Election 2011: An Overview

Editorial Comment

So, in our opinion, how did they fare?

The Bottom Line

The annual meeting of Thurrock Council is on May 25th. At that time, Labour will propose forming an administration. 24 will no doubt vote for that. The question is will anyone else?

It appears to be a given that the two Independent councillors from East Tilbury will vote with the 22 Tory councillors. That may not be a given. Some people understand that they prefer to vote with the largest party. If they vote with Labour it is all straightforward. If they vote with the Conservatives then that leaves the sole member of the Concerned Conservatives, Ian Harrison and the outgoing Mayor, Anne Cheale.

So…….who knows.

Labour

Had a good campaign. Ably co-ordinated by Richard Speight and  assisted by a raft of hard working Labour vets. They ran a centralised campaign that was always on message.

They will be pleased that new blood with huge potential such as Aaron Kiely and Victoria Holloway have come in.

Many of their campaigns were long term rather than four week wonders. The Ockendon campaign being a case in point. Aaron and a host of local campaigners (and outsiders) worked the streets for months.

Others like Phil Smith in Corringham ploughed their furrow steadily but surely.

They will now hope to form an administration and build upon last years successes. So it may be too soon to speak about reshuffles but they may want to “freshen up” the cabinet with Martin Healy, Angie Gaywood among those tipped to come in.

If they don’t then the cabinet will continue to carry a very long tail.

They will need to develop a vision for education as the senior schools continue to sail away from the local education authority and like the Borg in Star Trek slowly take the primary schools with them.

You also get the feeling that the health service may also be another achilles heel for Labour and with John Kent’s role with Basildon and Thurrock hospital meaning he has to step out of chamber for debates.It leaves them open for attack.

Labour already have their mindsets should they find themselves in opposition. They are already preparing for 2012 where they have seven up and the Tories have eight.

The Conservatives

This could have been a lot worse for the Tories. They didn’t take the big hits and will feel that they have received the relative backing of the public.

The Tories will be pleased that they have regained Corringham and Fobbing plus Little Thurrock Rectory from the Concerned Conservatives. They have brought in new blood such as Shane Hebb, Tom Kelly as well as the sagacious skills of Mark Coxshall and the conciliatory tones of Simon Wootton.

The two co-ordinators, cllrs Phil Anderson and Rob Gledhill clearly worked really hard. It seemed very smooth in the east. It looked like herding cats in the west.

They will be delighted at keeping Aveley but it is strange that they didn’t put the same effort into Ockendon. Then again, according to Tory sources, Barry and Amanda were “low key campaigners in 2010.” Reaping and sowing etc.

The leaflets may come back to haunt them.  Some members had deep reservations about the Aveley leaflet which pandered to far right sympathies.

At the same time, Maureen Pearce got in. But look at the big picture: Thurrock received a “red flag”: in relation to community cohesion under the Tory administration. Was that leaflet part of the problem or part of the solution?

The same applies to the Traci Barnes leaflet that criticised the Labour administration for giving the council’s advertising account to the Thurrock Enquirer. That wasn’t the work of novice Tracy but a Tory councillor. It appeared to question the integrity of council officers and again harked back to the reasons why the government criticised the fundamental breakdown between officers and members that had occurred under the Tory reign.

As a party they may still need to address why they seem to address why there has been so many disaffected.

There are systemic reasons why this party has lost Anne Cheale, Ian Harrison, Terry Hipsey (and Kay), Stuart St-Clair-Haslam. John Cowell, Colin Churchman and Eddie Hardiman. Indeed stalwarts behind the scenes come and go (whatever happened to Anne Barrow?)

We have always found the Tories totally unburdened by doubt. That may be their systemic problem. Do they behave more like an obscure cult that banish unbelievers to the wilderness? They have all the hallmarks.

In YT’s opinion it needs someone to come in and be given carte blanche to run the whole group. They need eminent veterans such as Sir Graham Bright back as well as the backbone of the Thurrock business community.

The party need some form of Tamworth Manifesto, some form of belief system in order to go forward together.

If they do that then they can once again emerge as the major party in the borough.

The electorate has shown that they understand the cuts. Whether they will in twelve months time is another thing. There are nine tories up for re-election then. Joy Redsell, Amanda Arnold, Danny Nicklen, Amanda Prevost, Garry Hague, Diane Revell, Stephen Veryard, Sue MacPherson as well as Concerned Conservative Iain Harrison.

The Lib Dems

Well they had to start somewhere. Firstly, Luke Tyson, James Donald and the team ran a very good campaign. They were keen and well organised. They had passion and were committed to policies.

Luke can certainly go back to Nick Clegg’s office with his head held high.

Yes, they got a real kicking as David Cameron’s human shields but in ten years time, we may have a tranche of Lib Dem councillors and they will look back on 2011 as a Year Zero.

They weren’t just here for AV and we hope that someone from the team continues to build during the year.

UKIP

Say what you like about them but they did poll 4,180 votes to become the third force in Thurrock politics. Apart from Tim Aker, the real heroes for the party were the campaigners in the east of the borough such as Roy Jones and Peter Pendergrast who took 487 and 475 respectively.

We may joke about handing out Daily Express’ but their campaign really resonated with a lot of Daily Express readers and there are a lot of them!

They will be back next year and who knows. With difficult economic conditions, their message may resonate even more.

BNP

In 2007, they were seventeen candidates, who polled 7,149 votes (24.6%). In 2011, they were reduced to 1,368 votes.

Independents

Another good turnout for Keith Hatcher in Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park. 308 votes is impressive. With rumours of a Thurrock Ratepayers Alliance in the offing, Keith will be seen as a leading light in his brand of politicking.

Colin Churchman will be pleased although he is feeling a bit sore just now. Colin will feel and with some justification that the Tory campaign to keep him out is an example of what is systemically wrong with their group and should not be heralded as a success. He maybe right.

What he needs is Team Churchman. His two daughters cannot do it all. Get a sponsor and get out there. We know he wont give up.

Thurrock Council

Ran a thoroughly professional count. Graham Farrant was busy on the Thursday visiting all the polling stations and apart from the minor incident in Tilbury, everything went like clockwork. The returns were performed efficiently and the press were kept watered and fed!

They also put the results up on their website very quickly which certainly helped us a great deal.

Conclusion

We hope readers/viewers have enjoyed our coverage. Sometimes we may be a bit anorakish but we believe there is a real interest in local politics. Our page views certainly bear that out with over 10,000 on election day.

We need to get out speaking to residents more and we need to see more debates between councillors on the issues.

But we hope our ward assessments, where, remarkably, we got all sixteen wards right, were entertaining.

We also hope that the sixteen returns on film helped as well as our tweets where over 2000 people continue to follow yourthurrock.

So, roll on another quiet year in Thurrock politics. Who knows what will happen but if it does, we hope you read it here first.

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