With all that is going on in and around the far right in the UK right now, it has been easy for some commentators to miss that they were involved in a Parliamentary by-election yesterday. The constituency of Lewisham East had to elect another representative, after Labour’s Heidi Alexander had taken up the post of Deputy Mayor for Transport at City Hall.
That Labour would win the contest was never seriously in doubt, and as the BBC has reported, “Lewisham councillor Janet Daby pledged to oppose a ‘hard Brexit’ after winning with 50.2% of the vote in the Remain-voting area of south-east London. Labour's majority was slashed from 21,213 at the general election to 5,629 as the Lib Dems overtook the Tories to claim second place. Turnout was just 33% - less than half what it was at the general election”. The Lib Dems had a revival of sorts, but did not win.
In fact, even with a majority of just over 5,600, Janet Daby secured more than 50% of the popular vote for Labour, despite the terrible turnout of just over 33%, lower than in many local Government elections. But what of the far right? Ah well. For them, this was a campaign which turned out not necessarily to their advantage.
Both new-look and even more screamingly Islamophobic UKIP, and equally screamingly Islamophobic For Britain, contested the seat. Both made suitably Ron Hopeful-like noises, with Paul Oakley of UKIP telling “Labour always have and always will let Lewisham down. Sensible voters will give themselves a shake today and back @davidkurten UKIP as the next MP”. Candidate David Kurten, who is a London AM, added “Today is the Lewisham East by-election. Vote @UKIP to reject Tory/Labour FAKE Brexit and to end politically correct policing to make our streets safe again”.
Over at For Britain, leader Anne Marie Waters was the candidate, and at first made her own optimistic noises, telling “The #LewishamEast campaign has shown that the more success we achieve, the more the feral left will attack. Please help us fund our security”, showing that her party was also skint. But then came the result.
And for Ms Waters, that meant resumption of the low moaning sound: “Janet Daby tonight spoke as if there had been no referendum, as many of them do. We've already voted and yet they still debate it. No wonder the turnout was so low, when we do vote, it's ignored anyway”. It wasn’t fair! Er, yes it was. And few were unhappy to see the back of her.
In fact, it was so bad for the far right that Kurten and Ms Waters’ votes added together were still 142 short of what Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah managed for the Greens. So perhaps it will be Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah who gets the next Question Time berth, and not someone like Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, or indeed current head Kipper Adolf von Batten.
The far right last night discovered its true worth: two lost deposits, overtaken by the Greens, and resoundingly rejected by the electorate. Next time the Islamophobic right claims that some kind of silent majority supports it, do not lose sight of that.
Small wonder they have no problem with street protests. It’s their only route to power.