Democracy and Rainham North

A much needed review of the local election result in Rainham North.

As reported by the local newspaper:

Medway TUSC had valid concerns about the result:

And as our own Ed Jennings said, this wasn’t about a result for Medway TUSC:

Dave Nellist is national Chair of TUSC:

The Medway TUSC group took legal advice and discussed the situation with the National Agent Clive Heenskirk, who researched electoral law and advised that the legal position was a matter of private law and not going to change the result, even if it raises concerns about the whole count.

Paul and four other residents were all willing to sign a legal affidavit and this would have to go through the High Court, which would require the hiring of a QC, which would have significant costs.

Medway TUSC insist that they did question the result on the night, but no recount was called. Medway Labour’s Vince Maple recognises that this is an issue caused by a long count and Rainham North being the 21st of 22 results, and that electoral law does little to support if nothing is done on the night.

ITV Covered the story here.

Whilst the Medway Greens Gillingham Candidate told us;

“As a newcomer to politics and the election process, the 7th May 2015 was an eye-opener for me. Especially the archaic vote-counting process at Medway Park. I expected a long night but to be there until 8.30 the next morning was a bit of a shock.
Therefore it is no real surprise to me to learn that something could go wrong in the process. However, for the unfortunate TUSC local election candidate for Rainham North, Paul Dennis, not to register a single vote did seem unfathomable to me. Had he forgotten to vote for himself or spoilt his ballot paper? What about his friends, family, supporters….?
It is very important to investigate every issue that is raised to keep that image whiter than white and for Medway Council to be fully supportive and transparent when questions are raised.”
Neil Williams Medway Green Party

Medway TUSC started a campaign on the issue:

IMG_2008

We covered the protest creating the following short video

38 Degrees provided support with a petition that has now attracted over 750 signatures:

Ultimately though, things aren’t looking good:

However, questions do still remain:

Medway Council’s response has not changed:

 “I can confirm that having double-checked our records, the paperwork confirms a zero return for TUSC in Rainham North. Whilst I accept this is unusual, now that the result has been declared, I am afraid there is nothing else we can do to investigate the matter further as we are bound by the rules of election law.”
Neil Davies, Acting Returning Officer

Medway TUSC are now relying on a public support, to lead to a public enquiry rather than a recount.

“The legitimacy of the result has been called into question, the system is a shambles, there were people under enormous pressure with small resources.”
Chas Berry,  Medway TUSC

And then things became more complex in Rainham North:

IMG_2070 (1)

Medway TUSC made this revelation at the Council AGM, approaching ourselves and Medway Labour Group leader Vince Maple.

Medway TUSC Gillingham Candidate had this to say:

https://twitter.com/jacqui_berry/status/603589294805098496

“Regarding the nominations process in Rainham North, there was no agent query and questions to be asked. I have spoken with senior officers and am awaiting a response.”
Vince Maple, Leader Medway Labour

Medway Council have made the following statement, as if the previous concern’s regarding the Rainham North vote hadn’t occured.

“Rainham North is a two-member ward which was contested in our elections on 7 May 2015.
“It has been brought to our attention by TUSC that one particular individual has signed more than the maximum number of nomination papers for the ward.
“Having looked into this, the individual concerned has signed nomination papers for three candidates in the election, which should have meant the last nomination paper submitted would have been invalid.
“If it had been invalidated, there was time for the affected candidate to have completed and submitted a new nomination paper. The affected candidate was not either of the two successful candidates in the election for the ward.
“Whilst this is clearly a matter of concern, the outcome of the election in the ward is not in doubt.
“We are conducting an in-depth review of our systems and procedures to ensure that this will not occur again.
“This clearly should not have happened, and we are very sorry it did. We have advised the Electoral Commission of the situation.”
Neil Davies. Returning Officer

Keevil

A Short Film Audioboom Union and Socialist Coalition

On Saturday, members of Medway Trade Union Socialist Coalition (TUSC) were in Rainham precinct following the zero vote result they got in the local elections for their candidate Paul Dennis in Rainham North.

We will be posting a more detailed look into those events and following events as they unfold.

So, farewell then..

So, farewell then to no less than 20 Medway councillors.

Between councillors losing their seats, retirements, and deselections, over a third of councillors who were in office two weeks ago no longer are. I thought it’d be nice to take a look at those who will no longer be gracing the council chamber. Consider this like the ‘in memoriam’ section at the Oscars, just without the glitz, glamour, and likeable personalities.

The Stand Downs

This is the group that didn’t even try to fight their seat. Some quietly slipped into retirement, either through their own volition, or their party deciding for them. Others went on to better things.

Ted Baker (Rochester West, Con) – One of the longest serving members of the council, it’s been clear for some time that his reign has been coming to an end. He was giving a nice send off at his final council meeting, and will be awarded an honorary title on the council in recognition of his service.

Matt Bright (Princes Park, Con) – Cllr Bright not fighting his seat was a curious one. One of the younger members of the Conservative group, in a relatively safe seat, who never rebelled against his party in the chamber, he should have been a rising star. Alas, it was not to be.

David Colman (Gillingham South, Lab) – The Man Who Never Planned To Be A Councillor. The legend goes that at the last elections, Cllr Colman was merely a paper candidate, who was never supposed to win, but the collapse of the Lib Dem vote in Gillingham South saw him home. He served out his term, but seem to do very little during this time, and his replacements should be far more effective for the party.

Jane Etheridge (Strood North, Con) – Cllr Etheridge was widely liked but not necessarily the most forceful voice in the chamber. That all changed at her final council meeting though, where she made it adamantly clear to the discomfort of her colleagues that she was not stepping down of her own accord, and her party had deselected her.

Paul Harriott (Twydall, Lab) – Cllr Harriott has been a councillor in Medway for a couple more decades than I’ve been alive. After 52 years, he decided to call it a day, and he remained a force in the chamber right up to the end. Like Cllr Baker, he will be given an honorary title from the council to salute his remarkable council career.

Craig Mackinley (River, Con) – Left Medway, went to stand for Parliament in South Thanet, and became the almighty Farage slayer. (What’s a South Thanet? – Keevil)

Ray Maisey (Cuxton & Halling, Con) – I genuinely don’t think I know anything about Cllr Maisey. He rarely seemed to speak, and when he did, it was fairly unremarkable. (I never even heard him speak. – Keevil)

Tony Watson (Peninsula, Con) – One of the younger, more thoughtful members of the Conservative group. It’s unclear exactly why he didn’t stand again, but it’s worth noting that he was the only Conservative Councillor to vote against his group, standing up in favour of equal marriage, in a vote in the chamber some time back. Rebellions are so rare his is the only one I can remember during the past few years, and now he isn’t a Councillor. Not that I’m suggesting there’s a connection or anything. (Well done for clarifying that. – Keevil)

The Losers

Slightly harsh perhaps (accurate – Keevil), but these are the Councillors that tried to maintain a seat, but couldn’t manage it. Some were unexpected, some less so. Interestingly, every Councillor who recently switched parties, or tried to change the seats they stood in, lost. So if you become a Councillor, you should never, ever take any risks apparently.

Christine Godwin (Luton & Wayfield, Lab, lost by 70 votes) – One of the upsets of the night, as the Tories managed to take a seat in Luton & Wayfield, nearly taking down parliamentary candidate Tristan Osborne at the same time. Instead though, Cllr Godwin ended up as the casualty, after only one term on the council.

Patricia Gulvin (Princes Park, tried to fight Chatham Central, Con) – It seems that Gulvin intended to stand down regardless, as she moved from the relatively safe seat of Princes Park to the Socialist Republic of Maple. She did fairly well in that seat, but still didn’t really trouble the counting agents.

Vaughan Hewett (Rainham North, UKIP, lost by 765 votes) – An unfortunate tactical error for Cllr Hewett, who after leaving the Conservative group last year, decided to throw his lot in with UKIP. I suspect that isn’t where his allegiances truly lay, and he didn’t get the support he needed, so he lost by a large margin. A shame as he was one of the more reasonable voices on the council.

Stephen Hubbard (Strood North, Lab, lost by 297 votes) – A decent local Councillor taken out by the rising Conservative tide. Hanging on in a split ward is always a challenge, and Cllr Hubbard bore the brunt of the national swings.

Isaac Igwe (Strood South, Lab, lost by 627 votes) – The man who famously hid in the toilet purely to avoid having to vote on equal marriage lost his seat. No tears will be shed.

Josie Iles (Strood South, Con, lost by 118 votes) – The UKIP march on Strood meant that while the Conservatives were able to win one seat in Strood South, they couldn’t win them all. Unfortunately for Cllr Iles, her record has a local councillor wasn’t strong enough to see her hang on.

Chris Irvine (Peninsula, tried to fight Rochester East, UKIP) – One of the more baffling decisions of the election was that of UKIP group leader Cllr Irvine to give up a safe seat in Peninsula to fight Rochester East. He attests that this was the right thing to do as it’s the ward he actually lives in, and that’s very noble, but it does mean the likely collapse of the UKIP group on the council, and a valuable, if antagonistic, voice being lost from the chamber.

Geoff Juby (Gillingham South, Lib Dem, lost by 1006 votes) – A crushing defeat for long time Lib Dem group leader Cllr Juby, who saw his party pushed into fourth place in the ward. While his meandering style in the chamber wasn’t the most exciting, it’s a shame to see all representation of the Lib Dems being lost from Medway Council.

Sheila Kearney (Gillingham South, tried to fight Twydall, Lib Dem) – Cllr Kearney has been in poor health for some time now, and it was clear to all observers that her candidacy in Twydall was purely to make up the (small) Lib Dem numbers.

Tom Mason (Strood Rural, UKIP, lost by 262 votes) – Another UKIP defector that almost hung on, but was pulled down by the Conservative surge. Mason only seemed to go UKIP after his Conservative association deselected him, and while he almost hung on, the Conservative surge pulled him down.

Peter Rodberg (Strood Rural, UKIP, lost by 443 votes) – See Tom Mason.

Diana Smith (Watling, Lib Dem, lost by 452 votes) – It’s previously been joked that Cllr Smith could stand under any party banner and easily win, such is her local popularity. While that did see her through previous elections, and she was still the best performing Medway Lib Dem by some margin, it wasn’t enough for her to hang on. Her abstaining on important issues will be sorely missed.

20 councillors gone means 20 new councillors in their place. What will they bring us? We’ll be finding out soon enough..

Post #TheOtherElection Analysis

Medway Council

Current Administration: Conservative

Keevil Prediction: No Overall Control
Jennings Prediction: No Overall Control

Result
Conservative Administration

Thoughts
Our 3 months of political punditry showed that we knew less then Jon Snow (Game of Thrones reference rat fans (80’s reference)). Conservatives not only maintained control, they strengthened it.

Council Groups

Conservative: 31 Members
Labour: 17 Members
UKIP: 4 Members
Liberal Democrats: 3 Members

Keevil Prediction:
Conservative: 24 Members
Labour: 23 Members
UKIP: 6 Members
Liberal Democrats: 2 Members

Jennings Prediction:
Conservative: 23 Members
Labour: 20 Members
UKIP: 9 Members
Liberal Democrats: 3 Members

Result

Conservative: 36 Members
Labour: 15 Members
UKIP: 4 Members
Lib Dems: 0 members

Predictions Result
Keevil 38 of 55 = 69%
Jennings 39 of 55 = 71%

Thoughts

Even Cllr Rodney Chambers OBE (Conservative leader of the council) admitted to being a little surprised by the result!
None of the councillors who defected to UKIP held their seats! Of the 4 who won, how many were ‘paper candidates’ and will soon do or say something UKIP regrets and find themselves independent councillors before 2019?
Will Catriona Brown-Reckless be the leader of the UKIP Medway group?
Although it was felt it wouldn’t be a good night for the Lib Dems, nobody expected a wipe out. Diana Smith was expected to win on reputation alone. They almost did as well in the wards they didn’t campaign in than in their long held Gillingham roots.
Whilst we felt that Labour would not gain control of the council, we expected them to reach 20 candidates, but in the end they reduced their number, including in Twydall, which has been solid Labour for as long as both authors of this blog can remember!
TUSC were the only small party to stand a candidate in ever ward, well done to them for that. One candidate Paul Dennis in Rainham North, received 0 votes, which is shocking, especially when you consider he lives in the ward and claims he voted for himself. TUSC are currently protesting this with the council. Will TUSC stand again in 2019, or will Left Unity have a go at it?
Chris Irvine, Peninsula councillor, bravely/foolishly stood in Labour held Rochester East. He not only did not win, but came behind former English Democrat Sean Varnham.
Of the 22 wards UKIP stood candidates in 18 of them. Of those they won in 2. Of they remaining 16 wards, they came second in 10!
Paul Monck, UKIP Cuxton parish councillors, is one to watch in 2019.
SDP Mike Walters got move votes for ward councillor than for MP.
UKIP’s average vote share overtook Labour, and Medway Greens average vote share overtook the Liberal Democrats.

5 6 Wards to Watch

Gillingham South
Keevil said: 2 of the 3 current councillors are not standing for reelection. A busy polling card, will see Lib Dems reduced to one councillor, and I wouldn’t put money on that being Goeff Juby! 2 Labour Councillors, 1 of which you would expect to be Khan. A telling ward for the development of the smaller parties.
Jennings said: Labour are throwing the kitchen sink at Gillingham South, as it’s a ward they need to even come close to taking control of the council. They almost managed it in 2011, but if the Lib Dems are ruthless enough in their campaigning, Juby’s name recognition should be enough to help him hang on, but I definitely wouldn’t put any money on it.
Result: 3 Labour
Thoughts: Khan won as predicted, but Juby didn’t. Gillingham now under the watchful eye of Labour. Will Lib Dems return in 2019?

Peninsula
Keevil said: I was preparing to predict 2 UKIP councillors returned by the Penisula word, but with Irvine not standing in the ward, I think it is a big ask for two new UKIP candidates.
Jennings said: Peninsula appears to be very fertile ground for UKIP, with them handily winning the by-election there in November. That said, their most recognisable candidate, Chris Irvine, is attempting to move wards, so they face a slightly tougher battle here, but they should at least be able to defeat the two new Conservative faces.
Result: 1 Conservative, 2 UKIP
Thoughts: Cllr Filmer held his seat and UKIP added to their by-election result. A ward to watch over the next 4 years!

Princes Park
Keevil said: Seems a site for an actual contest. Current Councillor Pat Gulvin not standing for the seat currently held, adds to the interest in this ward and a seat changing to Labour.
Jennings said: A curious ward where both sitting councillors are standing down, with both Conservatives and Labour putting forward serious candidates. I’d be inclined to say Labour can take both seats, but the Conservatives are putting forward respected former councillor Tashi Bhutia, a split ward appears to be looming.
Result: 2 Conservative
Thoughts: Not only did the Conservatives take the ward by a good margin, Labour didn’t even come 2nd!

Rochester East
Keevil said: To turn half purple! This is based on no rational look at the numbers. Only that the UKIP group leader has given up the Penisula seat he won with a healthy majority for a strong Labour ward. There MUST be something we don’t know otherwise the UKIP group are in serious trouble.
Jennings said: The most baffling thing about this ward is the decision for Medway UKIP group leader Chris Irvine to stand here. This ward has been safely held by Labour for some time, so to give up a reasonably safe position in Peninsula to stand here is one hell of a gamble. Still, these things aren’t done lightly, so UKIP must be confident that they can win here. If not, the Medway UKIP group could well be thrown into chaos post-election.
Result: 2 Labour
Thoughts: We readily said our prediction at the time was crazy and we were willing to accept we got it wrong. And we did.

Rochester West
Keevil said: I am going to predict a labour seat gain here, but I think Tolhurst will win a #GE2015 bounce which will keep her safe until 2019.
Jennings said: The Conservatives, Labour, and the Greens are all putting forward strong candidates here. Under normal conditions, this ward may well have been a strong contender to go red, but Kelly Tolhurst’s status as PPC, along with the Green’s Clive Gregory taking votes away from Labour, should be enough to see her home here.
Result: 2 Conservative
Thoughts: Cllr Tolhurst MP kept her seat and then some. Labour candidates Garrick and Scudder are two to watch for the future. An increase but still disappointing result for Medway Greens, who will need to re-evaluate their council seat strategy if they are to ever hope to become more then a protest vote locally.

Strood Rural
Keevil said: UKIP are working well in Rochester & Strood and this will lead to seats being held here, and if Mason does hold his seat that will be embarrassing for the Conservatives who deselected him.
Jennings said: The only ward that I’m predicting to go completely UKIP, almost wholly on the name recognition of sitting councillors Mason and Rodberg. They’ll face a tough fight, but they should be able to pull off the clean seat sweep.
Result: 3 Conservative
Thoughts: Sitting councillor recognition came to nothing, and UKIPs experience on the council was wiped out. As was any potential for embarrassment for Cllr Mackness.

See you in 2019.

 

Post #MedwayVotes Analysis

General Election

Chatham & Aylesford

Keevil Prediction:
Conservative win. Medium majority. Greens, Lib Dems, TUSC and Christian People’s Alliance to lose their deposits.
Jennings Prediction:
Conservative win. Medium majority. Greens, Lib Dems, TUSC, and Christian People’s Alliance to lose their deposits.

Result
Increased turnout.
Conservative win with a large majority. Increased vote and vote share.
UKIP gains.
Lib Dems reduced vote.
Greens vote increased.
Lib Dems, Greens, CPA and TUSC lost their deposits.

Thoughts
A victory and re-election for Tracey Crouch which wasn’t nearly as close as we thought it would be, a sign of the election overall.
The Labour result was very disappointing for them given it was a target seat.
UKIP result here was significant, considering they changed candidate late on, who only made his presence known late into the campaign.
Liberal Democrats should focus on clarifying their local party system rather then thinking too much about the result.
Some positive news for Medway Greens where their vote increased into four figures.

Gillingham & Rainham

Keevil Prediction:
Conservative win. Large majority. Greens, TUSC and independent candidates to lose their deposits. Naushabah Khan, Councillor, to stand and do better in 2020.
Jennings Prediction:
Conservative win. Large majority. Greens, TUSC, and independent candidates to lose their deposits.

Result
Turnout similar to 2010.
Conservative win with a large majority, up on 2010.
Labour vote share down on 2010.
UKIP gains.
LibDems failed to break 5% of vote.
Greens vote increased.

Thoughts
Will Naushabah, bruised by a by-election and General Election battle in Rochester & Strood stand again? If so, then the recently elected Councillor for Gillingham South should be Labour’s focus in this constituency.
Did we see the rebirth of the SDP, with Mike Waters? (No, we didn’t – Jennings)
Will TUSC and Left Unity build on this result? Or stand separately in future?

Rochester & Strood

Keevil Prediction:
Conservative win. Small majority. Lib Dems and TUSC to lose their deposits
Jennings Prediction:
UKIP win. Small majority. Lib Dems and TUSC to lose their deposits.

Result
Turnout up on 2010 and by-election.
Reckless vote almost the same as the by-election.
Conservative vote almost the same as 2010.
Labour increased result from by-election, but still below 2010 level.
Greens failed to hit 5% but vote stayed above 1500 from by-election.
Lib Dem result in four figures.
Greens, LibDems and TUSC lost deposits.

Thoughts
Will Mark Reckless stand again, as he has a General Election record of 1 win in 4!
Will Clive Gregory stay as Medway Greens coordinator and presumptive candidate?
Can Labour return to being the second party of Rochester & Strood, let alone win the constituency?
Whilst Lib Dems were being massacred nationally, how did they gain 1,000 votes after the by-election?

Total Medway Vote Share by Party
Conservative: 47.2%
UKIP: 23.7%
Labour: 22.9%
Lib Dems: 3%
Greens: 2.6%

Predictions Result
Keevil 3 for 3
Jennings 2 for 3

See you in 2020.

Local election coverage

Counting is now underway for the Medway Council elections.

We’ll be updating this post with the results as they come in. Our predictions for the results are here, so we’ll see how accurate we were later on.

In the meantime, we’re livetweeting proceedings from the count on @centrewhatsleft (Keevil) and @Ed_Jennings (Jennings).

Current council counts
Conservative – 36 (+5)
Labour – 15 (-2)
UKIP – 4 (-)
Lib Dem – 0 (-3)
TUSC – 0
Green – 0
All seats declared

Candidates Elected
Chatham Central – Paul Godwin (Lab), Vince Maple (Lab), Julie Shaw (Lab)
Cuxton and Halling – Matt Fearn (Con)
Gillingham North – Pat Cooper (Lab), Adam Price (Lab), Andrew Stamp (Lab)
Gillingham South – Clive Johnson (Lab), Naushabah Khan (Lab), Dan McDonald (Lab)
Hempstead and Wigmore – Diane Chambers (Con), Rodney Chambers (Con)
Lordswood and Capstone – Alan Jarrett (Con), David Wildey (Con)
Luton and Wayfield – Sam Craven (Lab), Michael Franklin (Con), Tristan Osborne (Lab)
Peninsula – Roy Freshwater (UKIP), Phil Filmer (Con), Mick Pendergast (UKIP)
Princes Park – Tashi Bhutia (Con), Gloria Opara (Con)
Rainham Central – Rehman Chishti (Con), Barry Kemp (Con), Mike O’Brien (Con)
Rainham North – David Carr (Con), Martin Potter (Con)
Rainham South – Howard Doe (Con), David Royale (Con), Leslie Wicks (Con)
River – Andrew Mackness (Con), Habib Tejan (Con)
Rochester East – Nick Bowler (Lab), Teresa Murray (Lab)
Rochester South and Horsted – Trevor Clarke (Con), Sylvia Griffin (Con), Rupert Turpin (Con)
Rochester West – Kelly Tolhurst (Con), Stuart Tranter (Con)
Strood North – Jane Chitty (Con), Phil Hall (Con), Steve Iles (Con)
Strood Rural – Gary Etheridge (Con), Peter Hicks (Con), John Williams (Con)
Strood South – John Avey (Con), Catriona Brown-Reckless (UKIP), Mark Joy (UKIP)
Twydall – Anne-Claire Howard (Con), Dorte Gilry (Lab), Glyn Griffiths (Lab)
Walderslade – David Brake (Con), Adrian Gulvin (Con)
Watling – Wendy Purdy (Con), Asha Saroy (Con)

Election count coverage

It’s election night and counting for the three Medway constituencies is now taking place.

We’ll be updating the key results here as they come in. They are due in around stupid o’clock.

In the meantime, we’re livetweeting proceedings from the count on @centrewhatsleft (Keevil) and @Ed_Jennings (Jennings).

Rochester & Strood
Conservative 23,142
UKIP 16,009
Labour 10,396
Green 1,516
Lib Dem 1,251
TUSC 202

Gillingham & Rainham
Conservative 22,590
Green 1,133
Labour 12,060
Lib Dem 1,107
TUSC 273
UKIP 9,199

Chatham & Aylesford
Conservative 21,614
CPA 133
Green 1,101
Labour 10,159
Lib Dem 1,360
TUSC 125
UKIP 8,581

A more suitable job for a woman

Part 2 of 2 looking at gender equality in Medway politics. This part looks at the parliamentary candidates, while the previous one looked at the council.

In our previous post, we discovered that gender equality for council candidates is something sorely lacking, and that the council will likely include less women following the election than the small number it already had.

From here, it’s only natural to move onto the parliamentary candidates to see how the parties are doing there. At first glance, it doesn’t look much better, with each constituency looking like this:

Constituencies

Rochester & Strood is definitely the winner here, with half of the candidates standing for the seat being women. This is an improvement over the by-election, where out of the 13 candidates, only 4 were women, and one of those was a sex worker and one was a racist. This in turn is an improvement on 2010, when only one candidate was a woman. Have a gold star, Rochester & Strood!

Sadly, not much has changed in the other two constituencies. In 2010, Gillingham & Rainham only had one female candidate, so little change there, and Chatham & Aylesford actually had two, so there’s been a step backwards in that particular seat.

Still, three seats isn’t necessarily the best sample size for this kind of analysis. Let’s take a look at the individual parties to see if we can learn anything about progress there:
Parties

Overall, the “main” parties aren’t doing too bad when it comes to female candidates. When there’s only three seats, it’s hard to argue that any party standing one or two women isn’t doing enough, so well done to everyone except UKIP and the Greens. One of those seems rather more surprising than the other, but both are in line with how well those parties have done with council representation.

But how many women are actually in a winnable position? Here, again, things aren’t too bad. Tracey Crouch is very likely to retain Chatham & Aylesford, and while the authors of this blog disagree on whether Kelly Tolhurst will win in Rochester & Strood, she is in a strong position to do so. So it’s almost certain than Medway will have one female MP following the election, and quite possible it could have two. Which is a hell of a lot better than it is going to manage at a council level.

Jennings