Last night I attended the launch of the Southend Labour Party Manifesto. I told the misses I would be popping out for an hour max but given the meeting was still going strong one hour in I had to leave early. I seem to recall last time they had a launch it didn’t last long but it was the only one of the local parties that did produce a manifesto that could be launched. I must admit I left without my own copy and couldn’t find an online link (I will add a link when I have one – ed), but did find one for the Conservatives which was on the surface looked impressive – but as they say – the devil is in the detail, which I will need to study, but at least the two main parties have gone to the trouble of saying why we should be voting for them.
As readers know, I am floating voter with Labour sympathies, given I am not always in agreement with Labour policies and sensing in an ideal world free enterprise and less government intervention should be the way to go. For example, I used to regularly vote for ex Southend East (Conservative) MP Teddy Taylor (although I have no inclination to do so with his successor after he stood down). Given I am in the throes of organizing a hustings for my ward (St. Lukes), I think it is wiser not to declare my voting intentions until I have had a better chance to study the devil in the details and the candidates, bearing in mind, going on my past record, any endorsement I give to an individual or party tends to turn out to be the kiss of death.
But going back to the launch … it was an impressive occasion and was, surprisingly (compared with last time) well attended. I got to hear from three of the candidates, one I know quite well (Anne) but the other two (Helen and Mike) I have never (to my recollection) heard speak before (if you want the entire list of candidates check out Matt Dent’s blog). I was impressed! They all gave credible arguments why their and Labour being elected would be good for the town and I was particularly impressed by the energy, passion and (as far as I could make out) sincerity that was on display. Whether or not their judgment is sound and their values are ones I hold, I need to work out, as I try to do every election. This was followed by veteran councilor David Norman, talking mainly about housing and almost convincing me why the dastardly Tories have made such a balls up on this vital issue. There was a Q&A session to follow, which is when I left. Ian and Gray did a good job keeping the meeting on track although I was disappointed I did not get to hear from two other wannabe councilors – Matt and Donna. The question I would have asked, but didn’t, was about finance and budgets, given that is the big challenge for whoever gets in.
In summary, it was a good move (by both parties) to have their own manifesto and (by Labour) to launch it in this way. I was glad I went along but sorry I hadn’t scheduled more time. I wish our Labour candidates well, as I do for those representing the other parties, since this is a good way to serve the community. Often manifesto promises are broken or twisted and fail to reflect what is true and right and importantly the things that really do need to happen, but at least it is the start needed for making the important decision who to vote for. Despite my skepticism, sometimes bordering on cynicism, when it comes to politicians of any flavor, I came away with a sense that at least we had folk here that were in it to win it and for all the right reasons, that are prepared to go all out to convince a sadly apathetic and ignorant electorate why they should vote for them, even if their efforts were to turn out to be unsuccessful, in order to make my beloved town a better place.
Edit: Thanks to Matt Dent for the info, you can click here for the Southend Labour manifesto for the May 2016 Local elections, and here for the list of all the candidates standing in each of the wards.