Note: I am appending updates to this blog regularly in order to keep abreast with developments (skip to the end if you just want the latest news of what is happening).
Now that we know the names of six of the main contenders (imo) for the Southend West and Rochford and Southend East constituencies to have thrown their hats in the ring to contest the General Election on June 8th, I thought I would give a brief assessment as to what I think and know about the candidates and how the land lies, even though it is early days and we need to hear what they have to say.
Southend West candidates (top to bottom) Jack Monroe, Julian Ware Lane, David Amess
Rochford and Southend East candidates (top to bottom) Ron Woodley, Ashley Dalton, James Duddridge
The candidates, currently known, are: Jack Monroe (National Health Action Party), Julian Ware-Lane (Labour) and David Amess (Conservative – the sitting MP) – for Southend West, and Ron Woodley (Independent), Ashley Dalton (Labour) and James Duddridge (Conservative – the sitting MP) – for Rochford and Southend East. Watch this space for when we get to know who is joining them and hopefully news of a hustings. While I suspect at this time people are weary of elections, this one is still important as there are many issues at stake that we do well to pay attention to.
I would first like to make a few preliminary points before discussing individuals and their chances. We don’t know the entire line up. Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens have yet to announce their candidate, but I don’t rate their chances, although in years gone by the Liberals often gave the Conservatives a run for their money and to my recollection, as a lifelong Southender, it has always been the Conservatives who have won – which is a pity (imo); this speaking as one accused of being alt right but really is politically neutral, who in my dotage votes for the person I think will be best for Southend, regardless of party. I get to vote in the East and it seems putting a line down the middle of my town is irritatingly arbitrary. As for who I will vote for, I am as yet undecided. It happens I have had dealings with all candidates, some I know well. While I may have annoyed all of them at some time, I have good relationships (so I am led to believe) with all of them (at least I am Facebook friends with five of them – the sixth doesn’t do Facebook). Three of them I have blogged about already (check here, here, and here for a gist of what I think).
Jack is an amazing lady with many who admire her unique style and audacious activism on behalf of the poor, having experienced some of the problems of being a “have not”. I understand, likely as with all the other non Tories, she will campaign against the deterioration of the NHS and plans afoot to downgrade the town’s main hospital.
Julian has been a Labour activist for many years now and has worked hard on the campaign trail. I know him as a hard working and opinionated local councilor. It happens Julian recently volunteered at the night shelter I manage, and he did a good job, relating well with guests. We often disagree but we do so gracefully.
I met Sir David in my early days as a community activist when involved in the Growing Together project. He was supportive of what we did for those with mental health issues. Our meetings were pleasant and we got on, even though I hear a good deal of criticism leveled against him. Overall, he has served the town well.
Until last May, Ron was leader of the Council. I felt he did a reasonably good job and I enjoyed our exchanges. I believe in essence he is in politics for the right reasons and I can well identify with his annoyance at Tory smug complacency and his sense that the local issues he is passionate about are ones they won’t address.
I had dealings with Ashley from my early community activist days. We frequently crossed paths (and sometimes swords). She is tough, courageous, intelligent, articulate and passionate in her fight for social justice etc, even though we may disagree. I long ago realised she is a formidable lady and if elected she would make a great MP.
It is true to say that me and James have not always seen eye to eye. He is no Sir Teddy Taylor (his predecessor) given his letter replies tend to be Tory propaganda, he appears to have slavishly towed the party line and is a bit of a smoothie. But he is the only one I trust to deliver on Brexit and when he visited my night shelter he was a star.
Update 03/05/17: The Lib Dems have just announced their candidates: Lucy Salek for Southend West and Peter Gwizdala for Southend East. I know hardly anything about Lucy but Peter did stand two years ago and I felt then he acquitted himself well.
Update 04/05/17: We learn the Green Party have now selected their candidates. Simon Cross who contested Southend East two years ago (when, by the way, I voted for him) will be doing so again. Some of my recent exchanges with Simon have been quite vicious but I know no-one better who will fight for “Green” principles. As for Southend West, Jonathan Fuller will not be standing again. He has handed the baton to the younger generation: Dominic Ellis. As a point of interest, Jason Pilley who stood for St. Lukes in last May’s Local Election, who acquitted himself well enough to earn my vote, is standing for Castle Point. Politics is a strange old game – anyone who reads my alt right leaning blogs might smile ruefully to learn in two years I voted Green, who seem to be the antithesis of anything right leaning, twice. I wish both Dominic and Jason well standing in their first General Election (edit and correction: I have been told Dominic had also stood in 2015 in Castle Point); I’m sure they will do well. As for UKIP, we await an announcement. With two of its stalwarts in recent years, James Moyies and Floyd Waterworth, going over to the Tories, since last time, it will be interesting to see who, if any, they will get to stand. Then others not yet known about may also stand – we wait with interest news of the final line up.
Update 13/05/17: Jason is no longer standing for Greens in Castle Point but instead as an Independent in Southend West. Jack is no longer standing. There are stories to tell but best go and get from the horses mouth. I understand UKIP will not be putting up candidates in either constituency, nominally because both of the sitting MPs are ardent Brexiters. Yours truly is now part of a group trying to lay on a hustings – so continue to watch this space. Campaigning is well under way and right now Ashley is all set to paint the town red!
Update 18/05/17: I believe we now have the final line-ups – contrary to what was stated in my previous update, UKIP will be fielding candidates in both constituencies:
According to the Yellow Advertiser: “Southend West’s last MP Sir David Amess, who is from the constituency, is to stand as the Conservative candidate. Southend councillor Julian Ware-Lane, from Westcliff, will be Labour’s candidate while John Stansfield, from Leigh, is standing for UKIP. Lucy Salek, whose address is given as within the Lewisham and Deptford constituency in south-east London, is the Liberal Democrat candidate in Southend West while Dominic Ellis, from Lewisham, is the Green Party candidate. Tino Callaghan, a Southend councillor from within the Southend West constituency, is standing for the Southend Independent Association while Jason Pilley, from Southend, is standing as an Independent“.
Also according to the Yellow Advertiser: “Rochford and Southend East’s last MP James Duddridge, who is from within the constituency, is standing as the Conservative candidate. Ashley Dalton, from Southend, is standing as Labour’s candidate while Rochford District councillor Neil Hookway, from Great Wakering, is UKIP’s candidate. Peter Gwizdala, whose address is given as being in the Rochford and Southend East constituency, is the Liberal Democrat candidate. Simon Cross, who is also from the Rochford and Southend East constituency, is standing for the Green Party. Southend councillor Ron Woodley, from Thorpe Bay, is standing as an Independent“.
Hustings will take place for the Southend West Constituency on June 4th (details to be announced). Something similar was being planned for Rochford and Southend East except James Duddridge declined the invitation despite alternative dates being offered, citing prior commitments. In the light of this disappointment, it is hoped to put on a “Meet the Candidates” event, involving the other candidates, scheduled to take place June 4th (this has now been confirmed with the four originally invited candidates agreeing to come – details to follow – ed).
Update 27/05/17: The West and East hustings are all set to take place on June 4th and I have blogged giving details and my thoughts (see here). I wish all the candidates well and look forward to giving my pre and post election thoughts – watch this space.