But this wasn’t most years.
This year we have Southend UKIP to contend with, and the ongoing tit-for-tat saga of their civil war.
The current state of affairs is a little difficult to keep up with, I’ll grant, and the whole thing reminds me of the “Judean People’s Front” bit from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. At present there are two nominally UKIP groups on the council.
The first, led by West Shoebury’s Cllr James Moyies, consists of himself, Lawrence Davies (Kursaal), Lee Burling (St Laurence), and Tino Callaghan (Prittlewell). All four were elected last year as UKIP councillors, but are presently suspended by UKIP high command as a result of expelling the fifth UKIP councillor from their group. For ease of reference, I’m going to call this group “The Southend UKIP Front”.
The second, consists in its entirety of Floyd Waterworth, the councillor for Blenheim Park and UKIP parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East. He was expelled from the UKIP Group on the council after
beating James Moyies to the parliamentary selection allegedly threatening another councillor in some less-than-clear manner. For hilarity’s sake, I’m going to refer to this group as “The Southend Popular UKIP Front (Splitter!)”.
After the budget was finished being discussed — and I’d point out yet again that Cllr Davies missed the meeting entirely, Cllr Waterworth left before the vote, and only Cllr Moyies gave any speech at all — we came to a piece of political theatre which I know Cllr Moyies was looking forward to.
You see, according to council rules, a “group” must have at least three councillors. So the Southend Popular UKIP Front (Splitter!) technically isn’t a group. And if it isn’t a group, then it has no right to any committee positions.
So what we saw on Thursday was Floyd Waterworth being stripped of his committee positions. The UKIP councillor for Blenheim Park is now essentially powerless, with only the right to attend at meetings of the full council — of which he has missed nearly a third.
Floyd loses, yes, but he clearly doesn’t care. He’s more interested in a parliamentary campaign in Rochford & Southend East which he has mishandled disastrously since its inception. But more importantly, the people of Blenheim Park have lost a third of their representation, their voice — already muted with one councillor focused on his cabinet career, and the other eyeing up the leadership of the Conservative group — a third quieter.
The civil war is all well and good and has kept me, as a local political observer, merrily munching my popcorn since the first shots were fired. But now the people of Southend are suffering, their representation in the running of their town being harmed. It is, quite simply, unacceptable for the people to become casualties of a war between the egos of two men.
This is what a vote for UKIP gets you.