Following the declaration of results in respect of the by-election to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands Police force area, I would like to thank all the voters for voting, and especially those who voted for me! A special thank you also goes out to Bill Etheridge and Jim Carver (West Midlands MEPs) and Craig Winyard (campaign press officer), who were invaluable to the smooth running of my campaign, which they all supported and got behind me from the outset. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the network of UKIP branches throughout the West Midlands area and the many activists, members and supporters who gave up their time to assist with the campaign effort.
As part of my campaign, since I was accepted as the UKIP candidate in July, I have toured the boroughs that fall within the West Midlands Police force area, visiting branches and attending various events. These included the Young Independence action day in Dudley where YI members took to the leaflet trail in the morning followed by a session of telephone canvassing in the afternoon; the ‘meet the people’ event in Birmingham City Centre, where I met market stall-holders and members of the public; and the public event at Cannon Hill Park on the Sunday before Polling Day, where West Midlands Neighbourhood Watch invited all four candidates to share a platform. Surprisingly I was the only candidate who took up this kind offer.
I also attended various hustings events where the candidates put forward their case to the public audiences as to why they should be elected. I would like to thank the members of the public who took the time to attend and heard me speak.
The campaign saw an election leaflet produced — personalised for each of the boroughs — and delivered by the many teams of activists, members and supporters to various key areas.
My campaign saw the UKIP share of the vote soar from 7.5% (in 2012) to 16% and that’s on the back of a reduction in turnout! (An increase in voter turnout tends to contribute to a swing towards UKIP, so to see decrease in turnout coupled with the above swing to UKIP makes for very interesting reading indeed.) In the first round of counting — which examines the electors’ first preference — the Labour Party candidate’s vote-share narrowly edged over the 50% threshold (at 50.83%) required for a majority and so there was therefore no need to consider voters’ second-preference votes. I congratulate David Jamieson on his success and I hope that he puts into practice the many promises made during the campaign.
The Conservative candidate came second with 27% of the first-preference vote. My 16% saw me finishing in third place – so a podium finish, which is more than can be said for the Liberal Democrat candidate. Labour, Conservatives and UKIP each saw gains of approximately 8% on the 2012 result, which to some extent can be attributed to the reduction in the number of candidates standing – with the notable absence of independent candidates this time around. The Liberal Democrat vote is almost unchanged on the 2012 result at 6.4%, so holding up it seems (in the doldrums!).
Turnout was anticipated to be low ahead of this election, but when I attended the count on Friday morning, low turnout and apathy wasn’t confined to the electorate: Liberal Democrat candidate, Mr Ayoub Khan failed to show up, something his supporters who bothered to go out and vote for him will no doubt be delighted to learn.
Apart from the lies emanating from the direction of Labour-supporting Unite, this by-election was a respectful and cleanly fought campaign. Unite lied about us wanting to privatise the police. In fact it is Labour who are doing just that having just signed a £25m contract to privatise the police IT while a non-elected PCC was in place. I now call on the new PCC to reverse this decision. They may use words like ‘partnership’ and ‘outsourcing’ but the result is the same. All I’ll say for now, Mr Jamieson, is that we are watching everything that you do as will the people of the West Midlands.