Labour candidate challenges ambulance trust boss

Southend West Labour Parliamentary candidate Julian Ware-Lane has criticised East of England Ambulance trust boss Dr. Anthony Marsh over his recent woeful performance.

The Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service earns £232,000 plus a generous expense package which has seen him spend over £30,000 on hotel and taxi expenses. Under his management the trust has managed to miss most of the government targets set for it. In July the trust did not meet its own Red 1 emergency response target anywhere in the region.

One of the earliest sound bites issued by the Coalition Government was that we “were all in it together”. Never has such a statement sounded so hollow.

The story of the last few years has been of a growing pay divide with some Chief Executives like Dr. Marsh receiving salary bumps well in excess of those who work for them. Their pay rises are well in excess of inflation, whilst those that work for them are lucky to see a 1% rise.

Julian Ware-Lane said “Dr. Marsh is being excessively rewarded by the taxpayer, whilst the service he leads is woefully underperforming. His trust fails to meet many of the Government targets. This cannot be right.”

Every which way but lucid

It is a gift that keeps on giving. I refer to Cllr Mark Flewitt’s blog. His latest delight begins thus:

The Planning meeting being held from 6pm on 1st September at Tickfield has become murky because the meeting is being held at the suggestion of Cllr Mark Flewitt who wanted the meeting for public and members as to a 200 page Highway Report “Ardent” in respect of the Bellway Development application currently awaiting decision by the Development Control Committee.

Read that without taking a breath, which the lack of punctuation suggests is what is intended.

I wonder whether Cllr Flewitt realises he is supposed to represent all who reside in St Laurence ward, not just those opposing a brown field housing development. Still, it gets me wondering as to how I can get him to boycott other council meetings.

“Right turn, Clyde.”

July and August’s by-election summary

I begin with the oft-repeated caveat: local authority by-elections are not representative of the country as a whole. However, they are actual votes, cast at polling stations, and as imperfect an example as they may be they nonetheless gives us something to chew over.

So, to July and August’s numbers; the table here summaries the two month’s elections.

party vote share % seats won candidates net gain
Conservative 29.2 14 49 -5
Labour 25.6 18 45 5
UKIP 16.1 2 43 -1
Liberal Democrat 14.1 10 36 0
Independent 5.3 3 18 0
Green 4.1 2 25 0
others 5.6 1 18 1

There are number of indicators here worth considering.

I find the number of candidates fielded an indicator of the health of a party. There were fifty contests in all, and yet again I bemoan Labour’s failure to contest everywhere. UKIP, for the first time that I can recall, fielded more candidates than the Liberal Democrats.

The Conservative got the biggest vote share, but suffered more losses than anyone. UKIP also showed that holding onto their gains is problematical for them.

The Green Party is struggling to make any sort of impact. Consider their vote share over recent months:

4.1% July and August 2014
2.1% June 2014
2.7% April 2014
1.8% February and March 2014
2.1% August and September 2013
3.9% June and July 2013
3.8% May 2013
1.6% April 2013
5.8% March 2013

(For those who would like to peruse the numbers for themselves try this –

Whilst 4.1% is their best showing that I have recorded in over a year, it is some way shy of having any real impact.

Change, if you want it

It has been a good week. The last seven days has seen my Southend West campaign starting to move up through the gears. The campaign is now up and running in four wards: Chalkwell, Blenheim Park, Prittlewell and Westborough. That means that there are five to go, and these be picked up in the coming weeks. I am determined to see an active Labour presence in all the nine wards that make up the constituency.

Despite the misgivings of Liberal Democrat activists, Labour will be mounting a vigorous campaign in Southend West. Of course the Lib Dems are nervous, they know that their disastrous marriage to the Conservatives in national government will damage them. I cannot be held responsible for this, and I will be hoping to capitalise on this. At the moment, and to the best of my knowledge, there are only two declared candidates; certainly the Liberal Democrats have yet to select anyone. This does not make their argument any stronger.

This is an alternative to the Conservatives in Southend West, and I represent that alternative.

In the coming months I will be making the case for change in Southend West. This constituency has for too long been a one-party state, a plaything of those who don blue rosettes. This diminishes the accountability of their representative, an MP who is confident of victory regardless as to the lows in his performance.

The Conservatives are better served in many cases by those who choose abstention than those who vote for them. Their 30% vote share in 2010 (in a very friendly political environment) is bested by the 35% who did not vote at all. This should give cause for some optimism, although it is not a given that those who did not vote would be inclined to support my cause. However, my aim is clear – I need to persuade those who are unimpressed by their MP and his Government that change can happen, if only they want it.

Labour friends of Poland


Epping Forest

EppingForest1996-2010I know the last two Labour candidates who have attempted the Parliamentary route through Epping Forest, especially Katie Curtis. Katie stood in 2010, being the third candidate selected; the previous two having dropped out for personal reasons. (The 2010 campaign for many of us lasted three years and therefore some attrition amongst our candidates was inevitable). Katie’s 2010 campaign blog can still be found here. Katie, whose family come from Canvey Island, helped out in my Castle Point campaign at one time.

The numbers recently do not suggest is it fertile Labour territory, although in 1966 Labour was just 2.7% behind the Conservatives. Different boundaries and a simpler choice facing the electorate accounted for that result. In the recent high tide mark of 1997 the gap was still near ten per cent.

Labour came third last time around, a familiar story across much of the East of England. I expect that Labour will be back to second spot at least next year.

Looking through the recent election results I came across a very unusual description for one of the candidates in the 1988 by-election – Brian Goodier stood under the label ‘Vote no Belsen for South Africans ‘; he got sixteen votes.

In it to win it

My selection as Labour’s General Election candidate in Southend West has inspired the Liberal Democrat’s sole surviving blogger in the borough to write not one, but two, pieces about it. You can almost sense the rising panic at Southend’s equivalent of Lib Dem Central, so much so that they want to me to give in just as I am getting going.

Neil Monnery believes that fielding a strong candidate (I am flattered to be thus described) has damaged our chances. He writes that Labour shoot themselves in the foot in Southend in an argument that suggests my contesting in Southend West will weaken Ian Gilbert’s chances in Rochford and Southend East.

I am not sure quite what Neil’s campaigning credentials are although I do know he stood in Westborough ward in 2012. He came sixth place in a ward that at the time had Lib Dem representation; sixth out of six, with a 90 votes and 5.4% of the votes cast. I will leave it to the reader to pass judgement on this but if the strategy was to do as badly as possible then Neil’s campaign was a roaring success.

I have fought quite a few campaigns, losing far more often than I have won. However, if you factor in those that I have supported and organised (as opposed to those I have contested) then my record is reasonable. I understand about targeting, and about maximising scarce resources. I also know about our membership and what they deserve, and what a long game involves.

Neil’s attempts at analysing David Amess’s chances miss out a chunk of the story. Whilst he may be right in his view that Mr Amess will get re-elected, he ignores evidence that suggest change is possible.

Labour did come a poor third last time around in what was Labour’s worst General Election result since 1919. The Nick Clegg bounce significantly boosted the Lib Dem vote; this time around it will be what is known as a dead cat bounce – voters are deserting a party that has kept Cameron at number ten and enabled him to foist all sorts of unpopular legislation on the UK.

Despite Labour’s unpopularity, David Amess’s vote share went down slightly – hardly a ringing endorsement given the political climate in May 2010. He attracted 46.1% of the vote, with a turnout figure of 65.1%. Of course I am aware of the dangers of hypothesising about unused votes, but Amess’s vote share as a percentage of the electorate stands at 30% – meaning that 70% did not care to support him.

I am in the contest to win it. Southend West Labour Party members deserve a candidate who tries his best, Labour supporters deserve a candidate who tries his best, the electorate in Southend West deserve a candidate who tries his best. David Amess deserves an opponent who will take the fight to him. That a Liberal Democrat views this as bad news merely serves as an additional incentive.


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