A FEW weeks ago, at a full meeting of Thurrock Council, the UKIP councillor for Aveley, cllr Robert Ray rose to his feet to speak. As he rose, the Conservative councillor for Stanford West, cllr Shane Hebb shouted: “Just a pressure group.”
Last week, the “pressure group” won nine seats on Essex County Council.
There were no elections in Thurrock as it is a “fallow” year. But in 2014, there will be local elections as well as european elections. It could be an interesting election.
Thurrock has been one of the seed-beds for UKIP.
In the early days, it seemed to be Clive Broad and his brother Alan, walking the streets of Stifford Clays. In the background was Kerry Smith, now Essex County Councillor Kerry Smith, sitting in the back of Daybreak Windows, printing leaflets.
There were a lot of hard yards walked by UKIP in Thurrock. YT interviewed candidates in Aveley, West Thurrock, Stanford etc. They were greatly boosted by very able candidates such as Tim Aker.
They made the breakthrough in the hotbed of local politics that is Aveley and Uplands when Robert Ray took Aveley by a majority of 47 votes.
Since then, Robert has worked tirelessly for his residents and to raise the profile of UKIP in the borough.
Robert has indicated that his wife may stand as a candidate in 2014.
UKIP were nearly men in a number of wards.567 votes in The Homesteads; 515 votes in Stanford East to name just a few. If the momentum continues, then who knows what they may gain in 2014?
It is certainly food for thought for Thurrocks Conservative leader, Phil Anderson who is up for re-election next year in Stanford East. Cllr Anderson only won by 28 votes in 2010. Labour won the seat by 243 in 2012.
Look at a ward such as Belhus. In 2007, Labour only won it by 27 votes.
Speaking to Kerry Smith on Friday, he was also looking to areas such as Chadwell St Mary and Tilbury for 2014.
Kerry said: “One of the main issues on the doorstep was the economy. Whether it is housewives struggling or teenagers with no prospects. People are hurting.”
Labour sources quoted immigration was top of the agenda time and time again across Essex.
In 2007, 7,149 Thurrock voters were that concerned about immigration that they turned to the BNP. This voters are still out there and if mobilised properly, then it will be interesting to see who they opt for in 2014.
With european elections on the same day, it could be a perfect storm.