Why UKIP didn’t break through in Oxfordshire

5:00pm Friday 6th June 2014

By Damian Fantato

ACROSS the country, pundits were watching in awe as they totted up the results in last month’s local and European elections.

The rise of the UK Independence Party across the country had fulfilled their prophecy that it would become the first party other than Labour or the Conservatives to win a national election in 100 years.

But in Oxfordshire it was a case of business as usual, as the much-vaunted party failed to make its anticipated breakthrough.

Even in the European elections, and in parts of Oxfordshire where they might be expected to do well, UKIP could only manage second place.

In fact, in many cases, UKIP actually did worse this year than in last year’s Oxfordshire County Council elections.

Is this just because the party’s rise is taking longer in Oxfordshire or is there something in the water?

Labour’s Duncan Enright – a councillor on West Oxfordshire District Council – says he was expecting the anti-EU party to put up a stronger challenge than it eventually did.

Oxford Mail:

Duncan Enright Labour councillor on West Oxfordshire District Council

Witney South and Central was one of the areas where UKIP did particularly well last year – had it won just 11 more votes it would have taken the county council seat. But in the equivalent seat this year, the same candidate came 152 votes away from winning – and this remained one of UKIP’s best results.

Mr Enright said: “I expected them to do well but it just didn’t convert into votes. They have certainly gone backwards year on year. This year they did worse than last year, which is surprising because the European elections are made for UKIP.

“UKIP has been a repository for protest votes across the country and I think other parties like ourselves have been more succesful at picking up those protest votes.

“One of the things that comes up quite a lot on the doorstep is discontent with the way things are run nationally and locally.”

UKIP city candidate for Blackbird Leys Dickie Bird, who is also the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Banbury, claimed his party is gaining momentum.

Oxford Mail:

UKIP city candidate for Blackbird Leys Dickie Bird

He said: “We have made great progress. Every other county in the south has got a UKIP councillor but the party is growing at a rapid rate.

“We came second in a number of wards which gives us great hope. Where I stood in Blackbird Leys I don’t believe someone from UKIP has stood there before – and to take 20 per cent of the vote is incredible.

“It is down to us to get the message out.”

In Oxford, where the city council is run by Labour and there hasn’t been a Conservative councillor elected since 2002, it is perhaps not surprising that UKIP came fifth in the European election poll – compared with second in every other district in Oxfordshire.

Oxford-based Lib Dem MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder said: “Oxfordshire’s residents can see the benefits that EU membership brings wherever they look, be it in the millions of pounds invested into research in our world famous universities, investment into our industries like BMW or the migrants working in our hospitals, care homes, agriculture and other trades and professions.

Oxford Mail:

Lib Dem MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder

“The xenophobic messages of UKIP jarred with the tolerant and informed views across Oxfordshire – we’re not a closed an insular county but an open and accepting one, and that is the message that local voters gave on polling day.”

And this would seem to make sense – after all, Oxford University is the county’s largest employer with 16,200 members of staff, while Oxford Brookes University employs another 2,577.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and BMW employ another 10,732 and 4,000 respectively.

Matthew Barber, the leader of Vale of White Horse District Council and the Conservative Party’s election agent, thinks the reason might be slightly closer to home.

Oxford Mail:

Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council Matthew Barber

He said: “We are in an area where the Conservative party historically has got a strong base. I would like to think we put forward good strong candidates campaigning on local issues.

“I am not sure the general feeling in Oxfordshire is that different in this part of the country to others, and I don’t think we should ignore what voters are saying. Perhaps people weren’t feeling the need to protest quite as much.”

Mr Barber’s feeling that there is no underlying surge of discontent across Oxfordshire is perhaps proved by the fact that every council which was contested in May remained with a broadly similar balance of power.

And in the Conservative-controlled areas of Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire where there were no local elections, the European elections showed no major change in attitude among voters.

How they fared around the region

ON Buckinghamshire County Council, UKIP now has six councillors while in Hampshire and West Sussex it has 10 and in Kent it has 17.

There are three UKIP councillors on Surrey County Council.
The party also has one councillor on the Isle of Wight, another in Milton Keynes and two on Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council.

Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Vale of White Horse District Council, West Oxfordshire District Council and Cherwell District Council have no UKIP councillors.

Oxford Mail:

Christopher Quinton who sits on South Oxfordshire District Council as an Independent-UKIP councillor

South Oxfordshire District Council has one councillor – Christopher Quinton, who represents Woodcote, describes himself as Independent-UKIP.



Vale of White Horse

South Oxfordshire

West Oxfordshire


Triggered by Maastrict treaty

THE UK Independence Party was born as the Anti-Federalist League, a party set up to campaign against the Maastricht Treaty in 1991.

In 1993 the party became UKIP.

Its founder Alan Sked resigned after the 1997 General Election, saying it had become “infected by the far-right”.

In the 2004 European elections the party came third, and second in the 2009 elections before topping the polls this year.

The party now has 24 MEPs, 370 councillors and three members of the House of Lords, but no MPs.

It currently has a membership of more than 38,000.

But recently it has been dogged by allegations of racism and bigotry, with a number of high- profile scandals relating to the party’s members, candidates, councillors or MEPs making comments that have landed them in hot water.

• Our top stories:

Jordan Saxton not guilty of murdering 11-week-old son but guilty of manslaughter

Oxford Mail: OM Crown

12:40pm Monday 5th October 2015

A FATHER accused of shaking his 11-week-old baby to death has been cleared of murder.

Brother of Oxford United striker James Roberts dies in car crash

Oxford Mail: Oxford United logo

1:21pm Monday 5th October 2015

The brother of Oxford United striker James Roberts has died after being involved in a car accident on Saturday night.

Broken down truck partially blocking A34 at South Hinksey

Oxford Mail: OM A34

12:03pm Monday 5th October 2015

THE A34 in South Hinksey is currently partially blocked due to a broken down tipper-truck.

Oxfordshire set for a soaking in afternoon downpour

Oxford Mail: Tourists in Oxford huddled under umbrellas in Radcliffe Square

11:50am Monday 5th October 2015

PARTS of Oxfordshire are due to be hit by heavy rain later today, according to the Met Office. A severe weather warning has been issued by the agency for the South East, which will be in place from 12pm until 10pm today. It has been forecast that some areas will see more than 15 mm of rain in an hour, with overall totals more than 40 mm in several hours. Small patches of localised flooding and disruptions to transport are also possible. A Met Office spokesman said: "A very complex area of low pressure will bring warm, moist air northwards into Britain. There is a developing signal for heavy rain to affect some southeastern parts of England later on Monday.  "Some minor disruption due to flooding is likely, with an additional risk of some very isolated more substantial impacts."

Family denies forcing man to be ‘servant’ for £5 a day

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 5th October 2015

A FAMILY stole thousands of pounds of benefits from a man with severe learning disabilities while forcing him to do menial and manual labour for £5 a day, a court heard.

Chalking up the streets to get children inspired by drawing

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Monday 5th October 2015

GREY pavements will be transformed with striking street art as one woman hopes to chalk up yet another successful art event this weekend.


© Copyright 2001-2015 Newsquest Media Group

Oxford Mail: site_logo http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk

Click 2 Find Business Directory http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/trade_directory/