With the new administration officially in place as of last night, reactions are trickling in from Southend’s political blogosphere. On the left, Julian Ware-Lane has said his piece, whilst on the right Nigel Holdcroft, Mark Flewitt and Tony Cox have weighed in. For myself, I have blogged a twice now on the joint administration arrangement; once before last night’s vote and once after.
Shoeburyness Independent councillor, Anne Chalk, has yet to blog about the deal. That isn’t altogether surprising. Her blogging is a spasmodic affair, going months at times without a post and then a flood of updates at once. A cynic might note that her most recent blogging surge coincided quite neatly with the local elections.
My eye is drawn to her most recent post, gloating over the defeat of Tories in Southend, particularly the defeats in West Shoebury of Tony Cox and Shoeburyness of Roger Hadley — under the title “Tory Yoke is lifted off the people of Shoebury”. Nobody would begrudge her that, but I note this passage:
“…in Shoebury [the removal of the Conservatives from power] has come as such a breath of fresh air, that residents are actually proposing to hold a street party in George Street and possibly elsewhere!“
Rejoice! The Conservatives have lost power in Southend! A sentiment that I share. Anne goes on, riding her lame hobby horse of no party politics in local politics:
“I am so glad that residents have put down a marker which says they are not prepared to accept this behavior from any political party or group!“
I’m never quite sure what it is that Anne is objecting to about political parties. Her own Independent group is a party in everything but name, and its repeated denials of such a status look more and more ridiculous. Perhaps Anne is jumping on the anti-politics vote, which likes to imagine the electorate being stitched up by a power hungry, self-interested bunch of slimy politicians. In my experience, this applies to a withering minority, most politicians interested only in serving and improving their local community.
However, one interesting whisper I have heard from the Conservative camp in Southend, is that during the negotiations to form an administration a certain Independent councillor called Tory leader John Lamb to offer him their support, in exchange for a seat on the cabinet, despite having campaigned vigorously against the Conservatives’ policies for Southend, and vociferously decried party candidates in general. Of course, one additional vote wouldn’t have delivered the Tories a majority, so the deal was a bust purely on maths, but it still shows a remarkable self-interest and hypocrisy.
And, according to the rumours that have reached me, who was this councillor?
Well — you might very well be able to guess, but I couldn’t possibly comment.