- Since writing this piece I’ve discovered that Brendan Chilton and Debbie Enever aren’t standing in Ashford… for full list of candidates please click here.
Despite the seeming foregone conclusion of the election result in Ashford, it’s nevertheless interesting to take a look at the figures.
But he might not have things quite his own way this time round.
Partly that will be because of his own slightly confused message on Brexit. His campaign to Remain put him at odds with his constituency which eventually voted 59% to 41% to leave. Like Theresa May he is now back-pedalling fast, eyes fixed on the crumbling UKIP vote, embracing Brexit with slightly unnerving gusto.
But in Brendan Chilton, it appears he has a formidable opponent – not that his Brexit story is any way more straightforward. Chilton announced at a hustings during the last election that it would be ‘ludicrous’ for Ashford to vote to leave the EU, but nevertheless went on to become one of the founder members of Labour Leave, and, it seems from this Spectator article, very much caught the national mood.
The third significant force are the Liberal Democrats who came second in Ashford in 2010 but whose vote disappeared in 2015. I don’t know anything about their candidate Debbie Enever but she has the advantage of her party’s strong and consistent line on the EU – so she, and Green candidate Mandy Rossi, could pick up plenty of disaffected Remainers who might have previously voted for Damian Green.
At the moment I predict Damian Green losing 6-7000 votes to the Lib Dems and the Greens but gaining 3000 from UKIP – let’s say 25000. Brendan Chilton will also make gains from UKIP to put him on about 15000. And the Lib Dem vote will recover but not sufficiently to bother either of the main parties. So Green will be elected with half the majority he had in 2015.
I might revise that prediction as we get closer to polling day.