Wednesday 26 July 2017

Southend West Labour - officers for the coming year

At last night's Southend West Constituency Labour Party annual general meeting the following officers were elected:

Charles Willis
Vice chair membership
Cheryl Nevin
Vice chair campaigns
Daniel Cowan
Kevin Robinson
Hilary Scarnell
Women's officer
Alicia Hegarty
Campaigns coordinator
Kevin Robinson
Trade union liaison
Alex Nicholas
Lydia Sookias
Leigh Brown
Youth and student
Isreal Geniuss
European liaison
Cheryl Nevin
Daniel Cowan
Kay Mitchell
Political education
Isreal Geniuss
Lydia Sookias, Margaret Borton, Fionna Morgan
Dan Turpin

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Reg Copley

Reg Copley, Julian Ware-Lane, campaign planning

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Reg Copley. He has been a big figure in Southend Labour for many years; I believe Reg's activism began with the 1945 General election, and ended last year - an impressive 71 years.

I have known Reg for something like 20 years. We became friends and comrades, and he was always a source of encouragement for me, as well as sound advice. I hadn't seen him for a while, but he was always welcoming when I popped up to his home, and tea and chatter was routine.

I helped Reg with his campaigning in later years when his age and failing eyesight were beginning to catch up on him. He was writing copy for leaflets, and I am pleased that on many occasions I helped knock these into actual Labour leaflets for him. I delivered many hundreds of them for him too.

He was a councillor for more than 40 years, and served as mayor. I recall that he had the animal fur removed from the mayor's robes. He had strong views about what Labour in Southend should be doing, and always supported me in my campaigning. My selection photograph in 2014 has Reg sitting beside me.

Reg eschewed honours, although this did not mean he was not proud of his achievements. Reg had a hand in much of what is modern Southend and this will be his testament. He made Southend a better place.

Friday 21 July 2017

Southend West 2017, a personal view

The candidate, his birthplace - Southend West 2017

On June 8th I contested my fourth General Election, and achieved my best result. However, it will not stick in my memory as a happy campaign, not least because of the significant health issues that I had to endure. However, in terms of the result I have to admit to having done pretty well.

In Southend West Labour further consolidated its second place, ensuring for the foreseeable future that Labour has to be viewed as the only realistic alternative to the Conservatives.

The salient facts are

·         Labour's vote share, at 34.6%, was its best performance in Southend West since this seat was created in 1950.
·         The gap between Labour and the third placed party grew from 351 to 13,936 votes.
·         Only the Conservatives and Labour retained their deposits - signalling a disaster for the Liberal Democrats who have often been the Tories strongest challenger here.
·         The Labour vote share went up by 15.6%, making it one of the strongest improvements in the whole country.
·         The Conservative to Labour swing, at 5.1%, was over double the national average.

I have attempted to keep track of all who helped out in my campaign, and singularly failed. I can only say that the number of helpers appeared to be a good improvement on 2015.

It was a short campaign, far too short to get properly organised. I benefited from being the 2015 candidate and therefore already known. Aside from the incumbent MP and me, all other candidates were new to the constituency.

Whoever is selected for the next General Election here, and whenever that is, has a good platform to launch a serious attempt to see Southend West become a Labour Gain. The Conservative majority has shrunk (down 4,021 compared to 2015), and with much anticipated improvements (and possibly even gains) at next May's local elections there is justifiable optimism in Labour ranks that this seat will see incremental improvement leading to real success.

I should say, health issues notwithstanding (and, in truth, the campaign was hellish at times), that being a Labour candidate is an honour and privilege. I was delighted with my result, humbled by the dedication of my team, and content that I leave the constituency having done a good job.

Wednesday 12 July 2017

The Grand Hotel

More years ago than I really care to count I played at the Grand Hotel; I was a singer and guitarist in a band in my early twenties. Over the years I have seen many acts play in the upstairs function room. The Grand also functioned for me as a regular haunt for drinking with friends - it was a very busy venue for many years and had a real buzz about the place.

Sadly, it fell out of popularity and soon became a tired and pale shadow of its former self.

Now, it stands empty, seemingly unloved and neglected. Yet, whilst clearly neglected I do believe it is actually cherished, especially by those who recall the happy days of the past.

Perhaps it is a testament to modern life that this beautiful building stands near-derelict.

It is a wondrous building to behold, something majestic in the heart of Leigh. If nothing else, the external visage must be retained because nothing like it will be built again in this area.

We have had a  number of false starts as regards to putting life back into the Grand, and maybe it is the cynic in me that thinks some of this is because the developers want to radically alter the building. I hope I am wrong.

Whilst we should not obstruct progress, neither should we see culturally important heritage architecture trashed in the rush to develop an area. I hope The Grand's structure is largely preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Sunday 9 July 2017

Rochford and Southend East Constituency Labour Party AGM

It was an exciting meeting, one that I was very glad that I made the effort to attend. There were 109 voting members in attendance, all having a say in who runs the Rochford and Southend East Constituency Labour Party for the coming year.

We were choosing largely administrative roles, and so one's political leanings ought to be irrelevant. Since most of our politics is shared, and the differences are largely guessed at in the absence of debate, it comes down to just how tribal you are prepared to be.

I tried to avoid tribalism. I am not about to give away who I voted for, but I opted for a mix of persons from the Momentum slate and others.

Quite why Momentum wanted a slate puzzles me. They want to control the local party, but to what end? I want a better run party, and I chose who I voted for based on who I thought would do the best job. I am a Momentum member, and could have gone on their slate - I chose not to because I cannot agree that the best person for a role entirely depends on which fringe group one chooses to subscribe to.

Nonetheless, it was good to see competition, and I hope that all who were successful really are encouraged by yesterday's good turnout to really push our local party forwards. We have local authority elections in ten month's time and I hope that we can make more progress in the Council chamber.

I lost my particular election, and like many others I believe it was a close run thing. I wished my opponent 'good luck' before the contest and I trust that he has a good year in the role.

Here are those charged with running Rochford and Southend East CLP for the coming year.

Ashley Dalton
Vice chair campaigns
Ian Gilbert
Vice chair membership
Helen McDonald
Martin Berry
Des Heemskerk
Robert Wallicker
Anna Ingram
Ian Pope
Political education
Vic Hobson
Essex LCF delegate
Lydia Hyde
Women's officer
Maxine Sadza
Youth and student officer
Henry McCaffrey-Williams
Campaigns coordinator
Jim Riel
Matthew Barber
Disabilities' officer
Rachel Heemskerk
Mike Smith
European liaison officer
Mike Fieldhouse
IT officer
Tom Curtis

St Luke's Voice Winter 2018/19 edition