Sunday, 17 March 2013
Saturday 16th March
There were another pair of by-elections this past week near to our part of the world, namely Chobham Parish and the Runnymede BC ward of Foxhills.
The full details of both are covered fully and in depth elsewhere, so I won't attempt to duplicate. However, as I've alluded to several times on this blog, local political support continues to shift.
'The People's Republic of Chobham' have long had an independent spirit. In recent years issues with the Town Council at Surrey Heath about local matters have caused dissent in an area one would historically defined as Tory, with the result that the borough council elections have long returned Independent candidates. Similarly, the parish council also has a split of Conservative & Independent councillors, a situation not repeated anywhere else within the Borough*. As such, the eventual winner of the Chobham contest was always likely to be the Independent candidate, particularly one with such a markedly good local profile and proven track record as Ms Wheeler. Foxhills on the other hand has been long considered a safe Conservative seat, as much of the western end of Runnymede remains; seemingly so safe though that even the successful UKIP candidate expressed surprise at the result at the count.
I don't believe that either of these results can simply be put down to 'mid-term blues'. I'm more of the opinion that the big switch off from mainstream parties is speeding up; I suspect that the disaffection is borne of an appetite for something fresher; and I know that strong local candidates, with the interests of local residents clearly and truly at their hearts are the ones who will run local government into the future.
Goodbye paper candidates. Your days are numbered.
*Bisley does of course have an Independent Parish Council, but that arrangement is exactly that; an agreement to keep the PC free of party politicians.