90 votes. Wow that is a stunner – and not in a good way. I knew I wasn’t going to win. We all knew that but to get just 90 votes. Still it could have been worse as originally I got just 65 votes but they had put one of my bundles of 25 votes in with the Greens. Sadly it was only one and not twenty bundles or so but hey such is life.
The most striking thing is the apathy in the ward. A turnout of 21.92% is just woeful. Yes the weather didn’t help but this wasn’t just about the weather. It was about the state of politics in the ward where people just seemingly couldn’t give a shit. They care about the closing of the SureStart enough to mount a campaign over keeping it alive, a campaign that is still up in the air but looks promising for it to still run on a reduced basid but they don’t care enough to go out and vote.
That readers may be the most depressing thing about the whole thing. My striking out was disappointing but the fact that nearly four in every five people couldn’t be arsed to go and vote is a blow to democracy. People will moan about everything the Council are doing but when they have a chance to do something they just think it isn’t worth it.
One thing that did enthuse me was the fact that five of the six candidates – the five who showed up to the hustings and the count all got on well and the campaign was positive. No nasty literature and no personal attacks between any of us. That is something that I am proud of and all of us should be. I never saw or spoke to the other candidate but heck he still did better than me. 90 votes in a ward where there is a sitting Lib Dem Councillor. Still shaking my head at just how bad I did.
Having said that we didn’t run a vigorous campaign at all. Even yesterday on polling day all the Westborough Lib Dems were in the neighbouring ward of Prittlewell helping out a defending Lib Dem Councillor held on by 85 odd in the end. So we knew where our priorities lay. On a personal level my time was limited to the extenuating circumstances of losing my dad and an extremely busy period in my day job.
I only put out one piece of literature – but that is one more than the Green and the second independent and yet they both still beat me. My literature stood strongly on the grounds of saving front line services and getting a younger voice on to the Council as the Council is made-up of professionals and retired people in the main. This obviously didn’t go down well as my approach to be the voice of the voiceless generation at the Civic Centre went down like a lead balloon and they voted in a 73 year-old doctor.
The result was a surprise to me. I had Kevin Robinson stealing it for Labour. I had for weeks and even last night at the count. After the first two boxes it looked like he was cruising to a victory but the third box and postal ballots must have been heavily against him. I had disappeared by this point to wander around and see how we were doing elsewhere. When I came back I was shocked to see them counting and it even being close.
Whilst Dr Vel was the man elected to serve as councillor in Westborough the winner was clearly apathy and we can’t get away from that. Only 33% of postal ballots were even returned which is shocking.
As for me personally. First and foremost I am relieved it is over. It came at a bad time for me personally and I’m glad I can put political ambitions on the backburner for a while. If you were to ask me today whether or not I’ll ever stand again as a serious candidate then I’d say no but no-one needs to ask me that today and my answer may well be very different the next time I get asked that question.
I say that not because I’m disillusioned by my horrific and – to be quite frank – embarrassing result but because I was never sure I wanted to win anyway. I still rent and not sure if I will buy around here as housing prices are pretty high. When I buy somewhere and start putting roots down then I’m sure I’ll want to serve but by not winning it still gives me the option of flying my wings and putting my long-term roots down elsewhere.
Lastly I am still 100% sure that my natural home is in the Lib Dems. There is no debate and thoughts about that. My liberal roots and equality and fairness for all is what the Lib Dems fight for and what I believe in. I don’t think Labour have any answers to any questions except ‘we wouldn’t do that’ and the Tories will never be a home for a kid from a council estate. Sorry but that is just the way it is.
I’ll blog more about my overall thoughts on the night that Southend-on-Sea Borough Council moved from Tory control to No Overall Control later on today – or tomorrow – or sometime soon. For now it is leftover Indian take-away.
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