Indie contemplations of divorce and new partners will have to be put on hold for another year at least
August 16, 2014 2 Comments
The Joint Administration is a working relationship based on a desire to take Southend-on-Sea forward, and to provide better leadership than was shown when the Conservatives ruled the roost. As a marriage of convenience it works, but all three partners in the arrangement would prefer to have not had to manage the relationship with their partners; having enough members to go it alone is the aim of all parties after all.
The Independent Group appears to eyeing up other partners already; to continue the marriage allegory – they are considering divorce even whilst still in the honeymoon.
The Independent Group’s electoral pact with UKIP, whilst apparently unofficial, was very much in evidence in recent elections. UKIP are not in the Joint Administration owing to objections by Labour and Liberal Democrats, and the numbers do not add up to an Independent-UKIP only administration.
Yet there clearly is a relationship between Martin Terry’s somewhat disparate band of members, and the quintet led by James Moyies. You cannot help but imagine that should the numbers ever make it possible, Cllr Terry would be proposing to Cllr Moyies whilst bidding adieu to Cllrs Gilbert and Longley. A four-way administration would be unwieldy, and I cannot envisage anyone wishing partnership with UKIP (Independent Group aside).
Currently the Independent Group have thirteen councillors, UKIP five, making a grand total of eighteen. Twenty-six are needed to form an administration with a majority, although being one or two short may make a minority administration feasible (that would depend on the determination of the remaining groups).
There are seventeen wards and the Independents are defending four of them next May, theoretically making thirteen gains possible (UKIP are defending none). Here is a table showing recent elections results, particularly those on or near a General Election – which is the backdrop to next May’s elections. (This year’s and 2011 (when the defending councillors next year were last elected) are also included).
Eight wins from thirteen is an unlikely scenario. I think any gains for the Independent Group are improbable, and losses would not surprise me (Prittlewell, Shoeburyness and St Luke’s seem vulnerable to me in a General Election year). UKIP had slim majorities in three wards this year, and this when turnout was low and their supporters most motivated. Their vote will weaken, and increased turnout (probably double what it was in May) makes success for them anywhere improbable – and certainly the likelihood of eight gains appears almost impossible.
Like it or not, Cllr Martin Terry, it looks like you might be stuck with Labour and the Liberal Democrats for a couple of years at least.