Beth Prescott: Battyeford By-election and the battle to turn Dewsbury blue again

It was less than four months after the 7th May, that I felt that familiar adrenaline rush.  It was Election Day again. The by-election was for the Battyeford ward of Mirfield Town Council in my home constituency of Dewsbury.

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Battyeford had not traditionally been a Conservative stronghold, but the local team had worked hard to make it so. However, Labour had gained one of the seats in the Battyeford ward in the 2015 May Elections.

This was not Labour’s biggest gain in our constituency. On May 8th, when most Conservatives around the country were rightfully celebrating an Election victory, I was laid on the floor of my living room feeling like I had just been run over by a steam roller. The only result on my mind was Dewsbury where my then Conservative MP, Simon Reevell, had lost his seat to Labour by a small margin.

My hometown had fallen. After the five year respite of a Conservative MP, the first in 27 years and only the third in 142 years, Dewsbury had gone back red.

The 2020 General Election in Dewsbury began the minute the 2015 General Election result was announced. The quest to turn Dewsbury blue started straightaway. Every move we make between now and May 7th 2020 would count and we knew it.

When this by-election was called, we had to get it right. Not just to win this election, but to use it to build momentum to take back the constituency.  We had to win. We had to show that we were fighting back already. We had to prove we were not put down by the loss of the constituency. We had got straight back up again and we were ready to fight.

 We had guessed that the turnout in this by-election would be low and a low turnout always favours the underdog, in this case Labour. It was all very well us having more support in the area but we needed to make sure that support got out and voted. So, on Election Day, we got out there knocking on doors and reminding people it was Election Day.  

Our candidate, Martin Ibberson, won the ward by 562 votes to 507. It was a victory, but it was a tight one.

The result to me reinforced the importance of running an efficient ‘Get Out The Vote’ on Election Day. Even though, being the favourites, it would have been easy to kick back and say ‘we have this in the bag’ we could not. In the end, we won by 55 votes. It is margins like that where the ‘Get Out The Vote’ makes all the difference.

But, no matter what the margin, we had won. The wind was back in the sails of the Dewsbury County Conservative Association.

Dewsbury Labour had better not get too comfortable. The fight back is well and truly on.

 

Beth was the Conservative Candidate in Normanton Pontefract and Castleford in the 2015 General Election standing against Yvette Cooper

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  • commented 2015-09-05 22:06:05 +0100
    Congratulations on your Mirfield town council win