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With no overall majority, Labour and Tories will be dealing their way to administration. With Confelicity’s modest increase in vote share, we now turn to the GE to spread our local message

Updated: May 7

Southend Labour will be feeling very proud as they move ahead of the Tories with 20 playing 18.

They will may attribute this to their cunning 5 point plan and the mastermind(s) behind this will be patting themselves loudly on the back. Instead, I have a sneaky feeling it was a reflection of the national picture where the Tories are being chased out of house and home across the country. It has become a political massacre that sees Labour controlling councils in territories unheard of.

Not many could have predicted this in 2019 when Johnson took an 80 seat majority. Yes, Truss has been made the scapegoat, but I believe the reason is more about the way they Shoe-horned Sunak in as Prime Minister. It felt wholly undemocratic - whether it was or not. And any goodwill left evaporated after that. Either way, I do not think Labour’s local success was about free bulky bin collections!

The Southend Tories may now only be the second largest party, but neither have the 26 councillors needed to form an administration.

They will both need to go out to those outside their parties and stitch together what they can. For Labour, there are widely spread rumours amongst Southend political enthusiasts that Cllr Cowan is held in such low esteem that no one will work with Labour if he remains the leader.

With the banishment of past Labour councillors executed and their replacements likely hand-picked, I cannot see how Cowan will be forced to relinquish his hold on the local party. With this being the case, Labour will have to pay a premium to have any of the other councillors on board and what that means for Southend is anyone’s guess.

As I said before the election, the Greens, albeit with the most visionary manifesto, have several polices such as LEZ, 20 mph speed limits across the entire city and the abolishment of grammar schools, that I am staunchly against.

The Independent Group have already won their 6-9pm seafront parking war, so we must assume cabinet positions await for them.

Personally, I believe Southend needs grounded, realistic policies, and I worry what a return to this coalition will bring.

I will not repeat the highly questionable decisions the previous rainbow coalition took.

And what of Southend Confelicity?

As the only Southend residents party in the city, you might think we will be quite an attractive proposition. However, transferring our positive local message has proven to be a challenging task.

I am, of course, genuinely full of humility and gratefulness for the 1307 residents who found some kind of connection with Confelicity. I thank every single one of them, for whatever their reason, to put an X next to our name. I am also grateful for every contribution made by our members to make our party what it is today - whether that be guiding a debate in the right direction on a manifesto discussion, introducing new people to the party, sorting out all the paperwork or powering our leaflet team.

Out of this election we have had new members join and the spirit and togetherness of our camp is only growing stronger. We have a wonderful group of people and it is a privilege to have been able to lead them. And our presence as a party is slowly getting there.

Our new total actually represents a 13% increase from the year before, and an increase from 2.9% last year to 3.4% this year in the overall vote share. We also broke our record for the amount of individual votes in a ward, from 110 to 155 for Lee Clark in Kursaal. The previous record was also broken by Dean Eckett-Harris in Southchurch who won 151 votes. Roma, our candidate in Chalkwell, took part in hers and Confelicity’s first ever hustings to which she made us proud. On a self-absorbed note, I was particularly relieved to have received 80 votes, which was a 100% increase in my last year’s performance! I had mentioned to the Leigh candidates Jean (Lib Dem) and Stuart (Greens) if I surpassed 37 votes (I received 36 last time around) there would be a celebration in Leigh like never before! Well, I can’t promise a Sadiq Khan taxpayer funded firework spectacular, but all would be welcome for a cup of tea at Read on Sea!

I have to tell you that before the night, I had grave concerns of losing our tiny slice of the voter’s pie, putting our entire existence into jeopardy. As much as I might have been able to make the right kind of excuses in my mind, had we lost our fairly meagre vote share I am not entirely sure how we might have gone on. So, to my relief we survived, and that was the most important aspect of last night.

I had hoped to be around 3,000 in what is now our third year of existence, but I have been reticent in asking our brilliant candidates to do what needs to be done. Bear in mind none of them saw themselves as ever wanting a career in politics - they are with us purely to help our city improve. Their abilities, knowledge and experience will make them outstanding councillors, but the method in which to become a councillor - that is spending any free time convincing residents to vote for you - is not so straight forward.

I am grateful for them being in the party and putting themselves forward to stand. It also takes a lot of guts to do this as it exposes yourself to some unwanted attention. And so, I must accept that progress will be much slower than I had originally hoped.

In any case, we always knew that it was the General Election that would put us on the map, and so the hope is we might see an upsurge afterwards and a far more positive result in the local elections in 2026.

For me, this is ok. I am content and hope we don’t raise our expectations beyond what we are capable of. Despite the presumptions of a few, we are not a party of money. We are only as rich as the candidates are prepared to give, so we compete on uneven turf.

Where we do compete is we have the raw materials that I really feel Southend residents could connect once they unearth us - the process will simply take a little longer.

Confelicity will re-group as we set our new path in the coming weeks. All 51 councillors will be up for election in 2026, which gives us enough time to transform from a pub party into a real political force!

On a side-note, I would like to commend the convivial way everyone, from all parties, conducted themselves at the election night. We were all happily talking with each other regardless of the colour of our rosettes. For all the bad blood there may have been, none of that was on display throughout the night and into the early hours of 4am when we were finally released!

The General Election

In the immediate future I am proud to declare my candidacy for the General Election in Southend West and Leigh, and even prouder that I do so with my good friend, Lee Clark, who was recently selected in Southend East and Rochford. Fun fact: Lee and I sat next to each other at school when we were eleven years old, where we attended Thorpe Bay High School. I would never have thought we’d be running in a General Election together!

For those that know Lee, he is an outrageous personality with a heart of gold. He is definitely not a politician, but a genuine, funny and authentic guy. Neither us know the ways of the political sphere like the traditional parties, but as Southenders, like you, we feel the results of the decisions taken at Westminster.

We don’t need a think-tank or a group of researchers to tell us we do not have the infrastructure or public services to cope with the over-development of Southend, which at the same time is encroaching on our green spaces.

We already know our sea is suffering from sewage overflows, and our roads and pavements are in a poor state.

Business and entrepreneurship are the keys to unlocking wealth creation and we would look forward to new ways to make this happen.

Our local manifesto covers much of this already.

On some of the wider issues, I am disturbed by the wars we get ourselves entangled in. Our only aid should be in a peace-keeping capacity, if anything at all.

Immigration must be addressed as we cannot cope with the influx of people, and that’s aside from the culture wars that are growing.

We know the NHS is struggling with demand, but what’s the solution? It’s obvious: pay more; employ more doctors and nurses and build more hospitals. But where’s the money to do this?

We definitely need transparency over where our money is going. The information is there, we need to demand to see it. How is it we are paying more than ever for less than ever?

We need to address the debt and deficit situation. We cannot keep paying billions of pounds in interest for the £2.5 trillion of national debt.

Lee and I do not come as saviours, but as facilitators to bring residents together to discuss ideas or issues and seek to resolve them. Change is not always good, but having a local party, whose leadership lives and works in Southend, has to be better than being governed by faceless strangers who have no interest in whether Southend gets better or not. With us, if you want something changed, you need only pop to Tesco or Adventure Island!

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Tris Bee
Tris Bee
May 04

Tris, Westcliff-on-Sea,

Dear James.

If ever the coming of our party will be make or break, it will be in 2026.

This of course will be a full council election with 51 opportunities for a breakthrough.

The next opportunity will be in 2030 following a scheduled normal election cycle, in which the re-elected or newly elected Government should be riding high.

However, be on your guard, the raw data from yesterday had Labours national vote down 1.3% and also from the raw data, the polls indicated Labour would be 36 short of a majority and with the Liberal Democrats on 38 seats - the maths would not have been good last night.

Should that Bourne out in a general election,…


Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Brilliant evaluation. With the council so split, no one will get what they voted for. I never understand why anyone votes for a mainstream party in a council election. We must work harder to get our message across

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