On the Surrey Advertiser’s web site there is an on-line opinion poll. How will you vote in the elections to be held on 2nd May 2013? At the time of writing the current figures are: Lib Dem 31%, UKIP 31%, Conservative 15%, Labour 10%, Residents Associations 4%, Others 3% and Won’t Vote 6%.
It’s about as unscientific a poll as you could ask for. Firstly, the Won’t Votes are underestimated by about 60%, I expect. There is no national election or referendum to get the voters out, and so the “meh” reaction is boud to set in. Secondly, I’m not surprised by the Lib Dem vote. Only Lib Dem supporters have enough time on their hands to bother with on-line polls. The really interesting figure is of course the one for UKIP.
The most recent ComRes poll has UKIP on 13% nationally, but that is in answer to the usual question “If there were a general election tomorrow, who would you vote for?” This local election is the perfect opportunity for UKIP to score well as the protest vote recipient, a position the Lib Dems lost when they joined the Coalition. Here in Surrey I would not be in the least surprised of their vote exceeded 20% across the board and maybe, just maybe, they might pick up a councillor – perhaps in the Shalford division where by virtue of a cock-up no Conservative has been nominated.
This is not good news in Elmbridge where 2 very good Conservative candidates really deserve support. Mike Bennison, defending a narrow majority in Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott, has cross-party support and is not being opposed by any Residents Association candidates. He is a hard working community representative who has a fine record of achievement to defend. In East Molesey and Esher, Steve Bax is another local man, rooted in the community and with a huge amount of talent to bring to the council chamber. He would make a fine councillor. It would be a tragedy if a few protest votes directed to UKIP were to deprive these excellent candidates of their chance to serve. Good luck, Mike & Steve!