I can’t actually remember the first time I met Gray Sergeant. It would have been sometime soon after I moved to Southend, though, when he was hard at work fighting an election in St Luke’s, which he was desperately unfortunate not to win.
St Luke’s loss looks set to become Milton’s gain, though, as this year Gray is running to be the next councillor in the ward where I live.
Over my involvement with Southend Labour Party, I have worked alongside Gray and gotten to know him. In my opinion, he embodies the very best of our local politics.
Having been out on the doorstep with him, I can attest to his unfailing dedication and appetite for the hard work of being a local councillor. He hasn’t shied from the unglamorous jobs dealing with fly tipping, dog mess, and the chronic lack of parking in the town centre.
But more important for me, Gray knows that politics is not black and white. It is important that councillors work together, for the good of the communities they represent. I think that the two Labour councillors Milton already has are prime examples of the sort of resident-first representation which is so effective. I know that Gray will be an excellent addition to that team, adding the perspective of young people in the town centre to an already broad worldview.
On May 7th I will be placing a cross next to Gray Sergeant’s name. If you live in Milton ward, I urge you to do the same.
These days, the last of the Milton Tories cuts a lonely figure on the campaign trail. My little birds disagree on whether Cllr Jonathan Garston is genuinely on his own, in his increasingly doomed-looking struggle to hold onto his seat a week from today, but he seems to be suffering from the classic Southend Tory dearth of activists.
And his latest leaflet might actually be attesting to that.
The most obvious sign of a convergence of Southend’s Independent
Party Group and the UKIP exiles is the name Alex Moyies on the West Shoebury ballot paper as an Independent candidate. It’s a little less obvious that Margaret Haydon, the other Indie in West Shoebury, is James Moyies’ mother-in-law.
It’s hardly surprising, really. The sudden supremacy of Floyd Waterworth seems to have put a lot of noses out of joint, both amongst those who were elected for UKIP last year and those who might have stood for UKIP this year, not least of which Moyies Jr.
The joint leaflet issued by Moyies Jr and Haydon is an interesting read. Like most indie literature, it uses an impressive number of words to say very little. But it’s the bar chart which grabbed my interest. I love a good political bar chart, and it’s usually the Lib Dems who excel in this field. Here the bars seem, broadly, accurate to the West Shoebury results last year, but take a gander at the axes.
LD, Lab, Con….and Moyies? Funny, I thought James Moyies had won last year as a UKIP candidate, not an independent.
Now clearly the Moyies name is Alex’s best chance at actually winning, but this makes an interesting suggestion to me, one which chimes with the whispers that I’ve heard from the dispossessed Kippers: that post-election we’ll be seeing the anti-Waterworth faction — led by Cllr James Moyies — joining the Independent
Given that the outcasts’ leader has been expelled from UKIP, and condemned personally by Nigel Farage as not being “team players“, it doesn’t seem like there’s any way back that way for him. And given that the only requirements the Indies put on its councillors is to bend the knee to Ron Woodley and Martin Terry…
If you’re still in doubt, though, have a look at the imprint on the Haydon/Moyies Jr leaflet:
On Monday night, there was a hustings for the local elections in Shoeburyness. I wasn’t able to make it, more out of work commitments than any greater urge, though I had debated on Twitter whether it was worth attending.
Those few regular readers who I’ve managed not to annoy away may recall that I was meant to be taking part in a very similar hustings last year. The Labour candidate for Shoeburyness couldn’t make the date, so it was agreed that I, as West Shoebury candidate, would stand in for her. Agreed until about ten minutes before the event, when Independent
Party Group councillor Anne Chalk decided that I would outshine her chosen candidate the now-Cllr Nick Ward, and excluded me.
What grated the most, though, was the way that it was presented that Labour hadn’t bothered to turn up.
This year Maggie is our candidate again, against Anne Chalk herself. This year she made it to the hustings, and although I wasn’t there, she demonstrated that she is the only alternative to the Conservatives for the people of Shoeburyness.
What’s all this then, Ron?
Because it looks, to me, like a leaflet. Like a branded leaflet, going out across Southend.
There’s an election coming (You may have heard- Ed) so in many ways this isn’t surprising. But what I am surprised at (No you’re not -Ed) that the group which has repeatedly insisted that it isn’t a party has produced this. A unified leaflet, for all of the Independent
Party Group candidates across the damn borough.
Now, call me out if you like, but that sounds to me like the trait of a party.