Elections – Southend-on-Sea 2014 – a first attempt at analysis
May 23, 2014 5 Comments
Many will have their personal story of the night, of last night’s election results in Southend-on-Sea. The Liberal Democrats winning in Leigh, yet losing four councillors, in what can only be viewed as electoral payback for the Coalition. It may not be fair that local councillors are punished for the sins of their Westminster colleagues, but this is what is clearly happening.
The Liberal Democrat’s plight pales, in my opinion, in comparison to the disaster that befell the Conservatives. In the east of the Borough they suffered a complete wipe-out; they also lost in Rochford and Wakening, ensuring that James Duddridge has not one success to enjoy this year. In the west they held four seats, which will not give them a great deal of cheer, but they will be grateful that it was not worse.
It was a good night for UKIP. They can now boast five councillors; it remains to be seen whether 2014 was a one-off for them, or will they build on this next year. It will depend on what targets they set for the General Election – although Essex must now be on their radar for potential 2015 success.
The Independents gained four and lost one. All their victories came in the east; their loss was in the west (Westborough). They now hold all the seats in three wards.
Labour made three gains, and just missed a fourth by 38 votes. Not winning in Kursaal is a blow, but this ward has a history of delivering shock results. We are second in St Luke’s too, and the gap between us and the Independents saw a modest narrowing. Labour now has a presence in four wards – all in or near the town centre.
There is a picture emerging of a borough of two halves. The Tories and Lib Dems are seeing some success in the west. The east is seeing the inexorable replacement of Tories by Independents, with the principal opposition being Labour. UKIP’s presence has come from gains over the Liberal Democrats (3), Labour (1), and the Conservatives (1). UKIP are clearly a protest vote – a protest that will see a presence in the Civic Centre for four years (if they all last the course).
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Blenheim Park and Prittlewell now both boast representation by three different parties each. For the first time since 2010 Labour are not second on vote share. It is the lowest vote share for the Conservatives and for the Liberal Democrats that I have records for (from 1996 onwards).
The overall composition of the chamber is
12 Independent Group
5 Liberal Democrat