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Month: May 2012

How Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency voted on Thursday

We’ve all read the newspapers when they say that Nick Clegg will be bludgeoned if he stands again in 2015. We’ve all read that he has no hope of keeping his seat of Sheffield Hallam as everyone hates both the Lib Dems and him personally. We’ve all heard from the Labour activists who say that Clegg is just finished and that even if he waved a magic wand he wouldn’t be able to survive. His future in Westminster politics is more over than my endless and fruitless pursuit of women but is the rhetoric accurate?

Well let us look at this handy pie chart I saw of how Sheffield Hallam voted on Thursday night:

Sheffield Hallam 2012 Local Election Result
How Sheffield Hallam voted in the 2012 Local Elections

Doesn’t fully endorse the popular rhetoric does it?

However who cares about the truth when we have a story that sounds an awful lot better than the truth?

Two open ended questions with no answers. What English. Anyway I just wanted to point out that Nick Clegg isn’t finished and that the people of his constituency are still backing his party to a comfortable degree. What we saw on Thursday is a lot of Lib Dem councillors in seats where there is a sitting Lib Dem MP did ok and nowhere near as poorly as elsewhere. Look at Eastleigh with Chris Huhne, Colchester will Bob Russell, Portsmouth with Mike Hancock etc…

I’m not saying everything is grand because it clearly isn’t but don’t write off Nick Clegg yet. The people who voted for him directly in 2010 haven’t all turned their back on his party and that is important. The YouGov Poll which is always awful says that the Lib Dems are hovering at around 8-9% whereas the popular vote on Thursday put it at 16%. Maybe it is time for people to laugh at and mock the YouGov Poll just like women to do me when I try to talk to them.

Sad times…

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I got 90 votes. 90. My initial Westborough Campaign Review

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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More on the Westborough Ward hustings and the cost of attending them

A couple of weeks back I wrote a piece entitled Westborough Ward Hustings – That’ll cost you £2 about my stance towards the public having to pay to enter the Westborough Ward hustings that I would be taking part in a few days later.

This morning I spoke with the chair of the Westborough Community Association who put on the hustings and she was speaking for several of the members and board in not being exactly enthused by my stance on the issue. I think we had a good conversation and I think we understood each other but I thought it best to lay out exactly my position on this issue.

In principle I do not think any political meeting should require an entrance fee. I will not change my opinion on this and never will. Politics – or access to it – should never be reliant on money.

What I was not aware of at the time was that it would have been a usual meeting for the WCA which was given over to the hustings. The constitution of the association as written is that for all meetings non-members are charged £2 which is of course fair and I have no issue with this whatsoever. The cost of hiring out these rooms for these events always need to be covered.

So there must be a middle ground going forward. From what I was told it will be recommended that they do not run hustings any more – due in large part to my comments. I hope this is not the case. I thought the evening was well run and gave the people who turned up the chance to ask good questions and I believe they probably took away an idea of what all the candidates stand for by listening to their answers.

I know that during election time the council open up rooms in its buildings across the town for free to candidates and this could potentially open up an avenue to hold these meetings somewhere at no cost to anyone which would allow the public to enter for free with the association not paying a penny. This is just one way that both sides of the debate could move forward. There is also a possibility that the candidates could pick up the tab and put it down as election expenses but that is something that would need further investigation.

So there are ways that hustings could still be done and put on for free to the public with no cost to the association. With no election in 2013 it will be the best part of two years before another hustings could be put on. I hope in the intervening 24 months or so the WCA can work with the councillors and the council to find a solution to this issue.

I think it would be a great shame is the hustings disappeared as I do think they were worthwhile. I do hope that the association did not take my stance as a personal slight towards them as it most certainly wasn’t. It is just a point of principle that I do believe in. Should I pull off the biggest shock since Buster Douglas I will go to the next meeting and speak with them and happily drop a £2 coin (or two £1 coins – I can’t predict the make-up of my wallet).

I think that is all I want to say on that issue. If the WCA want to speak with me further on this issue then they have my contact details. I wish the WCA every success for the future even if as expected I will not be a councillor for the ward.

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Prominent Labour activist Julian Ware-Lane hopes Southend-on-Sea Council stays Conservative on May 3

Yesterday I browsed a Labour blog. There was a piece about the Liberal Democrats entitled Convenient whipping boys or villains? and I read the piece and sometimes I do wonder if people actually believe the bullshit that pours out of their mouths (or in this case through the fingers of their keyboard).

The blog belongs to arguably the most noted activist for any party within Southend-on-Sea. A man who could very well win a Council seat on Thursday night. A man who everyone tells me is a pretty nice bloke and not many actually have a bad word to say about him. I’ve never met him. I have seen him and will probably see him on Thursday night at the count no doubt. So all I know of him is what he writes on his blog.

‘So how did you come to the quite strong title?’ I am hypothesising that you might be asking yourself. Well let me point out two chunks of his blurb on the above article:

Many decent councillors will be ejected, and those that do hang on will do so more through avoidance by the electorate of less palatable alternatives.

So he is saying there are many decent Liberal Democrat Councillors. Very nice and very accurate however fast forward a few hundred words and how does he end his piece?

I shall answer my own question: they are villains. Their fingerprints are on every piece of damnable legislation being passed in this Parliament. I hope every one of them is shown the door this Thursday.

So he hopes every Lib Dem is voted out. This is despite him saying that there are many good Lib Dem councillors. What absolute tribalistic bollocks (Yes I know tribalistic isn’t a word but go sue me). So in races where the Lib Dems are up against racist right-wing parties he wants them in instead of the Lib Dems. In races where it is Tory or Lib Dem he wants the Tories to win. These aren’t the words of a Labour supporter but more words of a spurned lover and that is how a vast majority of Labour supporters have acted since 2010.

These are also the words of a man who can’t separate local and national politics. He knows (as does anyone with their finger on the pulse in Southend) that the only hope to stop the Tories is for the Lib Dems to win seats like St. Laurence and West Leigh from the Tories. If the Lib Dems fail in this then the Tories will retain control of the Council. Labour will take Kursaal unless Anne Jones has run one of the worst local campaigns in living memory. It is about an open a goal as you can get so you can chalk that one up and that leaves the Tory majority at one.

Belfairs is a seat that is true blue but the incumbent was kicked out of the Tory party for reasons unknown but is standing as an independent and instead of being one of the dullest races in the borough it is suddenly one of the most exciting. The Tory candidate is not guaranteed to win as the independent is very well liked and he could hold it even without being a member of the party.

The thing is three Lib Dems are defending and two are in a real dogfight. Alan should hold on in Leigh but Mary and Graham face real battles although the sense is Mary will be ok in Prittlewell but Graham in Blenheim Park is a toss-up. If either of these seats go blue then the Tories will still hold the sway in Southend.

The other seat that could go from the Tories is actually the seat Julian himself is attacking. Milton could go red and that could well be the seat that turns this from a Conservative council to one of No Overall Majority as long as the Lib Dems hold off the Tories where they are defending.

The make-up of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council will realistically be decided on the following seats:

Belfairs – Ind defending – Con attacking
Blenheim Park – Lib Dem defending – Con attacking
Kursaal – Con defending – Lab attacking
Milton – Con defending – Lab attacking
Prittlewell – Lib Dem defending – Con attacking
Southchurch – Ind defending – Con attacking
St. Laurence – Con defending – Lib Dem attacking

Realistically they are the seven seats that could lead to a change in power at the Civic Centre. Yes Leigh and West Leigh could change hands (Lib Dem to Con and Con to Lib Dem respectively) but I think not. My seat Westborough has an Ind defending from Lab so that wouldn’t change the power of balance. Thorpe also will be closer than people think as it’s not Ron Woodley this year but the ‘Granny Tax’ is going to crush Clive Lucas here in what should have been a closer run contest than people thought.

I actually had a long chat with Clive and he seems like a decent guy. I won’t be voting for him as I’ll be voting Lib Dem but reading some of the rubbish the independents have written about him in the past it saddens me greatly that even the independents lie and spread lies with their literature but that is a story for another day.

So the Conservatives need to lose two seats and gain none for the balance of power to shift. Should every Lib Dem lose (all three defending in Southend would lose to the Tories) then there is no doubt Southend would stay a Conservative run council. So there we have it. The most prominent activist in Southend – a man who by his own admission is Labour through and through actually wants a Conservative run council in Southend-on-Sea because he wants the Lib Dems wiped out and the only way for that to happen is for the Tories to win those seats.

He might not have thought through his blog but realistically if every Lib Dem loses on Thursday night it will lead to a Conservative run council here on Thursday night. There is no way that Labour or any other party is taking the three Lib Dem seats the party are defending on Thursday. No way in hell. There is more chance of me finally getting that date with Sophie Ellis Bextor and you know what readers – I’m not getting that date. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

So Julian Ware-Lane is a Labour supporter first and foremost but dreams of a Tory run council instead of a coalition of Labour, Lib Dem and Independents, which could happen if the Lib Dems aren’t wiped out. You read it here first…

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