IT was just a few weeks ago, that we had a by-election in Ockendon. It was won by the drawing of lots. A few days prior we write over 800 words in a “Ward by Ward” and still got it wrong! It is (yer honour) just a tough one to call as evidenced by the result.
In many ways the by-election appeared to be swung by the Conservatives succeeding in getting their vote out in Brandon Groves but it was far too close for comfort. Behind their tense smiles was a knowledge that it should not have been that close and what did it augur for the future?
This is a UKIP seat but the UKIP councillor left the party and joined the newly formed Thurrock Independent Party. Jan Baker has been a loyal footsoldier for both parties. Don’t think Jan has said a word in the council chamber in four years but, like her husband Chris Baker in Belhus, has consistently held surgeries and attended to the needs of her residents.
Her party was delighted with the 500 votes they gained. Glass half full they got maybe two hundred more than their worst fears. Glass half empty, they lost 500 votes from when they stood under the UKIP banner. Again, this will give them a fair idea of where they are. 500 again would be a good result. Possible, especially as UKIP have decided not to stand.
As for the Conservatives. They put in a big effort in Ockendon in March but there isn’t the evidence they are doing the same again (at the moment). Even the new councillor Andrew Jeffries hasn’t tweeted anything in support of their candidate, Romanus Nwakuna. Naturally, just because you’re not tweeting doesn’t mean your not campaigning. They may well make a late surge or maybe they are just concentrating on seats such as Aveley and Stanford East.
Surely they haven’t put a paper candidate in a seat they won last month and could win again? Who knows, they may win again and it might be as simple as having confidence that the core vote in Brandon Groves gets out.
Former Stifford Clays councillor, Sue Shinnick is standing in Ockendon. Sue did not set the world on fire then and she probably won’t if she is elected but again, not everyone can be a high profile frontbencher. You also wonder if Sue was a late replacement in light of Les Strange’s bad publicity in the March by-election. Sue has certainly been out and about in the ward including a big push by Labour in the area this weekend but like, March, it is a matter of Labour getting their people out in areas such as the Flowers Estate.
So, at the risk of further humiliation, we are sticking by our guns.
YT Prediction: Labour Gain.
Janet Baker (Thurrock Independents)
Romanus Nwakuna (Conservative Party)
Sue Shinnick (Labour Party)