Two major voting occasions in two years (General Election 2015 and EU Referendum) – so spare me a third. I am pretty sure many will echo those sentiments and if the interest were to be lack luster then it would come as no surprise. As for Theresa May declaring General Election, as is her prerogative, it is something that I support given the much changed political landscape following the EU Referendum.
I did not vote Conservative last time and chose what I thought was the best of the rest and I did vote to leave the EU, all of which has been well documented in my earlier blogs postings. As for who to vote for this time, I will do what I normally do – weigh the options and vote for the person who I think will best serve my constituency (Rochford and Southend East). Sometimes I play my cards close to my chest (like many of my wise friends) but I always vote. I don’t recall ever spoiling my ballot paper, although I have been tempted. Because I don’t support a particular party, I will vote for the person who I think will do the most good if elected, despite the voting system. While I still need to read the leaflets etc. from each of the candidates to get a fully rounded view, I am now 99% decided.
Before I reveal my choice, some further preamble. I have not studied the Party manifestos and confess to spending more time following what is happening in America politics wise than the UK – because I find it more interesting and frankly more significant given the alarming direction the world is heading. It is a pity that not only are both Southend constituencies Conservative safe seats, this is now more so given their lead in the national polls. Despite my reticence with the Tories, I trust them with Brexit and the economy more than the alternatives. It is a shame the opposition parties have not got their acts together, making us all losers. I am less sure, when it comes to Conservatives delivering, when I consider many social justice issues that concern me. Concerning political ideology, small government and more individual freedom verses big government and more intervention to help the poor etc., I am betwixt as to which party convinces more. Regarding the personalities, it happens I know the majority of those who are standing and while I may have cause to criticize all of them, all have good things going for them.
If I were voting in Southend West, I would probably vote for David Amess, despite being aware of valid criticism such as not engaging sufficiently with the local “Rainbow” administration when it was in power. His longevity and being firmly planted as a pillar of the community does help and, to be fair, he has stood up for the town, addressed concerns of constituents, shown evidence he has worked hard and been his own man rather than a party stooge, supported community events and has generally agreed with me on conscience matters, like concerning pro-life. I can’t truly say the same about his East counterpart, James Duddridge. While I still compare him unfavorably with his predecessor, Teddy Taylor, I have come to see him as a man of honour. While his smooth style and he doesn’t get social justice as he ought doesn’t wash well, he has sometimes pleasantly surprised me. I liked the way he stood up to the Speaker for disrespecting President Trump and when a couple of months ago he volunteered at my homeless night shelter he was a revelation.
So it now comes down to who I will vote for on June 8th, in the place I live, in Southend East. That person is Ashley Dalton and this is with due respect to candidates like Ron Woodley, who I like. Me and Ashley go back a long time, to soon after the turn of the millennium when I began my community activist career. Our paths have crossed on several occasions and sometimes swords, for it will be fair to say we have not always agreed and I guess if we were to have a chat on subjects like political philosophy, Brexit and Donald Trump that will still be the case. However, she has done enough to convince me she has the makings of an outstanding MP who will serve my town well. She understands how diverse community works and is able to work with the disparate groups in it (something I have witnessed first hand). I like her dignified style and her not attacking opponents. Whether she has a good enough handle on some of the the many questions I see as important, I am less sure (but that is true of the other candidates), but she is capable and intelligent and has the ideas, insights, experience, passion and energy to deal with the many social justice challenges confronting our community. Having said all this, I hope it won’t turn out to be the kiss of death!