Southend Local Election Results 2023 (1)
The following is a sequel to my “Southend Local Elections 2023 – a personal and a St. Luke’s ward perspective” post of a week ago, looking forward to yesterday’s local elections.
Yesterday, right across the country, people went to the polls to vote in who to represent them on their council. The results are now in. In this first of a two-part reflection on the results, I set the scene as to the election outcome and make some general observations, and will follow this up after by giving a specific commentary in Part 2.
Checking out the BBC website (1400) for the national picture, we find Conservatives lost 321 seats; Labour gained 190, LibDems 89, Greens 51. This is no doubt a disappointment to the Conservatives but not a surprise. Also, it could have been worse. Both Southend Echo (see here) and Southend Council (see here) websites give details how the voting went for each of the 17 Wards. According to the Echo: “SOUTHEND Council remains in no majority overall control with Labour and the Conservatives both making gains amid an Independent collapse. The Conservatives remain the largest group on the council increasing their seat total from 21 to 22, while Labour gained two seats with their total now standing at 17. Labour currently run the council in a “rainbow coalition” with the Liberal Democrats, who fell from five seats to four on the night, and the Independents who lost three seats slashing their number to two. Despite Independent losses, the coalition remains one seat ahead of the Tories.” I should add, if previous years are anything to go by, I still expect some horse trading to go on when it comes to the composition of the next administration, all in order to gain power.
From my perspective, the biggest surprise was the Greens not only continued to gain support but that they actually won a seat. Besides seeing good people lose out, which is an inevitability, my biggest disappointment was that I had hoped the Confelicity Party would have got a bigger share of the votes and my hope from a national perspective (the Heritage Party) would do better than the few votes they picked up. The Echo also reports “Turnout this year was lower than previous elections, at just 30.47 per cent and down from 2021’s 33.74 per cent turnout”, which is disappointing, but noting a wide difference between wards, e.g. Kursaal 20% and Thorpe 41%. I will consider the result in each ward in my next blog and for now congratulate the winners and commiserate with the losers, some who I know personally, and I know have served well in the past and campaigned hard in the present (although overall there seems to have been little campaigning this time) will feel disappointed.
The jury is out on how well this first-time introduction of voter ids work. A BBC report on the matter, titled: “Local elections 2023: Critics say voter ID rule should be scrapped” suggests not that well. For me waving my driving licence did the trick – there was more hold up finding me on their list as I hadn’t brought my polling card. When I enquired on behalf of a friend who had neither driving licence nor passport, I was shown a list of acceptable photo ids, none he had, but told he could get one if he popped down to the local council offices, something I knew he would NOT do. Even so, given the extent of world-wide election fraud, voter ID is the way to go.
Finally, a thought on voting: a friend who shares many of my views on today’s political scene, spoiled her ballot paper and wrote: “Morally, we should vote. Pragmatically, what is the point? I refuse to vote for any of them in the uni-party, they all want to enslave the people”. My response was: “I think there is a point in voting although I get your concerns and reservations. In my experience, many who put themselves up for election do so for the right reason and many who are elected make a positive difference. I agree party affiliation is an issue and I would not vote for ANY of the parties on your spoiled ballot paper, but I would make a point trying to get to know what each candidate stands for and ascertain something of his / her character although not an easy thing to do”.