Southend’s elections: poor punditry (with bias)

There will be a number of pundits who will be picking over last Thursday’s results in Southend; I do not see why I should miss out on the fun.

Last Thursday’s results were significant in that the council chamber has no overall control. Three net gains from the Tories have caused this: two Labour and one independent.

However, I am in no doubt that the gain in Belfairs was a blip. Had the local Conservative association handled Councillor Aylen’s de-selection better (and I admit to no insider knowledge here) then the Tories would still have control. It is possible that Stephen Aylen has been approached by the Tories since Thursday with a view to coming to some sort of accommodation – I guess the fullness of time will tell.

The Labour gain in Kursaal was almost inevitable. Our strong candidate was clearly more in touch with residents’ concerns. My victory in Milton was the result of two year’s hard work. We narrowly missed out in Westborough and made significant progress in St Luke’s.

Southend’s Conservatives must be worried. Belfairs aside, they won in six wards, and only two in the East will surely make James Duddridge itchy. That Labour came a very close second in Rochford will make Mr Duddridge even more grateful to the Boundary Commission for re-drawing his constituency boundaries so advantageously for him.

Seven wards are not enough for the Tories to hang on for long. I expect they will still be in charge locally after the inevitable horse-trading of the next few days, but the writing is on the wall. Unless they can up their game and suddenly become popular they will be out in 2014. Their one crumb of comfort will be the three-way split in the opposition.

I do not see much good news for the Independents either. They will point to Brian Ayling’s victory in St Luke’s, but this ward should never have gone Tory in the first place and Councillor Ayling owes much to anti-Tory sentiment rather enthusiasm for him particularly. Belfairs is no real gain for them, as I have already stated.

The gap in Westborough is narrowing, they lost Southchurch, and only Chalkwell elsewhere see them anything like serious challengers. Their cause has not been helped by the rent-an-endorsement antics of Ron Woodley.

UKIP must fancy their chances in West Shoebury. A mere 73 votes away from victory I cannot imagine anything other than two years of banging on doors here for them. The 2014 elections will be held on the same day as the Europeans, and UKIP usually do well in these. Tony Cox will have to pull his finger out. Whether the likely rise in turnout that the conjunction of the two elections will bring will help make Tony’s re-election bid easier is a judgement call – I confess I am not sure. It does make the possibility of a 2014 all-up election quite a gamble for the Tories.

UKIP also managed a second place in Eastwood Park, a ward that has become the Tories safest seat in recent years. UKIP are a long way behind, and it is the fourth spot for the Liberal Democrats that is most noticeable here. Under old boundaries, Eastwood used to return Liberal Democrat councillors.

The Liberal Democrat support has halved in the borough since the General Election. Support for the far-right is also shrinking. Green support is still minimal, down on what they were attracting five years ago (although at under 2% comparisons only carry limited validity).

9 Responses to Southend’s elections: poor punditry (with bias)

  1. Ian Pope says:

    At the Belfairs count, Ron Woodley stated that he was Steven Aylen’s when asked what he was doing there by several Tories. We should not underestimate the extent of Woodley’s POLITICAL ambitions. We will just have to see whether Cllr Aylen throws his lot in with the Independents or crawls back to the Tories.

  2. Ian Pope says:

    Should read ” he was Steven Aylen’s agent”

  3. truesouthender says:

    First of all congratulations on becomimg an elected councillor .The people of Southend are putting their trust in you so suddenly try to critisize the people that you will have to work with Why ??. Dont you think we have had enough in the past 10 years of silly bickering
    . Brian happens to be a friend of mine. as are some other independants and lib dems. i respect other peoples views,O please for the sake of Southend future show some Respect. As i am sure that a lot of people who voted for you done the same as me when i voted for Ian Gilbert and voted tactically Thank you Sir.

  4. Rob Brown says:

    truessouthender, many thanks for voting for Ian I know he appreciates every single vote. But did you see some of Brian’s literature. In one example he had a go at Mike for not standing for election in 2007 and 2008. Mike was already an elected councillor then representing the ward. If the independants want to work with Labour then I am sure they are open to listen but it looks like they are about to prop up the Tory administration if what we hear is correct.

  5. truesouthender says:

    The Elections are over for 2 years Rob i see no point in dragging up who said what and why. The people of Southend have voted and we just want those elected to do their best for the Town . I was chatting today to a resident of Milton today who is hoping that the new guy will take an interest in the Ward as the 3 that were there didnt. It does seem strange that someone from Rochford to try and promote Tittle Tattle. Perhaps your time would be better spent at home finding out why the English Dems polled more votes than labour in 3 and nearly the 4 of the wards they contested. Or why in this area Ukip polled more votes than you in some wards.
    The actual point i was trying to make was it would have been nice had Julian just said well done Brian and left it at that, insrtead of sniping..O well i will leave you to your Muses you can bore each other.

  6. Rob Brown says:

    Truesouthender, they were the best set of results for Rochford District Labour for about a decade, and we came very close to winning an election. Those were some of the Eng Dems target seats and they had campaigns to deal with them. As a tiny party with no councillors trying to stand candidates in every ward we cannot target them all, it would be impossible. Ukip polled more votes because he was the Tory coucillor only a handful of weeks ago. A little local knowledge would tell you that the situation is very different from that in Southend.

    I am worried about the quality of councillor in Southend (and Rochford). It is clear that many of the independants do not know what the job is. It is clear the Tories have been complacent for much too long. Brian may not be the worst example of this, but judged by the quality of his literature (which is all I have seen) I do not have much hope.

  7. truesouthender says:

    As Mohamid Ali once said if you still think they same when your 50 as you did when your 20 then you have wasted 30 years. The saddest thing is your going on about people you have never met know nothing about. about a town you dont live in. Come on you are supposed to be an educated person. How about fighting for the 18- 24 year old who are unemployed , without hope. People like Jack Monroe her bloggs really make me sad . Trying to do the best for her son.. Over the years i have known Labour supporters union reps ect who stand up for what they believe in good honest hardworking people. They wouldnt join your party now, Even Billy Bragg had had enough.your like a like a load of old washerwoman tittle tattling. We have the Con/Dem/lab all blaming each for whats happening while the Euro goes up the swannee.
    I not suprised at such low turnouts, well you can have your bloggs i am off.

  8. Neil Monnery says:

    I think the main thing we disagree on is whether Labour are going to become a political force in Southend. Now if it wasn’t for the independent group then you could easily see Labour making big steps but the problem Labour have is they are not a factor in the West (bar Westborough where should Kevin stand again in 2014 he’d have a great chance unless the indy’s find a great candidate) and that leaves Labour needing to dominate the East to make a real move in Southend. Bar say St. Lukes what other wards can Labour really hope to take in the future in the East as Tory/Indy and even a spot of UKIP are still very much in the mix and out West it is Tory/LB/Indy still.

  9. There is room for expansion within the three wards we have a presence in. Beyond that it may be a case of building for the future in many places, but the 2015 (and to some extent 2014) elections will be contested against the backdrop of national elections which always favour the big three.

    I believe that a credility gap will develop amongst the Indies. It is ok catering for the ‘none of the above’ vote, but at some point ability to govern must factor.

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