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.
On Thursday 5th May 2016, the people of Blenheim Park did not choose to make me their new councillor. This is, of course, a disappointment. However, it is hard to remain disappointed given the increased numbers of them who chose to put their faith in this Labour candidate.
My share of the vote was up a staggering 7.5% on the election in 2015, putting me into second place, and making Labour the clear alternative to the Conservatives in 2018. In light of this, and the continuing woeful performance of the Conservative government, Blenheim Park should be a likely Labour gain the next time around.
But as well as the result, I am delighted with the campaign. I would guess that of all the candidates I spoke to the most residents, heard the most issues and personal stories, and had the most individual connections. I won’t let those connections fall by the wayside, and in the coming week I will be picking up the bits of casework which residents raised to me.
The campaigning, for a little while at least, will go back in the box, but I sincerely hope that I have more doors to knock in Blenheim Park ahead of me.
Today is election day across Southend, and if you have a vote then I implore you to use it for Labour.
If you live in Blenheim Park ward, then I ask you to use it for me.
Over the last year, I have been speaking to residents, keeping them informed via regular newsletters, and working hard to resolve the local problems and issues that they have raised to me. Whether I am elected or not, I intended to keep doing this — but it would be a lot easier as your councillor.
Working alongside a passionate and committed group of Labour councillors, I would work to deliver the policies outlined in our local manifesto, whilst making sure that the views of Blenheim Park residents were always heard and considered.
I want this ward, and this town, to be a better place to work and live. I believe that we can do this together.
Please vote Matt Dent for Blenheim Park ward, today.
You can read the manifesto here.
At one point in last night’s epically disappointing council debate on the breach of purdah, one half of Southend UKIP’s answer to Ant and Dec, Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park), tried to make a point which was shot down by the Mayor as not being relevant to the subject at hand.
The story Cllr Waterworth was trying to tell was one regarding an Independent candidate who was part of the mass exodus from Southend UKIP during the civil war, and one which my little birds have been feeding me bits and pieces of over the last couple of weeks.
Cllr Waterworth was right that it’s an important public interest story. So too was the Mayor right that this was not the proper forum for it. Better, perhaps, would be a blog. Such as this one, perhaps. Not so awful now, eh Floyd?
Last night I stayed up to watch the full council meeting of Southend Borough Council.
I did so primarily for the vote on changes to the electoral arrangements for the Council — reducing the number of councillors by a third, and switching to all up elections — which thankfully failed.
Bizarrely, that was not the most drawn out of farcical part of last night. It was followed almost immediately for an opportunity for Conservative councillors to grandstand, take up time with manufactured moral outrage, and ultimately call for a vote of no confidence in the leader, Cllr Woodley (IND – Thorpe), which failed ultimately by the mayor’s casting vote.
What a deeply unedifying way to conclude the final council meeting before the elections.
Today is the last day to register to vote. If you want a say in the local elections then you need to be registered by midnight today.
Due to the recent change to individual elector registration, there’s an increased chance of people being dropped off the register and losing their democractic voice. To make sure that you’re registered to vote, go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote