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.
As conference came to an end this week, Southend Labour had a visitor call.
Polly Billington is the Labour candidate for Thurrock at next year’s general election, which takes on a particular relevance with UKIP currently talking up their chances. I think UKIP are grossly overestimated, and besides — Thurrock would do far better with Polly.
Despite doubtless being still fatigued from Manchester, she sat and talked about all sorts of issues common to South East Essex — particularly rail ownership. C2C have a good reputation locally (Well, they’re in competition with Greater Anglia… -Ed), but as Polly pointed out, that’s on the back of heavy investment from the taxpayer. It is, basically, a monopoly subsidised with money from you and me.
They don’t even pay their cleaners a living wage, and fares only ever move in one direction.
If the people of Thurrock want real representation, an MP who knows and cares about what matters in the lives of the everyman and -woman, then they need look no further than Polly.