May 2015, UKIP in the East

Despite accruing an impressive number of votes nationally, UKIP’s performance in the May General election was distinctly underwhelming. They entered the election with two MPs, and halved that on exit.

This was their big chance. Last year they ‘won’ a national election insofar as they got the most votes in the European elections. They entered this year on a wave of hype, and some quite friendly media coverage. They were boosted by the increasingly pluralistic state of most ballot papers, ensuring that relatively modest vote shares was all that was required.

Back in the day of genuine two-party politics half the vote was required to guarantee success – nowadays MPs are regularly elected with less than 40% of the votes cast. Yet UKIP stumbled, stuttered, and failed. The coming EU referendum will rob UKIP of their prime reason for existence. Will they matter anymore, will they figure in the next General Election? Only time will tell.

They stood candidates in all fifty-eight East of England constituencies in May, and retained their deposit in every one of them.

The top five UKIP performances in the East:

44.4% Clacton
31.7% Thurrock
31.2% Castle Point
26.5% South Basildon and East Thurrock
23.3% South West Norfolk

The worst performances in the East:

5.2% Cambridge
7.8% St Albans
8.9% Hitchin and Harpenden
9.4% Norwich South
9.6% Bedford

Thirteen second places and one win may be considered good enough, and if this election is considered a builder event then I guess it could be. However, if the referendum poses a question about the future of the UK it also poses a question about the future of UKIP, or more properly whether UKIP has a future.

Southend Independence Group

Just before today’s Full Council meeting I was handed a press release by Cllr James Moyies (West Shoebury). This formally announced the creation of a new grouping on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

It begins: Councillors Callaghan, Davies and Moyies have today announced that they will be forming a new Group on Southend Borough Council called the “Southend Independence Group”.

The press release then goes on to lay out their aspirations, which include being part of the Joint Administration (which Cllr Moyies describes as the “Rainbow Coalition”).

I think this means the UKIP civil war in Southend-on-Sea is at an end, with that group now reduced to two: Cllr Floyd Waterworth leads it, with new Cllr David McGlone doubling their presence.

What do UKIP and the Tories have in common?

yourRightsAtWork

Shy Peter, UKIP in Victoria ward

peterBreuerThis will be Peter Breuer’s third attempt in Victoria for UKIP, having also stood in 2012 and 2014. I am puzzled by the lack of a photograph – perhaps Mr Breuer is just very shy.

Ostrich politics

OtridgeWhat does ‘Standing Up for Real Change‘ mean?

In the gobbledegook world of UKIP real change means recycling Conservative MPs as your own. Real change means blaming everything on foreigners.

In the nonsense spouted by Southend West’s UKIP candidate, Europe is a remote place, and poor people in Third World countries do not deserve our support.

Brian Otridge believes in Southend so much he chose to move to Rayleigh.

Southend does not suffer from the tyranny of uncontrolled mass immigration (unless you count Cockneys as immigrants). I represent the most ethnically diverse ward in the borough and still migrant numbers are small.

Apparently we have a ‘tax on our children when we die‘. This leaflet is as incoherent as it is wrong.

If the Conservatives are the Nasty Party, Mr Otridge represents the Even Nastier Party.

Britain is best when it embraces the world; UKIP would have it skulking in the shadows.

UKIP in Blenheim Park

Lloyd01Last May five UKIP councillors were elected in Southend-on-Sea, allowing everyone to see whether the reality of UKIP representation matched up to the rhetoric. They fell short, very short.

UKIP’s presence in Blenheim Park ward is so low profile it has taken Labour canvassing for residents to find out that they even have a UKIP councillor. The councillor here has an indifferent attendance record and seems to have done little, if anything, for the ward or its residents.

UKIP have also spent all their energy arguing with each other, a most unedifying spectacle. Surely residents deserve better than to have representatives that squabble over who has got what role? UKIP councillors would rather serve their vanities than those that elect them.

Paul Lloyd stood in Eastwood Park ward in 2014. His failure there means he has transferred his affections to Blenheim Park. Is this what he means by ‘Real Change‘?

I think it would a ‘Real Change‘ for UKIP to actually put up candidates capable of doing the job. Since last May, in Southend-on-Sea, they have had four of their five councillors suspended by their party, one has since be expelled. They have had one stand down after a mere year in office. This is not a record to be proud of.

The leaders’ debate

I watched this, and learned little. This was never going to be a platform for new policy announcements, rather a minefield for the gaffe prone. I think all seven avoided any major mistakes. It did allow us, the voters, to compare, and here are my admittedly biased impressions.

Natalie Bennett (Green) was the weakest. She clearly learned from some pretty damaging interviews, but came across as humourless and naive. I like the Greens when they talk about the environment, I dislike them when it comes to the economy, jobs and the like.

Nigel Farage (UKIP) is normally a warm and engaging performer. Somehow this format did not suit him, and my impression was that a serious debate was a step too far. His attempt to label everyone else as ‘all the same’, and to blame all of society’s ills on foreigners and the EU just showed how vacuous UKIP’s message is.

Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) came across as a beaten man. At times there were flashes of the 2010 Clegg, but far too often you could see the impending cliff-edge for his Parliamentary party etched on his face. Now his party has been under the harsh glare of administration it is very hard to play the ‘all things to all men’ game anymore. I could not get away from the thought, every time he appeared to challenge the Prime Minister, that here was a man who had five years to do something about it. Instead, he has spent five years more or less giving Cameron whatever he wanted.

Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) was too parochial. Despite her wonderful Welsh lilt, her message seemed to lack any real weight, and whilst she must push hard for Wales and her Welsh voters, she demonstrated why regional parties should not be admitted to national debates. Doubtless many beyond Offa’s Dyke will have found something to cheer about, the rest of the UK must have wondered what her contribution would do for them.

Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) was very good, and I am no fan of nationalism or nationalists. She somehow managed to overcome parochialism and deliver a punchy message. Her style was suited to this stage, although I still wonder why a party that only represents a fraction of the UK was admitted to this debate. I watched and wondered how Alex Salmond managed to keep her at bay for so long for clearly she is a better performer than her predecessor as leader of the SNP.

David Cameron (Conservative) was actually pretty good. This format, of seven leaders, allowed him some cover, yet when he spoke he did so with some authority. Those who have Conservative principles will have found little fault. I still found him a bit evasive, but am pleased that he managed to leave the aggressive and bullying side of him at home.

Ed Miliband (Labour) can appear awkward at times. Last night he struck me as relaxed, and he delivered his lines pretty well. He is always going to be more about the message than about how the message is given. He was confident, his body language was good, and he showed some humour. He had the strongest message. As only one of two likely Prime Ministers on display he also had weight behind his argument, and he managed to augment this with considerable gravitas.

Doubtless my views will not agree with everyone else’s. I have listed the leaders in order of who I thought was best; I call it an Ed victory, just ahead of Cameron (in terms of presentation). In terms of policy the order would be somewhat different, with Ed still winning but with a considerable margin over the others.

Resign Moyies, go now

Cllr James Moyies should resign. Definitely. He endorses two parties, the Conservatives and UKIP, and thus provides two reasons why he should go. UKIP are incompetent, and the Tories are bad news for Southend-on-Sea.

I hope Lee Burling’s colleagues follow his fine example and go now. Cllr Burling, UKIP’s representative in St Laurence ward has decided a year is enough; I invite Cllrs Moyies, Waterworth, Callaghan and Davies to do likewise.

I care little about who has been selected as UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in either side of the borough, but one cannot escape the idea of sour grapes infesting much of Moyies thinking in recent months. He is now describing himself as ‘Independent UKIP’, which makes me wonder whether he has forgotten what the ‘P’ in UKIP stands for.

Anyway, the Conservative-endorsing Moyies now wants us to vote for James Duddridge in Rochford and Southend East. What I cannot understand is how at one moment he wants to replace Duddridge in the House of Commons, and the next he is backing him.

Game, set, and match to Floyd Waterworth

A taxi for Cllr Moyies; thus, the inevitable.

Politics aside, there are two things that characterise UKIP in Southend-on-Sea. One is their oft-reported unwillingness to properly serve their residents. The other is their inability to act like a team.

This latter trait has most obviously manifested itself in the falling out between the Group leader, James Moyies, and the Parliamentary candidate, Floyd Waterworth.

I barely know Cllr Waterworth, I have known James on and off for about five years. However likeable I find James, there is no getting away from the fact that his party prefer Waterworth – despite the latter’s unwillingness to perform or endure at council meetings.

The UKIP group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is a farcical body. It is now led by someone who has been expelled by the party, and its three other members are suspended – perhaps also waiting on their P45s from UKIP HQ. The only councillor who can properly claim to be in UKIP is Cllr Waterworth. As it stands, Cllr Waterworth, as far as the Council is concerned, is a truly independent independent (much like Cllr Velmurugan prior to regime change in the borough).

The Southend Echo reports Ukip councillor James Moyies permanently expelled from the party, and their article includes this:

Floyd Waterworth, parliamentary candidate for UKIP in Rochford and Southend East said: “This announcement of UKIP expelling Cllr Moyies is welcome.”

Non, je ne regrette rien, in other words. Waterworth, steely assassin, unable to express any remorse at his former leader’s demise.

It is much like Captain Smith saying “I taught that damned iceberg a lesson it won’t forget”.

Moyies, comprehensively bested by the indifferent skills of Waterworth, will now have to contemplate his future. Can anyone pass James Howling Laud Hope‘s ‘phone number?

The photographer’s finger

Me - Polly - finger

Me – Polly – finger

I am an all-weather activist, although rain usually finds me skulking about indoors. This weekend’s sunshine has been welcome though, I think sunny weather makes for sunnier conversations.

My day, yesterday, was split between South Ockendon and Westcliff-on-Sea. Both canvassing sessions were positive.

It is undoubtedly a gross generalisation, but whenever UKIP come up in conversation (a regular, but not dominant theme over a few hours) then it is clear that they rarely illicit indifference. There are those who are going to vote for them (and it is surprising how often their fans are our more senior citizens), outnumbered by those who, whilst not necessarily Labour, are determined to vote for anything but UKIP.

Bearing in mind the relatively small snapshot I am able to witness, it is also true that Liberal Democrats are thin on the ground (there may be reluctance to confess support for them), and the Conservatives are not found in large numbers either. Of course, where I am working does skew the results, and explains the regular blanks as regards to numbers of Green Party supporters unearthed.

What is important to stress to voters is that on May 7th every one of us will be choosing the Government for the next five years. Ballot papers will contain other parties, but ultimately it boils down to maintaining the current administration, or electing the alternative – it will either be Conservative or Labour that takes this country through to 2020.

To those who do not want to see David Cameron remain as Prime Minister have to be reminded that it is only Ed Miliband’s Labour Party that can stop him. Every cross marked for anything but Labour makes Cameron’s task of hanging that bit easier.

In Thurrock I feel that it is a three-horse race. It should be a shoe-in for Polly Billington, clearly the front-runner in terms of ability. The Conservative MP is not popular, but her task is being aided by those who are usually Labour but who are feeling inclined to protest by voting UKIP. Aside from the fact that UKIP is a more right-wing version of Conservatism, a UKIP vote from someone who will only benefit from a Labour Government is going to help the Conservative Party hang on to power.

Protest may seem an attractive proposition, until you realise that you are left with the outcome until 2020.