THEY COULD HAVE WON this you know. They could have bucked a trend as Boris did in London.
But it started badly with a calamitous manifesto launch which put council officers and police officers noses out of joint after publishing their photos as part of the promotional publicity.
It didn’t get any better.
It ended with an expensive wrap around in the Thurrock Gazette which ended up winding up Stephen Metcalfe as he seemed to also be totally excluded from the publicity and gave the impression that Thurrock just had one MP.
They could have and should have won Aveley but the chickens came home to roost. Alienating former loyal Tory councillors such as Colin Churchman, John Cowell and Amanda Prevost did not help. Claiming the chair of the community forum and independent candidate, Alan Field was not a real reverend was a pretty low blow and must have led the Tory candidate, Colin Adams, to wonder what type he had fallen in with.
For many Tories, cllr Terry Hipsey is the devil incarnate. You would have thought that they would have moved heaven and earth to remove him from Stanford West. Instead, they conspired to end up with a situation where a local Conservative ends up standing as an independent candidate, polls 379 votes, letting Hipsey through on the rails.
Such poor decision-making will end up with questions being asked of Tory leader Phil Anderson, who cut a peripheral character throughout the campaign. The campaign was taken off him by the MP’s office and it undermined his authority. It looked exactly as it does in the council chamber when the same people are passing notes to each other, behind his back.
The example of good practice has to be Ockendon candidate Barry Johnson. He was a well respected councillor and portfolio holder who believed that campaigning is all about the local man on local issues and being judged on that. He lost last year but said: so be it. He did the same this year and won.
He may well now make a leadership bid as he was planning to do last year. Perhaps Barry is the man, along with new councillor Andrew Roast and voice of reason Simon Wootton, who can bring sense to this. At the moment, the Tory group seem to be controlled by people who had their bike stolen every day when they were at school and still bear the scars.
They also have to look at the long list of the Tory disaffected.
Anne Cheale, Ian Harrison, Terry Hipsey, Kay Hipsey, Terry Piccolo, John Cowell, Amanda Prevost, Gareth Davies, Colin Churchman, Tim Aker, Ed Woods, Stuart St-Clair Haslam, Amanda Redsell to name a few.
The Tory mantra seems to be” Failed Tories, not one of us.” How many does it take for you to change your view? Or have the Tories (as a group) crossed over and started behaving less like a party and more like a cult?
What the Tories may want to consider is whether they need to develop a political philosophy and shape policy around that. It looks like most of them wouldn’t know Robert Peel from orange peel and that is why some policies, such as the campaign against the “re-alignment” of libraries made no political sense.
Of course, the Tories will say that this is mid-term blues and the Tories took a pasting all across the country but we go back to the assertion that they could have won this election.
Worryingly, the voters of The Homesteads, Stanford East and Corringham Town and Stanford West stayed at home with the Tories polling over a 1092 fewer votes in those three wards in 2012 than they did last year.
They now have a two year run to the next election. Spend the time wisely, re-engage the business community, develop a coherent political raison d’etre, drain the swamp and their time will come again.