Local Politics

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.

Advertisements

Southend Tories’ first act back in power? Breaking an election pledge


tory tree on fire

For those fans of Conservative oathbreaking in Southend, it really was not a long wait for the first election pledge to go out of the window. In fact, it was literally the first act of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) after he won the leadership of the council.

Read on…

UKIP help the Conservatives limp into administration in Southend


tory ukip

As predicted, the appointments meeting of Southend Borough Council saw an alliance of UKIP and Conservative councillors oust the Joint Administration of Labour, Independent Party Group, Liberal Democrats and Southend Independence Group that has been running the council for the last two years.

Thus begins, then, the new Conservative administration, and the reign of Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh) as the leader of the council. Dark times ahead…

Read on…

Full list of Rochford District Council election candidates 2016


rochford district council

I don’t tend to pay as much attention to Rochford on this blog as perhaps I ought, given that it’s the neighbouring district to Southend and part of it is within the Rochford & Southend East ward.

But this year Rochford is electing all of its councillors at once, owing to the boundaries being redrawn. This happens periodically, to take account of changes in population distribution, and the prevailing trend currently is to move to all-up elections rather than electing in thirds (Not a trend which your blogger is enamoured of -Ed).

So that means that there are thirteen wards electing three councillors each, meaning a total of 39 seats up for grabs.

Meet the candidates…

Southend Labour Party local election manifesto 2016


manifesto launch

Last night I attended the launch of the Southend Labour manifesto for the 2016 elections, which was a huge success, and seems to get bigger each year we hold it.

I am enormously proud of not only the manifesto, but the open and democratic way that we write it. It is a product of the ideas contributed by all of the local Labour members, and tempered with the experience and expertise of our Councillors.

Over the last two years this document has formed the core of administration policy pushed by Labour in the Joint Administration. It’s a list of things that all 17 of our candidates are signed up to, for the benefit of the whole of the borough.

Read the manifesto…

Full list of Southend-on-Sea local election candidates 2016


southend civic centre

So the nominations have closed, and we have the full and final list of the candidates for the Southend-on-Sea local elections.

To my surprise, there are four full slates — from the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens — and UKIP are only one seat short. There are also a few interesting Independent candidates scattered around, and an Indie-on-Indie battle in Shoeburyness, which changes the dynamic there.

As in previous years, Labour candidates are in bold, whilst defending incumbents are in italics.  There are five wards this year where the incumbent is not standing for re-election.

Meet the candidates…

Southend politics needs more blogging, not less


southend civic centre

As I’ve already mentioned, I was at the full council meeting of Southend Borough Council on Thursday. I was in the public gallery for most of my time there, I’m at pains to point out, and not in the chamber beyond my starring role asking a question of the leader of the council.

Nonetheless, I somehow seemed to still be the centre of attention, with references to my blog being made under a number of items.

The prevailing view coming from the council chamber (And some outside of and subsequent to the meeting -Ed) is that those who are blogging about politics in the town are somehow doing something wrong, that opinions contrary to their own being expressed on the internet should not be permitted.

It will, I’m sure, not surprise readers that this blogger disagrees wholeheartedly.

(more…)

An evening at Southend Momentum


momentum

For the uninitiated, Momentum is what became of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, after he won the leadership. Its purpose is, I have to say, somewhat unclear in that it seems to vary depending on who you ask.

The official line is that it is an entirely innocent campaign group aiming to build on the enthusiasm built up during the leadership campaign. The fear is that it’s a hard left pressure group to serve as enforcers to purge those who disagree with the dear leader from the Labour Party.

As with most things, I imagine the truth varies, somewhere between the two (But then you would say that, wouldn’t you, you wishy-washy moderate? -Ed).

So with the Southend branch of Momentum holding its inaugural meeting last week, as a Corbyn-sceptic but with a general fondness towards the Labour Party, I decided to go along and see what it was all about.

Read on…

Vote Matt Softly for Rochford ward


matt softly

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.