I didn't post much during the election campaign, quite deliberately. People do read this blog and I was acutely aware of the possibility that I might drop a clanger. Now the elections are over though, I have a few thoughts:
Stephen Metcalfe showed great character and his campaign manager Mark Coxshall great organisation in the three-year slog that took them to the fantastic victory in Basildon and East Thurrock yesterday. Stephen is a very hard worker and very intelligent. He will be a credit to parliament. One of the best things about yesterday for me was walking into his campaign office to find it full of young people beavering away. The future of the party looks good to me.
I have always liked Angela Smith, the defeated ex-MP, on a personal level and she has achieved so much from her modest start in Pitsea. I do think that her campaign was not well run though. Some of the Labour literature that I saw was very poor and their was a lack of consistent themes. Given that she had the overt backing of the local paper, the Echo, and her local links then she was in with a chance at least. However, bad organisation and Stephen's qualities and campaign was too much for local Labour.
John Baron is back with a thumping increase in his majority, despite new boundaries that theoretically made his prospects worse. He is an excellent MP and my colleague Richard Moore ran a first-class campaign for him. The A team triumphed against a dismal Labour effort that had all of the hallmarks of just going through the motions.
We had Council elections as well as the general election, with the results announced today. The Conservative council administration held every seat that we were defending, and missed a couple of other seats by heartbreakingly small margins. Commiserations to our candidates there, especially the talented young women in Fryerns and Lee Chapel North.
So, the Essex voters have delivered their verdict on Labour, and it isn't pretty. Locally we carry on with our successful Conservative administration. Nationally, well, just keep watching the news...