Thursday, 24 July 2014

Elections - another look back.

I have just spoken to a local business luncheon club (and very pleasant and welcoming it was) and was asked to reflect on the recent local elections and the implications for the town. It did make me analyse once again the results and see whether any clear messages were apparent. Clearly wearing my Conservative Party hat the night was pretty dire with the loss of 7 seats across the Town but is it cause to jump off the Pier? – in my view not yet. These were seats which were previously fought on the last General Election Day and as usual this had an effect, seeing the Conservatives (and at least 1 Lib Dem) winning seats which they would not normally expect to win. Kursaal and St Lukes are not natural Tory homelands and whilst we were “defending Thorpe” this was only as a result of the defection 12 months earlier of the Independent Party Councillor who faced an almost impossible challenge to hold on. The disappointing losses were Shoebury, West Shoebury and Southchurch all of which I expected to hold. Milton was always going to be difficult having lost to Labour last year which often triggers a pendulum with other seats following – particularly when the sitting councillor is not seeking re election. In the West we held the 4 seats we expected to but in the 3 seats where we were sitting on the heels of the Lib Dems, Blenheim, Prittlewell and St Lawrence we held a strong 2nd position and lost out to UKIP on the back of the national picture. We even ran the Lib Dems close in Leigh which was quite a performance. With a little luck in Southchurch and the absence of UKIP the outcome would have been far closer. As it was the Conservatives polled aprox 30% of the vote acroo the Town, well ahead of UKIP with 19% and the rest from 18% downwards. With a General Election bounce again next year and the probability of a waning of UKIP’s profile and support the situation could change dramatically and that is assuming that the current Administration does not pull itself to pieces trying to agree on next year’s budget. The Tories clearly have work to do in the East of the Town which was dominated by Labour in the more central areas and the BERA Independents but in the West (which carries 30 seats to the 21 in the East) the picture looks strong and, with the exception of Dr Vel who is somewhat unique, the Indies have all but disappeared from the West and their original home in Westborough. There is no doubt that there is all to play for and I am particularly looking forward to a strong blue fightback in the East.

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