When Cllr Floyd Waterworth (Blenheim Park) was selected as UKIP parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East, it was to widespread surprise.
Partly because he was an invisible presence locally, unknown to even the local political anoraks, elected in his ward primarily due to low turnout, high UKIP presence in the media, and the European Parliament elections being an issue catalyst for his voters.
It was also because the candidate-presumptive had been Cllr James Moyies (West Shoebury), UKIP group leader and the person who probably deserves the most credit — after Nigel Farage, of course — for UKIP’s breakthrough.
I have no real idea why Moyies lost out to Waterworth (though I have my suspicions), but it does seem that there is some bad blood between the two. Conservative councillor James Courtenay (Blenheim Park) has today blogged that, James Moyies told him, “I won’t be voting for him [Floyd Waterworth] in the general election.”
This is, to be blunt, a hammer-blow for Cllr Waterworth. I couldn’t tell you what precisely is between them, what bad blood has come up (though it makes a lot of sense that the controversial selection is at least a contributing factor), but for the leader of the UKIP group on the council to be openly stating that he won’t be voting for the UKIP candidate at next year’s general election… Wow.
The thing is, I am coming up remarkably short of reasons for anyone to vote for Cllr Waterworth. Not only is he a near invisible presence in the press, and in the lives of residents of Rochford & Southend East, but he doesn’t even think that he should turn up to council meetings, to vote for the policies he pledged when he was elected.
I have had a bit of a back and forth with Cllr Waterworth over this issue on the letters page of the Echo, a subject on which I may well return to on this blog in the near future. But it is an astounding attitude for not just a councillor, not just an aspiring MP, but one who is going to be relying heavily on the “plague on all your houses” vote.
What’s the difference between the mainstream parties and UKIP? Well the mainstream parties bother to turn up and do the job, at least.
Cllr Waterworth has at least launched a strong campaign on one of the big issues facing Southend — the dress code for councillors in the chamber. With political antennae like that, surely he can hardly fail to win.
I do wonder if perhaps Cllr Waterworth has taken the electoral strategy of trying to out bumble sitting Tory MP James Duddridge. Perhaps he thinks that if he can appear even more incompetent and disinterested than the man that voters have elected since 2005 then he will romp to victory. I doubt it.
But if James Moyies, UKIP’s leader locally, refuses to vote for Floyd Waterworth, it raises starkly the question: why should anybody?