I always enjoy election counts. They’re one of those rare moments in an election campaign — like the candidates and agents’ briefing which kicks off the whole affair — where whilst the tension doesn’t diffuse, there is a measure of calm. By that point, everything that can be done has been done.
This year’s count was the first time I met two of my four opponents. Cllr Courtenay I have known, and jousted with, for a while. The Green candidate, Jimmy Wild, I canvassed during the election campaign — though before he was selected as the Green candidate.
All of my opponents came across as, I have to admit, nice people, and the campaign was marked by the lack of rancour shown. I have had a number of friendly, fascinating conversations with my Lib Dem opponent Richard Herbert. Richard is chairman of Leigh Town Council, a body which I would like to see replicated across the rest of Southend, and I hope to have more conversations with him still to come.
It was my UKIP opponent, though, who was the most interesting. I maintain that only two of us — myself and Cllr Courtenay — were actually doing any real campaigning in the ward, and I can count on the fingers of one finger the number of residents I spoke to who could identify Mr Paul Lloyd.
A little surprising, then, that he seemed so put out not to have won.
Before the votes are counted, they are “verified”; meaning they are counted raw, to make sure that the overall number of votes there is what it should be, and none have been mislaid. At this point, watching the verification, it became quickly clear that Cllr Courtenay had been re-elected. At which point, also, Mr Lloyd declared that he wasn’t going to come to the actual count, which would take place the following day.
In the end he did turn up, but he didn’t seem terribly happy, and made a single line thank you speech. UKIP, admittedly, had a bad night. In Blenheim Park, I have to say, they deserved it based on the amount of work they didn’t do. Mr Lloyd, as I said, seemed like a nice man; but not a campaigner.
I don’t know if Mr Lloyd plans to stand for election again. If he does, he would do well to learn that turning up at the end of the fight and expecting to win by right smacks of arrogance; and throwing your toys out of the pram when you don’t win of petulance.