Tories hold West Leigh …. just
January 24, 2014 15 Comments
|Chris Bailey||Liberal Democrat||688||34.4%|
Tories hold West Leigh is hardly a shocker of a headline, and last night’s by-election result can be filed under ‘predictable’. However, there will be relief in the blue camp that this potential banana skin was navigated without mishap. I also think that the number-crunchers amongst them will have some cause for concern.
The turnout, at 26.2%, was pretty good considering the time of year. West Leigh voters always take their democratic duties seriously and despite the usual safe-seat nature of this ward turnout is always amongst the highest in the borough, if not actually the highest.
The Conservative majority of 55 is some way down on what they usually get in West Leigh, and their vote share (which normally is around the 50% mark) is some way down as well. The Liberal Democrat vote is at about where it usually is, as is Labour’s, which means that the main beneficiary of disenchantment amongst normally Conservative supporters was UKIP.
Of course, Georgina Phillips is a new name here and will be unfamiliar to most voters. She will be thankful that the Liberal Democrats are struggling locally (they admitted to dragging in help from far and wide) otherwise it could have been a lot closer. Chris Bailey being hospitalised must have had an impact, and if he is fit and well in May he will have good reason for optimism.
UKIP have stated that this is one of the six wards they are targeting in the borough come May. They may be pleased with a fifth of the vote, attained despite a poor campaign. They are the joker in the pack – unlikely to win but able to make the ward problematical for the Tories. The Tories will be defending here with a much-reduced team compared to what they managed in this by-election, although they will be consoled with the fact that this will be true for the other parties too.
As for Labour; this is a tough ward for us. Jane will contest this ward in May again, and will console herself that despite the potential for being squeezed our small but beautifully formed vote more or less held up.
The defending Tories across the borough in May will be looking at the twelve per cent drop in the blue vote last night and wondering what this will mean for them. I think the political map of Southend is about to be re-drawn.
I finish with my best wishes to Chris Bailey for a speedy recovery.