Peterborough and a very costly misdemeanour

Ever since Marty McFly almost inadvertently erased himself from history by taking an ill-advised joyride back in time, we as a society have been acutely aware of the law of unintended consequences. Unfortunately for the fine people of Peterborough, their predicament is lacking the Hollywood budget required to invent a time machine to rectify the mistakes of their erstwhile parliamentarian and so they find themselves embroiled in a path dependent sequence of events culminating in tomorrow’s by-election.

Given her reluctance to accept the decision of the courts relating to her conviction for perverting the course of justice, it is unlikely that Fiona Onasanya will accept any responsibility for the results of the ensuing Peterborough by-election. However, had she accepted her slap on the wrist for speeding, the people of Peterborough wouldn’t have found themselves in the perfect storm that could engorge the Brexit Party’s self-belief with the election of their first MP tomorrow, just four months after registering as a political party.

With the by-election falling just weeks after the European elections, at which the electorate once again felt the main parties deserved a good kicking, Nigel Farage’s latest project is flying high, both in terms of MEPs and opinion polls. Had someone given Farage the ability to handpick a by-election, he may well have chosen Peterborough.

Onasanya was elected in 2017, winning a majority of just 607 votes. Peterborough has flip-flopped between Labour and Conservative at Westminster for decades but the electorate returned a thumping victory for Leave at the EU referendum in 2016 with 61% of the vote. Similarly, the Brexit Party were convincing winners at the recent EU elections.

Add to this the failure to produce a remain alliance in the constituency, the confirmation of the resignation date of the PM, the split of the splitters (Change UK – The Independent Group – the artists formerly known as TIGgers), and it is easy to see why the bookies have stopped taking bets on the Brexit Party achieving its first parliamentary success.

At a time when political predictions have become almost obsolete and unintended consequences reign supreme, it may be time for our current elected representatives to take stock and finally find some middle ground. In the absence of the DeLorean to smooth out prior mistakes, sensible heads must prevail.

Gerard Cockburn - Account Manager