Friday, 8 May 2015

It was Oscar Wilde who told us to expect the unexpected –  but we think that even he might have been taken aback a little by the general election result for Boston and Skegness.
After the bluster of UKIP and its massive spending on publicity, we saw that when push comes to shove, Boston  stays where it feels safest –  and that’s with the Conservatives and their candidate Matt Warman.
The aptly named Warman won the battle with a majority of 4,336 – well down on 2010 ... but given what many pollsters were predicting, more than enough to hold the seat comfortably.
As the votes were being counted yesterday, the Daily Telegraph journalist wouldn’t be drawn on any likely outcome – saying only that “it looks likely to be a good night for Conservatives but let’s see what happens.”
By stark contrast, UKIP’s Robin Hunter-Clarke declared himself to be "quietly confident" of winning the Boston and Skegness seat and ready to shake up the “whole damn” Westminster establishment.
The full result was:
Robin Hunter-Clarke (UKIP) 14,645
Peter Johnson Independent) 170
Paul Kenny (Labour) 7,142 
Lyn Luxton (Pilgrim Party) 143 -
Chris Paine (Independence from Europe) 324
Victoria Percival (Green Party) 800
Matt Warman (Conservative) 18,981
David Watts (Liberal Democrat) 1,015
Robert West (British National Party) 119.
The turnout, at 64.83%  was even higher than at the last general election ... which was 61.1%
Then, 43,124 voters turned out compared with yesterday’s 43,339.
Tory Warman polled 43.7% of the vote against UKIP’s 33.7%.
UKIP’s Hunter-Clarke has declared “I’ll be back” – but we can't somehow imagine him sitting around for the next five years for a second crack at Boston and Skegness.
Until the surprise turnaround in the national voting this election had been roundly acclaimed as a disappointing affair, which failed to polarise opinion enough to create an overall majority.
Whilst things changed so dramatically at the 11th hour across the country, at a local level disappointment was a view which we broadly shared.
We have seen misplaced and unimaginative use of social media from both individuals and politicians alike ... and would have expected better of contributors at all levels.
This time around, there seemed a take-it-or-leave-it approach from candidates both national and local.
Number 1 Eye Street is a short walk from the town centre, yet of the nine general election candidates wanting our vote, only one took the trouble to knock on the door.
Clearly, it is impossible for every individual candidate to talk to every single voter.
But they have support teams – and we know from keeping track of events that local wards were ‘X’-bombed by the party faithful on behalf of their national representative to try to secure support.
Locally, things were even worse.
Not one of the seven candidates in our ward managed to find our front door.
Six had literature delivered.
One delivery – of three separate leaflets – included one from a West Street Tory wannabe which claimed: “I called to see you today and hear your views ...”
The clear implication here is that we were not in when this tireless campaigner for local democracy trudged his footsore path to our door.
The trouble is we were in when the leaflet was posted through.
No vote for him then.
Whilst we have grown used to local politicians treating us as fools for many years, the added impudence of one who takes us as gullible as well is a guarantee that we would salute Gessler’s hat before we would surrender our vote to him.
To make matters worse, a change of venue for our local polling stations – from one within an easy walk, to one a car drive away – was compounded by a lack of signposting, and the fact the venue was not easily recognisable.
Eventually, we joined a queue of lost souls travelling hopefully to arrive with the result that pitching up en-masse meant that all the limited parking was taken.
Nonetheless, is was good to see people queuing to vote rather than getting the feeling of stumbling into a meditation session  as has been the case in other years.
There was even talk of the powers that be having to send for reinforcements, so full were the ballot boxes becoming.
The matter of the ward venues is one we have mentioned regularly in recent weeks – particularly in light of the change to ward boundaries.
We are sure that had Boston Borough Council had the courtesy to give local voters more information ahead of the polls, many would have been grateful, and spared some hassle.
Something else that has baffled a number of our readers is the decision to use the same ballot box for both local and general election voting papers.
The first job once the polls close is to sort them out, then count the general election votes – with the result that counting for the borough and parish councils didn't start until around 7am.
We expect some surprises at Worst Street this time around and – assuming the count is completed by then – will give you our "expert" analysis in a Boston Eye extra on Monday.

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