While everyone’s watching the fallout over ex-Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith’s defeat in the Richmond Park by-election, Labour just had the sweetest election victory over UKIP. And social media may well have played a part in the win for Jeremy Corbyn’s party.
Speaking too soon?
In the Crewe West council by-election on Thursday 1 December, there was a three-horse race. The candidates were Steven Edgar (Conservative), Natasha Maroni (Labour), and Brian Silvester (UKIP). The seat in Cheshire East has traditionally been a safe Labour one. But as The Canary previously reported, UKIP candidate Silvester seemed to think he had it in the bag. And he took to Twitter to tell the world he thought so.
Silvester, currently a parish councillor, appeared to think that having a lot of Twitter followers would give him the edge in the by-election. So he took to social media to brag about this:
— Cllr.Brian Silvester (@CllrBSilvester) November 14, 2016
On 14 November, Silvester’s Labour opponent Maroni did indeed only have 17 followers. But Twitter then worked its magic:
— News Thump (@newsthump) November 14, 2016
— Suze Azzopardi (@TheAzzo) November 14, 2016
And the response from Twitter users was great. Maroni had 14,357 followers as of 9am on Friday 2 December.
A Labour landslide
Silvester, however, remained convinced that UKIP could win in Crewe West. He called Labour “out of touch” and believed UKIP would “surge forward”. But it was Maroni that eventually surged forward in the election. And while her UKIP rival appeared to focus on national issues and Brexit, Maroni kept it local:
Just a reminder what I stand for.
I concentrate on LOCAL issues, because I'm running as a Councillor, I read the job description 😉 pic.twitter.com/6zEyNccdXS
— Natasha Maroni (@tasha4ctc) December 1, 2016
And Maroni’s local focus paid off. She won with 736 votes. Edgar was second with 228. And Silvester? Third with 215. So Maroni won the election with a landslide 62% of the vote.
A fantastic new councillor
Speaking to The Canary, Maroni said:
I usually don’t talk about my past, but my mom was an addict. So I was in foster care a lot, and got adopted at eight years old. I came to politics as a community activist and because I had worked with young offenders.
Rehabilitation of young offenders is something Maroni is passionate about. She says of her plans:
I am hoping we can turn some lives around, not just because of compassion but also because it will benefit everybody. It’s like prevention in medical care – it costs so much more if things go wrong. It’s best to try and avoid it in the first place. If we give young people help early and prevent them from being tempted by crime – which often seems to be the only option for them – we save money in the long run, plus as a society we benefit so much more.
Maroni told The Canary she is thrilled with her win:
I’m a mum, and I live in the ward, so I really want to work for the community. I think I won because I put in a lot of work on the ground and I actually was concentrating on local issues. While he who shall not be named was trying to drive his campaign based on moaning and, of course, Brexit.
While most Twitter users may not have had a vote in the Crewe West by-election, they did have a say over Silvester’s bragging. And they voted against it. But in Crewe, Silvester’s past as a somewhat dodgy landlord may well have played a part.
Either way, Maroni triumphed. And if Labour can repeat this around the country, the rise of UKIP may start to fall flat.
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Featured image via Flickr