Stunning news hit the blogosphere today. With election day still the best part of three months away, Southend Council have decided to close nominations for one of the wards before the election has officially been called. The quite staggering occurrence has been revealed by the prospective Labour candidate for Blenheim Park in a blog posted entitled, ‘BLENHEIM PARK IN 2015 IS A TWO-HORSE RACE: LABOUR OR CONSERVATIVE (seriously change your blog templates so that titles aren’t all in capitals), Matthew Dent explains that it is a two-horse race 79 days away from election day.
Well The Rambles of Neil Monnery was of course flabbergasted by this news and immediately (well we watched the PSG v Chelsea game first, then went to the loo and did some other stuff) but then we immediately rung the council only to be told that office hours were between 9 and 5 and to call back then (actually we didn’t ring, we just assumed that at 22:39 that no-one was available to answer our frantic query) but still, the council didn’t deny this shocking revelation.
This type of move is unprecedented. Closing nominations before you’ve even opened them and granting only two candidates the right to field candidates because they’ve announced that they are candidates on their blog or website is a dangerous precedent to set.
Oh wait, hang on, I think, I think that maybe the writer of the blog has jumped the gun somewhat. Actually there are no candidates in the ward because nominations haven’t actually opened, until that point they are just prospective candidates and the council are going to (shockingly) allow the parties or any interested individual who gets the ten valid signatures required on a nomination form to stand. I think that is probably a wise move from the council.
The whole pretext of Matthew’s blog is of course that he wants it to be a two-horse race because then he’d be second instead of fighting for third or fourth. Making it a straight Tory v Labour fight in Blenheim Park would lead to a thumping win for the Conservative Party. This means that Matthew isn’t confident of winning because if he was, he’d want as many parties in the mix to muddy the waters.
Labour keep banging on about how there is no difference between the Lib Dems and the Tories because of the national coalition (so so lazy) and of course it is well known that the Tories are losing more votes to UKIP than the other parties in areas such as Southend where the Tories are the dominant party. Therefore locally that would mean that voters would split votes between the three and when votes get split then a fourth party can slip through the middle. Basic electoral maths folks. I get bored with the amount of people who don’t understand basic electoral maths.
It could of course also be a subtle dig at the Lib Dems for their continued use of the two-horse race graphic in some of their Focus leaflets (that dig would be fair – using that graphic and sentiment in a ward where it isn’t actually a two-horse race is disingenuous – I said that at the time and no leaflets that I have ever written or edited have ever used this graphic). The truth though is come May, they’ll be in all likelihood at least four candidates on the local ballot paper in Blenheim Park, not the two that Matthew Dent has written about. If Blenheim Park is a two-horse race then Labour won’t be one of those horses. They haven’t been in the running in Blenheim Park in recent history and were a distant fourth just last year.
Working and campaigning hard doesn’t automatically equate to winning or even really significantly fighting to win a seat. I was surprised Matthew went after Blenheim Park considering he (to his full credit) is clearly working hard and it is a seat he is distinctly unlikely to win. Why he didn’t go after Milton, St. Lukes or taking Westborough after their sitting councillor was deselected? These are seats where Labour are favoured to actually win and with Matthew living in Victoria, staying relatively local would seem like the obvious move. Still you have to admire someone who’ll put in so much work knowing they’ll lose. That takes dedication. Just stop writing absolute bollocks…
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