WE do like an election. The political anorak is alway hanging up on the YT cloakroom. More seriously, as a newspaper committed to giving the people of Thurrock the political coverage it deserves, we intend to cover the General Election to the best of our ability.
Before, we start, it is good to have a debate. We may end up making predictions (and will no doubt be wrong…again..) but this is the benefit of democracy. We would ask that commentators on our social media channels keep it clean and fair. We do have over 9,000 “likes” on Facebook and 10,000 followers on Twitter and so let us remember everyone when we are discussing and debating. Right, lecture over…
MP: Jackie Doyle-Price
This should be straight-forward but as you may be aware, nothing is that straight-forward in politics in Thurrock. If it was, we would be writing that the incumbent Conservative MP, with a national twenty point lead in the opinion polls will extend her majority to 2,196. There are a number of reasons to think she might.
A Conservative MP, who is part of a government, as we said, that has a twenty point lead in the polls and an opposition leader in Jeremy Corbyn who has no electoral credibility whatsoever. Plain-sailing right?
In 2010, she had the advantage of disaffection with Gordon Brown. Labour’s Carl Morris ran a good campaign but it was the sands of time. In 2015, lack of belief in Ed Miliband and a personable but perhaps “too metropolitan” Labour candidate helped JDP again.
We also have to remember that JDP worked and works hard, enjoys campaigning and in many ways appears to enjoy the pantomime villain role that some, we stress, some have given her.
JDP’s public profile between 2007 and 2013 was of a (relatively) mild mannered one-nation Conservative. But, from where we sat, things began to change and from around 2013, there emerged this chippy, speak as I find, abrasive Tory. It was as if she thought, well, if I am going out, it is a blaze of no-nonsense Conservatism.
And, JDP would say it has worked. She got back in. But, the woman who spoke of listening to others contrasted sharply with the women who appeared on the stage at the Cruise Terminal in Tilbury at the New Thames Crossing meeting when she was telling local residents, you know,the people, to “deal with it”.
People also looked at her election material in 2015 that said “Stopped New Crossing” and may have started to feel, well, doubled crossed. They also looked at the fact that Jackie was now a whip in the government and may have questioned whether she was serving them to the best of her ability?
Many believe that this could severely dent her chances. That the presentation of her arguments has rubbed so many Thurrock residents up the wrong way. Her defenders would say that JDP is only echoing the arguments put by organisations such has the Port of Tilbury and road haulage companies in West Thurrock. But for many it is the presentation and the way she has interacted with people who are Conservative voters.
The big question is whether this is overstating the case. Will a roomful of people in Tilbury and a hatful of people on social media mean she will lose her seat? Will there be enough loyal voters in Blackshots, Chafford Hundred and Purfleet to bring her home? Or will the bigger national picture save Thurrock MP, Jackie Doyle-Price.
And as we said, ignore the peroanality, is it the iron law of economics coupled with the political landscape that will save or rather vindicate the MP.
We will see how things emerge over the next fifty days.
Alternatively, are the two other main parties equipped to exploit the situation?
We will have a look at Labour and Ukip over the next two days.