As the Liberal Democrat candidate in the 26 September 2013 Storrington division by-election, I should like to thank residents for their welcome and in particular the many who supported us.
As the representative of the only party to increase its share of the vote in the by-election compared to May 2013, it was interesting to read the post-election debate between the successful Conservative candidate, councillor Philip Circus, and the UKIP candidate.
Councillor Circus claims ‘the UKIP bubble has burst’ while of course UKIP refutes this. In my view, one should not draw too many lessons from a single by-election, especially as UKIP on the same day gained a seat in another by-election in Sevenoaks, Kent.
The Conservatives over the past two decades have opened a political space for Euroscepticism which UKIP has ably exploited. If the Conservatives had not become so side-tracked and obsessed by the Europe issue, which is hardly a priority for most voters preoccupied with jobs, economic recovery, the NHS and education (all areas which Westminster has the power to decide on and improve), then UKIP would be less of a threat.
Yet with the Conservatives divided on Europe and in the absence of the Conservatives leading a higher quality debate on Europe in particular, it appears UKIP’s bubble may continue for some time.
Goring Road, Steyning