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.
This morning, BBC Essex are reporting what my little birds have been telling me for the last few days: that Cllr John Lamb (CON – West Leigh), leader of the Conservative Group on Southend Borough Council, has struck a deal with Cllr Floyd Waterworth (UKIP – Blenheim Park), leader of the UKIP group, to take control of the council.
To say that I’m disappointed at the news is an understatement, but after the elections the Joint Administration was on a knife edge, and Cllr Lamb clearly saw this as his last opportunity to achieve his long-held dream of becoming council leader — and was willing to do almost anything to make it happen.
The magic number on the council is 26. 26 councillors is a majority. The Tories have 24 councillors after the elections. The Joint Administration had 25 councillors (10 Labour, 9 Independent
Party Group, 3 Southend Independence Group, 2 Liberal Democrat, 1 non-aligned -Ed). Thus the two UKIP councillors held the balance of power.
Well, this is a point of interest.
Whilst picking over the statement of nominated candidates for Rochford District, a familiar name jumped out at me. With the ward boundaries having been withdrawn, the district next door to Southend is electing all of its councillors at once.
And one of those on the ballot paper as a Conservative candidate is Ann Holland. And yes, that is the same Cllr Ann Holland who currently represents Southchurch on Southend Borough Council and is the deputy leader of the Conservative Group.
In the light of the recent announcement that has rocked the Southend political blogosphere (Err -Ed), I have a confession to make. I have known the truth for some time, that Southend Fox was in reality Del Thomas.
Despite our political differences, Del is a good friend of mine, and I think it is demonstrative of the very best character that he has chosen to reveal his identity, now that he is standing as Conservative candidate for St Luke’s ward in the May local elections.
Anonymity can, I believe, have its place in political blogging. I don’t, though, believe that is true when the blogger is standing in an election to public office. So I salute Del’s decision, signalling as it does both his own virtue and the start of the long campaign.
Regular readers will know how much I enjoy the leaflets of Westborough Conservatives’ comedy candidate, Daryl Peagram. They have consistently provided the very best in paranoid ravings and Cold War-esque McCarthyist nonsense. So the news that he has embraced Twitter is music to my ears.
We’ve had a continuation of the same incoherent ramblings, including apparent Labour plans to build flats on all the green spaces in Westborough (If you asked “What green spaces?”, then you’ve got the gist -Ed) and threats to reveal a Lib Dem candidate’s “family-unfriendly indiscretion“.
But by far the most interesting thing is his new petition, where he calls on the council to scarp non-existent projects in order to compulsorily purchase private land in Westborough to make “micro-parks” and hire park rangers to keep an eye on them (Micro-parks being at great risk of micro-bears, of course -Ed). I’ve no problem with Daryl starting mad petitions (The internet being full of them anyhow -Ed), but I do have a slight issue with his blatant disregard of data protection in regard to the responses.
Well it’s either the worst or the best, I can’t decide which.
“Dazzling” Daryl Peagram was the Tory candidate for Westborough in May, and regular readers may recall that he had a penchant for producing particularly bizarre election literature which more closely resembled dispatches from a post-apocalyptic alternate reality.
Fortunately (Umm -Ed) for residents and local political anoraks, Dazzling Daryl is the Conservative candidate for Westborough again in 2016, and his leaflets are unchanged in their absurdity.
It seems it’s been a bloody summer, for the Conservative Party in Rochford & Southend East.
Getting all their selections out of the way very early on for the May 2016 local elections has thrown up a bit of internal bloodletting. The exact nature of the labyrinthine internal politics of Southend Conservatives is not, I’ll admit, exactly clear to me (Case in point: I expected the Courtenay/Cox putsch to succeed in May -Ed), but I expect there are some personal grudges being played out here.
The list of candidates which my little birds tell me for the east of the borough throws up relatively few surprises, with the honourable exception of Southchurch.
I am no fan of the Registered Supporters scheme, which let’s anyone have a vote in the Labour leadership election for a fee of £3. I’m all for opening up democracy, but it seems to me that it manages to both devalue membership and open the gates far and wide for people who have no intention of backing the party to have a say in who leads it.
There are stories everywhere of Derek Hatton trying to rejoin, and the “Tories for Corbyn” campaign. Some are bound to get through. But there are one or two who will get caught, simply because CLP membership secretaries tend to be familiar with some of the other side.
So which once and future candidate for Southend Conservatives has paid his £3 and tried to sneak in under the radar? All the more perplexing given that the person in question was, at one time, a Labour councillor, no less.
My little birds bring me the name of this particular infiltrator (George Smiley, they ain’t -Ed), but where’s the fun in that? Feel free to have your guess in the comments.
Yesterday I blogged the list of the Conservative shadow cabinet on Southend Borough Council, and left it deliberately without comment.
I spent last year rather confused as to who was in the shadow cabinet, and what they were doing (Bugger all being the standard response to that particular question -Ed). So this year I made a special effort to find out who these people were, and the result was posted up for the whole world to see.
Now, there are some observations to be made about the names on that list. There are more pertinent observations, perhaps, to be made about the names which aren’t on that list. For one thing, after he managed to get re-elected, poor Derek Jarvis is out on his ear. More perplexing, though, is that having gotten the heavyweight they sorely needed back on the Tory benches in the form of Tony Cox, he’s been given…err, diddley squat.
This, I suspect, is the aftermath of an attempted coup at the top of the Conservative Party in Southend.
|John Lamb||West Leigh||Leader of the Opposition||Cllr Woodley|
|Ann Holland||Southchurch||Community and Organisational Development||Cllr Gilbert|
|Nigel Folkard||Chalkwell||Children and Learning||Cllr Jones|
|Steven Habermel||Chalkwell||Enterprise, Tourism and Economic Development||Cllr Longley|
|Mark Flewitt||St Laurence||Housing, Planning and Regulatory Control||Cllr Norman|
|James Courtenay||Blenheim Park||Public Protection, Waste and Transport||Cllr Terry|
|Lesley Salter||Belfairs||Health and Adult Social Care||Cllr Moyies|