Brexit Party ‘should accept Peterborough by-election result with grace’

1997 was a remarkable year for Labour; it was also a good year for the Liberal Democrats in some constituencies. They won the Hampshire seat of Winchester by a margin of two votes, writes the leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council, Cllr Shaz Nawaz.

There was a dispute instigated by the losing Conservatives, and as a result the High Court allowed another election. The Liberal Democrats won again, this time by a margin of over 21,000 votes.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage during a presentation on postal votes at Carlton House Terrace in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 24, 2019. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire POLITICS_Farage_10514016.JPG

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage during a presentation on postal votes at Carlton House Terrace in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 24, 2019. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire POLITICS_Farage_10514016.JPG

More recently, in Turkey, the ruling government of President Erdogan challenged the election result for the Mayor of Istanbul. The secular opposition had won by a slim margin.

Erdogan’s government forced a re-run which occurred over this past weekend: as you may have guessed, the opposition won again, this time in a much more convincing fashion.

This is not to say that no vote should be re-run: what these lessons from history tell us is this is a recourse that should be used sparingly. It should be deployed when situations are particularly unclear or hotly disputed, and even then, caution must be the order of the day.

I believe that the Brexit Party, as such, is terribly misguided. Allegations of fraud have hitherto not been proven and dismissed altogether. I detect an unpleasant undertone associated with some of the accusations. Furthermore, I get a strong sense that the people of Peterborough are somewhat relieved that after all the tumult over the past year, there is now some semblance of normality. Lisa Forbes is a dedicated and skilled representative for our city: she brings an air of competence and professionalism with her. She has wasted no time in getting stuck in. I believe that the vast majority of the people of Peterborough just want her to get on with it. Granted, 683 votes isn’t a huge margin; but it was more than the margin in 2017. It is certainly more than the two votes which decided Winchester the first time around.

I am a passionate cricket fan: one of the reasons I have high regard for the game is because of its inherent sense of courtesy. If a player does something well, it’s not extraordinary for the fans of the opposing team to clap politely. We may not like what’s happening with the score, nevertheless, the achievement is recognised. There is a reason why the expression “it’s not cricket” exists.

It’s not cricket to subject the city of Peterborough to another barrage of politics just because it’s impossible for one party to accept a result.

It’s certainly not cricket to deprive the city of an effective representative for no good reason.

If the Brexit Party wanted to show that it had a deep and abiding connection to the country for whom they purport to speak, they would recognise this deep vein in our nation’s culture and respect it. Your innings ends. You don’t always win. You shake hands, you accept the result with grace.

You prepare for another day. You don’t go screaming at the umpire past twilight.