General Election 2015

Buying the election: the cost of votes in South East Essex


Some interesting numbers in yesterday’s Southend Echo, pertaining to the spending of each of the parliamentary candidates in the recent elections.

Given that all candidates have to file election expenses by law, it makes for quite an interesting look at how each campaign was financed. The accompanying article in the Echo highlighted concerns about the Conservatives buying the election, and having seen the eye-watering numbers they spent across the whole of south Essex, there’s some cause and justification I think.

So letting out my inner stats wonk, I decided to have a look at how each candidate’s expenditure stacked up compared to the votes they won, in the three south east Essex seats.

Read on…

Spoilt Ballots

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I am in favour of spoilt ballots.

Not as an alternative to voting (Or, indeed, voting Labour -Ed), but as an alternative to not voting. But for those people who tell me that they don’t plan to vote, that they can’t — or won’t — support any of the parties or candidates on the ballot paper, then my advice is always to spoil their ballot.

The simple reason is that spoilt ballots are counted. The number is recorded in the results. The number of those who abstained, who didn’t turn out, is not. It fades away into the background.

Active protest always trumps passive protest.

There were 14 spoilt ballots in the Blenheim Park election, which is a fairly standard number. In Southend West there were some 145. Most are unremarkable things, but one sticks in my mind. On one of the Southend West ballot papers some joker had drawn a representation of male genitalia. They had done so next to the name of the Labour candidate, Julian Ware-Lane.

And because it was drawn within the box next to his name, it was decided as decipherable a vote for Mr Ware-Lane. So irony of ironies, the cock-in-the-box was counted as one of Labour’s 8,154 votes.

You do, it turns out, have to spoil your ballot correctly.

As the dust settles pt 2: the picture in Southend

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I’ve already blogged some of my thoughts on how the general election panned out, but I wanted to look at Southend separately, because the same truths don’t all apply.

Whilst I wouldn’t describe Southend as being a Labour landslide, the truth is that the local party did buck the trend. In the two constituencies we performed well, increasing our share of the vote in Rochford & Southend east by 4.4% and in Southend West by 4.9%. Given that the national picture was one of a Labour wipeout everywhere outside London, the Southend team are feeling justifiably pleased.

I’ll break it down by party, I think.


As the dust settles, part 1: the national picture

ballot box

Well that, my friends, was an unmitigated f**king disaster.

I barely know where to start. There won’t be any glossing over on this blog, because frankly there is no glossing over this. Labour were preparing for government on Thursday, and on Friday the Tories have a majority.

I don’t really know what went wrong. Clearly the majority of the British people were not convinced by the policies that Labour were offering. Which, to be honest, is a shame because I do believe that we had the best ideas for the good of the whole country. But if we can’t communicate that effectively and convincingly then it’s worthless.

Read on…

Why you should vote for Ian Gilbert in Rochford & Southend East

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I actually met Ian at the same time as I met Julian, at the Labour Party conference in 2012. And when I moved to Southend a few years later he was my councillor for the first year I lived here.

Honestly, voting for Ian is a bit of a no-brainer. He is the only progressive candidate on the ballot paper who has a hope of unseating James Duddridge. But even he he wasn’t, he would be my choice.

If you want an MP who is out for themselves, to climb the career ladder, then vote for Tory James Duddridge. If you want an MP who will fluster and shout, but ultimately be out of his depth, then vote for the Green candidate Cross Simon Simon Cross. If you want an MP who likely won’t even turn up, and not say anything even when he does, then UKIP’s Floyd Waterworth is your man. If you want… Actually, I can’t think of who exactly would want a Liberal Democrat MP…

Ian is a man with a record. As leader of the Labour group in Southend he has not only led the party into administration, but succeeded in building the first council house in the borough since the 1980skeeping paid staff in libraries, saving care homes from closure, and all under the cloud of a £11m cut from the Tory-led government.

A vote for Ian represents a chance to put an end to the cruelty of the coalition’s policies, to move towards a better future for the people not only of Southend, by the whole United Kingdom. Ian is a compassionate man, and a commensurate hard-worker. I know that he would make a fantastic MP, and so I urge you to do as I will be doing, and cast your vote for Ian Gilbert in Rochford & Southend East.

Why you should vote for Julian Ware-Lane in Southend West

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Julian Ware-Lane was not the first person I met from Southend Labour (A somewhat dubious honour belonging to Rob Brown -Ed), but he was one of the earliest activists I met, at the Labour Party conference in 2012. By that point he had just become Labour’s first councillor in Milton ward.

Now he is standing for election to parliament, in the constituency of Southend West.

Julian is a good friend of mine, as well as being the councillor for the ward I live in. For the past six months I have had the pleasure of campaigning alongside him, and in my not un-biased opinion the people of Southend West could do no better for their next MP.

Bringing his activist campaigning style which has served Milton ward so well, I doubt that any of the other candidates have had quite so many conversations on the doorstep with voters as he has. His socialist principles of equality and fairness underpin everything he does.

I do not have a vote in Southend West tomorrow, but if you do, then I strongly suggest you vote for Julian. You could not ask for a more principled, dedicated and hardworking MP to fight your corner in the House of Commons.