LABOUR WIN KELLS BY-ELECTION BY JUST 16 VOTES
"LABOUR retained the Kells and Sandwith seat in Whitehaven following yesterday’s by-election.
Mother-of-two Wendy Skillicorn won 418 of the 1,042 votes, beating the British National Party’s candidate Simon Nicholson by just 16 votes.
Brigid Anne Whiteside of the Conservative party got 190 votes.
Only 26.6 per cent of the ward turned up to cast their votes in polling stations across Kells and Sandwith.
The by-election was called to fill the vacant Cumbria County Council position left by Joe McAllister who died in July."
That's how our local newspaper the News & Star reported the result of last Thursday's Kells by-election in Whitehaven!
You can't help smirking, can you? The understatement is classic. No mention of the Labour majority slashed from 1010. No mention of the 900 votes that the Labour Party had lost. No mention of the British National Party taking 40% of all votes cast, or any suggestion that the 400-plus BNP votes almost certainly came from voters who had directly switched from Labour. It's as if the newspaper was completely unaware of the significance of the result.
But don't be fooled, the News & Star is all too well aware of the significance of the result, and that is why the report was so ridiculously low key.
On its website, the newspaper describes itself as thus:
A fresh, bright and bold daily newspaper that is genuinely ‘part of daily life’ all across North Cumbria. With its vibrant content of hard news, human interest stories, regular columnists, specialist features and supplements and unashamedly partisan football coverage, you can be sure the News & Star is connected to its local community."
There's one thing missing from this description. Added to the list should be "unashamedly partisan political coverage".
That's because the editor is Neil Hodgkinson, a person carrying so much political baggage that he must have trouble sleeping comfortably at night. Here's a snapshot of this chap's thinking, reported in the Press Gazette back in July 2004 when he was editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"Editor Neil Hodgkinson said: The Evening Post has a policy not to publish any BNP statements or allow it right of reply."
Just Google "Neil Hodgkinson and BNP" and there are many more pages about him and his anti-democratic stance against the BNP.
So my irritation at the inadequate reporting of our sensational result in Whitehaven is tempered by the fact that I know that Neil's annoyance at having to pass a report for publication in his newspaper that wasn't openly critical of the BNP "trumps" mine. In fact, I'm quite content with the understatement of the report, because it suits us very well at this time.
Expectation is the demon of politics and unfulfilled expectations demoralise Party campaigners more than anything else I know. I would much rather that we go on churning out solid and constitent results here in Cumbria and building up our voter base for the European Elections and the General Election, by ducking under the media's radar.
And our votes in Cumbria have been quite spectacular over the past two years.
Average BNP vote in 2 Cumbria Council elections over the past 18 months: 25.5%.
Average BNP vote in 6 Allerdale Council elections over the past 18 months: 20.2%.
Average BNP vote in 3 Barrow Council elections over the past 18 months: 11.5%
Average vote in 15 Carlisle Council elections over the past 18 months: 15.5%
Average vote in 1 Copeland Council election over the past 18 months: 23.5%
In the run-up to June and the next round of County Council elections, our teams across Cumbria will be beavering away signing up new recruits and preparing our candidates for their campaigns. The face of politics in Cumbria is changing beyond recognition with former Labour voters deserting to the BNP every day, and whether a biased editor has a policy not to publish any BNP statements or allow it right of reply, will make no difference whatsoever.
Freedom is coming along well and I'll post a possible front page on this blog over Christmas.