Cor­byn seems un­likely to slip down here with his soap­box

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Lorry Park -

So, with the county coun­cil elec­tion cam­paign in full swing, are we likely to see a wave of party lead­ers head­ing down to the Gar­den of Eng­land? Will Jeremy Cor­byn be mak­ing his way to Kent to drum up sup­port and put his shoul­der to the po­lit­i­cal wheel? Af­ter all, his pre­de­ces­sor, Ed Miliband, did, back in 2010 – soap box and all.

Off The Record sus­pects the chances are slim, but you never know. If he does, he’d prob­a­bly head to Thanet rather than Tun­bridge Wells.

As to Ukip, we hear ru­mours that sep­a­rate vis­its by leader Paul Nut­tall and for­mer leader Nigel Farage are pen­cilled in.

Again, they will be tak­ing the route to Thanet, where the party is de­fend­ing seven out of eight seats.

One leader who could well be pop­ping down is the Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Tim Far­ron, with his party talk­ing up their prospects.

The party will be hop­ing that if he does, he has the re­verse ef­fect of his pre­de­ces­sor Nick Clegg in the gen­eral elec­tion. Mr Clegg pitched up in Maid­stone – at a vine­yard – just days be­fore the poll, when the party was har­bour­ing hopes of caus­ing an up­set in the con­stituency.

We all know what hap­pened next. The Con­ser­va­tives won hand­somely.

As if Labour did not have enough prob­lems, the Kent County Coun­cil elec­tion is prov­ing more chal­leng­ing thanks to bound­ary changes in some di­vi­sions, which have seen some of its strongholds un­der threat from the Con­ser­va­tives.

Among them is the Labour group leader Gor­don Cowan, whose Dover Town seat is now dis­tinctly more mar­ginal than it was. The in­ter­ven­tion of Lord Howard – the for­mer Folke­stone and Hythe MP – in the Brexit de­bate prompted a rash of head­lines about the coun­try go­ing to war with Spain.

We are sure that wasn’t the in­ten­tion but the for­mer party leader re­mains an as­tute op­er­a­tor who has al­ways mea­sured his words care­fully.

Did he know that his com­ments would cause such a stir? Quite prob­a­bly.

Elec­tion man­i­festos can make for dreary read­ing and are gen­er­ally full of the kind of pledges that sup­port­ers of any party would find it hard not to sign up to.

Fear of be­ing rad­i­cal makes far too many fall back on the kind of bland pol­icy pri­or­i­ties that seem de­signed not to frighten young chil­dren and an­i­mals.

The Green Party at least has a cou­ple of eye-catch­ing com­mit­ments, whether you agree with them or not.

Its man­i­festo ad­vo­cates a scheme for so­lar pan­els to be in­stalled over car parks and ar­gues for a North­ern Ire­land-style re­gional assem­bly for the county.

‘Nick Clegg pitched up when the party was har­bour­ing hopes of caus­ing an up­set. We all know what hap­pened next’

Fol­low Paul on Twit­ter @PaulOnPol­i­tics for all Kent’s po­lit­i­cal news and gos­sip

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