What now for UKIP in Waveney after elections?
Â© Archant 2015
It was supposed to herald a new era in Waveney politics in which a third party made it onto the scene to break the stranglehold of Labour and the Conservatives.
But despite recording the largest rise in terms of share of the vote in any of the parties at parliamentary level, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) left empty-handed in last week’s elections.
Parliamentary candidate Simon Tobin had said UKIP was fighting to win the constituency throughout the campaign and talked about a “genuinely good feeling towards UKIP across the whole constituency” as he arrived at Thursday night’s count at Lowestoft’s Waterlane Leisure Centre.
He added: “The feeling we’re getting on the street is quite bluntly very, very exciting.
“I can’t call it – I think it is going to be very, very close, but we think we can win.”
The other political parties had also picked up on UKIP’s rise, with Conservative agent Mark Bee admitting early on in the night: “The protest party is no longer the Lib Dems.
“They could be taking votes from both Conservative and Labour – that’s where they could affect the result.”
In the end UKIP was more than 10,000 votes off the top two parties – but increased its share of the vote by more than nine per cent to leapfrog into a safe third.
In his speech after the declaration of the result, Mr Tobin said: “Over the past five months we have gelled and are now resonating with the people of Waveney.”
Speaking afterwards, he said it was a “big result” and showed to his mind that voters want change.
However Mr Tobin had said the party was targeting between nine and 10 seats in the district council election the following day – but ended up with none, despite greatly increasing its vote in several wards.
“We were expecting more seats,” he said. “We’ve not made the inroads we thought we were going to. The parliamentary result has not been reflected with seats on the council.”
Mr Tobin has said he wants to continue campaigning with Waveney UKIP on important issues, particularly the third crossing.
He promised he would be “holding their (the Conservatives’) feet to the fire” over David Cameron’s promise to build a third crossing by 2020.
In particular he is keen to promote the idea of building a tunnel instead of a bridge, which he believes is an option which has not yet been fully explored and would have great benefits.
What do you think of UKIP’s rise in Waveney? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email firstname.lastname@example.org