Conservatives

The Strange Death of Southend UKIP


It has been, all in all, nearly three years since UKIP burst onto the Southend politics scene, winning five seats on the local council from nowhere. The fact that, as of last week, Southend UKIP no longer exists in any meaningful form is a testament to quite what a dramatic ride it has been.

On Friday, The Southend Echo reported that Cllrs Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park) and David McGlone (UKIP – St Laurence) had both defected to join the Conservative group. The previous day, the Echo had broken the news that Cllr James Moyies (SIG – West Shoebury), the former leader of the UKIP group until he was kicked out of the party, had made the same move to the Conservatives, from the band of expelled UKIP councillors calling themselves the Southend Independence Group.

In the last three years, six UKIP councillors have been elected to Southend Borough Council. One stepped down and three were expelled. Three of those six now sit as Conservatives, and two as independents. There is no longer a UKIP group on the council, nor indeed any prospect of one reappearing any time soon.

So what happened, exactly? How did the newest political faction on the scene implode quite so dramatically?

In this blogger’s opinion, UKIP in Southend have been a victim both of their own success and their own ineptitude.

Whilst I disagree with him on a whole range of political subjects, I actually have a lot of time and respect for Cllr Moyies. He was someone who had worked hard to get elected, and had done so out of a genuine desire to make life better for residents. The same, sadly, could not be said of some of the other UKIP councillors, in particular Cllr Waterworth.

The trouble really started when Cllr Moyies lost the selection to be the 2015 UKIP candidate to Cllr Waterworth, in what was a massive upset. As easily UKIP’s most impressive figure locally, it had been taken as a foregone conclusion that Cllr Moyies would fight the local election. Accusations were tossed back and forth about unfair practices in the selection, but the end result was Cllr Moyies refused to support Cllr Waterworth, and was expelled from the party, taking the other three 2014 intake councillors with him.

One of these four exiles, Lee Burling, decided that all of this was much more trouble than it was worth, and stepped down at the 2015 local elections (Probably a wise choice, in retrospect -Ed), triggering a by-election that was won by UKIP’s now-Cllr McGlone. In the 2015 general election, of course, UKIP badly underperformed in Southend, and the St Laurence by-election aside they didn’t do well in the local elections.

Following May 2015, Cllr Moyies and his supporters formed the Southend Independence Group, which entered the joint administration, with Moyies himself serving in the cabinet. Cllrs Waterworth and McGlone, comprising a UKIP group of two, didn’t do a great deal until it came to 2016, and they almost accidentally held the balance of power on the council. They threw their lot in with the Tories, of course, in exchange for a pair of council committee chairs (And the lucrative allowances that come with them -Ed).

The fact that they’ve officially gone over to the Conservatives should be no great surprise to anyone. The Brexit vote, followed by Theresa May’s assent to 10 Downing Street, has repositioned the Tories onto UKIP’s ground, and Nigel Farage’s personality cult is flailing about looking for a purpose. With Waterworth and McGlone both up for re-election next year — and Waterworth in particular knowing that I outpolled UKIP as the Labour candidate in his seat last year — they will be looking around for a strategy to hang onto their seats. And becoming born-again Tories is probably the best one open to them.

The same, realistically, is true of James Moyies in West Shoebury, though I’d argue that he’s actually attempted to do the job of representing residents. Politically, I’ve had him pegged as a eurosceptic Thatcherite, so he doesn’t fit May’s brand quite as well as the other two, who are more in the eurosceptic authoritarian mould.

Honestly, I think UKIP’s hour in Southend is done. Their USP is gone, and the Tories in this part of the world were always on the same page as UKIP. In a way, it’s actually quite impressive to see that its councillors have realised this. But the upshot of this is quite straightforward: a vote for UKIP is more than ever a vote for the Tories.

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Daryl Peagram’s planning ignorance embarrasses Southend Tories


dazzling daryl

I am, as we draw closer to the local elections, alive to the danger of this blog becoming solely dedicated to the exposing the nonsense, ignorance and untruths of the Tories’ comedy candidate for Westborough, Daryl Peagram. Indeed, I’ve contemplated setting up a separate blog to basically fact-check everything he says.

So I do try not to make him the focus of my scrutiny too often, as much as anything to avoid inflating his ego.

However, with Daryl now having added not only a Facebook page, but a blog to his repertoire, I think this is going to be unavoidable. Especially given one of his more recent contributions, on the subject of Heath and Carby House on Victoria Avenue — a contribution I can only brand a disgraceful show of ignorance.

Read on…

Are the Rochford & Southend East Tory coffers running empty?


duddridge begging letter small

I’ve said before that I get interesting things turning up in my inbox. Especially so as we get closer to the election. An email from James Duddridge MP, begging for cash, for instance.

My little birds are a varied bunch politically (No, really. I receive tip-offs from supporters of all parties and none -Ed), but this actually came from a Labour supporter. Which begs the question of quite how he’s choosing which people to send to. Is he desperate?

Is Rochford & Southend East Conservative Association that broke, that in the heat of the short campaign they are indiscriminately soliciting donations?

Read on…

Southend Tory MP blocks voters, rather than answer questions


james duddridge blocked

In Southend, it seems, history repeats itself.

Back in October, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Rochford & Southend East, James Duddridge — my MP — decided that he didn’t want to answer my questions about the amount of public money he had claimed in order to stay in hotels. As a commuter myself, I thought these questions were pertinent, and deserved an answer, and I sent tweets to him to try and get one.

Since he didn’t agree, Mr Duddridge blocked me.

I don’t feel I deserved this, but I suppose I am an opposition activist. Maybe that trumps being a constituent. I happen to believe that an MP should work for all of their constituents, but in a constituency he plainly thinks is “safe”, maybe James Duddridge doesn’t see the need.

Thing is, I’m not the only constituent who has been blocked by Mr Duddridge for the heinous crime of asking questions. In fact, it seems to be his stock response to any that he doesn’t want to answer. Like his bizarre ideas on the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

Read on…

“Is this the change you voted for?” ask Southend Tories. Actually, yes


the change you voted for FIXED

Another day, another Southend Conservative poster fixed by yours truly.

You can read the original over on the blog of Tony Cox, the local Tory chairman doing some admirable rearranging of deckchairs as his party sinks beneath him. It is, however, interesting that they seem to think that saving care homes and building sorely needed houses for the future is “wasteful spending”, though.

I somehow suspect that the people of Southend, who remember well the stagnation under 14 years of Tory rule, would disagree.

Tinker, Tailor, Litter Bin Spy


tinker tailor litter bin spy

I confess that, although I noticed Tony Cox’s tweet at gone 11 on Wednesday night, the significance didn’t dawn on me at the time.

It seemed unlikely for a number of reasons. Firstly, in my experience, local news rarely breaks so late at night in the middle of the week. Secondly, if it does it isn’t usually about litter bins. Thirdly, is this what the Conservative Party of Southend-on-Sea is reduced to?

But actually, there was a story here. You see, the information which Tony tweeted, was released in email to the borough councillors the next day. So how did the chairman of Rochford & Southend East Conservative Association get hold of it some 12 hours before the elected representatives of the voters of the town’s residents?

Who is the Tory mole in Southend Borough Council?

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Belfairs Conservatives! What is going on?


belfairs conservatives intouch winter 2015

Belfairs ward, in Southend, is nominally fairly safe Conservative ground. It has two Conservative councillors and one Independent — a former Tory elected as an Independent after some internecine bloodletting saw him deselected.

This year it is one of the Conservatives, Cllr Lesley Salter, up for re-election, and the above is a leaflet from her. I say from her, because, as Cllr Ware-Lane has already pointed out, it doesn’t mention her ward colleague Mo Butler — and the there is the suggestion from some parties that Cllr Butler has been asked to leave the Conservatives.

What strikes me, though, is how useless a political leaflet this is.

Read on…