Victoria Voice Summer 2015

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#6monthstowin – a look at the prospects in Southend

With six months to go we are starting to get a picture of who is standing in Southend in the coming General Election.

For Rochford and Southend East we have four declared candidates:

James Duddridge‘s Conservative Party are in decline in the east of the borough, and things are not going so well in the two wards that form part of Rochford District. His party failed to win any of the ten wards that make up Rochford and Southend East, and they came second in total votes garnered. The Independents were first, and since it is unlikely they will have a candidate their vote will likely be shared by Labour and UKIP.

UKIP’s candidate is Cllr Floyd Waterworth. His selection was a surprise, and I honestly do not know what type of campaigner he is, for even though he represents the ward I live in I have not seen him outside of the council chamber. UKIP will do well, although I suspect theirs is likely a respectable third place.

The Green Party’s Simon Cross is a Kursaal activist and contested that ward in May. They will figure only on the margins, and in a tight contest their vote will matter insofar as to where it comes from. If you assume that Green supporters tend to come from the Left, then he will eat into the Labour vote.

Labour’s chances rest with Cllr Ian Gilbert; and 2015 in the east looks to be our best hope for success since 1980 and the by-election that saw Teddy Taylor scrape in. With the Tories set to lose more councillors in the east in May this is a contest that must be close. It really comes down to how much of the independent vote can be grabbed, and what the doubling of turnout will do.

The Liberal Democrats have yet to select. They will struggle and may even lose their deposit; certainly that was where their vote share was earlier this year.

As for Southend West:

David Amess is on surer ground than his colleague in the east, and he will console himself that the Conservative can still win a few wards here. However, he will be aware of UKIP’s presence and the west is increasingly looking like a four-way marginal. Mr Amess will still be the favourite, but he is in for a bumpy ride.

I (Cllr Julian Ware-Lane) am Labour’s candidate. Labour will do much better in 2015 than they did in 2010; it would be difficult to not improve on a dreadful national performance, and this will lift support locally. This seat has been Conservative since 1906, and whilst victory is possible the challenge will be to convince Labour supporters that it is so; and to persuade those who want the Tories out to back me.

UKIP’s Brian Otridge is the only other declared candidate at the moment. He will be cheered by the thought that had his party put up a full slate in the west in May they may well have garnered more votes than the Tories.

The Liberal Democrats have no candidate at the moment, which speaks volumes in itself. They will have a runner in the race, whose job it will principally be to distance themselves from the dirty deeds of the coalition.

The following table shows the vote shares (%) in each constituency extrapolated from the local election results of May just gone. General Elections are not like local elections, and the turnout in May will be about half of what it will be next year, and so you can only read so much into these figures.. But, the data does show the challenges facing both sitting MPs. We appear to be in an era of four-party politics in England, and if this carries through to the General Election there really is everything to play for in both halves of the town. As it stands, James Duddridge looks to have about a quarter of voters behind him at the moment, and David Amess a third. If the electorate gathers behind the most likely candidate to eject either of them then we could see the first Parliamentary change in the town since 1906.

Rochford and Southend East Southend West
Independent Group 27.5 7.1
Conservative 26.1 34.1
Labour 20.5 15.7
UKIP 16.7 22.5
Liberal Democrat 3.2 20.0
Green 1.5 0.8

 

Labour councillor questions Serco blood test involvement

Here is the latest press release from the Labour Party in Southend-on-Sea (our press releases can usually be found here):

A Labour councillor has questioned the involvement of Serco in controversial plans to move blood testing services from Southend to Bedford, following the findings of a National Audit Office report.

The Guardian newspaper has revealed that the National Audit Office (NAO) have accused Serco of falsifying data in relation to contracts with Cornwall Primary Care Trust (PCT) 252 times in the first six months of 2012. Serco have also been accused of seriously understaffing their operation in Cornwall, putting services at risk. The NAO criticised the fact that it was left to whistleblowers to uncover this information as the PCT had failed to adequately oversee these contracts.

Ian Gilbert, Labour Councillor for Victoria Ward said, “how on earth can we trust our blood testing to a company that the National Audit Office has accused of fiddling figures? This is the latest in a long list of reasons why we should not move our blood testing to Bedford.”

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition have enacted controversial reforms to the NHS that will lead to greater opportunities for private companies like Serco to undertake work in the health service. This has lead to accusations that the NHS is being “privatised by stealth”.