AS is our tradition, we like to have a bit of a prediction. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes (Carl Morris by 1110) we get it wrong but it is just a speculative piece based on no empirical evidence whatsoever. So please relax and don’t tell us to go back where we came from etc (Harlow btw)
Thurrock is a tricky one. We did our other seats a few days ago (SBET and Harlow). They were straightforward. Both Cons hold.
If you go by social media and mood, the Conservative candidate is unpopular. People may feel she signed her own political death warrant with the “Orsett Hospital” comment on Monday night but Ms Doyle-Price has always been from the school of speak as you find school of politics.
But perhaps the most pertinent phrase she used on Monday night was a reference to the “quiet majority”. What JDP may mean by that is that 16,692 voted for her in 2015 and many of them will probably turn out again. These are the voters who don’t go on to social media, who don’t attend meetings re the Thames Crossing, who don’t sit in the gallery at Thurrock Council meetings but instead get on with their lives in Thurrock.
People who are naturally small and big C Conservatives. They probably agree there needs to be or will be a new Thames Crossing; they agree with much of what Theresa May says and perhaps more pertinently have nothing in common with Jeremy Corbyn. They want a safe pair of hands on Brexit, terrorism and the economy. They may well look beyond their local candidate and see the bigger picture.
This year, she has faced a considerable opponent in Labour’s John Kent. The former Thurrock Council leader has run a very good campaign and has clearly gained a lot of good will as a local man. He has also been helped by an energised and switched on team, who have covered every nook and cranny. They have looked like they have really enjoyed it.
There is absolutely no doubt that John Kent would make a fine MP for Thurrock and would keep to his word as the Thurrock man in Westminster not the Westminster man in Thurrock. He did that in his campaigning in relation to the Thames Crossing and in his role as leader of the council. People tend to overlook what a shamble it was in 2010. It was, let us be frank, a journalists dream but a residents nightmare.
Having said all that, he faces a national scene and although they say Jeremy Corbyn has hardly come up on the doorstep, he may, like Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock, come up at the polling station.
UKIP’s Tim Aker is a class act. UKIP experts (that’s you Luke!) say they have the numbers that make them believe they can win. This would mean they would reverse what happened in the county elections just a month ago when the UKIP vote fell off a cliff. As we wrote a few weeks ago, we don’t think their vote in Thurrock will fall off a cliff but it will fall considerably. That is no reflection on Tim Aker or Thurrock UKIP, who are a hard working and enthused group, it is just that they may have had their day and had their say.
This reporter has a thing for the pattern of history but we are aware that sometimes historians repeat themselves rather than history. We note that in 1987, the sitting female MP lost after endorsing a particular unpopular policy.
And we note the tremendous wave of protest over JDP’s comments on Orsett Hospital. YT had close to 22,000 page views on Tuesday. We won’t blind you with social media metrics but there has been a huge reaction to the story.
But we have just got off the phone to someone who has just complained about the NHS, the schools, police numbers etc etc but will still be voting Tory.
So…having said all that, we think JDP will make it number three. Not by much, indeed, somewhere close to Tim Janman’s 690 in 1987.
We also think that the Conservatives will have a majority of 112. A phyrric victory for Theresa May and a moral victory for Jeremy Corbyn.