Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Who will win the General Election in Thurrock?

WE THOUGHT we would have a little ruminate on the forthcoming General Election.

Parliament is dissolved on Thursday. The phoney war stops and the real race begins.

From that point onwards, it is a six week race to May 7th.

Potential candidates have until Thursday April 9th to declare their candidacy.

At the moment we understand the candidates are:

Jackie Doyle-Price (Cons)

Polly Billington (Lab)

Tim Aker (Ukip)

Daniel Munyambu (Indep)

Aba Kristilolu (APP)

The Lib-Dems tell us that they will have a candidate in place by the end of the month (March).

We don’t claim to be tipsters which is just as well, as we thought Labour would hang on by around 1100 in 2010. And of course, the Conservatives won by 92. Doh!

Infact, let us briefly look at 2010.

It was an interesting campaign in 2010. Jackie Doyle Price ran a low key campaign, with just a few loyal acolytes in tow. That is, until David Cameron came into town and held a rally in Palmer’s College.

Labour started to get twitchy then and did not raise their game. The Conservatives did. They felt (quite rightly) that they had South Basildon and East Thurrock in the bag and worked really hard in areas such as Ockendon and Tilbury.

But of course, in the end, it was a repetition of 1979 and 1997. People were just fed up with the present government and wanted to see a change.

Let us have a brief overview of the candidates.

Jackie Doyle-Price

The five year reign of JDP has been an interesting one. The first two years seemed to be marked by an MP finding their feet.

We had a bit of Big Society, a natural synergy with Michael Gove and free schools (that ended well!).

What JDP brought to Thurrock was the nature of working class Conservative values.

If you ever heard JDP talk about not bowing to pressure from teachers telling her Durham University may be too good for her, then you have to admire her drive.

Trouble is, as a political philosophy it just comes across as having a chip on your shoulder. Some times you feel JDP has never warmed to Thurrock and likewise, Thurrock has never warmed to her.

The last two years seemed to have seen a change of tack. As if someone has said that JDP’s best quality is that said chippiness.

JDP seems to have decided to go out swinging the bat. Thurrock Council suddenly became the great anti-christ; she seemed to take on the great no-no of planning matters and engaged in highly entertaining conversations on Twitter, which usually ended with her blocking people.

Many like the "ballsy" MP. Others think it is "political suicide" best illustrated by the Thurrock Walk-In Centre situation.

But as we know, she got in because people were fed up with Gordon Brown. There ar plenty of people, dedicated Labour supporters, who won’t vote for Ed Miliband. The trouble of her this time, is that there is a young man in Thurrock called Tim Aker…

UKIP.

The national media like Tim Aker. Whether it is the BBC or national newspapers, they have a lot of time for Tim. The Spectator was impressed. The FT less so.

He has a certain political astuteness and if we are going to keep our cricketing analogy going then he is seeing the gaps in the field and putting the ball away for four.

A case in point is the Thurrock Walk In Centre. He grabbed the opportunity to see the issue, speak to Dr Mallik and take the lead. Others looked like they were following.

Putting his office in the middle of Grays was a good move and he seems to be marshalling the troops well. He is greatly helped by colleagues such as Michael Heaver.

The UKIP of 2010 was still a somewhat rambling band of merry men. This is professionalism on another level but you do wonder where this is all leading and where we will be in 2020. If one had to guess, you would say, with no councillors left and a four MPS, who somewhere along the line may end up like the SDP.

There are still a number of unanswered issues and questions as to whether he really understands a number of issues.

We thought he was starting to ramp up the rhetoric with "Thurrock Schools for Thurrock people" But that has proved popular.

The polls say one thing nationally. Locally, they did not set the world on fire in the two by-elections in West Thurrock and in Aveley. They may think, that they have never cracked the shore line wards stretching from Purfleet to Tilbury.

There are lots of people who think that the lad deserves a chance. Ladbrokes put him at 4/6 on at the moment.

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Labour’s Polly Billington has never been a racing certainty in this race and opinion is still divided as to whether she can win.

There are still those who think Thurrock Labour suffers from not having a local candidate. Didn’t seem to do Andrew MacKinlay any harm.

Whenever you sit down with Polly, you hear a lot of sense, a lot of feel for the burning issues of social injustice. She has her finger of the pulse of issues such as the living wage, union rights (Fire Brigade being a case in point) as well as being at the heart of issues such as Walk In Centre, Basildon Hospital, crime, education and many more.

Back in 2011, they must have thought that giving Ed Miliband’s adviser a set to fight that only had a majority of 92 was going to be a walk in Grays Town Park. Instead, she could lose out because a lot of voters still can’t take to Ed.

Having said that, this looks like an energised, dynamic campaign by Polly (partic on Saturday with open top buses), that focusses on what she believes in. She seems to have the local councillors from Tilbury to Purfleet behind her as well as good links with teams from London.

The next seven weeks will be a real test for Polly and it will be fascinating on who she approaches matters.

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As we said, other candidates have declared themselves for Thurrock.

We have interviewed Daniel Muyambu. Daniel was a Labour councillor for Vange and now he appears to be an independent on Basildon Council. His campaign is focusing heavily on Basildon Council and health and housing issues.

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We have touched base with Aba Kristilolu of the APP and we will hear from him in due course.

Plus, let us not ignore the Lib Dem factor. In 2005 and in 2010 both Earnshaw Palmer and Carys Davis polled around 5000 votes. Those votes are still up for grabs. It would be fascinating to hear from those voters and find out their intentions.

So….we have had a Sunday ramble through the issues and the candidates.

It is already a fascinating election and in Thurrock, there is so much to play for.

We are holding a hustings at the Thameside Theatre on Wednesday April 8th at 7.30pm and look forward to hearing from the candidates.

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