I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to come back with some deep, thoughtful post. Of course, I should have known that it would be blind rage that drove me back to the keyboard eventually.
Last night Labour lost a council seat. That’s not all that surprising, really. Our poll ratings are in the toilet, and we’re losing here, there and everywhere (Still winning those parish council seats, though! -Ed). The issue here is that the election was for a Labour-held seat on South Hams district council, and there was no Labour candidate on the ballot paper!
This is, to say the least, embarrassing. It happens from time to time, but Labour Parties across the country do their best to make sure that there’s always a Labour option for voters. We can’t be successful all the time, but the story here seems to be a tale of incompetence and poor decision-making.
I wouldn’t normally get involved in the internal business of other political parties, but after the kind assistance of so many members of the Green Party in the last Labour leadership election, it would feel rude for me to not offer an opinion.
Fortunately, someone has arisen whose bid I can wholeheartedly and unreservedly support. Someone who can take the Green Party in exactly the direction I want to see it go.
I am proud and delighted to endorse Cross Simon, for Green Party leader.
For those fans of Conservative oathbreaking in Southend, it really was not a long wait for the first election pledge to go out of the window. In fact, it was literally the first act of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) after he won the leadership of the council.
As predicted, the appointments meeting of Southend Borough Council saw an alliance of UKIP and Conservative councillors oust the Joint Administration of Labour, Independent
Party Group, Liberal Democrats and Southend Independence Group that has been running the council for the last two years.
Thus begins, then, the new Conservative administration, and the reign of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) as the leader of the council. Dark times ahead…
The following outlines the holders of various council roles, decided at the Appointments meeting of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, on 19th May 2016.
With the dust now having settled on the local elections, it seems a timely moment to look back at my ward of Blenheim Park.
The headline here is clear: I didn’t win. Which, yes, is disappointing, after running what I believe was the most active campaign of any of the candidates. But diving beneath the headline figures, there has clearly been an improvement in the Labour vote.
Looking at position alone, and as I said in my concession speech, a move from third place in 2015 to second in 2016 is progress in anybody’s book. When one looks a longer term breakdown, of vote share as well as base position, the picture gets even more cheerful.
Last week I reported on the deal struck between Southend UKIP and Southend Conservatives, which now seems to be common knowledge, including that Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park) would get chair of Development Control Committee.
Now, never minding the horse trading still going on behind closed doors–including the sheer number of Conservative councillors suddenly realising that they have their leader Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) over a barrel and can demand plum jobs for themselves–there seems to be a groundswell of scepticism as to whether Cllr Waterworth is up to what is — in effect — the most senior non-cabinet role on the council.
This morning, BBC Essex are reporting what my little birds have been telling me for the last few days: that Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh), leader of the Conservative Group on Southend Borough Council, has struck a deal with Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park), leader of the UKIP group, to take control of the council.
To say that I’m disappointed at the news is an understatement, but after the elections the Joint Administration was on a knife edge, and Cllr Lamb clearly saw this as his last opportunity to achieve his long-held dream of becoming council leader — and was willing to do almost anything to make it happen.
The magic number on the council is 26. 26 councillors is a majority. The Tories have 24 councillors after the elections. The Joint Administration had 25 councillors (10 Labour, 9 Independent
Party Group, 3 Southend Independence Group, 2 Liberal Democrat, 1 non-aligned -Ed). Thus the two UKIP councillors held the balance of power.
On Thursday 5th May 2016, the people of Blenheim Park did not choose to make me their new councillor. This is, of course, a disappointment. However, it is hard to remain disappointed given the increased numbers of them who chose to put their faith in this Labour candidate.
My share of the vote was up a staggering 7.5% on the election in 2015, putting me into second place, and making Labour the clear alternative to the Conservatives in 2018. In light of this, and the continuing woeful performance of the Conservative government, Blenheim Park should be a likely Labour gain the next time around.
But as well as the result, I am delighted with the campaign. I would guess that of all the candidates I spoke to the most residents, heard the most issues and personal stories, and had the most individual connections. I won’t let those connections fall by the wayside, and in the coming week I will be picking up the bits of casework which residents raised to me.
The campaigning, for a little while at least, will go back in the box, but I sincerely hope that I have more doors to knock in Blenheim Park ahead of me.