Author: Matthew S. Dent

The Strange Death of Southend UKIP


It has been, all in all, nearly three years since UKIP burst onto the Southend politics scene, winning five seats on the local council from nowhere. The fact that, as of last week, Southend UKIP no longer exists in any meaningful form is a testament to quite what a dramatic ride it has been.

On Friday, The Southend Echo reported that Cllrs Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park) and David McGlone (UKIP – St Laurence) had both defected to join the Conservative group. The previous day, the Echo had broken the news that Cllr James Moyies (SIG – West Shoebury), the former leader of the UKIP group until he was kicked out of the party, had made the same move to the Conservatives, from the band of expelled UKIP councillors calling themselves the Southend Independence Group.

In the last three years, six UKIP councillors have been elected to Southend Borough Council. One stepped down and three were expelled. Three of those six now sit as Conservatives, and two as independents. There is no longer a UKIP group on the council, nor indeed any prospect of one reappearing any time soon.

So what happened, exactly? How did the newest political faction on the scene implode quite so dramatically?

In this blogger’s opinion, UKIP in Southend have been a victim both of their own success and their own ineptitude.

Whilst I disagree with him on a whole range of political subjects, I actually have a lot of time and respect for Cllr Moyies. He was someone who had worked hard to get elected, and had done so out of a genuine desire to make life better for residents. The same, sadly, could not be said of some of the other UKIP councillors, in particular Cllr Waterworth.

The trouble really started when Cllr Moyies lost the selection to be the 2015 UKIP candidate to Cllr Waterworth, in what was a massive upset. As easily UKIP’s most impressive figure locally, it had been taken as a foregone conclusion that Cllr Moyies would fight the local election. Accusations were tossed back and forth about unfair practices in the selection, but the end result was Cllr Moyies refused to support Cllr Waterworth, and was expelled from the party, taking the other three 2014 intake councillors with him.

One of these four exiles, Lee Burling, decided that all of this was much more trouble than it was worth, and stepped down at the 2015 local elections (Probably a wise choice, in retrospect -Ed), triggering a by-election that was won by UKIP’s now-Cllr McGlone. In the 2015 general election, of course, UKIP badly underperformed in Southend, and the St Laurence by-election aside they didn’t do well in the local elections.

Following May 2015, Cllr Moyies and his supporters formed the Southend Independence Group, which entered the joint administration, with Moyies himself serving in the cabinet. Cllrs Waterworth and McGlone, comprising a UKIP group of two, didn’t do a great deal until it came to 2016, and they almost accidentally held the balance of power on the council. They threw their lot in with the Tories, of course, in exchange for a pair of council committee chairs (And the lucrative allowances that come with them -Ed).

The fact that they’ve officially gone over to the Conservatives should be no great surprise to anyone. The Brexit vote, followed by Theresa May’s assent to 10 Downing Street, has repositioned the Tories onto UKIP’s ground, and Nigel Farage’s personality cult is flailing about looking for a purpose. With Waterworth and McGlone both up for re-election next year — and Waterworth in particular knowing that I outpolled UKIP as the Labour candidate in his seat last year — they will be looking around for a strategy to hang onto their seats. And becoming born-again Tories is probably the best one open to them.

The same, realistically, is true of James Moyies in West Shoebury, though I’d argue that he’s actually attempted to do the job of representing residents. Politically, I’ve had him pegged as a eurosceptic Thatcherite, so he doesn’t fit May’s brand quite as well as the other two, who are more in the eurosceptic authoritarian mould.

Honestly, I think UKIP’s hour in Southend is done. Their USP is gone, and the Tories in this part of the world were always on the same page as UKIP. In a way, it’s actually quite impressive to see that its councillors have realised this. But the upshot of this is quite straightforward: a vote for UKIP is more than ever a vote for the Tories.

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Jeremy Corbyn, the King in the North?


corbyn king of the north

Given that Game of Thrones analogies are “the thing” in politics at the moment, I can’t say I was surprised to see this particular meme pop up sooner or later. And, honestly, the thing that annoyed me most was the glaring mistake: it’s king IN the North, not king OF the North.

Fanboy accuracy concerns aside, it strikes me as an interesting claim. Is Jeremy Corbyn overwhelmingly popular in the North? Is he on the verge of being declared King?

Probably not…

Read on…

The CLP, the ineligible candidate, and a lost Labour council seat


picard facepalm

I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to come back with some deep, thoughtful post.  Of course, I should have known that it would be blind rage that drove me back to the keyboard eventually.

Last night Labour lost a council seat.  That’s not all that surprising, really.  Our poll ratings are in the toilet, and we’re losing here, there and everywhere (Still winning those parish council seats, though! -Ed). The issue here is that the election was for a Labour-held seat on South Hams district council, and there was no Labour candidate on the ballot paper!

This is, to say the least, embarrassing. It happens from time to time, but Labour Parties across the country do their best to make sure that there’s always a Labour option for voters. We can’t be successful all the time, but the story here seems to be a tale of incompetence and poor decision-making.

Read on…

Cross Simon for Green Party Leader!


green banner

I wouldn’t normally get involved in the internal business of other political parties, but after the kind assistance of so many members of the Green Party in the last Labour leadership election, it would feel rude for me to not offer an opinion.

Fortunately, someone has arisen whose bid I can wholeheartedly and unreservedly support. Someone who can take the Green Party in exactly the direction I want to see it go.

I am proud and delighted to endorse Cross Simon, for Green Party leader.

Read on…

Southend Tories’ first act back in power? Breaking an election pledge


tory tree on fire

For those fans of Conservative oathbreaking in Southend, it really was not a long wait for the first election pledge to go out of the window. In fact, it was literally the first act of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) after he won the leadership of the council.

Read on…

UKIP help the Conservatives limp into administration in Southend


tory ukip

As predicted, the appointments meeting of Southend Borough Council saw an alliance of UKIP and Conservative councillors oust the Joint Administration of Labour, Independent Party Group, Liberal Democrats and Southend Independence Group that has been running the council for the last two years.

Thus begins, then, the new Conservative administration, and the reign of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) as the leader of the council. Dark times ahead…

Read on…

Blenheim Park 2016 – looking back at the votes


matt in bp

With the dust now having settled on the local elections, it seems a timely moment to look back at my ward of Blenheim Park.

The headline here is clear: I didn’t win. Which, yes, is disappointing, after running what I believe was the most active campaign of any of the candidates. But diving beneath the headline figures, there has clearly been an improvement in the Labour vote.

Looking at position alone, and as I said in my concession speech, a move from third place in 2015 to second in 2016 is progress in anybody’s book. When one looks a longer term breakdown, of vote share as well as base position, the picture gets even more cheerful.

Read on…

Is Southend UKIP’s Cllr Waterworth fit to chair Development Control?


farage and waterworth

Last week I reported on the deal struck between Southend UKIP and Southend Conservatives, which now seems to be common knowledge, including that Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park) would get chair of Development Control Committee.

Now, never minding the horse trading still going on behind closed doors–including the sheer number of Conservative councillors suddenly realising that they have their leader Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) over a barrel and can demand plum jobs for themselves–there seems to be a groundswell of scepticism as to whether Cllr Waterworth is up to what is — in effect — the most senior non-cabinet role on the council.

Read on…