We are less than a week away from Southend’s local elections and twenty-four days since I last blogged on the subject (see here), so I felt an update is in order.
We now know who is standing in each of the wards (see here) and I want to use this opportunity to give some further thoughts regarding local elections to do with my town (Southend) and also my ward (St. Lukes). Looking at who is standing, there are many new faces as well as several who have served on the Council in the past and may have since had a sabbatical or more likely lost their seat. There are some standing in order to defend a seat they won four years ago. There are some who have stood in the past but did not win and given the popularity of their party in the ward they are standing, a similar outcome might be expected this time. But kudos to all who stand because they want to serve their community.
Not much has happened (at least from my own admittedly narrow vantage point) since I last wrote and, from what I can make out (concerning St. Lukes), other than receiving through my door leaflets from the Independents (of the Alliance variety), the Conservatives and the Labour Party (two in fact), had face to face chats with the two Independent Alliance candidates and an email exchange with one of the Labour candidates, that is it – no canvassing (easy to blame Covid for this) and nothing else to help me decide who to vote for. (I am grateful to two of the St. Lukes candidates for advising me they have been out canvassing and stand corrected – ed.) I should add that I recently met with Susan Badger (Independent) for the first time – and I was impressed! For the record, all leaflets were okish and, if I was to award the prize for the leaflet that impressed me most, it would be Labour’s, as it sought to address both town and ward wide issues. (I recall, a few years ago, my decision on who I would vote for, came down to whose leaflet impressed me most – given there was not much else to go on.) This time, the Indies rightly emphasized their record of serving the ward, although I still can’t quite make out what their policies are for the town. As for the Tories, they argued well why they are better than the other lot but, try as hard as I might, there was nothing written addressing the specific needs of St. Lukes Ward or any record of them doing anything for residents (never a good thing imo). Sad to say, I have received nothing from the Greens, Lib Dems and non-alliance Indies, nor expect to; I sense they are not in it to win it.
I was reminded of the looming elections when I friend of mine posted his predictions on his Facebook page. Other than the Conservatives picking up one more seat on the Council, his prediction was other some vying between Indies and Labour, it will be the same party in each of the wards as before, although in some wards it could be close and then there is the thought turnout could be low and begs the question which party / candidates benefits most? Having said that, while a better political pundit than me, neither of us are particularly good – so candidates can breathe easy. The net outcome following next Thursday’s election looks like no party will have an overall majority and the Independents will again be king makers and be able to influence the composition of any new administration, which if last time is anything to go by will be an alliance with them, Labour and the LibDems. But nothing can be assumed – for one thing my spies tell me that some of the Indies aren’t too keen on Labour, yet on the other hand it often comes down to individual personalities. For example, Ron who leads the Indies does not like Tony who leads the Tories but likes John who used to. So it should be interesting and soon we will know!
As for who I want to form the next administration and who I want to be elected in St. Lukes, this time I will plead the fifth amendment and spare those who I do vote for my kiss of death. I hope the best candidates get elected regardless of party. I hope too that people will turn out to vote, according to their conscience, as we are living in times when democracy is being undermined and we are in danger of losing our freedoms altogether, so some nefarious elite can decide. I cannot comment on motives of those standing in next Thursday’s election, but I am glad they are. While our system is far from perfect, it at least gives we the people some say in determining our future.