Today was the day when Southend Council voted on a new leader after last weeks election took the Tories out of a majority. The logical conclusion would be the Tories forming a minority government at the Civic Centre with the help of one or two independents but things didn’t exactly go down like that. The local rag reports the story behind this link
The choices were simple. Either independent Ron Woodley leading a coalition of independents, Lib Dems and Labour or Nigel Holdcroft leading a minority Tory government. There were no other names on the table. The 25 Tories voted for the Tory in a move that probably didn’t shock anyone. Labour all voted for Ron Woodley. All the independents voted with Ron Woodley bar one – Dr Vel – who in a move that shocked no-one abstained as deep down he’s a fan of the Tories despite being a former Labour councillor. This meant the scores on the doors were 25-15 with ten Lib Dems to vote. What would the Lib Dems do?
Nine of them would join Dr Vel in abstaining with only Ric Morgan voting for Ron Woodley. This means that Holdcroft carries on in the top job and forms a minority government using the cabinet system. Has he done a deal with the Lib Dems to give one of the cabinet portfolios to the Lib Dems? That I don’t know. We’ll find that out imminently.
What it does do is once more is show the Lib Dems as a party who are unwilling to challenge the Tories at a local level. Yes with Dr. Vel abstaining then the vote could have only gone 25-25 and then it would have come down to the mayor’s casting vote. The mayor is Labour up til now when Conservative Sally Carr takes over the position so the casting vote would have gone the way of the Tories and Holdcroft.
So it may be possible that due to Dr. Vel not voting for one of his own group it meant that no matter what the Lib Dems did they couldn’t stop Holdcroft today. When it comes out in the wash it might be the best thing for the Lib Dems in Southend but looking from the outside in you have to wonder. The perception is awful and the Lib Dems will get all the blame for propping up the Tories even though had Dr. Vel not abstained then it would have meant the Lib Dems votes actually mattered.
We’ll see how it all shakes out but the average voter will not care about Dr. Vel’s abstention as they’ll only see the Lib Dems letting the Tories get away with it. Someone no matter the reality the perception will always be the thing that resonates with voters. More on this as the cabinet appointments shake out etc…
One last thing. Here is one of the comments on the Echo’s story:
lol i dint evan bothervoteing dont see the point in wasting my time lol so basicly the toris lost power but got it straite back so everyone ho voted lose hahahah just like who the hell voted for a colition goverment did you did i no??? so they take it up on theres selfs lol its funny we are being controlled wake up lol we have no say in anything we are sheep bahhhh bahhh
I just don’t know what to say…
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