Last Thursday, Medway went to the polls to elect a new set of Medway councillors for the coming four years. Did it result in anything much different to before though? Let’s take a look.
In a general sense, it was a strange set of election results in Medway, bucking the national trends. More curiously, pretty much every party can claim it was an okay night for them, or at least one that topped expectations. The Tories remained in control rather firmly, yet Labour made some solid gains, giving them their largest group in nearly two decades. A couple of independents got themselves elected, and while UKIP lost their only councillor, he came closer to holding on that might have been expected. Equally, across many wards, the Greens and even the Lib Dems put in solid performances, even if it wasn’t enough to gain them any seats.
Before the election, we predicted the outcome for every seat, and after our awful predictions of 2015, we got it far more right this time around. Keevil accurately predicted 48 of the 55 seats, while Jennings scored a whopping 51. No great insight to add here, we just want to be a bit smug.
Random insights from the interesting wards follows.
Cuxton and Halling – result 1 Conservative
Keevil: Not exactly a shocking result, but a slight surprise on the night was how much Cllr Fearn’s vote held from 2015. A case of managing expectations for Labour with their vote also holding from 2015, and the Greens who #GreenSurged to 10% of the vote. With population growth and a boundary review, a ward to watch #RoadTo2023.
Gillingham North – result 3 Labour
Jennings: Not much to say here, but interesting to note this one was of several wards where the Tories, putting in a token campaign, were beaten by UKIP, putting in no campaign. Grim result here for the Lib Dems too, coming dead last in a ward that they held a decade ago.
Gillingham South – result 3 Labour
Jennings: It’s easy to see Gillingham South as a safe Labour ward, but they only won it fully in 2015, and on a relatively small majority. That majority grew from 100 to 1000 this time around though, so I guess we can officially define it as such now. UKIP retained their second place, and another awful result for the Lib Dems in a ward they largely held up until 2015.
Keevil: Cllr Khan wasn’t a fan of my comment that Lib Dems should do better here. Which to be clear wasn’t either a statement against any of the sitting councillors or any expectation on my part that they would (they didn’t), but that the Lib Dems should. Looking at how they did, it may be time to accept that Lib Dems and Gillingham are a fond memory of a pothole spotting past.
Hempstead and Wigmore – result 2 Conservatives
Keevil: A crushing 10% collapse for the incumbent Cllrs Chambers, meaning they only got 67% of the vote. A telling result when looked at against the national picture and the Lib Dem surge to 10% of the result. Coincidence?=
Lordswood & Capstone – result 2 Conservatives
Keevil: With many council leaders falling during the night, Cllr Jarrett would have been worried, were it not for the fact that those counts occurred later and the Conservatives held on with 57% of the vote. Another #GreenSurge to 10% of the vote and UKIP’s 20% means not much really.
Luton & Wayfield – result 3 Labour
Keevil: In 2015 this was a battleground ward, with many unsure on the night if more than one seat would turn Tory. In 2019 this was not the case, despite a valiant effort from candidate Robbie Lammas. The ward was a mess with two incumbent councillors who went independent (for very different reasons) and Lammas’ campaign hindered from the start. Labour won comfortably on the night and we look to see if and where Lammas stands next on the #RoadTo2023.=
Peninsula – result 2 independents, 1 Conservative
Jennings: As predicted, an utter mess. The Tories, UKIP, and various independent candidates were all in with a shot here, so the voters went with a mix, electing one Conservative, and two independents, one of which stood under the Medway People’s Voice banner. It’s interesting to note how far Gloria Thienel came behind Cllr Filmer, even if she still managed to beat the third Conservative candidate.
Keevil: If Medway Council had any sense of dramatic tension then this would have been the final result of the night. But they don’t, so it wasn’t (blah blah that’s not how counts work blah). The last UKIP councillor in Medway standing is no more. Goodbye Cllr Freshwater, it’s great to finally see you stand by your vow of no longer attending Full Council. I still don’t understand why the Greens stood three candidates here. I thought that Ron Sands would do well, but having stood and not won before I didn’t think he would do as well as my esteemed blog colleague. So congratulations to him. We look forward to seeing him join Cllr Pendergast in the independents corner for #FullCouncilBingo. For the Conservatives, was this a good result? They had one councillor here and they held on and that’s all I have to say about their candidates..
Princes Park – result 2 Conservatives
Jennings: Not much to say here other than I expected this to be rather closer than it was between the Conservatives and Labour, when in reality the Tories ran away with it.
Rainham Central – result 3 Conservatives
Jennings: It was inevitable this would be a solid Conservative hold, but the story here is the incredibly strong performance from independent candidate Matt Durcan. Despite not having been involved in Medway politics seriously, he came a decent second to the Tories here with nearly 1000 votes, doubling the Labour vote, and thrashing the other independents, one of which had stood in the ward before. If anyone can explain exactly how Matt Durcan did as well as he did, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know.
River – result 2 Conservatives
Keevil: A ward that Labour must consider a missed opportunity for not splitting. Was this due to the magnetism of the Mackness T-1000? Was it due to the Green surge or the Lib Dem fightback in the ward? Lib Dems insist there is a valid reason for them to contest this ward with two candidates, when there are other wards they stood none. Whatever that reason is, it’s also the reason they once again have no councillors in Medway.
Rochester West – result 1 Conservative, 1 Labour
Keevil: Personally I think this was a fair result for all that stood in the ward, and a great result for those of us who follow Twitter spats.
Jennings: A testament to the personal vote Cllr Paterson has built for himself following his shock by-election win for Labour last year. Beating his fellow Labour candidate by a whopping 400 votes he’s ensured himself another four years on the council alongside arch nemesis and ward colleague Cllr Tranter.
Strood Rural – result 3 Conservatives
Keevil: Congratulations to Medway People’s Voice.. oh. J
Strood South – result 3 Conservatives
Keevil: Welcome back to Chris Buckwell who, along with former UKIP candidate Richard Thorne, now represents Strood South. On the night this went to a recount as it was so close and again Labour must rue not winning a seat here. They don’t want advice from us on how they could do that with a different candidate and a more sustained campaign, and we don’t want to take the piss. #RoadTo2023
Twydall – result 3 Labour
Keevil: The return of #ThePeoplesRepublicofTwydall and goodbye to Joy from #FullCouncilBingo.J
Watling – result 1 Conservative, 1 Labour
Keevil: In many ways this was (after Peninsula) the ward to watch. Would the Lib Dem fightback occur in their target ward? It turned out to be a question not even the Lib Dems were asking on the night. The question wasn’t who would win, but rather who would lose. And thankfully they did. Congratulations to Chrissy Stamp.
Jennings: A new split ward is always fun. Particularly when it’s this one.
Somehow, we’re back: It’s been a tough year for all of us, and we had to take a little step back from The Political Medway. But we’re back now, and trying to provide as much good, independent coverage of politics in Medway as we can. We are a volunteer run team, and while there’s lots of things we’d like to cover, we only have a finite amount of time and resources we can dedicate to this. If you appreciate what we do, please consider making a one-off or monthly contribution via our Ko-fi. If you aren’t in a position to donate right now, that’s totally cool, and we really appreciate you stopping by regardless.