Sunday, February 22, 2015

UKIP target in Gateshead

It seems that UKIP are now beating Labour for activity in the ground war in the Gateshead ward of Lobley Hill and Bensham, though we are well ahead of both in terms of the literature we have put out. It does however seem that this ward is something of a UKIP target though it is also a ward in which we are interested. Labour have held the ward for decades but their vote came down with a thud last year. 10 years ago we nearly won it ourselves though after 2010, Labour's position recovered until last year when it went into freefall.

UKIP have now delivered an addressed letter to each household in the ward. I came by a copy this morning. Quite what the impact of both Lib Dem and UKIP literature will be is yet to be seen. It could be that the novelty of UKIP has worn off but they retain a goodly part of the vote they got last year. There is nothing in their literature to indicate they are involved in local issues. On the other hand, our literature clearly demonstrates that we are actively campaigning on what is important to residents. We have recently won the battle against opencast mining which, if approved, would have sent 60 heavy coal lorries a day through Lobley Hill. As it turns out, Labour in Gateshead backed the plans. Despite this, the plans have been rejected and there is to be no appeal.

Having local councillors who can demonstrate a record of year round activity is a key selling point for us in the local elections and we can clearly demonstrate this in Lobley Hill and Bensham ward. UKIP and Labour on the other hand will struggle. So with the battle for the local and general elections heating up, this ward is one to watch. And who knows, UKIP's presence, dragging down the Labour vote, could help us.

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