The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Liz Cohen wins the Shenfield by-election for a second Lib Dem gain in the ward in seven months

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I wrote last month that Liz Cohen and the Lib Dems had a legitimate chance of making a gain in Shenfield on December 6 2012. Well it is now December 6 (at the time of writing – probably December 7 by the time I post this) and they have indeed fulfilled my expectations as Elizabeth Clare Cohen was this evening duly elected as one of three councillors for Shenfield ward on Brentwood Borough Council with a majority of 171.

The full results are as follows:

COHEN, Elizabeth Clare 728 – Liberal Democrat
MAY, Stephen Edward 557 – The Conservative Party Candidate
MILLWOOD, Richard 31 – The Labour Party Candidate
WATT, David 119 – UKIP

Here in a photo of the result being read out courtesy of the ‘Liz Cohen for Shenfield’ Facebook page:

Liz Cohen Lib Dems Shenfield

Liz Cohen winning the Shenfield by-election. A Lib Dem gain in the ward. One of several across the country tonight.

Shenfield last saw a Liberal Democrat councillor in 1996 if I recall correctly before the real shock of victory in May by young Graeme Clark and when this by-election was called after the Tory candidate quit to look after his sick wife then it became a Lib Dem target due to their win in May.

Well the team did good and have got another Lib Dem councillor on to the borough council. The old Lib Dem adage for the Lib Dems is ‘where we work, we win’ and in all honesty this victory is testament to that. I was getting many e-mail from Karen Chilvers et al from the team to help with the campaign but due to working full-time and the shocking train service between there and here I was unable to help but they have a great organisation and showed that working hard actually leads to good results.

Apparently the Lib Dems are kicking ass tonight and showing that reports of the death of the party may have been exaggerated and whilst council seats in by-elections don’t mean a lot in the great deal of things I think most Lib Dems – and most politicos – will admit that the strength of the Lib Dems has always been at local level. This took a huge hit in 2011 and another hit in 2012 but maybe people are starting to listen once more and if that is the case then maybe local election results might not be as depressing in the future as they have been the past couple of years.

From all I’ve read about Liz she’s an exceptional candidate and should be an exception councillor. I think a lot of Lib Dem groups could have a long hard look at Brentwood Lib Dems as a template for how to be successful. I’ve said it before but it is worth saying it again. A lot of admiration for the team there and I hope they toast their hard work tonight or over the next couple of days. They’ll have thoroughly deserved it.

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Written by neilmonnery

December 6th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

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Shenfield by-election on Dec 6 – a legit shot for a Lib Dem gain

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Update December 6: Last night Liz Cohen won this by-election. You can all all about the result here

I’m a pessimist. I am. However I am also a realist (so at times these two differing viewpoints battle in out in my mind in a whirlwind fight to the death) but when it comes to political issues I often look at momentum and can see things from a third person perspective and in the case of the Shenfield by-election due to be held on December 6 the Lib Dems are in a great position to make a gain.

The outgoing Tory councillor (who actually defected from the Lib Dems to the Tories in 1996) is leaving to look after his ill wife which is an extremely admirable thing to do and I wish his wife the best in her recovery. On his way out of the door though he told the local paper ‘There is a lot of upset in the Conservative council group and I would not be surprised if one or two others go in the near future’.

In May Shenfield elected a Lib Dem in young Graeme Clark and with other gains in the borough including the return of popular (and sexy boots owner/wearer) Karen Chilvers it could easily be argued that the Brentwood Lib Dems are one of the best local groups around. They are popular on the ground and work hard and the decision to nominate local mum of two Liz Cohen as their candidate is a very good one. A local person who has campaigned on local issues before being nominated as the Lib Dem candidate shows that she just genuinely cares about the things that Brentwood Borough Council can act on.

She is someone who has worked hard on improving the safety crossing outside of a local school, getting footpaths cleared and waste bins for dog mess. These are basic issues but small ones that can actually make a difference. I often sit here and think blog about issues that it is very unlikely I’ll ever get a say in but could I help ensure pavements are fixed or that overgrown trees are trimmed? Yes I can. We all can but we often think someone else will sort it.

These are the types of things your councillors are for and I fully believe Liz Cohen will provide an excellent service as a councillor should she be elected on December 6 in the Shenfield by-election. If you live local and can help then please contact Liz either on twitter @ShenfieldLiz or get in touch with the Brentwood Lib Dems via their website or by e-mail – info@brentwood-ongarlibdems.org.uk

This isn’t one of those by-elections where victory is a long shot. This is a very real possibility of a LD gain and another LD councillor will be a very good thing. I can seriously see the Lib Dems in Brentwood making more inroads over the coming years so this is a very good time to help them out if you can. The Lib Dems are very much a progressive party and the Lib Dems in Brentwood are on the forefront of this.

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Written by neilmonnery

November 1st, 2012 at 2:41 pm

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Robin Tilbrook (English Democrats – “More Police-Catching Criminals!”) – Oh dear – English Fail…

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When the people of Essex go to the polls on November 15th they’ll be faced with the following names, parties and slogans on the ballot:

Nick Alston (Conservative Party Candidate)
Linda Belgrove (Independent)
Val Morris-Cook (Labour Party Candidate)
Andrew Smith (United Kingdom Independence Party)
Mick Thwaites (Independent)
Robin Tilbrook (English Democrats – “More Police-Catching Criminals!”)

We made a decision not to field a candidate.

The one thing that jumps out that is that Robin Tilbrook of the English Democrats wants more criminals catching the police. Oh dear for a misplaced hyphen. Is it bad that is the first thing I noticed from the official list from the returning officer?

There are two independents running and one is a local lad Mick Thwaites who already has the support from the independent group on Southend Council. I know a bit about him but very little about the other independent candidate but her website is pretty darn awful.

At this point I have no idea who I’ll be voting for but I can tell you one person who won’t be getting my vote – the one that wants more criminals catching police officers – that’s who!

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Written by neilmonnery

October 19th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

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A Lib Dem councillor in Essex quits and joins the Tories

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I was sad to see today that a Lib Dem councillor had defected to the Conservatives. Cllr Nigel Clarke was elected two years ago as the Brentwood West Lib Dem on the borough council but he has decided to walk across the floor for reasons that he has kept onto himself.

Personally speaking I find this outrageous. Not just because he’s a Lib Dem who has decided to move on but because he is now not standing for the same values as when he was elected. If he truly believes his political ideals have changed then you can’t argue with that. What you should then do is resign your seat and a by-election called. I think this should be the case in any situation where a person leaves/joins a political party whilst they are an elected official.

I heard the news earlier today and it has been confirmed by the head of the Lib Dems on the Council David Kendell who went on to say the following:

“I am naturally disappointed that Cllr Clarke has made this decision as I believe he has not only let down his friends and colleagues but has also let down the many hundreds of residents in Brentwood West who voted for him in good faith as a Liberal Democrat. I believe that over time he may well come to regret his decision when he realises the local Conservatives are unable to meet his expectations.

“The remaining six members of the Liberal Democrat group remain totally united and focused on holding the Conservatives to account, questioning their decisions and providing constructive opposition”.

When I heard the news my gut reaction was pretty clear. This is what I wrote at the time, ‘Am I just being a complete cynic when I think he’s done this to safe his own hide and that his seat will be safer if he changes hats for when he is up for re-election in two years? If he changed hats too close to his election people might see through it. Ok I’m far too much of a cynic…‘ and you know what I stick by that.

Give up being a Lib Dem by all means that is his right. However he is now not representing the people who voted for him and therefore he cannot claim one iota that he has a mandate. If he had any decency then he would resign and stand as a Tory in the by-election. If the people didn’t care what colours he wore then he would get re-elected. However it seems as though he is actually pretty gutless and he’ll stay on as a councillor until 2014 when he is up for re-election.

It is a real shame as people feel genuinely betrayed by this. You vote for someone and something and then the someone and something you voted for turned out to be the complete opposite on Ronseal. It most certainly didn’t do exactly what it said on the tin. And people wonder why people lose all faith in politicians…

If you get round to googling yourself Cllr Nigel Clarke and read this then grow some cojones and do the right thing. Quit and stand as a Tory. If you get in then that is fine but as of right now you are not representing those who elected you and that is a pretty shocking state of affairs. How would you like it if you voted someone into office only for them to turn around and change everything they stood for? I suspect you wouldn’t like it on the other foot somehow.

I don’t just say this because he is a Lib Dem. I truly think that if you are elected then you are elected both personally and for what you stand for. If that changes then you should quit and stand again under whatever new banner you want to stand under. Carrying on in office is like carrying on your role under false pretences.

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Written by neilmonnery

January 20th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

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