on Shepway council, which they took from the Conservatives:
The ward lies within the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe, once the stamping ground of former Tory leader Michael Howard, and where Ukip topped the poll in May’s European election. Nigel Farage’s party didn’t contest the ward the last time the council was up for election in 2011; they were clearly wise to do so this time.
The Conservative leader of Shepway council David Monk has responded to the result by saying: “In the ebb and flow of the political tide an occasional piece of flotsam gets washed ashore.”
The by-election was triggered after former Conservative councillor David Johnson resigned in July over a row about money he owed to a neighbour.
David Callahan, the successful Ukip candidate, becomes his party’s first representative on the council.
There were two other by-elections on Thursday, and both saw Labour hold seats.
One was for a seat on Oxford council, and saw an absolutely wretched turnout of just 8.6%. The university summer vacation is presumably to blame. The Tories and Ukip managed to come joint last place. Neither party has any representation on the council.
The other contest was for a seat on the Tory-run Surrey Heath council:
Next Thursday it looks like we’ve by-elections for seats on the Vale of White Horse council in Oxfordshire and on Richmondshire council in North Yorkshire, as well as a seat on Newham council in London. At the local elections in May, Labour won 60 out of 60 seats in Newham. No prizes for correctly forecasting the result of next week’s contest.