Posts Tagged ‘Politics


And we’re off!

southend civic centre

With the local elections this year being later than most due to the European Parliament elections (the vote usually occurs on the first Thursday in May), today has seen the publishing by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council of the notice of election. This marks the “official” start of the election campaign — I say official, but all parties have been laying the groundwork for months. Would-be candidates have now 10 days to get their nomination papers in — with the signatures of 10 nominators living in the ward and on the electoral roll — by 24th April.

There are eighteen seats up for election — one in each of the seventeen wards in the borough, and an extra in Westborough which Independent Martin Terry has vacated in his flight to Thorpe — of which 11 are Tory-held, 5 by the Lib Dems, 1 Labour and 1 Independent.

Most local political commentators — both enthusiastic amateurs like myself, and those sitting on the council — are expecting upheaval after this election. The Conservative majority stands at 1 presently, and they are almost certain to lose a number of seats on May 22nd. What this means for post-election Southend will depend on how the dice ultimately fall, and what alliances can be made as a result.

So there is a lot to play for; expect a lively campaign.

38 days to go.


Leader of Independents on Southend Council resigns!

martin terry

Sadly, Martin Terry isn’t renouncing politics, and becoming a monk.

No, this is the next step in the ongoing saga of Independent Party Group Martin’s flight to the safer climes of Thorpe ward. On Friday, he gave his written resignation into the council, and formally ceased to be a councillor representing Westborough ward. This isn’t exactly a surprise, as he had declared his intentions to do just so a few months back.

Read on…


Nigel Farage – Political Tease

nigel farage

When the Maria Miller expenses scandal started, it wasn’t any great insight to deduce that it would be good for UKIP. Nigel Farage and co have been pedaling their reactionary flavour of anti-politics for a while, the natural repository since the Lib Dems committed electoral suicide went into coalition with the Tories.

And equally unsurprisingly, Mr Farage himself was in Miller’s Basingstoke constituency yesterday, promising a big announcement. How exciting. What could it be?

It was, in fact, the unveiling of the UKIP candidate for Basingstoke in 2015. What, you don’t know who it was? Well there’s one very good reason for that.

It’s not Nigel Farage.

Read on…


Southend Echo, late to the party

james duddridge halifax surgery

The fun of leading a political media story was something I rediscovered a few weeks back, over Southend MP James Duddridge’s Halifax customers only constituency surgery. It even got me on the local radio, and onto the BBC News website.

It didn’t, however, make it into Southend’s local paper, the Echo. I noted this at the time as something of an oddity, but presumed that they didn’t find it of sufficient interest for their pages. It being a local story gaining national prominence, this was strange, but life goes on.

Except, it seems that they didn’t opt to miss it. Instead, they were just taking their time getting to it. Two weeks of time, to be precise. I noticed, on Friday, this story upon the paper’s website: “MP James Duddridge holds ‘community’ surgery exclusively for bank customers”. My story. Complete with the photo I took. And a credit? Nary a sight.

I don’t actually mind — though a credit would have been nice — but it’s certainly an odd way to conduct a news organ. You have to question whether news is even the right word for events two weeks old, heavily discussed at the time.


An update – James Duddridge and the Halifax surgery

james duddridge halifax surgery

Well, it’s certainly been an odd week. I started out blogging a photograph I took on my phone at the weekend, and ended up at twenty to seven this morning on BBC Essex talking to James Whale. It even reached LabourList, my old haunt at Political Scrapbook, and even the BBC News website.

Hardly your average week.

James Duddridge’s “Halifax customers only” community surgery seems, at first glance, like a fairly trivial issue. But really it goes to the heart of the idea of representation. With concerns about corporate and large scale lobbying diluting the access of voters to their MPs, Mr Duddridge putting himself in a position where he seems to be turning his representation into a service for sale to corporations looks about as wise and well informed as Grant Shapps’ latest Twitter campaign.

Read on…


In Praise of Gordon Brown


It’s not very fashionable to praise Gordon Brown. He caused the global economic crisis after all, remember.

I’m actually midway through reading Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge’s “Brown at 10″ at the moment, and have to say that it’s an eye opener. It’s difficult to accurately judge events at the time as you lack perspective and distance.

I’m not sure what the view on its accuracy is, but I must admit that I’ve found it very balanced. Granted Brown wasn’t a perfect person. But show me the politician who is. Hell, show me the person who is.

But what has struck me is his passion, his dedication, his resolve — in the end — to do the right thing regardless of how popular it was.

Read on…


Does Bernard Ingham think insulting the north will win votes?

bernard ingham

Ah, Bernard Ingham, with your eyebrows to rival the one-time Archbishop of Eyebrow-bury Rowan Williams. Sadly, you haven’t his touch for understanding. Nor, really, do you have the political relevance of your fellow Thatcher bigwigs  like Lord Lawson and Lord Tebbit.

But that hasn’t stopped it, has it? No, you’re still there, still plugging away, still determined to kick down the north just as you did in office. Credit to you, on the one hand.

But on the other, go away.

Read on…


What is the most common first name for a UK Prime Minister?

number 10 door

The answer is William. Yeah…

But since that of itself doesn’t make for a particularly long or interesting blog post, I’m going to dig a bit deeper into this. Warning: this contains stats nerdery (a lot) and politics (a little…rather tangentially). Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Read on…


Get Crosby

lynton crosby

Lynton Crosby, received wisdom has it, is something of a wizard. The bruiser of an electoral genius who put former Australian PM John Howard in the top office, and helped Boris “£250k is chickenfeed” Johnson win the mayoralty in a traditionally Labour London bleeding under Austerity.

The fact that he failed to spin similar magic for Michael Howard at the 2005 election in a particularly nasty campaign is usually — and conveniently — left out of this estimation, but it’s hard to argue that his co-option for David Cameron’s ailing and divided Conservative Party hasn’t given the rank and file footsoldiers a little more confidence.

So when they harp on that Labour is being foolish by focusing on the question of his involvement in the controversial decision to drop plain packaging for cigarettes, it should be viewed in light of this state of affairs.

Read on…


Who Loses Most From Huhne’s Downfall?

clegg huhne cameron

It’s been nearly two days now since Chris Huhne surprised everyone and pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice — the plea being the surprising part, not the guilty. The political commentariat have had chance enough to chew it over, myself included.

So given that mere months before his resignation Huhne was being touted as a possible coup leader and alternative to Clegg, the fallout from this will do some fairly profound rearranging of the political landscape. Since the late unlamented Huhne’s Eastleigh seat is beyond a long shot for Labour, I can sit back and enjoy this a bit, and look at who this plays out worst for.

  • Chris Huhne

This is the obvious one. The man will almost certainly be going to jail, and deservedly so frankly. Displaying a staggering sense of arrogance and self-importance, he allowed his lies to turn a trivial driving offence into a career-ending death blow. So he has lost his seat, from all accounts he has lost his family, and he will go to jail. But upon his release, he will probably write a best-selling tell-all book, and in end won’t do nearly as poorly out of the whole sorry situation as by rights he should.

  • Nick Clegg

Again, conventional wisdom seems to say that a disgraced MP’s party leader will pay a price in political capital. After all, this was someone who implicitly had Clegg’s endorsement as a member of his party, and as a (presumably-vetted) one-time cabinet minister — so his personal judgement should come into question somewhat. Except that Mr Clegg doesn’t have a great deal to lose in that respect. His poll ratings are in the doldrums, and as mentioned above Huhne had been something of an agitator against him.

For evidence that Clegg wasn’t terribly sorry to see the back of Huhne, just take a look at his statement on the matter:

This is obviously an extremely serious matter and it’s essential that the legal process is now allowed to run its course. I am shocked and saddened by what has happened, but I believe that Chris Huhne has taken the right decision in resigning as an MP.

Frosty and fairly perfunctory. So long Chris, thanks for nothing!

  • David Cameron

What does David Cameron have to lose here, I hear you ask. Well, take a close look at Eastleigh. Huhne’s majority was only 3,864, and that was before the Lib Dem poll collapse. Toss in a disgraced former MP, and this should be a seat which the Conservatives easily win.

Except… In the 2012 local elections, the Lib Dems paradoxically gained seats. Factor into that the high polling of UKIP and the controversy of gay marriage. It is quite likely that UKIP will poll highly here, splitting the right-wing vote and allowing the Lib Dems to retain the seat.

And imagine what that would do to Cameron’s disaffected backbenchers. They are already, reportedly, planning to demand George Osborne’s head on a silver platter after the May elections. If they lose the sort of Parliamentary seat which they will need to win in 2015 to have any chance of winning a majority, then Osborne’s sacking won’t be nearly enough.

Strangely, Cameron may lose more than anyone out of Huhne’s downfall. After all, nothing gets rid of a Conservative Prime Minister more effectively than the Conservative Party.

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April 2014
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