You’ve come this far. Maybe you’re willing to come a little further...
Yes, the end of 2015 is truly upon us, and so as promised, I must offer the second part of my rundown of my 10 maddest moments in Southend politics.
Honestly, distilling it down to 10 was hard work. Deciding what got the top spot was harder still. It’s been a fun year, but looking back over it is more a cavalcade of the weird and wonderful. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, here is the first part, running through numbers 10 to 6.
Here is my top five, of the maddest moments in Southend local politics in 2015.
Regular readers will recognise this as a regular feature on my blog, the part where I have a pop at the marketing strategy of one of the most successful TV companies of all time, over one of the best TV series of all time. So here were go.
2015 draws to a close and, yes, HBO are once again idiots.
I am talking about the news that Game of Thrones is once again the most pirated TV show of the year (The link is to the BBC, because we’re British, but really it’s covered just about everywhere -Ed). Now, I say this every year, but as well as being a victim of its own success, this is partly a result of their approach to DVD releases.
Time and again I insist that people pirate because of convenience rather than expense. Given the popularity of Game of Thrones as a series you would have expected it to be the best selling Christmas DVD. But it’s not. Why? Because it’s not on sale until March.
They do this every damn year. They do this every year, when other shows are available on DVD practically as soon as the series is out. HBO could have topped the DVD best-sellers list with Game of Thrones at the end of 2015. Instead they topped the most pirated list.
Politics in Southend is, to be honest, a joy. You never know what’s going to come along next.
I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but politics seems to be particularly…weird around here. So in the spirit of the end-of-year listicle, I decided what better way to round off the year than with a rundown of my personal favourites of the lot (And split it over two posts to boost traffic -Ed).
Here it is then. Numbers 10 to 6 in my top 10 rundown of the maddest things that happened in 2015 in Southend local politics.
On it rumbles, with a very real sense of making it up as it goes along.
Mainly, I think, because it is.
Part of the anathema of American Horror Story is that it’s a live experiment. Not all of the things it tries out work — no experiment is ever 100% successful — but it always seems to come across some interesting nuggets.
It’s a commitment to watch, in a way, because you never really know what it’s after a lot of the time. The previous four seasons have all, to varying degrees, pulled it together by the end, and are more notable for their successes than their failures. And that, ultimately, is the bar that Hotel has to meet.
Many thanks are due to Douglas Carswell, the UKIP MP for Clacton, for giving we political anoraks our Christmas present early in the form of his (Eminently sensible -Ed) statement that UKIP could do with a change of leader from Mr Farage if it is ever to, well, achieve anything of note.
The Faragists are, naturally, a little hysterical over this statement of heretical treason/base fact (Delete as appropriate -Ed). But where do Southend UKIP stand on the matter?
Well, as they have recently split into Southend West UKIP and Rochford & Southend East UKIP, to follow the constituency boundaries, I can only really speculate on the views of the western faction, who have retweeted the above tweet in an apparent endorsement of Mr Carswell. Now, it’s possible to retweet something accidentally, and as many a Twitter bio (But not @ukipsouthend -Ed) says, retweets are not endorsements. Nonetheless, it does seem to suggest that the local purple brigade are less than onside with the dear leader.
File this one under “unconfirmed” and “liable to change”, but my little birds sing to me songs of a former Independent Party Group councillor for Shoeburyness, who plans to stand for election next May against sitting Independent Party Group councillor Mike Assenheim.
It doesn’t take a great deal of sleuthing to realise that this is none other than Anne Chalk, who lost to Tory Roger Hadley in May. Finding strife in the Independent Party Group these days is no great achievement, but Anne was never that keen on the leadership of Cllrs Martin Terry (IND – Thorpe) and Ron Woodley (IND – Thorpe), not indeed her ward colleague Cllr Assenheim.
I don’t know what banner she will stand under, but I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be under that of the Independent Party Group. If she does indeed follow through her threat, I foresee more squabbles about who is the “official” Independent candidate for Shoeburyness.
The problem with living in a so-called “safe” seat is that there’s not a great deal of reason for your MP to feel they have to work for their constituents. That’s by no means true of all MPs in safe seats, but if re-election is all but assured, the danger is that these MPs are more bothered about the interests of their parties or themselves than the places that they represent.
The two present Southend parliamentary constituencies — Southend West and Rochford & Southend East — have never returned anything but Conservative MPs. Indeed, for anything different you have to go back to 1945, when the seat of South East Essex covered part of Southend and returned Labour’s Ray Gunter.
So given that it has been 70 years since anything but a Tory MP represented any part of Southend, and present MPs Sir David Amess and James Duddridge both sit on hefty majorities (14,021 and 9,476, respectively), it seems fairly clear to me that both constituencies are Conservative safe seats.
Like I said, that doesn’t mean that MPs have to be disinterested in the town. Which makes it all the more disappointing that they apparently are.
Well it’s either the worst or the best, I can’t decide which.
“Dazzling” Daryl Peagram was the Tory candidate for Westborough in May, and regular readers may recall that he had a penchant for producing particularly bizarre election literature which more closely resembled dispatches from a post-apocalyptic alternate reality.
Fortunately (Umm -Ed) for residents and local political anoraks, Dazzling Daryl is the Conservative candidate for Westborough again in 2016, and his leaflets are unchanged in their absurdity.
We’ve come so far, that it feels like a lifetime ago that I sat down to watch the first episode of Doctor Who‘s ninth series, with that familiar mixture of excitement and trepidation; hoping against hope, but expecting to be disappointed.
Actually, that familiar disappointment hasn’t come. There haven’t been any out-and-out bad episodes, or even any mediocre ones. The odd one or two which hasn’t worked has been a noble failure, in that I could see what it was trying to get at, and it’s failure was not any real disgrace to the series, simply experiments that did not quite pay off.
And along the way, we have had a few episodes which weregenuine greats, up there with the likes of “Midnight”, “Blink” and even old greats like “The Genesis of the Daleks”.
The question now is whether the season finale can finish on that high note, or whether the dying chord will let the whole thing down.