As you would expect, Southend’s political bloggers have their individual takes on what happened last Thursday, and have offered up their views.
Southendfox writes (Southend’s hangover – A black day for Southend) : “the biggest losers were Southend residents and it is only this morning as they are waking up for the morning after the night before that they will realise this.”
Clearly no fan of the Independents (whoever southendfox is they appear to be a St Luke’s resident).
Nigel Holdcroft (whose blog is now styled ‘a view from Nelson Street’ – I joked with him at the count that I should retitle mine as ‘a view from Nelson Road’) has written a couple of posts since Thursday. In A hung council he begins: “Well there we have it – every council officer’s worst nightmare, a hung council with no obvious grouping or pact to deliver a working majority.”
Politics is the art of compromise, and we shall see who is most adept at this. Politics is also about pragmatism, for both politicians and the public servants they work with.
Mark Flewitt’s unique take on local issues leads him to describe the result as Ukipped!. He writes: “As the Agent for the St Laurence candidate, Jonathan Hodge, i have to accept some responsibility for not taking the seat”.
At least this is an honest appraisal of his role – I suspect too many will be looking to blame someone else for the failure to succeed on Thursday.
Tony Cox gets it. He writes (Vote UKIP Get Labour?): “The message from Thursday’s poll however, is that people want to see a change of administration here in Southend.”
James Courtenay, whose Blenheim Park ward now enjoys councillors from three different parties, writes (Blenheim Park election result) : “From a Southend perspective it was a bad night for the Conservatives and I saw some hardworking colleagues including fellow Cabinet member Tony Cox lose their seats, at least in part, due to the national swing.”
The part bit is correct – the Conservative decline in vote share has been a feature of the last decade. In 2004 they polled 49.5% across the borough, this year saw it drop to 30.3%. This cannot just be explained by the rise of UKIP, for in 2010 they polled 36.4%, and this against the backdrop of the General Election. Their decline has been a feature since 2000, with just small rises in 2003 and 2004 breaking a sequence of shrinking vote shares.
Paul Collins records the result (Westborough Ward Result; Borough Council Election 2014), thanks those who voted for him, and makes no attempt to deconstruct the result. Neil Monnery looks at the national picture (A tale of the type of voter the Lib Dems need to speak to) and states: “As a party and as activists we need to decide whether to embrace what the national party are doing or not.”
I think the contradictions implied in Neil’s post are not the problem – it is the type of politics that allowed the Lib Dems to promise whatever they liked without thought of the consequences – and usually they were never held accountable for these promises. In the aftermath of 2010 they were exposed, in 2015 they will have to be more cautious in writing their campaign promises.
I finish this round-up with Jonathan Hodge. Under UKIP win St Laurence he writes: “Of course I am deeply concerned that the residents have voted for a party which essentially has two policies – ‘no more immigrants’ and ‘leave the EU’ – neither of which are even close to being within the control or mandate of a Southend Borough councillor. But actually even more that this, I am deeply concerned that the residents have voted for a candidate who none of the other candidates from the major parties have met at any point during the campaign (and I have now been working in the ward for around 20 hours a week for at least the past 12 months on local issues to help the residents). And the cherry on the cake is that the winner did not even bother to turn up to the count; a generic UKIP ‘spokesman’ accepted the victory on his behalf moments after leaving him two quite panicky voicemail messages.”