Well done to Matt Softly, who will be an excellent representative for the people of Rochford ward. And well done to the fantastic campaigners of Rochford and Southend Labour Parties, a mere handful of whom pictured above.
Today, between 7.00 a.m. and 10.00 p.m., the polling stations are open for residents of Rochford ward to cast their vote in the district council by-election. Matt Softly is the Labour candidate in this election, and I would implore voters to go out and ensure he is their councillor when the sun rises tomorrow.
I have known Matt since I moved to Southend, and I know that the people of Rochford could not ask for a better representative to fight their corner. He lives in the ward — not essential, but a point not to be overlooked — and serves on the Parish Council. I know that he will fight for Rochford residents, and having helped on his campaign team I can tell you what an incredible hard worker he is, spending hours talking to residents on their doorsteps about the issues that matter to them, no matter the temperature or weather.
Matt has made ten pledges in this election, to the voters of Rochford, and in his own words they are to
“Ensure Rochford gets its fair share of resources.
Be a strong voice for you and your views, issues and concerns.
Oppose the cuts to neighbourhood policing.
Work with the community to overcome issues with antisocial behaviour.
Hold Rochford District and Essex County Councils to account on issues such as housing, street lights being turned off at night and the condition of pavements.
Work alongside Jerry Gibson and other Councillors to make Rochford a better place to live and work for everyone.
Hold regular advice surgeries.
Listen and be accountable to local residents.
Lobby for investment in Rochford’s Market Square and businesses.
Oppose new housing plans that do not include proper infrastructure and do not add to the social housing stock for our families.”
You may not agree with all of his politics, but I promise you that there is not a harder working candidate on the ballot paper. If residents elect Matt today, they will be choosing a passionate, dedicated and principled local councillor.
The Labour candidate at this by-election will be Matt Softly.
I’ve known Matt pretty much since I moved to Southend, where he was the secretary of the party’s Local Campaign Forum. He now lives in Rochford ward, where he serves on Rochford Parish Council, which in my view makes him the ideal candidate for this by-election. Having served in the dim and distant past as a parish councillor myself, I know how it connects you to the very heart of a community’s concerns.
There is a campaign to come, albeit a brief one, but I am confident in stating that Matt would be the best councillor that the people of Rochford could ask for.
News reached your blogger this weekend of the sad death of Gillian Lucas-Gill, a councillor on Rochford District Council.
Now, I’m not very intimately involved in the politics of Rochford District (Though I am not without my Rochford-based little birds -Ed), so I wasn’t familiar with Cllr Lucas-Gill. My general belief, though, is that the vast majority of elected councillors give their time and their effort out of a sense of public duty. I didn’t, as I say, know Cllr Lucas-Gill, but I am saddened at her death and thankful for her service.
This does, though, mean there will be a by-election in Rochford ward for Rochford District Council (Keep up… -Ed) in the coming months. As far as I know, no date has been set for the poll, and whoever wins will only serve until all seats are up for re-election in May due to boundary changes.
Nevertheless, the by-election will serve as a useful political barometer, in advance of the main event next year. More details as I receive them.
Thurrock is just down the road from Southend. About fifteen miles or so from my door, as the crow flies. And to go there, to listen to UKIP it’s already theirs. They did indeed do well in the local elections in May, but then they did well in Southend without much of an idea of what they were standing for.
Tim Aker, the UKIP MEP for the East of England and candidate for Thurrock, is even going on Newsnight and describing Thurrock as “his seat”. Which is presumptious, given that it’s a three way marginal which he hasn’t won yet.
But it illustrates a point: they think they’ve got this sewn up. So in a by-election in a Labour council seat, a week after coming within six hundred and twenty votes of winning a safe Labour parliamentary seat, they’d look to storm it and win in a landslide.
Funny that they lost, and by a considerable margin.
The results of the two by-elections this week were pretty decisive. And, in my opinion, very bad news for British politics.
We are riding a crest of UKIP popularity at the moment, and the two results are indicative of this in profoundly different ways. It is troubling for the mainstream parties, but I don’t see that it is a particular indication of overwhelming confidence in anything more than the idea of UKIP.
The reason I say this is not out of some tribally political exercise of burying my head in the sand, but that I don’t think that this is as simple as an insurgent party. Farage has taken advantage of a mood, but his is an opportunistic approach. It is that mood which represents the biggest problem for the political system.
“New and improved” is one of those hateful phrases which gets under my skin. It’s a contradiction in terms. If something is “new” then there wasn’t anything there to be improved upon. If it is “improved”, then it existed previously and cannot by definition be new.
It is this phrase which comes to mind with the Tory MPs who have defected from the Conservatives to UKIP. For both Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, the two defectors (At time of press – Ed), both seem to have taken up the mantle of political outsiders, a breath of fresh air to shake apart the Westminster establishment.
Which kind of ignores that, up until very recently, they were part of the very same establishment.
There was a period, around this time last year, when all was sunny and optimistic in the yellow-tinged world of the Liberal Democrats.
It coincided with the election of Mike Thornton in the Eastleigh by-election. For those who don’t recall, this was brought on by the conviction and imprisonment of one-time leadership candidate Chris Huhne. It also coincided with the coming to prominence of the allegations of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard — which is still going on, by the way. It was also a target seat for the Conservatives, who dearly needed a boost.
The Lib Dems poured everything — people, money — into the seat, and in the end held onto it, whilst the Tories fell to third place behind UKIP. And all of a sudden, they could do it. They could survive May 2015 because clearly their vote hasn’t disapparated like everyone supposed.
On Thursday, the voters of a safe Conservative ward in Southend-on-Sea went to the polls in a by-election. When the ballots were counted, the Conservative candidate was returned as the new councillor representing the ward.
By the numbers, you might say.
Except, that bare bones overview doesn’t quite show the full picture of what happened in West Leigh ward this week.