Last night I dreamt about Polly Billington

Ella Vine, Thurrock activist

Ella Vine, Thurrock activist

Scott Nelson, another Thurrock activist

Scott Nelson, another Thurrock activist

Being a politician is pretty close to a seven day a week role. This is largely, I confess, of my own doing – the amount of time and effort put into the role is at the discretion of the politician, and levels of commitment vary on all sides.

The by-product is that politics is very much on my mind for significant chunks of most days. This invariably invades my subconscious.

I have not been to Thurrock constituency recently (and it is something I have been meaning to do) but it is a place with a number of friends and comrades of my acquaintance. It is a Labour priority, and our best hope for Parliamentary representation in Essex come May. It is one of three key seats (with Harlow and South Basildon and East Thurrock) in my county, although I am hoping for some surprises amongst the other fifteen. In 1997 Labour won six seats in my here, and I am sure that we will once again see that level of representation in the not too distant future.

0.2% separated Labour from success in 2010 in Thurrock, and this in an awful electoral year for us. Since 1945 it has been Labour in all elections except 1987 and 2010, and whilst the boundaries have changed during this period it still is a red beacon in a generally Essex sea of blue.

UKIP have it in their sights. However, whilst they will look at May’s elections and think their chances are pretty good there are some things that suggest that 2014 may be their high tide mark in south west Essex. For starters, the most recent by-election in Thurrock saw a comprehensive Labour victory, attracting over half the votes cast. However, what will be intriguing over the coming months is the level of scrutiny UKIP will be subject to. At present they are the beneficiaries, in large measure, of a ‘damn the lot of you’ vote. Beyond their anti-immigration and anti-EU stance most voters would struggle to name any of their other policies. Being anti-everything is an easy role, the difficult thing is to set out a properly costed agenda for the country – which they must do if they really want a say in the UK’s future. This scrutiny will expose them for the very right-wing party they are, and whilst disgruntled Tories may dream of scrapping the NHS and lowering taxes for the extremely rich, this cannot be what working people want.

Jackie Doyle-Price is making all the right noises about fighting to retain her seat but privately she must know the game is up. I have no doubt she will fight hard all the way up to May 7th (I would in her shoes) but a Tory hold here would be a miracle, nothing less. UKIP will dent her vote, but a UKIP presence is academic anyway.

The local council (which is split over a couple of constituencies) is hung with Labour as the biggest party and leading a minority administration. I would hope that a majority Labour administration is just around the corner.

I really did dream about Polly Billington (although it was actually two nights ago) and she will be an excellent representative for Thurrock.

Chris York for North East Herts

Not in Essex, but definitely in the East of England. I refer to both North East Hertfordshire and to Chris York.

Chris is a fellow Regional Board member, and a jolly fine fellow. North East Hertfordshire have a strong campaigner representing them in the General Election, and I will certainly be looking out for Chris’s result.

In 2010 another comrade-friend, David Kirkman, came third here with 16.4%. Oliver Heald has won this in the last four elections for the Conservatives, and he will be favourite this time around. However, with a fair wind, and a squeezed Lib Dem vote, plus other factors (not least of which is the declining popularity of the Conservative Government) who knows – I think Chris York MP has a good ring to it.

Chris York has a website, as does North East Herts Labour.

Six Goals for Britain’s Future

1. Giving all young people a shot in life: Ensure as many school-leavers go on to apprenticeships as go to university.

 

2. Tackling the cost-of-living crisis: Help working families share fairly in the wealth of our country so, when the economy grows, the wages of everyday working people grow at the same rate.

 

3. Restoring the dream of home ownership: Meet demand for new homes for the first time in half a century – doubling the number of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder each year.

 

4. Tackling low wages: Halve the number of people on low pay in our country, changing the lives of over two million people.

 

5. Securing the future: Create one million more high-tech jobs by securing the UK’s position as a world leader in green industries.

 

6. Saving our NHS: Build a world-class, 21st century health and care service.

Newcastle upon Tyne Central – Chi ‘n’ me

Julian Ware-Lane and Chi Onwurah

Julian Ware-Lane and Chi Onwurah

I used to know Newcastle-upon-Tyne pretty well. From 1991 to 1994 I worked in Longbenton on the northern edge of the city. Whilst still having a home in Leigh-on-Sea I stayed during the week firstly in West Jesmond, and then Heaton. My last six weeks were spent in West Monkseaton. After trying hotels for the first couple of weeks I settled on flat shares. I had a generally very good time there and came away with very positive views of the city, and of the county of Northumberland which I still believe is the most beautiful I have seen.

Whilst I was there we had a Conservative government, but the city was, by and large, a Labour one. I was doing a stint with the Department of Social Security and most of those I worked with had Labour sympathies, although this was not shared with the consultancy people I also worked with who mostly appeared to be southern Tories.

Whilst no electorate should be taken for granted it would take a seismic political shift to oust Chi Onwurah. Here is a summary of the recent results:

Lab % Lib Dem % Con %
2010 45.9 24.1 19.4
2005 45.1 34.0 16.0
2001 55.0 21.7 21.3
1997 59.2 15.0 23.4
1992 49.4 13.6 37.0
1987 44.2 15.8 38.8
1983 35.8 22.3 40.8

1983 was the last time the Conservatives won here, some 32 years by the time 7th May comes around.

I think Chi is a class act, and I always enjoy her interviews. Her website can be found here.

Previous Labour candidate backs Ware-Lane for Southend West

Tom Flynn and Julian Ware-Lane

Tom Flynn and Julian Ware-Lane

Labour candidate for Southend West Julian Ware-Lane has received the enthusiastic backing of Tom Flynn, the party’s candidate for the constituency in the 2010 general election.

Mr Flynn, who fought a good campaign in a tough year for Labour, believes Julian can defeat David Amess, the sitting Conservative MP.

Mr Amess has represented the constituency since 1997, when he fled from his previous Basildon seat shortly before it was won by Labour.

Mr Flynn said, “Julian is an excellent choice for Southend West. He was born and still lives in the constituency, and has sat on the council for the last two years. I know that, if elected, he will fight ceaselessly for social justice, and for the people of Southend West who have been neglected under David Amess.”

Julian added, “Tom’s campaign in 2010, focusing on council housing and the living wage, has laid the groundwork for my own campaign. I hope to build on his hard work, and finally bring real change for the voters of Southend West.”

Ian Gilbert, The Local Voice

IGlocalVOICE

Carswell old or Carswell new is not a real choice; if the voters of Clacton want real change then Tim is your man

Tim Young, Labour candidate in Clacton

Tim Young, Labour candidate in Clacton

One of the really frustrating things about how our elections are fought is that most are considered foregone conclusions before a ballot has been cast. This appears to be the case with Clacton, certainly the majority of commentators are giving this impression. The commentary is of a sure fire UKIP victory. UKIP here are proclaiming themselves as champions of those fed up with the ‘LibLabCon‘ orthodoxy. If UKIP are tapping into discontent with the mainstream parties then I think the electorate are somewhat misguided. UKIP are, if anything, more Tory than the actual Conservative Party, and they hark back to an age satirised by the ‘I know my place‘ sketch from The Frost Report.

The real issue with Westminster politics ultimately lies with an electoral system that sees the parties contesting the same electoral territory. We really have to get rid of first past the post, and make every vote count.

However, we do have a contest in just over a week’s time, and whilst all the noise may be about Douglas Carswell and his switching brands of Conservatism, there are other candidates. Labour came second in 2010 at a time when third spot was common for Labour In Essex. I am not predicting a victory for Tim Young, but neither am I writing off his chances. After all, he is the change candidate in this by-election.

If the main parties “are not listening” then how is re-electing Carswell going to change this? Does his elopement with Farage mean a sea-change is his dealing with constituents and their issues?

The 2010 result:
53% Conservative
25% Labour
13% Liberal Democrat
5% BNP
3% Tendring First
1% Green
1% Independent

There are eight candidates for the October 9th contest.

MPs switching parties is not real change. If the voters in Clacton do not want more of the same then they must vote for Tim Young, they must vote Labour.

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