So the Conservative party in Rochford & Southend East have selected their council candidates for the local elections in 2015. It’s not especially surprising, Southend Labour will be doing the same shortly. The list, too, is not terribly surprising.
This year, the Conservative Party won a grand total of zero seats in the nine wards up for election across the constituency. This time there are ten wards up for election, which surely gives them an opportunity to not win an extra one. It has become increasingly clear that Conservative fortunes in Southend, particularly in the east, are in full-scale retreat.
What is somewhat surprising is the content of the candidate list.
As some will remember from my blog a little while back, Denis Garne is the Conservative Party candidate for Victoria ward this year. His history in Southend politics was interesting to say the least, as I discovered.
Now, I am standing for election in West Shoebury (an area of Southend to which I do have links — my fiancée’s entire family living in the ward) but I live in Victoria. So unsurprisingly, last week a blue-and-white glossy leaflet for Mr Garne’s campaign dropped through our letterbox.
It makes for interesting reading. For the most part it is exactly what you would expect from any party political literature at election-time. But given Denis’ political past, there are some…shall we say interesting statements contained.
We at Castle Dent (n.b. not an actual castle) had an interesting caller yesterday afternoon. Whilst the sun beat down on Southend, the doorbell rang, and I was the one to open the door.
And it opened onto a strange gentlemen, with a clipboard in hand, and a look I knew well. He introduced himself as the Conservative candidate for Victoria Ward. When he asked about my own politics, I was honest — a simple Google search would have told him the truth any how. It was a little different to how I would have canvassed someone on the doorstep; a lecture on the follies of François Hollande and the Parti Socialiste.
His name was Denis Garne, and less than half an hour later I learnt that he was a former councillor on Southend Borough Council. Representing the, erm, Labour Party.