Swings in the East

The position in the East of England, Parliamentary wise, is

52 Conservative
4 Labour
1 Liberal Democrat
1 UKIP

Four MPs is a doubling of the Labour presence in the House of Commons. The Liberal Democrats are down three, whilst the Conservatives (with one gain and one loss) see no change in their overall representation. UKIP are a plus one on 2010.

One of the more interesting statistics is that in all fifty-eight constituencies there was a swing from the Liberal Democrats to Labour. This is not true for the Conservatives, who can boast a swing from the Liberal Democrats in all but two seats; Cambridge and Clacton saw a swing from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats.

In twenty-seven seats there was a swing from Labour to the Conservatives, making thirty-one where that swing was reversed – which is reasonably good news for Labour and its supporters.

The five biggest Conservative to Labour swings:

10.8% Cambridge
5.7% North West Norfolk
5.7% Welwyn Hatfield
5.0% Norwich South
4.0% Luton South

(In Southend West the swing was 0.6% to Labour; in Rochford and Southend East it was 2.4% to Labour.)

The five biggest Labour to Conservative swings:

4.6% Watford
4.0% Witham
3.9% Castle Point
3.8% Harlow
3.5% North East Cambridgeshire

The five biggest Liberal Democrat to Labour swings:

15.8% Chelmsford
14.6% North West Norfolk
14.2% Huntingdon
14.0% South Suffolk
13.8% Broadland

(In Southend West it was 12.5%, and in Rochford and Southend East it was 10.2%.)

The smallest Liberal Democrat to Labour swing was in Clacton, where it was 0.2%.

The Conservatives also recorded a fair number of sizeable swings to them from the Liberal Democrats. Here are the biggest:

15.1% Chelmsford
14.2% South Suffolk
13.4% Broadland
13.3% Colchester
13.3% Suffolk Coastal

Basildon Borough 2015 (and from 2008)

Eight years ago I was a candidate in the then Basildon District Council elections. I was working in Dunton, was invited by the local Labour Party, and stood in Nethermayne; I did not win. My Labour Party activism began in Basildon, in the run-up to 1997 I was helping Angela Smith get elected. Yes, I have a long-standing affinity with Basildon, and it goes beyond politics (shall I list all the grounds I have refereed at there?)

Consequently I take an interest in their elections, and the fortunes of our candidates there. I was delighted to see, for instance, my good friend Allan Davies re-elected in May.

Here is a summary of this May’s results in the Basildon Borough Council elections:

Party Vote % Wins No of candidates
Conservative 42.6 8 14
UKIP 28.5 2 14
Labour 24.0 4 14
Liberal Democrat 4.5 0 11
Independent 0.4 0 2
TUSC 0.1 0 1

This chart shows the vote share for the parties in local elections in Basildon from 2008 up to today.

2008 - 2015

2008 – 2015

Labour appears to be holding steady (ish), but it does look like UKIP is eating into some of the Labour vote – and this is probably partially hidden by Lib Dem switchers. I suspect that there is all sorts of churn in voter allegiance.

The current composition of Basildon Borough Council:

18 Conservative
11 UKIP
9 Labour
2 Independence Group
1 Independent Labour
1 Liberal Democrat

It is a minority Conservative administration, with (I gather) unofficial support from the Independence Group.

Thank you, all

A number of thoughts race through your mind on being told you have been selected as a Parliamentary candidate; amongst these is the enormous responsibility that has been placed on your shoulders. Your members want a campaign that makes them proud to be a part of a political organisation, and regardless of your chances your owe them to have at least given it your all.

I was selected last August, and I hope that I have worked hard enough. Despite the political climate that prevails in Southend West I think Labour did well. We finished a good second, hauling ourselves past the Liberal Democrats, as well as seeing off UKIP. Whoever follows in my footsteps, they will have the mantle of main challenger. Labour did well in the local elections, too, in this part of the borough of Southend-on-Sea, and we are well-placed in many wards now.

I must thank all my opponents and their workers for their campaigns. There is no democracy without choice, and despite my disagreements over what they each stood for, I at least acknowledge that the Southend West election would have been less diverting without their presence.

I wish Sir David Amess well in his role as my representative for the next five years. I also promise to play my part in challenging what he and his Government will be doing over that period.

I have the memory of a foot broken whilst canvassing, many charming and inspiring conversations, hours toiling over a keyboard, and the encouragement and hard work of all those who gave their time to help in my campaign.

I would finally thanks all those who voted, both for and against me. Democratic engagement is essential, and we only have to look to where in the world there is no democracy to see what a treasure we all have.

Labour vote shares in Essex

Constituency 2010 vote % 2015 vote % Improvement
Chelmsford 11.0 17.6 6.6
Southend West 13.4 18.3 4.9
Rochford and Southend East 20.3 24.7 4.4
Colchester 12.3 16.2 3.9
Brentwood and Ongar 9.9 12.5 2.6
Saffron Walden 9.7 11.8 2.1
Epping Forest 14.3 16.1 1.8
Basildon and Billericay 23.0 23.7 0.7
Harwich and North Essex 19.9 19.7 -0.2
Castle Point 14.7 13.8 -0.9
Maldon 12.7 11.8 -0.9
Braintree 19.9 18.5 -1.4
Rayleigh and Wickford 14.5 12.6 -1.9
Witham 18.5 15.8 -2.7
Harlow 33.7 30.0 -3.7
Thurrock 36.6 32.6 -4.0
South Basildon and East Thurrock 31.0 25.2 -5.8
Clacton 25.0 14.4 -10.6

This table lists the eighteen Essex Parliamentary constituencies, ordered by the percentage improvement in the Labour vote.

I could have ordered this table in quite a number of ways, but I am proud of managing the second best jump in vote share in Essex, and delighted that Labour is now second in Southend West. Whilst it is some distance from being a marginal, we are now the main challenger here – and there is more anti-Tory vote to squeeze.

I am aware that very campaign has its own story, and of the incredible amount of work put in by candidates and their teams.

I would suggest that the priority seats remain those with the largest absolute vote share. This means, in order, Thurrock, Harlow, South Basildon and East Thurrock. The two Southend seats are fourth and eighth.

For me the story of the 2015 elections and the Labour campaign is best summarised by looking at Clacton. It seems obvious to me that Labour was leaking more support to UKIP than had been previously acknowledged.

Canvey Island Town Council elections 2015

Here is a summary of the Canvey Island Town Council elections, also held last Thursday.

Party Vote % Seats Candidates
Canvey Island Independent 47.5 9 11
Conservative 31.2 1 11
Labour 13.8 0 11
Independent 7.6 1 3

Castle Point borough elections 2015

I always have a special lookout for the results in Castle Point. This is not just because it is my neighbouring borough and constituency, but because having spent three happy campaigning years there, from 2007 to 2010, I still have many friends there who are flying the Labour flag.

It is hard to believe that we won the seat in 1997, narrowly losing it in 2001. We also ran the council with a handsome majority at one point. Nowadays it is a bit of a struggle, to say the least, but onwards we fight.

Here is a summary of the borough council results from Thursday:

party Vote share % Seats won No of candidates
Conservative 44.6 10 14
UKIP 20.1 0 8
CIIP 17.3 4 6
Labour 15.5 0 14
Independent 2.5 0 2

Interestingly, Labour polled more votes in these elections than they did in the Westminster election (7001 versus 6283).

The Canvey Island Independent Party still have a strong hold on that island, and their pact with UKIP allows them a free hand as regards to the nationalist vote. The Liberal Democrats are still effectively redundant in this part of the world.

A blank by UKIP is a pleasant surprise,

Milton

Jonathan Garston Conservative 1709 38.9%
Gray Sergeant Labour 1658 37.8%
Vida Mansfield Green 476 10.9%
Tammy Cooper Independent 295 6.7%
Robert Howes Liberal Democrat 247 5.6%

About fifteen years ago I left the Labour Party for about a year and joined the Green Party. A year later I was back with Labour. When I tell people this I am usually asked why I left. The simple answer was that I became involved in politics to effect change. The Green Party will change nothing, whereas Labour does achieve power and therefore can change things.

I left Labour not because I wanted far-left politics – the Green Party in those days was a purely an environmental lobbying group. I left because something had made me cross with Labour. This happens from time to time; even a loyalist like myself finds themselves irritated. Labour is a broad coalition across the centre-left and compromises have to be made. It cannot please everyone all the time. But it is the best vehicle we have for social justice, equality, etc.

Of course the Green Party is entitled to stand candidates. But their supporters must understand that actions have consequences. Until we have electoral reform, something the Greens argue for (and incidentally, I am a member of the ERS – are any of the Greens in Southend?), we have a first past the post system. In Milton ward this simply means that it is either Labour or the Conservatives that can win.

Last year the Green vote in Kursaal saw a UKIP councillor elected. This year, in Milton, it was the Tories who benefited.

What triumph for environmentalism is it to see Jonathan Garston secure another four years in the council chamber? Jonathan, who wanted a coach park in Warrior Square (thankfully stopped by Labour in the Joint Administration); Jonathan, who held the Planning portfolio under the previous Conservative administration that saw overcrowding and ugly development in the town centre. What has Jonathan done for the poorest in the town, or the vulnerable? Where is his voice for equality? His is a Green triumph, yet he answers none of the questions that the Greens want answering.

I doubt that many Green activist will agree with my analysis, or particularly care. Theirs was as much an anti-Labour message as anything.

Gray was an excellent candidate who worked very hard. Unlike the Greens, who seemed content to post images of themselves in the pub on social media on polling day, Gray spent long hours on the doorstep. He got Labour’s best ever vote, and was beaten by the Tories best ever vote. Fifty-one votes separated Gray from the council chamber. Compare this 51 with the 476 achieved by the Greens.

Of course, it may be somewhat presumptuous to assume that Green supporters would normally back Labour. However, I know some of these Green voters, and I do not see any former Tories amongst them.

Vote Green get blue may be a lazy soundbite, but in Milton, in this year, at this election, it has a ring of truth.

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