Local Elections 2015

Thank you, Blenheim Park

matt dent for blenheim park

The problem, I think, with a secret ballot is that I have no idea who the 947 voters in Blenheim Park are who I have to thank.

I’m being flippant, of course, as I‘d in no way ever want the secrecy of voting jeopardised. But I am sincere in my thanks.

Thank you, each and every one of you. I cannot describe the feeling of watching ballot papers unfolded with a cross by your own name. The act of someone putting their faith in you like that gets me somewhere deep down in the feels.

When the votes were tallied up, I polled at 947, and came in third. I suppose I should be disappointed with that, to not have won, but to be honest I’m so damn pleased that it’s easy to forget that I didn’t.

After five months of campaigning, 947 people thought that my promise of grassroots, in-touch representation was something worth casting a vote for. 947 people thought that Labour policies of house-building, protecting services, creating a better future, were worth putting their cross besides.

Over the last five months, I’ve walked a lot of miles, and had a lot of conversations. Many of those people, of course, didn’t vote for me. I don’t value the conversations any less for that little fact. I’m happy that I got to meet them, talk to them, find out what mattered to them.

Because I maintain that that is the only way to get people engaged with politics. If politics is disconnected from people, why should they connect with politics?

My sincerest congratulations to James Courtenay on his re-election. And my thanks to my fellow candidates for the clean fight, and to everyone who helped me in my campaign; too numerous to list, but invaluable and unfailing in their support.

I suppose I should be disappointed not to have won, but I enjoyed my time campaigning in Blenheim Park so much that it’s hard to think like that. Thank you to everyone who voted for me, and I look forward to getting back on the campaign trail.

As the dust settles pt 2: the picture in Southend

ballot box

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.


Southend-on-Sea local election results 2015

southend civic centre

Party Votes Percentage Seats before Seats after Change
CON 34,725 39.0% 19 22 3
LAB 16,963 19.1% 9 9 0
IND 12,560 14.1% 13 11 -2
UKIP 9,023 10.1% 5 5 0
LD 8,796 9.9% 5 4 -1
GRN 6,181 6.9% 0 0 0
Turnout 88,953 62.17%


Why I think you should vote for me in Blenheim Park ward

vote dent small

I have been the Labour Party candidate for Blenheim Park ward for a while now. When I was selected, a number of people told me that it was hopeless, it was unwinnable, it couldn’t be done.

Now, we’re all about to find out whether they were right. Yep, you read that right. I don’t know how it’s going to pan out, and neither does anyone else. But it’s in your hands, the voters of Blenheim Park ward.

I have knocked on a lot of doors, and spoken to a lot of people. Not nearly as many as I would have liked to, but from those I have talked to there is no love for the current crop of councillors representing them. Very few could name any of their councillors, and with those who could it was mostly Lib Dem and part-of-the-furniture Graham Longley.

There has been widespread distaste for the coalition government too. Many times in the last few weeks I’ve had my hand warmly clasped, and some variation of the words, “We have to get the Tories out!” uttered.

So why am I standing? I believe that Blenheim Park can be better. And I believe that that starts with good, solid, in touch representation. There’s a reason I’ve been slowly crawling around the ward, talking to as many people as I can. If I’m elected, I’ll keep doing so, until I’ve spoken to every resident. And then I’ll start again.

Because I think that that link between councillor and resident is the cornerstone of a thriving community, which people want to live and work in, which people want to be part of, which works for everyone. I want Blenheim Park residents to know my name, not out of some sort of vanity, but because I want them to know who they can come to with problems and in time of crisis.

So if elected as your councillor, I will do everything I can to maintain that link of contact. I’m not going to make brash promises of regular e-newsletters, because I don’t think I need to. I will keep do what I’m doing: blogging and tweeting, and knocking on doors.

And as far as my politics go, I wear them on my sleeve. I am a Labour Party member. I am a socialist. I believe we as a society only do as well as the least amongst us, and that whatever we do, fairness needs to be at the core of it. I want to protect the services that people rely on, and to make sure we provide for everyone.

So there you go. That’s why I think you should vote for me. If you like the sound of that, then go and put your cross next my name on the ballot paper. If you don’t, then choose one of the other candidates. It really is as simple as that.

Thank you for an inspiring campaign, Blenheim Park. I look forward to the election results, and whatever will follow.

Reds under the beds (according to Westborough Conservatives)

Westborough In Touch small

Usually for election literature this bad, you have to head over to the Conservatives in St Laurence ward. But apparently their cousins in Westborough have been drinking the same Kool-Aid as Mark Flewitt’s band of merry men.

There is, of course, the ever-present possibility that Conservative candidate for Westborough, Daryl Peagram, is a refugee of some alternate universe where the cold war is still going strong. Because the language used in this leaflet (Where actually comprehensible -Ed) comes straight from some McCarthyist dystopia.

The content of this leaflet verges on the ridiculous at times, but so far as I can tell it wasn’t a joke. The Conservative Westborough team happily handed one over when our paths crossed yesterday afternoon, so presumably they are proud of it.

If so, I worry for the Tory quality control.

Read on…

Letter to the Editor: Cllr Chalk should apologise for debate farce


I was entirely unsurprised to hear from attendees that the Shoeburyness ward local election debate organised by Cllr Anne Chalk was a stage-managed farce. Those readers with long memories may recall that at the one she organised last year I was supposed to be representing the Labour Party, until she cut me out last minute and tried to claim Labour had not turned up.

This time Cllr Chalk managed surpass herself, employing one of her friends and allies as a thoroughly biased chair. Almost all of the questions were offered to Cllr Chalk, who, apparently was best placed to answer as sitting councillor. Aside from the bias this shows to the incumbent, I have seen no other debate where questions were not answered by all candidates at the debate, in favour of one obviously preferred contender.

The result was the Conservative candidate Roger Hadley being asked a lot of questions about how awful his party is, and Labour’s Maggie Kelly being cut out of the debate almost entirely. The Green and Liberal Democrat candidates did not make an appearance. It says something that Cllr Chalk is so worried about being found wanting, that she has to stack the deck against her opponents.

I think Cllr Chalk should apologise for this abuse of democracy, and assure us that it will not be repeated.

Matt Dent

Avenue Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

Blenheim Park campaign diary: The last weekend…

blenheim park bus stop

The last weekend before the election was one of those times that the Southend Labour campaign team would be out come whatever weather. Thankfully, it turned out to be rather nice, and a lot of leafleting and door-knocking was done. This has felt like a long campaign, and I’d love to be able to work out quite how far I’ve walked in the last six months.