Meet the Lib Dem candidate…for a ward which no longer exists

blenheim focus

The phrase “I don’t know where to start” is rather overused, but having sat here staring at the latest gift from my little birds, I really don’t.

The gift, of course, is the above leaflet from Southend Liberal Democrats, which announces in the traditional (But not necessarily the most helpful -Ed) way their candidate for Blenheim Park ward, Chairman of Leigh Town Council Richard Herbert.

So where do I start? With the glaring typo on the front page? (Word to the wise: “its” means “belonging to it”; “it’s” means “it is”. Southend Lib Dems should invest in a spellchecker. Or an understanding of the English Language. Or, preferably, both -Ed). Maybe I should pick at the fact that the same photo of Richard is used no less than four times in the space of two pages?

Or maybe I should start with the fact that they demonstrate that they actually don’t know where they are trying to campaign, by consistently getting the name of the ward wrong and citing a ward which hasn’t existed for fifteen years?

Yeah, that sounds like a good starting point.

I feel that, before I start on this, I should point out that up until May 2012, this ward had three Lib Dem councillors. It still has one: Cllr Graham Longley, leader of the local Lib Dems and Deputy Leader of the Council. And he features throughout this rag, introducing Richard Herbert as the candidate for Blenheim. Not Blenheim Park, Blenheim.

There was, as I say, actually a Blenheim ward in Southend, which occupied much of the same area as Blenheim Park presently does. That ward, though, ceased to exist when the boundaries were last redrawn in 2000. And given that Cllr Longley has represented the ward since its creation in 2000, he really ought to know that.

Singing to a hymn sheet 15 years out of date, though, might explain another geographic difficulty which my little birds report Southend Liberal Democrats suffering: a number of these oversized, content-lite leaflets have turned up through letterboxes in neighbouring Belfairs ward. If candidate Herbert doesn’t know where his would-be ward is, then I don’t propose to put him out of his misery, but the map on the wall of Blenheim Park Labour’s war-room leaves little space for doubt.

Which brings me neatly onto Richard Herbert’s credentials. They seem to hinge mostly on his credentials as a Leigh Town councillor. Now, I’m not going to knock the town council, given that I endorsed them for the town as a whole. But Richard Herbert represents Leigh Road ward, which has no overlap with Blenheim Park ward and is entirely within Leigh ward, as demonstrated below:

blenheim park ward leigh road ward boundaries

(You can have that one for free, Richard -Ed)

Leigh Town Council elections are at the same time as those for the Borough Council. So presumably, Richard Herbert will be standing for election in both, pitching to voters on either side of the London Road. Except, what happens if an issue arises where Blenheim Park residents are on one side, and Leigh Road residents on the other? Where would perhaps-Cllr Herbert’s loyalties lie? Surely a conflict of interest, if I’ve ever seen one.

I wasn’t expecting an A-grade offering, but this manages to sink lower than my expectations. I haven’t even touched on the majority of the leaflet’s content — which I do mean to — but this is terribly weak. I speak frequently of how far back the Tories in Southend have retreated (Which they have -Ed), but let’s not forget that within political memory the Lib Dems were the senior partner in a coalition running the council. Now look at what they are reduced to.

I said that Blenheim Park was a two horse race, and Neil Monnery said I was talking absolute bollocks. On the strength of this offering, I’m going to repeat that claim: the red and blue horses are ready to go. The yellow horse has turned up at the wrong racecourse altogether.

If you want strong, progressive representation, putting Blenheim Park first, then Labour is the only vote for you.



  1. I am going to be honest using ‘Blenheim’ as shorthand for Blenheim Park’ really isn’t that bad. I do it all the time when chatting. Maybe not the formality you or I would use in a leaflet but not a howler. The rest of your points are correct though.


    1. You’re not wrong, Rob, though the Labour campaign team tends more towards “BP” than “Blenheim” as shorthand (but that’s because we’re hip and cool). And I think in a phrase like “A Blenheim Man for Blenheim” it works quite effectively.

      What comes across as more stupid, I think, is the fact that they don’t once use the ward’s full name. It suggests to me, as I outlined above, that they think that’s actually what it’s called. Which, coupled with the other aspects, creates the strange impression of a disinterest in Blenheim Park itself.


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