james moyies

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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The top 10 maddest moments in Southend local politics 2015 (Part 2)


southend pier

You’ve come this far. Maybe you’re willing to come a little further...

Yes, the end of 2015 is truly upon us, and so as promised, I must offer the second part of my rundown of my 10 maddest moments in Southend politics.

Honestly, distilling it down to 10 was hard work. Deciding what got the top spot was harder still. It’s been a fun year, but looking back over it is more a cavalcade of the weird and wonderful. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, here is the first part, running through numbers 10 to 6.

Here is my top five, of the maddest moments in Southend local politics in 2015.

Read on…

Is the Southend Independence Group still full of Kippers?


kursaal ukip

I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised, on the whole, with how the Southend Independence Group have risen to the challenge of being a party of serious local government, rather than a purple tied brigade geared at causing and effecting outrage. Even if I am disappointed that they didn’t use my suggested name of NewKIP.

Cllr Moyies, in particular, seems to have grasped that running a unitary council isn’t quite the easy ride he may have anticipated. James is someone I have respected since I first met him, even if our politics differ radically on a number of key points. He has adapted well to the challenging brief of Health & Adult Social Care.

There is, though, a question mark remaining still over the political loyalties of the Southend Independence Group councillor for Kursaal ward.

Read on…

Who’s doing what in the new cabinet on Southend Borough Council?


southend civic centre

Introducing the new make-up of the Cabinet on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council:

  • Cllr Ron Woodley (IND – Thorpe) — Leader of the Council
  • Cllr Ian Gilbert (LAB – Victoria) — Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Community and Organisational Development
  • Cllr Graham Longley (LD – Blenheim Park) — Deputy Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development
  • Cllr Martin Terry (IND – Thorpe) — Executive Councillor for Public Protection, Waste and Transport
    Cllr David Norman (LAB – Victoria) — Executive Councillor for Housing, Planning and Regulatory Control
  • Cllr Anne Jones (LAB – Kursaal) — Executive Councillor for Children and Learning
  • Cllr James Moyies (SIG – West Shoebury) — Executive Councillor for Health and Adult Social Care

That makes 3 Labour councillors, 2 Independent councillors, 1 Liberal Democrat councillor, and 1 Southend Independence Group councillor.

I’ll leave it up to readers to decide who they think is driving this administration’s agenda…

Kipperwatch! Goodbye Southend UKIP, hello New-KIP


reservoir ukip

In the election campaign, I speculated rather freely on whether James Moyies and the other outcasts from Southend UKIP would go over to the Independent Party Group. After all, Moyies was expelled and the others roundly condemned by the Dear Leader Farage.

But despite members of Clan Moyies being amongst the Independent Party Group’s candidates at the local elections just gone, that isn’t how things have panned out. No, flush with UKIP-proper’s abject failure in Southend (Third in both constituencies, and no gains on the council -Ed) Moyies et al have decided to start their own party grouping in the council chamber.

So farewell Southend UKIP; enter New-KIP.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Has House Moyies gone over to the Indies in its entirety?


dodgy indie bar chart

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 Party Group.

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:

west shoebury indie imprint

Kipperwatch! Southend UKIP civil war spills onto the ballot paper


believe in southend

When I spoke privately with James Moyies a month or so back, he hinted that there might be some Independent UKIP candidates on the ballot paper this year.

James, in my experience, is a man of his word, and I wouldn’t say that I doubted that he meant it. But I was, I confess, surprised to see on the list of nominated candidates yesterday a number of Independent candidates I could clearly identify as being Kippers.

This, to me, marks the final disintegration of Southend UKIP. Up until now it’s been in the background, a war fought online and in the papers, and in the backrooms of the local party. Now it’s very real.

There are eight candidates in the Southend local elections this who are standing under the description “UK Independence Party (UKIP)”. There are also at least three who I can identify as being UKIP supporters, who are standing as Independents.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Don’t vote for UKIP! (says UKIP’s leader in Southend)


believe in southend

There comes a point where even I get a little sick of the back and forth of Southend UKIP’s absurd civil war.

A friend of mine described it as the political wonk’s equivalent of Neighbours, being entertaining to those of us with a political fascination, but not signifying a great deal beyond that.

The latest episode in the saga includes a broadside from Moyies, and a rather weak riposte from Waterworth. It seems undeniable, though, that despite apparently few redeeming features, Waterworth seems to be winning this war.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Something is rotten at the heart of Southend UKIP


reservoir ukip

We’re nearly a week on, now, from the bizarre latest clash in the Southend UKIP civil war, and I’m not entirely sure what we’ve learnt.

I did say, back when there appeared to be some sort of reconciliation between Cllrs Moyies and Waterworth, the leaders of the two “factions”, that it wasn’t over. I am delighted to have been vindicated.

The thing is, this isn’t just a battle between egos, but a fight for the soul of UKIP in Southend. I have long suspected that the party’s surge (Isn’t that word trademarked by the Green Party? -Ed) in popularity has brought into the fold a lot of, shall we say, less savoury folks. It would explain how UKIP members in Rochford & Southend East managed to take a no brainer like Moyies vs Waterworth and still get it wrong.

No, it comes down, for my money, to Moyies being “too moderate” for the new UKIP. And my little birds are bringing me suggestions that this is exactly the case.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Southend UKIP leader James Moyies expelled by UKIP


reservoir ukip

The mutually-assured destruction of Southend UKIP’s civil war continues, with group leader James Moyies (who was already suspended) expelled by UKIP High Command from the party:

Since their suspension, the four remaining councillors (Moyies, Callaghan, Davies and Burling) have still been describing themselves as the UKIP group on the council, and at the last council meeting they stripped Floyd Waterworth of all committee positions.

No word on whether the other three councillors have been expelled, but if they haven’t then they are facing a choice of whether to bend the knee to Waterworth, or to follow their defeated leader into exile, perhaps with the Independent Party Group?

UPDATE:

Pretty shoddy stuff from UKIP, if that’s true.