Dear residents of West Shoebury,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. To thank the 2,675 of you who turned out to vote on Thursday, and in particular to thank the 355 people who voted for me. It is always humbling when anyone shows such faith in you as to make you the recipient of your vote, and so I feel especially privileged that 355 residents have done so.
Though I’m never sure whether it is appropriate to admit it, I have enjoyed the campaign. I have been lucky enough to be supported by a number of capable, dedicate and enthusiastic local Labour Party members, and though I did not get the opportunity to speak to as many voters as I would have liked, those I did speak to were switched on, aware and interested in what I had to say.
I would also like to thank my opponents, Tony Cox, James Moyies, and (though I saw nothing of him) Charlie Row. It has been a battle of radically different views for the future of West Shoebury and Southend, but I am assured that they were as committed to what they perceived were the best interests of the ward as I was. James, in particular, I wish the best of luck and wisdom as he sets out as your new councillor.
Although I was not successful in winning the contest, I still believe passionately in the area, and that Labour policy could help it achieve the greatness that we all know it is capable of. I will still campaign for fairness and prosperity across Southend, and look forward to the challenges that the future will bring.
Yours with thanks,
Matthew S. Dent
Labour candidate for West Shoebury, 2014
The votes have been counted (or, in Martin Terry’s case, weighed) and there were a whole host of new councillors waking up this morning.
I was at the count myself live-tweeting — and live-blogging, when I could keep up — and I saw events as they unfolded. If you haven’t seen the results yet, you can take a look here. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Done?
So the big story is the one that the BBC are currently trailing; the surge of UKIP across the country. But it wasn’t just UKIP, so how did everyone else do?
The votes have been cast, the polling stations are closed, and the counting has begun! Time to find out who has won where!
Here is the overview of how the elections played out:
|Seats before Election||Seats gained||Seats lost||Overall final number of seats|
As this post goes up, the polls are opening.
Yes, it’s time to go and vote. You. Yes, you. Get down to your polling station and put your cross in the box next to a name.
For the next fifteen hours you have the choice of who represents you, in Europe and in your local government. And frankly, you’d be a fool of Russell Brand proportions not to.
Obviously I would advise you vote Labour, particularly if you live in Southend — the best local candidates, with the best policy platform in the town. But whoever you are inclined to vote for, remember that it only matters a damn if you don’t actually vote. The results are decided by those who vote, and there has been enough news coverage of a certain party that all progressive, fair-minded people should fear what could come about if they don’t cast their vote.
So go. Vote. Vote now, and vote Labour.
Over the past few weeks I have done a lot of blogging about Southend local politics, and the various offerings by the various parties (not to mention the definitely-not-a-party Independent
Party Group), their various candidates, and their various offerings to the electorate. In a lot of these cases I have found them wanting.
Most of my scrutiny has, admittedly, been focused on the Independent
Party Group and UKIP. That is not to say that other parties have been shining examples of good practice (indeed, there has been suggestions of some very worrying behaviour from the local Lib Dems), but when it comes to the likes of the Green Party and the National Front, there is a complete lack of visibility.
However, what about the the Conservatives.
Whenever I have conversations in which I am defending Britain’s membership of the EU, I am always put in mind of the “What have the Romans done ever done for us?” scene from Life of Brian.
“All right, but apart from access to the world’s largest common market, mechanisms to prevent governments breaching citizen’s rights, environmental protections to defend against the effects of climate change, and the longest period of uninterrupted peace in European history, what has the European Union ever done for us?”
It is, granted, a lot easier to be against the EU than for it, and it is an organisation that still needs considerable reform to make it fit for the 21st century — and I’d start with the European Parliament, the very body in which UKIP have set up their money-grubbing shop. But I maintain that a) the advantages of being in the club still outweigh the disadvantages, and b) such reform is better pursued from inside.
But in looking at what the EU does do for us, it is perhaps worth looking locally. What has the EU done for Southend?
The Southend Echo finally published my letter about the Shoebury hustings yesterday. It’s a touch truncated, but I’m going to presume that is down to space-saving rather than any sort of censorship. If you want to read the entire letter, including the part where I ponder on whether I was deliberately cut out of the debate, then luckily you can read it here.
What did catch my eye, however, was a letter from Cllr Anne Chalk (who organised the farcical hustings in question) entitled “Take party politics out of locals”.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows just how little I think of the Independent
Party Group and that I have pointed out many, many times that if it looks like a party, acts like a party, quacks like a party, it’s probably a party — no matter how many times it calls itself “independent”.
So maybe this is just rehashing the same old round, but call me the patron saint of pointless exercises, because I’m going in.
Earlier today I blogged about the hypocrisies and contradictions of Southend’s Independent
Party Group, and in particular their candidate in St Luke’s, Caroline Endersby.
It seems that the Independents are getting worried that their inactive, invisible candidate may not be striking quite the chord they had hoped with the electorate. They have resorted, now, to lies and to misleading voters. Amongst others, they claim that Labour finished 3rd in 2012, when in fact our candidate finished 2nd, and that Labour cannot win in St Luke’s.
Gray Sergeant, Labour’s candidate in St Luke’s at this election, has issued a response.
Another day closer to the election, another example of the independents hawking their particular brand of contradictory political nonsense to the people of Southend. Today I snapped the above picture in St Luke’s ward, coming over the bridge over the railway at the western end of Eastern Avenue.
Placards like these are apparently a big way in which the Independents campaign. Results seem to suggest that this is a fairly successful method — there are
nine eight independents on the council — but for the life of me I can’t tell why. There is no reason on this board for anyone to vote for Caroline Endersby. And from what I have seen of her leaflets, they don’t offer any reasons either.
On Monday evening I attended the local election debate at Hinguar Primary School for West Shoebury and Shoeburyness candidates, advertised in your pages (Southend Echo, 9th May). You can imagine my surprise, then, where upon arrival and with no notice I was informed that the terms had been changed and it would be just for Shoeburyness candidates.
The effect was to create a debate only between the sitting Conservative councillor and the Independent candidate (whose group had been involved in organising the event). It was a shame that the debate was so needlessly constrained, particularly given that the main subject of discussion (the sea wall) is primarily in West Shoebury ward, where I am campaigning to represent the residents after the election.
But what angered me greatly was the assertion that the Labour candidate for Shoeburyness had “decided not to turn up”. This was absolutely not true. Maggie Kelly was unable to attend due to the short notice and her working commitments, which is the very reason that I – as the candidate for West Shoebury – was to take part in the debate.
Labour’s voice was deliberately cut out of the debate and I am very disappointed that the organisers resorted to this, as Labour is the only party in Southend with an optimistic and forward-looking plan for the borough. A cynic might wonder if this was the reason I was not allowed to participate.
Matthew S. Dent
Labour candidate for West Shoebury