If Matt Dent was to do a Monnery, and reduce the Labour vote to a third of what it was in Blenheim Park last year, then Neil may be right, he might be talking absolute bollocks. You see, magnificent Monnery as he is known in Westborough ward obviously followed his own advice in 2012, because his derisory vote must have been the result of doing nothing until the very last moment.

Neil’s yellow-tinted take on things really is blind to the reality in Southend-on-Sea of a Liberal Democrat party very much in retreat. Whilst a turnaround is possible at some point, it is very unlikely that a late Lib Dem surge will be seen on May 7th.

One of the by-products of being a regular pavement pounder is that you get a sense of what is going on. I admit we are not everywhere all of the time, and our political noses are not perfect. But you get a sense.

We know that Labour has been working all year. We know that UKIP started last summer, and stuttered very quickly. We know the Greens are out leafleting. We know the Tories are getting into gear. We also know that the Lib Dems have done nothing.

Please correct me, Neil, if I am wrong. Send me the leaflets your party has been putting out. Show me the press articles, give me a flavour of what you are doing on the ground.

The reality is that in terms of actually doing any work with residents it is a two-horse race. The Tories are well organised, and I hope we go some way in matching them.

I am humble enough to admit I am wrong when I am wrong. Show me some evidence, Neil, show me that Matt Dent is writing absolute bollocks.

In it to win it

My selection as Labour’s General Election candidate in Southend West has inspired the Liberal Democrat’s sole surviving blogger in the borough to write not one, but two, pieces about it. You can almost sense the rising panic at Southend’s equivalent of Lib Dem Central, so much so that they want to me to give in just as I am getting going.

Neil Monnery believes that fielding a strong candidate (I am flattered to be thus described) has damaged our chances. He writes that Labour shoot themselves in the foot in Southend in an argument that suggests my contesting in Southend West will weaken Ian Gilbert’s chances in Rochford and Southend East.

I am not sure quite what Neil’s campaigning credentials are although I do know he stood in Westborough ward in 2012. He came sixth place in a ward that at the time had Lib Dem representation; sixth out of six, with a 90 votes and 5.4% of the votes cast. I will leave it to the reader to pass judgement on this but if the strategy was to do as badly as possible then Neil’s campaign was a roaring success.

I have fought quite a few campaigns, losing far more often than I have won. However, if you factor in those that I have supported and organised (as opposed to those I have contested) then my record is reasonable. I understand about targeting, and about maximising scarce resources. I also know about our membership and what they deserve, and what a long game involves.

Neil’s attempts at analysing David Amess’s chances miss out a chunk of the story. Whilst he may be right in his view that Mr Amess will get re-elected, he ignores evidence that suggest change is possible.

Labour did come a poor third last time around in what was Labour’s worst General Election result since 1919. The Nick Clegg bounce significantly boosted the Lib Dem vote; this time around it will be what is known as a dead cat bounce – voters are deserting a party that has kept Cameron at number ten and enabled him to foist all sorts of unpopular legislation on the UK.

Despite Labour’s unpopularity, David Amess’s vote share went down slightly – hardly a ringing endorsement given the political climate in May 2010. He attracted 46.1% of the vote, with a turnout figure of 65.1%. Of course I am aware of the dangers of hypothesising about unused votes, but Amess’s vote share as a percentage of the electorate stands at 30% – meaning that 70% did not care to support him.

I am in the contest to win it. Southend West Labour Party members deserve a candidate who tries his best, Labour supporters deserve a candidate who tries his best, the electorate in Southend West deserve a candidate who tries his best. David Amess deserves an opponent who will take the fight to him. That a Liberal Democrat views this as bad news merely serves as an additional incentive.

Giving into greed? I’d prefer fairness

Scan22Neil Monnery has temporarily stopped writing about his love-life to direct his attention towards Cllr Ian Gilbert and myself. Ian has two letters criticising him in yesterday’s Echo, which brings to mind that Oscar Wilde quote about there only being one thing worse than being written about.

The other letter, from former Labour councillor Denis Garne, demonstrates that Lib-Con accord is not just found at Westminster; Denis now kisses cheeks at Tory HQ in east Southend.

Whatever, I digress. Neil is vexed by my reminding voters of the tax cut for millionaires enacted by his Government. Neil’s argument mentions not a jot about fairness; he prefers to concentrate on tax take.

This, in itself, is illuminating. Are Liberal Democrats now abandoning the pretence of doing what is right in favour of what generates the most income?

However, his letter (admittedly it could have been hacked about by a sub-editor) is wrong in its essentials. The 50% tax band has been in place throughout this Parliament (up till this April) and so his comparisons with last year are not valid.

However, I am less interested in pedantic arguments about which years Neil was alluding to than to the principal of fairness. For me it is “from each according to their ability”. If this means that some millionaires’ loyalty to the UK is bounded by their unwillingness to pay their share then to them I say good riddance to bad rubbish. I suspect, though, that most will see the fairness in having those with broader shoulders bearing a bigger load.

After all, we are in this together, are we not?

Westborough’s November Focus

Westborough Focus is edited by Neil Monnery and so I was expecting something a little more, er, interesting.

Neil Monnery is a Liberal Democrat blogger who has an exotic taste in subject matter. The following is a sample of posts he has written over the last half year,

 A bad error of judgement by the Southend Lib Dems
 The story of my (very real) UFO encounter and my (quite possible) alien abduction
 The (quite) interesting and bizarre world of online dating EXTRA!
 Take Me Out Girls USA
 The day I became a woman for 12 long hours…
 The online dating world and the real world accidentally meeting…
 The problem with being a 29 year-old virgin and having a Facebook account for your sanity levels
 It is time to announce my retirement from the world of online dating
 A cream that makes a woman’s vagina ‘feel like a virgin’ again – I expected more uproar/debate…
 A dating timetable? I like this idea!
 Men with a lack of self-confidence and a one-way ticket to the friend zone I have some dating advice for you…
 A three-part dream? Yes it seriously happened and boy was it fun.
 How to write a good online dating profile
 Take Me Out Girls 2012 on ITV1 – Season 4 Photos & Details
 Tonight I met Tina Cousins and acted very cool and not fangirlish…then I realised I had my flies undone. Fail.
 First date dating tips for men
 So I had a date last night? Who wants the goss…? I thought you might…
 The stigma of being ‘weird’ and ‘creepy’ that hovers like a spectre…

Neil is very wordy in his blog, and considerably less so as the Focus editor. Perhaps having to concentrate on sensible subjects sapped his energy, or maybe it is the lack of anything resembling progress by his party that leaves him uninspired. It could even be that he casts his mind back to May and the ninety votes he got in Westborough and wonders “what’s the point?”

Whatever it is the latest edition is neither of triumph for substance nor style. I suggest a ‘please recycle BEFORE reading’ headline next time.