UKIP

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.

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…

The top 10 maddest moments in Southend local politics 2015 (Part 1)


southend pier

Politics in Southend is, to be honest, a joy. You never know what’s going to come along next.

I don’t know if it’s something in the water, but politics seems to be particularly…weird around here. So in the spirit of the end-of-year listicle, I decided what better way to round off the year than with a rundown of my personal favourites of the lot (And split it over two posts to boost traffic -Ed).

Here it is then. Numbers 10 to 6 in my top 10 rundown of the maddest things that happened in 2015 in Southend local politics.

Read on…

Are Southend West UKIP Faragists, or Carswellians?


ukip southend west retweet
Many thanks are due to Douglas Carswell, the UKIP MP for Clacton, for giving we political anoraks our Christmas present early in the form of his (Eminently sensible -Ed) statement that UKIP could do with a change of leader from Mr Farage if it is ever to, well, achieve anything of note.

The Faragists are, naturally, a little hysterical over this statement of heretical treason/base fact (Delete as appropriate -Ed). But where do Southend UKIP stand on the matter?

Well, as they have recently split into Southend West UKIP and Rochford & Southend East UKIP, to follow the constituency boundaries, I can only really speculate on the views of the western faction, who have retweeted the above tweet in an apparent endorsement of Mr Carswell. Now, it’s possible to retweet something accidentally, and as many a Twitter bio (But not @ukipsouthend -Ed) says, retweets are not endorsements. Nonetheless, it does seem to suggest that the local purple brigade are less than onside with the dear leader.

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…

Buying the election: the cost of votes in South East Essex


money

Some interesting numbers in yesterday’s Southend Echo, pertaining to the spending of each of the parliamentary candidates in the recent elections.

Given that all candidates have to file election expenses by law, it makes for quite an interesting look at how each campaign was financed. The accompanying article in the Echo highlighted concerns about the Conservatives buying the election, and having seen the eye-watering numbers they spent across the whole of south Essex, there’s some cause and justification I think.

So letting out my inner stats wonk, I decided to have a look at how each candidate’s expenditure stacked up compared to the votes they won, in the three south east Essex seats.

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

UKIP’s Blenheim Park candidate finally reveals himself


ukip blenheim park small

So having selected a candidate very late in the game, UKIP have finally managed to get a leaflet out in Blenheim Park.

Their candidate, a Mr Paul Lloyd, may seem familiar to residents of Eastwood Park ward, given that he was their candidate there last year. Given that he came within 200 votes of taking a previously safe Tory ward, one wonders why he didn’t stick it out there.

Nonetheless, onto my patch he wanders, with his A5 leaflets across at least part of ward. A ward which UKIP have been steadfastly ignoring for the entire past year, whilst I’ve been working hard since I was selected.

(I know what you’re thinking; “Has he put out six leaflets, or only five?” To tell you the truth, in all of this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being these are Southend Labour Party leaflets, the best written leaflets in the borough and would blow your majority clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well do ya, punk? -Ed)

Read on…

No, a YouGov poll doesn’t show UKIP winning Rochford & Southend East


believe in southend

So, there was a bit of a stir yesterday, over a YouGov “poll”. The Southend Echo reported it under the headline:

Forecast puts Ukip on top in Thurrock and only just behind in Rochford and Southend East

Which is a fairly ground-breaking claim, liable to induce panic in the Tory and Labour ranks locally (The Lib Dems have, as I’ve said previously, already clearly given up -Ed).

Only one problem really: that headline is not actually true.

Read on…