Thursday, 21 September 2017

SIR TEDDY TAYLOR


All deaths are tragedies, and so it is with sadness that I note the passing of Sir Teddy Taylor. I doubt there was much politically that we would have agreed on, but I can attest to his lasting legacy. Even today, as I speak to Milton residents, his name crops up regularly.

He had a reputation of being an assiduous constituency MP, who would work for you regardless as to whether you voted for him or not. I hope this is said of me too, in my role as local councillor.

I recall Teddy’s entry in Southend politics. In March 1980 I was living in Palmeira Avenue in Milton ward, and thus voted in the by-election following Stephen McAdden’s sudden death.

I voted for the Labour candidate Colin George in that by-election, a gentleman I later got to know quite well. I am still very good friends with his son, Stephen. 

That by-election is the nearest Labour has got to representing Southend in Parliament. A near miss that could have really shook up politics in Southend. It would have cast a huge shadow over Teddy Taylor’s future in politics if he had lost, and may well have seen its end. As it was, he went from strength to strength, making Southend East a safe Tory seat once more.

That by-election was characterised by a particularly dirty campaign by the Liberals; a feat not matched by Labour, fortunately.

Southend East by-election, 1980

Party
Candidate
Votes
%

Conservative
Teddy Taylor
13,117
36.8

Labour
Colin George
12,687
35.6

Liberal
David Evans
8,939
25.1

New Britain
Terence Robertson
532
1.5

Anti Common-Market Free Trade
William Oliver Smedley
207
0.6

Independent Liberal
James Curry
132
0.4

Democratic Monarchist, Public Safety, White Resident
Bill Boaks
23
0.0
Majority
430

Turnout

62.5


By 1983 Colin George had defected to the Social Democratic Party, and came second again to Teddy Taylor, the gap having grown to 10,691.

Sir Teddy won every subsequent election in Southend East (and Rochford and Southend East) up to his retirement in 2005.

In later years I met him a couple of times, although these were only brief encounters. I think the first time may have been to give me a medal after completing a run. Occasionally we would be at the same civic events too, although I refrained from troubling him.

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