Friday 24 June 2016

Shock and awe

I left the count shortly after midnight reasonably confident that whilst Southend-on-Sea might favour Leave, the country as a whole would give Remain a narrow victim. My radio alarm this morning quickly disabused me of that notion. I was shocked into a fully awake state. The enormity of what has happened has still to sink in.

The Leave vote got a decisive 58.1% in Southend-on-Sea. There was no result by ward but the counting looked pretty even in Milton ward.

We must respect the result, even if it strikes some of us as lunacy. I think it somewhat highlights the dangers of government by referenda, and David Cameron decision to buy off the Euro-sceptic arm of his Conservative Party by promising this vote will hang over and damage his legacy.

I hope predictions of economic disaster do not come to pass, although day one has not gone well for the UK economy. We certainly have some challenges ahead. The young may well wonder as time goes by just what their parents and grandparents have bequeathed them.

As to what Southend Labour does, well it carries on. This vote does not really affect our day-to-day job of trying to make our borough a better place to live in, although we (the collective voice of voters here) have clearly signalled to those who have come here from abroad that not all of us welcome them. I do not expect an exodus of migrants from this corner of Essex, and so we must ensure that they are assured that they are welcome. I fear that we may see divided communities, I hope I am wrong.

Essex is certainly very sceptical of the EU. Whilst Southend-on-Sea the is 133rd most sceptic local authority (judged by the percentage that Leave got), Castle is 3rd (72.7% vote Leave) and Thurrock is 4th (72.3%).

I am proud to be an Essex man, if somewhat abashed by the attitudes of my neighbours. Oh well, onwards and upwards. Tomorrow is another day.

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