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On Southend Council closing nominations before they even open in Blenheim Park…

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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  1. Rob Brown Rob Brown

    Interesting. In a seat like Blenheim the win threshold will be so low due to the array of candidates that it makes it more or less impossible to predict a winner. I make the Tories favourites of course.

    I have a suspicion that a lot of the 2010 LD vote will disappear all over the place. Partly to Lab bust mostly to Green, UKIP and the Tories. The decent persistent Labour vote will increase a bit.

  2. Rob Brown Rob Brown

    Done. Will at least make it interesting on the night. If you look at the change from 2010-14 it is one of the most interesting wards in the borough.

    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      My issue with Labour in BP is it has never done anything there. I think Lab will have a very good night in the east but I think the west is going to be tough. There is one Polling District where Lab are strong in BP but the rest is just not natural Labour territory, so to do any damage they need to win that district by a 4:1 ratio and then hold on in the others. BP is a very interesting ward as three parties can realistically think they can win, although I think the UKIP vote was helped considerably in 2014 by it being a European Election year. In a GE year, plenty more people who aren’t just protest voters will come out and that will dilute the UKIP vote somewhat. Also if the person who I understand is going to be the candidate, is the candidate, it is a good candidate according to those who know him/her – I have never met them but people speak highly of them.

  3. Rob Brown Rob Brown


    • neilmonnery neilmonnery

      Twenty notes on who gets more votes locally in Blenheim Park – Lab or Lib Dem? Sure, why not?

  4. neilmonnery neilmonnery

    How much do you want to bet Rob?

  5. I am more interested in your secret candidates. Only the lib dems could benefit electorally from voters not knowing who their candidates are. Also noted that Collins is not standing in a winnable. Matt may not be favourite for Blenheim but I’ll happily bet that he will finish above your mob in your ‘stronghold’.

    Lib Dems, losing here.

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