Continuing my apparent series of blogs on local would-be politicians with slightly questionable geographic awareness, enter Brian Otridge.
Brian is the UKIP candidate for Southend West, and is hoping against all electoral likelihood to topple that tireless dodger of local journalists and champion against cake, David Amess.
Electoral mathematics aside, one thing Brian might like to do some when before May 7th is figure out exactly where it is he is standing for election.
I sometimes do wonder if the anti-immigrant rhetoric that UKIP so frequently spout includes internal immigration. I’m sure that there are more than a few local kippers who might like to kick me out of Southend (And their Rochford & Southend East candidate Floyd Waterworth would probably like to send UKIP councillor James Moyies back to Scotland -Ed), but it does seem rather a…well, stupid perspective.
Perhaps, though, it’s what leads Brian Otridge to emphasise his deep connection to the town, having been born and grown up here, even if his home more recently has been somewhere in deepest, darkest Hampshire. He has moved now back to Southend, but he seems to have, err, missed, and ended up in Rayleigh.
I should say, I don’t think it matters a jot. I’ve touched on the subject before, that I see no necessary problem for an MP/councillor not living in the constituency/ward which they represent (Though they should live within the area of the authority they sit on, and be subject to the decisions they impose -Ed). Julian Ware-Lane would make an excellent MP for Southend West because he is passionate, dedicated and has his priorities in the right place, the fact that he lives and was born in the constituency being incidental.
One thing, though, that any candidate should do, whether they live in the area they are seeking to represent or not, is familiarise themselves with the boundaries. This, I would suggest, seems to be where Brian Otridge has fallen down.
He has made a video for his campaign, in which he stands in various places in Southend and talks about why you should vote for him. One interesting bit has him driving his car whilst speaking to the camera, the safety of which concerns me a little.
But the bit that really jumps out at me is when he stands outside Currys and Homebase, and talks about locally generated electricity — and I’d point out that Labour as part of the joint administration have started steps to set up a Southend Energy Company.
Thing is, I know where Currys and Homebase are in Southend. In fact, they are very close to where I live. And that particular business park is not, actually, in Southend West. It’s over the border, in neighbouring Rochford & Southend East:
Is this damning? No. But it does suggest a lack of attention to detail on the part of Mr Otridge and his campaigners.
That said, I am looking forward to the next videos, with Floyd Waterworth communicating his Rochford & Southend East campaign by mime, and Kursaal residents attempting to find their UKIP councillor.