Friday, 26 May 2017

Shoeburyness by-election




candidate
party
votes
%
Anne Chalk
Independent
886
37.1
Val Jarvis
Conservative
830
34.8
Maggie Kelly
Labour
381
16.0
Edward McNally
UKIP
121
5.1
Gavin Spencer
Liberal Democrat
119
5.0
Paul Hill
Green
48
2.0


Whilst not an earthquake, last night's failure by the Conservatives in Shoeburyness is still a shock. They were the favourites, in a town they run, with two MPs, and by some distance they have the greatest financial resources.  Add in the backdrop of the General Election, and very favourable opinion polls, then it should have been a relatively comfortable ride.

There are several possible reasons behind the Tory defeat here. Their campaign and organisation could be a lot flakier than I had previously thought (and I have believed for some time that they have been struggling in the eastern half of Southend). The Tories is Southend are losing popularity. In recent years they have had wafer thin majorities (and for two years no majority at all) in the council chamber. There is no real UKIP presence to shift blame to, and the turnout was quite healthy for a council by-election. I think Tory Central in Southend has some thinking to do.

The Tories will point at 2016, when the Independents won here. They can take all the comfort they like from that one - it is delusional. They should have won, they failed. All is not rosy in Tory ranks in Southend , and they know that but for UKIP defections they would have found the current civic year tough. Roll on 2018!

Anne Chalk is rejoining the Independent Group in the chamber  - will she last the course this time? Her victory makes that group the official opposition - let's hope that they do some opposing (rather than generally saying little, and voting indecisively).

Labour move from fifth to third, with a significant improvement in their vote.

UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, and the Greens struggled.

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