The last weekend before the election was one of those times that the Southend Labour campaign team would be out come whatever weather. Thankfully, it turned out to be rather nice, and a lot of leafleting and door-knocking was done. This has felt like a long campaign, and I’d love to be able to work out quite how far I’ve walked in the last six months.
Its not often that we in Southend Labour can be accused of flying in support, but I was very grateful to have the aid on the campaign trail on Saturday of Dr Chris McGurk, our candidate for Leigh ward. Chris, who flew in from Barcelona to Southend Airport only Saturday morning, met us for a very long day of leafleting and knocking on doors. He’s been a real boost to the Labour Party, and would make a truly excellent councillor for Leigh.
One Blenheim Park resident crossed the road, not to get away from us, but to ask us if we thought we stood a chance. The answer, in both council and constituency campaigns, is a resounding yes.
In Blenheim Park, only myself and James Courtenay have been doing any work on the ground. The Liberal Democrats have all but evaporated, and I’ve yet to see any evidence of UKIP campaigning on the ground. Only one person I spoke to yesterday said they intended to vote UKIP.
In Southend West, there’s an interesting thing which I notice about the numbers from the last election. If UKIP take half of the Conservative vote, and Labour take half of the Lib Dem vote, the numbers work out like this:
Fanciful? Hardly. Southend West Labour, and Julian Ware-Lane, are running the best campaign we’ve run in a long time, and meanwhile Sir David Amess is riding around Westcliff in a horse-drawn carriage…
Speaking of the aforementioned carriage, transportation for the Blenheim Park — and indeed Southend West — campaigns has been on the basis of a few amateur taxi drivers, and my aching feet…
The aforementioned Blenheim Park resident told us of how he used to work as a bus driver, back when Southend had a municipal bus company. He regretted the privatisation, and the resultant increase of prices and loss of less-profitable routes from the service.
Having grown up in Warrington, one of the few local authorities in England which still has a council-owned and -run bus service, I have to say I’ve found bus provision everywhere I’ve lived since to be severely wanting. The Labour manifesto includes a pledge to devolve:
“…London-style powers to regulate bus services.“
Which is something that Southend could sorely do with.
Our new friend left with a couple of Labour posters, excited to put his cross next to the Labour candidates on the ballot paper on Thursday. And he’s not alone, of the people I’ve spoken to. There’s a real sense that people want change in how they are represented on the council and in parliament, and I’m constantly being told that our activity in the ward is outstripping our opponents.
I can’t say how the results will pan out, but in the dying days of the campaign, this Labour candidate is cautiously optimistic.
Saturday evening ended, naturally, in the pub, at Southend Trades Union Council’s International Worker’s Day celebration. Music, friendly faces, and hard-earned pints. Not the worst way to finish a day.