All to play for in Southend West

southendWestSouthend West was created as a constituency in 1950. In the eighteen elections since then it has been won by Conservative candidates on every occasion. (Labour have been second on six occasions, Liberal Democrats twelve times.)

It is described as ‘safe’, and the statistics appear to bear this out.

However, I sense that things could be changing. See the chart here. This shows the Conservative vote as a percentage of all who are eligible to vote in Southend West. Things changed in 1997, when David Amess first arrived on the scene.

Something like three-quarters of voters are not voting Conservative. Now, I admit it is a stretch to suggest how these people would vote (although we know how some of them vote), but it does show that this ‘safe’ seat could be anything but.

The Conservatives attract less support that those who opt to not vote.

Consider 2005: The Conservatives won with 23.8% of the local electorate supporting them. Yet 48.6% of Southend West’s voters stayed at home that year – more than twice the number who backed Mr Amess.

The Conservative vote picked up in 2010, largely because of the unpopularity of Gordon Brown’s administration, yet they could only muster the support of 28.1% of the electorate. Again, this was some way short of the 33.9% who did not vote.

Is it all to play for in Southend West? I think it is.

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