The title of bell-weather seat for Thurrock is an interesting one. Some people see The Homesteads or Stanford West as the real indicator as to whether Labour can gain overall control in Thurrock on May 3rd or not. Or in other words, whether the Tories can galvanise enough local support to retain some seats and win others.
Ockendon is a fascinating case in point. It is obviously a big target for Labour. Polly Billington has been leading the Labour faithful around the ward. Labour leader Ed Miliband has been in, Caroline Flint has been there also as well as Gloria Del Piero on Thursday afternoon.
The new candidate is Martin Kerin. A Labour acolyte since a young age, he is a very able candidate, who will bring much needed quality to the group. He is very much in the mould of Oliver Gerrish and Victoria Holloway than the disaster that has been Aaron Kiely.
But to be honest, Aaron is not at the forefront of voters mind. As we wrote in the Belhus piece, crime is very much on the mind of Ockendon voters. As is the economy.
It is good to see Barry Johnson on the campaign trail. Barry was a fine councillor, an upstanding personality and was committed to do what he could for the borough. As a portfolio holder he was just starting to get to grips with the council’s financial strategies.
Barry believes that campaigning is about the individual candidate and a small team going door to door. That was what he did last year and lost. It is a shame that he doesn’t get more support.
YT prediction: Lab gain: 100
David Paul Shirley
UK Independence Party
Martin Christopher Kerin