July 31, 2014 Leave a comment
The Rochford and Southend East constituency consists of ten wards, eight of which lie within the Borough of Southend-on-Sea and two are in Rochford District.
In all its incarnations this constituency has seen nothing but Conservative candidates returned to Parliament in the last hundred years.
If you add up the votes from May’s elections in these ten wards you get this:
26.6% Independent (9 candidates)
23.2% Conservative (10)
17.9% Labour (10)
12.5% UKIP (6)
3.4% Liberal Democrat (8)
1.5% Green (2)
0.1% National Front (1)
No Conservative victories (unprecedented as far as I can recall) in the local elections coupled with a reducing activist base means that James Duddridge MP has a problem, a very big problem. He remains favourite for next May’s General Election when increased turnout and a decision about who occupies 10 Downing Street should see him scrape in. However, it is far from clear cut, and from what I have seen he will be hoping that his party’s popularity improves because his own standing in the constituency is plummeting.
Mr Duddridge will hope that many who voted Independent in local elections will swing behind him in the national election, yet this is far from certain, and with a dwindling pool of helpers he will have to find reserves of energy not seen in his tenure so far. His ability to shoot himself in the foot with alarming regularity has also got to be reversed.
If he reads his political history he will take no comfort from the 1980 by-election result in the then Southend East constituency which saw Teddy Taylor crawl over the finishing with a mere 430 vote majority – in large measure due to Liberal candidate. As Clegg could not catch a cold at the moment this is not going to help the Dud this time.
The 1980 result: