The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘local politics’ tag

Tory candidate James Duddridge doesn’t understand the blue badge system and subtly threatens constituent…

with one comment

I’m pissed off folks. Pissed off.

James Duddridge has been my MP since I moved to Thorpe Bay in 2010. He is standing to get that job once again next week. He is in my opinion pretty shit at his job. He will win on June 8 because it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, if you have a blue rosette you will win where I live. I have come to terms with that. That is life. That is our First Past The Post voting system. So you just deal with it and you move on.

Yet instead of enjoying life and just being a gloating blowhard, James Duddridge has to just act like a complete douche. Today he took a photo of a car in a disabled bay and posted it to twitter. It was the car of the Lib Dem candidate in the Shoeburyness by-election from last week. The candidate does not have a blue badge but his wife does and he was driving her. Therefore as we all know, he is entitled to park in a disabled bay.

Once this was pointed out to him, did he apologise? Say he made a mistake? Issue a mea culpa? No. No he did not. He doubled down and threatened the candidate and in doing so showed that he doesn’t even have the basic knowledge of how the blue badge system works.

Here is what he said:

James Duddridge

James Duddridge Tweet

Just lamentable.

For those (like you James…) who don’t understand how the blue badge system works let me help you out a wee bit…

A Blue Badge will help you park closer to your destination, either as a passenger or a driver. The badge is for on-street parking only. Off-street private car parks, such as those provided in hospitals or supermarket car parks, are governed by separate rules.

People who can use a Blue Badge

If you are a Blue Badger holder, it is for your use and benefit only.

It must only be displayed if you are travelling in the vehicle as a driver or passenger and are personally making use of a parking concession.

See the word passenger in there? I have even bolded that line to help if needs be. It seems pretty obvious to me. So it doesn’t fucking matter who was driving you absolute idiot. So when you say you thought it was a man driving, that does not matter one jot. Not one jot. It also means the Chris Huhne reference is so wildly wide of the mark it is a waste of characters to have typed it.

I find it hard to believe that he’ll apologise. That doesn’t seem to be in his DNA. I know he’ll win here by a country mile and he’ll continue to do naff all in parliament. Well I tell a lie, he might actually try to remove the speaker again because that is all he’s seemingly done in 12 years.

All I can hope for is deep down he’ll realise he was in the wrong and just shut up. That is the best realistic scenario.

I don’t mind if he’s bad at his job, many MPs are. I don’t even mind if he’s an arrogant moron. Even being an idiot is ok but to smear an innocent person just to get his jollies is just contemptible. People deserve the best and the brightest to be their representatives in parliament. If they have a man who doesn’t even understand how the blue badge system works then I don’t think they are getting that somewhat, do you…?

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June 2nd, 2017 at 5:59 pm

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On the night that was in Southend and the clear winners – Labour

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The local elections are over and I’m more free to write about what has gone down and I have to say that whilst it was an extremely poor evening for the Lib Dems (bar the huge win in Leigh) it wasn’t a surprise. I think most people fully expected the party to lose Prittlewell and Blenheim Park, two seats we were defending and not be able to pick up much traction elsewhere. There are reasons for this which it would be unfair to go into in such a public forum but the results in terms of what happened to the Lib Dems went down pretty much exactly as expected.

Whilst the news has finally surfaced that the Conservatives two gains (at the expense of the Lib Dems in the above two wards) helped them into a position where they could run the council (either in coalition or with a confidence and supply, which is indeed now widely reported to be the case with the two UKIP councillors) they didn’t have a great night at all. Beating the Lib Dems in those wards isn’t anything to write home about.

The biggest result for them was hanging on to Southchurch from a strong independent challenge. Had they stolen Belfairs from the Indy’s or managed to navigate through the warring independents in Shoeburyness then you could say they were the winners of the night. As it was they did what they were supposed to do but nothing more. John Lamb may be set to run the council but with a majority of just one (when you take into account the two UKIP members who will back them up) then it is a very weak majority and Southend is in for two years of council struggles.

No the big winner was clearly Labour and this has sweet fuck all to do with Jeremy Corbyn or the Corbynistas. It has to do with the fact their ground game is by far the most superior in the town. They have activists who go out come rain or shine throughout the year and engage with residents. You can have nothing but praise for them.

They held the three seats they were defending by very large margins in seats that were seemingly vulnerable. Cllr. Anne Jones moved wards to try and take out popular incumbent Dr. Vel and did so with relative ease to make Westborough a three Labour ward. However despite these admirable achievements, they weren’t their best moments.

The two results that will send shivers down the spines of the other parties will be Labour finishing a very close second in Prittlewell and a comfortable second in Blenheim Park. The former is demographically horrendous for Labour and they shouldn’t be anywhere even close to taking that seat. The fact they were 78 votes away from winning it is insane.

In Blenheim the demographics are slightly more favourable but still in the grand scheme of things they shouldn’t be outperforming the Lib Dems or the short-term the UKIP factor. It shows that hard work over a significant period of time, coordinated strategy, fielding a strong candidate and a party can perform well above national expectations at local level.

Labour can now legitimately say that they are the party that can stop the Tories in Blenheim Park and Prittlewell. Whether that is true come the next time people are voting in Southend come 2018, it could be another story entirely but as of right now they are clearly the main opposition party.

With 2018 seeing UKIP defending those two seats, whether they stay purple (highly unlikely) or go blue or red could easily be the deciding factor in the make-up of the council. They can easily put themselves as competitive or favourites in six wards going into 2018, only the Conservatives can say they are competitive in more seats.

My last point I want to write about though is strategic cross-party planning. To keep the Tories out of controlling the council (with/without the propping up of UKIP) will likely need some some of cross-party strategy. An agreement to not stand a candidate in a seat or two where they are only going to be paper candidates anyway in exchange for reciprocal agreements.

This is something Labour, the Lib Dems and the Independent Group should at least consider. I know it goes against the principles of certainly both Labour and the Lib Dems who believe you should put up candidates everywhere to give your voters a chance to vote for you but in terms of locking the Tories out and having a center-left coalition instead of a right-wing allience in charge at the Civic Centre, speaking very much in a personal capacity here, it deserves some real thought.

So to recap, a very impressive and deservedly so night for the Labour group. The Tories did what they were expected to do, nothing more. UKIP showed they are very much in decline locally, the Greens ran a nice spoiler campaign to enable the Tories across the town and as for the Lib Dems, well what can you say? A huge and comprehensive win in Leigh and then 16 other results (ok 15, West Leigh was more than solid too…)

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May 10th, 2016 at 4:36 pm

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On some thoughts of the devastation that Hurricane ‘We hate the Lib Dems’ left behind…

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We all knew it was going to be bad, like real bad. No-one though saw what came as coming. Even the most rabid hater of the Lib Dems didn’t see that. So anyway I have finally slept after my 36 hour marathon and will sum up a few loose points that are bouncing around my brain whilst my hoodies dry in the tumble dryer. Yes folks, that is what I’m doing, waiting for my hoodies to dry so that I can go to Asda without having cold arms.

First things first. The money spent on internal polling. Do we have a fucking receipt? I was not supplied with all that data as I’m a two-bit nobody but some of it did find its way to me via various sources. The party genuinely thought that some seats are sewn up, seats that they lost, dramatically. For example activists in Eastbourne & in Lewes were directed out to Portsmouth South for weeks as those seats were in the bag. We lost both. Internal polling really had Jenny Willott and and Lynne Featherstone in a tight race. Both lost to huge swings. Something either happened late or the polling data was completely fucked up and a gigantic waste of money. Speaking of polling…

How shit was all the polling data from across the spectrum? I mean the Lib Dem internal data was hilarious awful but Lord Ashcroft, Ipsos-Mori, Survation, ICM and the like all need to sit down and think, ‘er…how did we get it so wrong?’ – The thing is that can’t have got it so wrong because most of them made their methodology and their raw numbers public and no-one questioned it and you know what, plenty of fucking smart people look at this shit and they all thought it to be reasonably accurate. So again, what the fuck happened late for people to change their minds?

I do think that people voted with their hearts in this election more than I have ever seen before. For five years people have trashed the Lib Dems for going into a coalition and not being strong enough to stand up to the evil right-wing government that David Cameron wanted to lead, well do you know what? By trashing the Lib Dems to such a degree we now have that right-wing government with no liberal voice to stop the excesses of a Tory government. Jeremy Hunt has said they’ll scrap the Human Rights Act already, Teresa May has said the Snoopers Charter will come into force. They will decimate the welfare system and then people may sit back and think ‘woah…now that is actually what a right-wing government is like because I actually forgot and I shouldn’t have just listened to the media and Labour activists about how right-wing this government was because it actually wasn’t.’

Speaking of Labour. They made gigantic mistakes in this election campaign starting with a weak and ineffective leader. I have never met Ed Miliband and in all likelihood never will but even if I did, I imagine I’d forget the episode rather quickly. When you aren’t the best person applying for a job that had even come out of your own mother’s uterus then you know you probably aren’t the right guy for the gig. David Miliband was by far and away the best candidate for the Labour gig (although had Yvette Cooper been allowed to stand then my view may have changed) but they went for a guy who dragged him left of centre, way left of centre but still wanted to sound tough on immigration because that is what he thought the public wanted to hear. No party can win in the United Kingdom under the FPTP system by being truly left of centre and that is still the case and will continue to be the case. To win you need to be centre-left, centre or centre-right. We don’t go for extremes to enough of a degree to vote them in. Labour must learn from this and move back in from the left otherwise they’ll be facing a 1979-1997 time on the opposition benches.

Also Labour. Spending five years telling everyone that the Lib Dems were evil only served to enable the Tories to win and here’s the thing, you fucking knew that but didn’t give a shit. I heard from counting stations up and down the land of Labour activists cheering Lib Dem defeats to the Tories. It shows that they felt that by going into a coalition, the Lib Dems had muscled in on Labour and the Tories ‘God given right’ to be the only parties of government in the United Kingdom. They would prefer a right-wing Tory government instead of any other government that doesn’t involve them because other parties should know their place. Only speak when spoken to. The reason the Tories are in is in large part because Labour’s sole strategy was to tell everyone how fucking awful the Lib Dems were and they didn’t have the foresight or basic mathematical knowledge to see that there were more Con/LD marginals than Lab/LD so that killing the Lib Dems would only actually mean more new Tory MPs than Labour MPs. Also Labour were so left of centre than many economic liberals moved right instead of left because they had nowhere else to go having been told just how evil the Lib Dems were. That meant in seats that were Con/Lab marginals then the liberal vote wouldn’t automatically move left, much of it moved right. What a horrible strategy by Labour but they got what they worked for – a Tory government.

Another thing. In 2010 we saw wild swing from seat to seat. Local issues and local people mattered. This time that didn’t happen at all. This was a true national election and people voted for who they wanted in power and not who they wanted to represent them in the House of Commons. They voted for the Conservative economic plan because they didn’t trust Labour and hated the Lib Dems. This stunned me and I sure as hell didn’t see it coming but when truly loved constituency MPs with large majorities get the boot then it is because people are only voting for one thing and that is who gets to run the show, not about who can help them get their issue sorted. To see Simon Hughes lose was heartbreaking and I don’t know the man, I can only imagine what it was like for those that did. I know just how much he did for his constituents and had given up three decades plus in doing so. When you do something for so long and do something so well only for people to decide for issues beyond your control that they don’t want you doing that job any more then you know it isn’t an election based on who you are actually voting for but more what party you are voting for. Will that stay the same in 2020? Who knows…

On a purely personal level it heartens me to see the amount of people who have joined the Liberal Democrats in the past 36 hours and continue to do so. Nationally the party has cleared 2,500 new members in the past day and a bit and the numbers are ticking along. I won’t say how much have joined locally but lets put it this way, I’ve been a member here for several years and we have more members at the time of writing than we ever have done in my time as a member and I hear reports from elsewhere that the same is true. Even my mother is joining (although not here as she lives elsewhere) because she thinks the Lib Dems have been dumped on to such a degree that she thinks a liberal voice needs not just be voting but actually being a member and being part of the movement. If people want the country (and indeed their council) to have some sort of liberal grounding then it takes work, hard work. It is hard to find a bad or lazy Lib Dem MP or councillor who gets re-elected because it takes so much more to get them elected because in general people are inherently Tory or Labour because that is the way its always been. Yes there are lots of UKIP councillors up and down the country getting in because of the party and not because they’ll be an effective councillor. This is the bottom and the only way is up pretty much from here. It is time to remind people that is they want a liberal voice then they have to vote for it. In many areas yesterday that demographically the Lib Dems should do well in, they did badly at council level because they essentially retreated fearing the worst. In 2016 they’ll be no national or European elections to fudge the results, people will be voting solely in council elections and it is up to a galvanised membership to go out their and promote liberal values, whether that is fighting to save a school from closure, fighting to keep facilities open, fighting to help regenerate areas or less liberal but not as unimportant things as sorting out parking issues, speed issues, traffic issues. In the next year people will see a right-wing government and if people don’t like it then they’ll need an alternative. It is up to us to remind them that we are an alternative, not just a party to kick.

As for my election experience, I was in Guildford where I’ve just learnt that in one the wards I was in, one has gone to a recount on Monday and the other we lost one of our two seats with Julia McShane holding on with the most votes. The Tories took both of the other seats. This is in no doubt due to the utter strength of the national Tory vote where Anne Milton won with 57% of the vote but also they were talking around the committee room about the alphabet and looking up and down the results from Guildford, you can see that the alphabet seems to have played a role in how the results shook out and those at the bottom of the list (certainly when you are voting for two or three councillors per ballot) do seem to get lower than others in the same party who are higher up the list. As for our national candidate, Kelly-Marie Blundell held on to second place (which considering the clutterfuck that everywhere else was) was a good result. Plenty to be learnt (from everyone) but the people (most of whom I’d never met before) were fantastic and I wish them all the best for the future and the fight to restore more liberal voices to Guildford and should the situation arise that I was available to help in that, then I would be glad to do so.

Ok my tumble dryer has now stopped. Time to have a shower and get some food. They were just a few thoughts that led to just over 1,800 words…

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May 9th, 2015 at 9:32 am

Posted in Politics

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On the Churches Together Southend West hustings…

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Last night was the big Churches Together hustings in Southend West and I toddled along (mainly to take my mind off of other things – seriously what an emotional roller-coaster this weekend has been) but I have to say it was both extremely well attended and also extremely well run. A strong chair who seemed to have both the candidates and audience under control and the addition of a microphone meant that even people at the very back could hear comfortably.

So big props to the organisers, I genuinely thought it was spot on and if all hustings were run like that then they would be better attended as I felt people would be able to come away from it feeling that they knew more about both a) the candidates and b) their policies. It was very worthwhile.

I tweeted the whole thing again and the storify is embedded below. There are a couple of typos which isn’t a shock because I was on my phone and have fat fingers and a hurty brain. So when I said, ‘JWL with a sky at Sir David on the NHS…’ I meant a sly dig and a ‘fully coated 8bn plan for this’ is obviously a ‘fully-costed…’ but I think that is it.

Before you get stuck in I will say that this storify is far less amusing than the last one. I wasn’t on top form last night so this is more of a bunch of tweets about actual question and answers and very few tweets about food or anything extra-curricular. My battery was dying so towards the end there were fewer tweets. I had completely forgotten about the hustings and remembered just before six so didn’t have time to fully charge the phone before I left.

Anyway enjoy and wherever you live, whether these hustings are revealing or not. Do some research and go out and vote on May 7. Even if the Lib Dems aren’t the party for you and you don’t want to vote for them, go out and vote for the person who you think is best to represent you in your constituency (or ward in local elections). People died for the vote and democracy is an important part of our world so use your vote and use your voice.

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April 27th, 2015 at 9:27 am

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On the Southend West hustings as organised by the Southend Echo…

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I know I said I was disengaging with blogging on the elections locally but I did go to the Southend West Hustings as organised by the Southend Echo this evening and I tweeted the whole thing so I thought I’d share it with you.

Please start from the bottom and work your way up (ooo err…) to read my take on the hustings…

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April 9th, 2015 at 9:28 pm

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On Labour candidates using my dad’s death as a reason to attack me personally…

with 3 comments

I have sat out a lot of the local blogosphere recently because I have other things to do, my work life is very busy at the moment with it being our busy time of the year and that has just taken up a lot of my time. I jumped it two-footed though when I saw a candidate state that the Lib Dems would not be putting up a candidate in Blenheim Park ward because only Labour and the Conservative’s had announced their candidates 79 days before the election. It was total bollocks and I called him out on it. That is literally all I called him out on (I actually also wrote about what a hard-worker and campaigner he was but seemingly that bit got by-passed), the fact that he said there would only be two candidates in the seat because only two had declared by now was the bollocks bit. However apparently that didn’t sit well with the Labour PPC for Southend West or the Labour prospective candidate for Blenheim Park himself.

This rebuke has led to two of the Labour blogosphere heavy-hitters rounding on me and attacking me personally, which is fine but when they attack me for not campaigning in my 2012 due to the fact that my dad suffered a stroke, a stroke that he would never regain conciousness from and die right at the start of the campaign, then I get pissed off. Like fucking pissed off. Not everything is fair in love and war despite what they say and the same is true of politics.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I would’ve won Westborough ward in 2012 had circumstances allowed me to campaign fully, I fully expect I wouldn’t have and indeed in all likelihood third was the top position that I could have aspired to behind the incumbent Independent and the Labour candidate. I know that but I didn’t campaign because you know, I had to mourn a death of my old man. That was more important than local politics at the time and I think most people would agree that it was. At the time my fellow candidates knew the situation and none of them said a word about it attacking my lack of activity and I am grateful for that.

Three years later though and I’m not a candidate but still two candidates think they can use my bad result and lack of campaigning in Westborough in 2012 as a reason to score cheap points. I find it genuinely disgusting. I have no issue with candidates scoring political points but when you want to use someone mourning the death of a father to score points then you are really scraping the barrel.

Cllr. Ware-Lane, PPC for Southend West has written, ‘If Matt Dent was to do a Monnery, and reduce the Labour vote to a third of what it was in Blenheim Park last year, then Neil may be right, he might be talking absolute bollocks. You see, magnificent Monnery as he is known in Westborough ward obviously followed his own advice in 2012, because his derisory vote must have been the result of doing nothing until the very last moment.

Matthew Dent prospective candidate for Blenheim Park has written, ‘They lost Westborough last year, to a solid Labour double-win — Lib Dems losing in Westborough presumably being something with which Neil is familiar, finishing sixth in 2012 in that ward.

Now Matthew may not have been about in 2012, I am willing to concede that he may not have known the circumstances surrounding my result in 2012 but Julian was – and does – and yet he still decides to take a personal shot. All class folks, all class.

I just don’t know what to say really apart from I am hacked off. People wonder why people don’t get involved in politics and are put off. These are the reasons. I made a very fair point that just because candidates hadn’t been announced doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be one and that has turned into this. By all means take shots at me but to use this situation as a political point-scorer. I mean just come on…

Well Matthew, Julian, I hope you are both pleased with yourself. You’ve won the race to the bottom and hurt me and brought back memories of what was without a doubt the worst time of my life, when my dad died, something that I have successfully buried. Last night I even dreamed about my dad and rushing to try to get to the hospital in time to say goodbye. Thanks for that. I’m sure you are pleased with your work and are beaming with delight that you’ve inflicted personal pain through your words.

Local politics folks. Its a joy…

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February 20th, 2015 at 2:53 pm

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On the Lib Dems being a ‘spent force’ in Southend…

with 6 comments

Ah this is fun. It has been a while since I’ve had a tit for tat in the blogosphere and all these politics posts. I need to write about why Robbie Savage is rubbish or something to appeal to my non-political audience.

So many (well about three people in the world) will have seen my blog which has been described as ‘witheringly sarcastic’ that I wrote on Tuesday night about the staggering news that Blenheim Park is a two horse race between the Tories and Labour, no other candidates had declared 79 days before the election and that meant it was done. That was the view of Matthew Dent, the prospective Labour candidate for Blenheim Park. I came back with sarcasm and facts and he’s come back with worrying memory issues and a lack of understanding. Go to the doctor quick Matt, a youngish man like you shouldn’t have such a bad memory.

Why does he have a bad memory? Well he has written, ‘Neil seems sure that their vote will hold up, that everyone will forget that Nick Clegg reneged on his pledge to vote against tuition fee increases, and he’ll walk into 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister.’ He seems to forget that we’ve actually spoken about this on twitter. I have long stated that the Lib Dem vote across the country will collapse and that I expect haul in the 30-35 MP range. I’m pretty sure that you need a few more MPs than to to become Prime Minister but what do I know?

My position on 2015 has been the same for several years, where the grass root game is strong, the Lib Dem vote will hold up well. Where the grass root game isn’t strong then many will drift. It seems to be the position of most people who don’t wear spectacles of a particular tint, so it isn’t exactly an ‘out there’ position.

He also states that he believes that candidates should declare themselves by this point. Well his old mate Julian Ware-Lane blogged the other day that the Tories were the first party to announce a full slate of candidates for May’s elections, so this means that Labour have yet to do so, what Labour candidates haven’t been announced yet? Does Matthew want to slag them off for having not been announced yet? Talk about throwing your own team mates under the bus Matthew, that isn’t very team like is it? They’ve let you down Dent, they have let you down.

Dent in a quite hilariously desperate retort says that the Lib Dem candidate is too ashamed to announce themselves. Actually they are keen to do so and will announce themselves to the people in Prittlewell in a leaflet that is due mid-March. Saying that they are too ashamed, really Matthew, really…some people still believe (either rightly or wrongly) that these things should be done very leaflets instead of via the internet. I of course disagree as I’m an internet guy but every candidate is free to do things how they see fit, if that doesn’t fit in with your view of the world then I’m sorry to disappoint you.

I actually know the full slate of prospective Lib Dem candidates unless there are any last-minute changes that haven’t filtered through to me. Full. Slate. This also means that Blenheim Park has a prospective candidate. I will await to see if Matthew’s little pixies or little birds tell him who it is because he likes being first with the news. When Tony Cox got the jump on the litter bin news then boy Matthew was pissed. It was quite funny to watch.

He notes that there is a lack of Lib Dem activity on the ground and that shot is fair. I’m not going to sit here and say otherwise (because you see, I can actually be fair and reasoned, I don’t just wear tinted specs). That will change as the campaign kicks into gear. On his main accusation that the Lib Dems are a spent force in Southend, I think it is fair that the party are in a down cycle locally, spent though is probably too far. Will the party have a good night on May 7? We’ll see. However should the party not do well then it will be at the expense of the Tories and UKIP so all I’ll say is be careful what you wish for, a bad Lib Dem performance in Southend cannot help Labour one jot so picks your foe. Slagging off everyone is not a wise strategy. Although he obviously knows that the Lib Dems are a rival in Blenheim Park otherwise he wouldn’t be talking about them…

Labour are unlikely to gain even one seat in Southend West, in fact they may even lose the one they are defending (if this was only a local election year then David Webb may well have taken Westborough for he is a passionate campaigner and local man who I’m personally still sad that he was unable to stand for the Lib Dems as planned last year because he will rattle the feathers of the officers, of that I’m sure) but as its a General Election year, that is always tough for the Indy’s. They’ll hold on here in Thorpe and St. Lukes will be close but otherwise it will be a tough year for them as lots of people who don’t usually vote locally, will vote because they’ll be at the ballot box to vote for nationally anyway. Labour will have in all likelihood a much better day in the east of the borough.

So to round this all up as I actually have a leaflet to write (and you know, work to do), the Lib Dems are not the natural opposition to the Tories for the Anti-Tory vote any more. That is obvious. The Anti-Tory vote will now be split three ways here because none of the Lib Dems, Labour or Greens have made themselves as the distinctive home of those voters. Matthew believes he hit a nerve in his initial blog post, he didn’t hit a nerve, I just call out when a local blogger writes total bollocks, writing with severely tinted specs is fine but total bollocks, not so much.

The Lib Dems locally had a very poor year in 2014 but in 2012, both Prittlewell and Blenheim Park were held. In 2014, with the anti-European lobby being a more motivated electorate than the pro-European lobby, the party got beaten by the anti-European parties (well the perceived anti-European parties – no-one knows exactly where the Tories really sit on this issue) in Prittlewell, Blenheim Park and St. Laurence. All those seats are still winnable for the Lib Dems, whether they will or not, only time will tell but the retreat of the Lib Dem vote hasn’t been as pronounced as others will make people believe. Am I saying they’ll win all three? No. What I am saying is it isn’t beyond the realms of realistic possibility.

Lastly the shot about finishing sixth in Westborough in 2012 that I endured. It is well-known that I didn’t really campaign due to my dad suffering a stroke and dying during this period. No-one at the time took any shots at me due to my inactivity as they all understood the position, including all the other Westborough candidates, from all parties and groups. I’m sorry if that doesn’t sit well with Matthew and he still believes that taking shots at my performance is fair. If the people of Blenheim Park want a councillor who believes that local politics is more important than family, that mourning over a fathers passing is no excuse for a poor electoral performance, who thinks everyone else sucks and only Labour candidates are right (apart from those who haven’t announced yet – they suck) then Dent is your man.

That. That Matthew. That struck a nerve. Show some class and dignity.

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Written by neilmonnery

February 19th, 2015 at 12:51 pm

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

with 7 comments

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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Written by neilmonnery

February 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Politics

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On the Green Party’s belief they can storm to victory in Southend West…

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A dramatic thing folks, a political party coming from nowhere to take out a knight of the realm. Well that is what is going to happen in just under three months as the Green Party surge has reached Southend West and the party now have confidence that they can pull off the dramatic upset of all upsets, in what would be a bigger surprise than me breaking my lip-locking duck with members of the opposite sex that I’ve been rolling for a depressingly long time. Well that is if you believe their candidate Jon Fuller anyway.

I have long been the type that believe that personal social media account should be just that and not ‘reported’ on by eejits like me or anyone else in the blogosphere, but the Green candidate has written a long post outlining why he is standing and it is clear that he wants to get the word out. You can read the full thing here but here is the synopsis, he’s running because old Labour don’t exist and because voters are deserting the Lib Dems and drifting away from Labour and the Tories, the Green’s are ready to swoop in and save the day…

Well I’m here to defend my lot (to some degree) and actually bring some realistic analysis to the situation. Yes I know I have ties to a party and to this exact election but I can also write from a detached point of view.

He writes, ‘The electorate has one important function to perform, beyond the obvious role of casting a vote on the ballot paper – we have to punish a political party if it promises one thing and delivers another. That is what the Lib-Dems have done.‘ I have two points on this, firstly the electorates important function is to vote for PPC that they believe will best represent them and their values in the House of Commons. The electorate have to make a choice via our FPTP system whether they want to vote tactically or not but the function of the electorate is not to punish anything. That is warped logic but still I’m going to let it go because if he truly believes that then we need to punish the Green Party too.

‘Why is that oh jogging bottom decked one?’ I hear you cry, well I’ll tell you. The Green’s only have ‘power’ in one area. Brighton. They run a minority council there so are not in a position where they can do everything they want, the opposition parties can vote them down. It is a variation of being in a coalition as the Lib Dems cannot do everything they want in government but if the Lib Dems deserve to be punished then lets look to see if the Green Party have kept their promises to the electorate of Brighton.

Can it be true that Brighton has actually gone down in the recycling stakes since the Green Party took over? By jove it is. Did they promise a brand new secondary school to be built to ease the overcrowding on 11-16 year-old students? They did but with under 100 days to go they still haven’t even identified a plot of land, let alone had plans drawn up or ground being broken. How about that bin strike that led to waste building up on the streets? Not very eco-friendly is it to have litter strewn all over the streets? If you look into the Green’s running of the council there, you’ll see why they’ll be booted out in May. They know it is coming and they have to just hope that the electorate can vote with their heads and vote out Green locally but keep Caroline Lucas in nationally, it is a nip/tuck battle but if she goes it will solely be because the Green’s had power locally and sucked and made things worse.

I think – and have always thought – that it is hard to run anything as a minority administration or be a junior partner in a coalition. The UK electorate aren’t used to these situations and react badly to them. That will happen to the Lib Dems nationally and that will happen to the Green’s locally in Brighton. Unless you have enough power to do everything you want then it is hard to be truly judged. If you have some perceived power though, unless you do everything you want then people will be disappointed. It is just the way it is.

On to Southend West as a constituency and whether the Green surge (they haven’t been above the Lib Dems in many national polls in the past few weeks but of course people don’t report this as it isn’t a sexy news story) but that green surge is not going to be felt in Southend West. The demographics are all wrong for where the Green’s are on the political spectrum right now. If Southend West has never gone Labour then they aren’t going to vote in an MP from a party to the left of Labour. It just isn’t going to happen. The constituency has always voted in a Conservative MP and the only time it was even remotely close was in 1997 when the Tory incumbent, Paul Channon, stood down after 38 years, coupled with the Blair surge and the distinct lack of love for the Tories in 1997 led to the Tories winning by only 2,615 from Lib Dem Nina Stimson, yet they still won by 5.6%. Had Labour’s national surge not been so pronounced then the Lib Dems would have won and likely would have held it to this day as they have done in many seats they took for the first time in 1997.

So punters would probably be wise to think that Sir David Amess is going to be the favourite down the bookies. Voters are more likely to leave the Tories for either the lib Dems or UKIP as they are the two parties that are closest ideologically to the Tories than Labour or the Green’s. No doubt many who voted Lib Dem will be unhappy and move to Labour or the Green’s but not everyone will go there and a lot of the protest votes against the Lib Dems will also go to UKIP. So splitting a significant portion of the 2010 Lib Dem vote three ways will dilute any parties hopes of actually taking the seat. It is just basic electoral maths.

The Green Party are highly likely to finish fifth in the constituency, so fifth is quite a long way away from first. I admire his ambition but if I were him, I wouldn’t be going to the tailors for any suit fittings for a new job as an MP. I also want to say that speaking about MP pay rises and bankers bonuses bugs the hell out of me in this respect, MP pay rises aren’t allocated by MPs but by an independent commission so he, even if elected could do nothing about that and as for bankers bonuses, only the banks that are partly owned by the taxpayer can be limited, the rest are independent companies who can pay their staff whatever they like. Bankers bonuses have no effect on nurses pay and vice versa, to link them is lazy politics at best and deceitful at worse.

Realism and politics do not go hand in hand in the blogosphere or amongst many activists. Being starry eyed and projecting hope despite the evidence is the much preferred option. Neither the Southend West nor the Rochford & Southend East constituencies look that exciting at this juncture, plenty of much more juicy seats and and down the land where big swings are possible. To get a big swing you need a disliked incumbent (and/or disliked local party), a big local issue and only one significant opposition where over 50% of the voters are defecting to. This is not the case in Southend in either constituency.

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Written by neilmonnery

February 10th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

On the Lib Dems plans in Southend come May and local political blogging…

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Southend’s newest sensation of the political blogging scene has finally turned his attention to the Liberal Democrats after his recent attacks on the Greens, the Tories and UKIP. In a piece entitled, ‘Where have all the Liberal Democrats gone?’ he opines about the parties fortunes in the borough.

Now I’m not going to fill in all the blanks for him as I don’t want to spoil his fun by bringing knowledge to the situation, that isn’t seemingly what his blog is for. Julian Ware-Lane has always led the field in local political blogging but now he forms a two-headed tag-team and whilst I would love to sit here and be aggressive about it, it is actually fun reading and credit where credit is due, between them they do lead the way in Southend political blogging. Whether much of what they write is fair or written with strong Labour specs on is another matter but they do churn out content.

I was asked the other day if I had any advice for him and I casually replied that he should invest in a copy of McNae’s. All the cool kids have one (myself included) although I aced Journalism Law at university and am pretty confident that my blurbs never skate even near the line.

He questions whether Cllr. Paul Collins’ big defeat (and lets not beat around the bush – it was a big defeat) in Westborough last year is the reason for having no PPC selected for Southend West as yet. I can answer that question, No, No it isn’t. I can give a much more informed opinion of why there is no PPC in place at this point but this is not the forum. I’m being a good boy today.

As for when a PPC will be selected and announced, I’d expect movement to happen on this subject before I’ve raided the Cornish Bakehouse for my Monday four double chocolate doughnuts for £1.50 treat (seriously if I lived within walking distance of that bakery then I’d eat so many freaking double chocolate doughnuts it would be insane).

On the Rochford & Southend East issue, this is a much harder candidacy to fill, I think that is fair comment. The party across the land have lost many members and many good candidates are disillusioned, that is the truth and there is no hiding from this fact. The Lib Dems in Southend are not immune to this but I’m sure there will be a candidate on the ballot for people in Rochford & Southend East to give them a Lib Dem option. Who knows maybe it’ll be a 31 year-old double chocolate doughnut enthusiast? Who knows…? (I know but I don’t want to spoil Matthew’s hypothetical fun)

He really does think the Lib Dems are dead in the water as he predicts that the party will lose Leigh ward but still be a junior partner in the administration come the summer. Well with four councillors (which is the number he predicts) then the Lib Dems would be the smallest party (or group) on the council. If that is the case I’d hope the Lib Dems step aside and allow the other four groups to form an administration. I said this in 2014 that Southend had (rightly or wrongly) rejected the party and should they go down to the fifth largest party then I can see no reason why the party should be involved in the administration in any way. Also losing Leigh ward would be a real kick in the teeth for the party but if I was a bookmaker I wouldn’t be putting my mortgage on that result just yet.

Also he sincerely doubts that the party will be able to find a full slate of candidates across the borough, well lets see what happens eh? I’m not saying I know the answer as nomination papers etc. haven’t been sent out yet but I have an idea as to whether the party will go 17/17 I wouldn’t want Matthew to be unduly surprised so I’ll give him fair warning to not worry too much about the Lib Dems in Southend on this front. If the party goes 17/17 it won’t be a shock but if they don’t I wouldn’t exactly have a heart attack either. Sincerely doubts is probably over-stretching.

I’m not going to sit here and say everything is rosy in the Southend Lib Dem garden because it isn’t. I’m a realist but I also wouldn’t be writing the obituary just yet either. I expect a very good person will be selected as the Southend West Lib Dem PPC within a few days. Just because Matthew Dent isn’t briefed on the inner workings of the local party doesn’t mean nothing is happening. If he is so interested in finding out all the gossip before everyone else I will happily offer him the chance to resign from the Labour Party and join the Lib Dems, then he can write with all the facts, wouldn’t that be novel?

Look I enjoy his blog, I really do but I always struggle to trust any politco (including my lot) who basically say that the party they are a member of is great and everyone else sucks. The political spectrum is relatively narrow as the main political parties are all realists but when in opposition they’ll widen that spectrum to appeal to a wider set of voters before actually narrowing what they do in power because sometimes there is only so much money in the pot etc.

Labour introduced tuition fees and they introduced privatisation to the NHS. The two big sticks they use to attack the Lib Dems and Tories respectively, they actually started. This isn’t political rhetoric, it is fact. It just goes to show that all political parties will often take the same road when presented with similar financial options. The whole funding of new hospitals and new hospital wings with private money was fantastic short-term but has crushed many NHS trusts financially but as Julian Ware-Lane told me on twitter, ‘The GE will be a chance for voters to pass judgement on the ConDem Govt. What happened before is history.’

So the Iraq War, introducing (and trebling) tuition fees, starting the privatisation of the NHS, crushing NHS trusts long-term with sky high rental costs of new buildings, being in charge of an economy that collapsed and let the bankers run wild is all in the past and doesn’t matter. Therefore by the 2020 General Election I’m sure the fact the Lib Dems were in a coalition or anything the Tories did in power between 2010-2015 if they find themselves in opposition won’t matter and won’t be mentioned by any Labour candidate. Yeah right…

I’m not saying Labour are bad. I’m not saying the Lib Dems are great. The truth lies somewhere in the middle and determining where that is for all of us personally should determine where our vote goes. Same with the other political parties. This is one of the things that I really deplore about politics, just how black and white politicos and candidates get whereas in reality most things are a shade of grey to some degree. I’ve written many blog posts both praising and attacking the Lib Dems for what they are doing in government and I like to think that this is a mature attitude and not just acting like a political sheep.

So anyway that will be all. Short version is the Lib Dems in Southend aren’t dead yet and things are going on. Many local candidates are in place and just because they haven’t been announced yet, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. I think it is fair to say that bountiful success is not expected in May but nor do I expect being last in every seat with no votes whatsoever. The reality will be somewhere in the middle. The Southend West PPC will get selected and announced in the very near future and the Rochford & Southend East candidate will be next on the list but who knows who it will be…? *has a twinkle in his eye*

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 16th, 2015 at 6:00 am