|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.