Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A wasted vote for Ron Woodley?

I have to say that I was surprised to discover that the Southend Independent councillor Ron Woodley had decided to stand in the General Election and even more surprised at rumours that he believed that he actually had a chance of winning!

On the back of his control of BERA, the resident's association in Thorpe Bay, Ron has build a strong majority in local elections in Thorpe for himself and his Independent colleagues and I assume that he believed that he could transfer and build on that support in a General Election.

I was interested in how he would run a campaign as at a local level he has relied on Bera support and then concentrated on primarily negative campaigning and simply suggesting that as an Independent he could do better without party ties.

This is in my view a pretty unattractive approach in local elections, which I prefer to see fought on positive alternatives, but even more unsatisfactory at a national level. It involves the candidate asking the electorate for a blank cheque with no indication on how they feel or will vote on a massive number of important issues. There is no safety net of a clear and defined political ideology or a manifesto as is the case with party candidates. If he had been elected in the current situation there was no indication as to who he would support as Prime Minister and on what basis.

One election leaflet from Ron dropped through the door of my office but concentrated solely on the issue of the Southend A&E. How was he intending to deliver his pledge to prevent any downgrading and why was a vote for him, a inexperienced and naïve politician at national level, going to achieve the shared aim of protecting our A&E department better than voting for the Conservative or Labour candidates who have also commented on their concerns on the issue.

It gave the look of jumping aboard an issue of concern and on which he had played no obvious and apparent leading role to that point.

In the event he received 2924 votes out of the 47,323 cast and only just avoided losing his deposit.

It would be nice to think that this democratic and policy vacuum would also be recognised in the next bout of local elections with the rejection of Independent candidates who have no clear manifesto or ideology and who have failed to deliver in the Chamber or wider council.

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