West Leigh By-election

‘Tories hold West Leigh’ is hardly a shocker of a headline, and their win at yesterday’s by-election was certainly predictable. However, there will be relief in the blue camp that this potential banana skin was navigated without mishap.

24th January 2014

‘Tories hold West Leigh’ is hardly a shocker of a headline, and their win at yesterday’s by-election was certainly predictable. However, there will be relief in the blue camp that this potential banana skin was navigated without mishap.


The turnout, at 26.2%, was pretty good considering the time of year and the downpour at afternoon commuter time. West Leigh voters always take their democratic duties seriously and, despite the usual safe-seat nature of this ward, turnout is always amongst the highest in the borough, if not actually the highest.


The Conservative majority of 55 is some way down on what they usually get in West Leigh (and 449 votes less than their candidate’s majority at the last election), and their vote share  (which is normally around the 50% mark) is - at 37% - some way down as well. The Liberal Democrat vote is at about where it usually is, as is Labour’s, which means that the main beneficiary of disenchantment amongst normally Conservative supporters was UKIP.


Of course, the Conservative candidate Georgina Phillips is a new name in the ward and will be unfamiliar to most voters. She will be thankful that the Liberal Democrats are struggling locally (they admitted to calling in help from far and wide), otherwise it could have been a lot closer. Their candidate Chris Bailey being hospitalised must have had an impact, and if he is fit and well in May he will have good reason for optimism. We send our best wishes to Chris for a speedy recovery.


UKIP have stated that this is one of the six wards they are targeting in the borough come May. They may be pleased with a fifth of the vote, attained despite a poor campaign. They are the joker in the pack – unlikely to win but able to make the ward problematical for the Tories. The Tories will be defending here with a much-reduced team compared to what they managed in this by-election, although they will be consoled with the fact that this will be true for the other parties too.


As for Labour; this is a tough ward for us. Jane will contest this ward again in May, and will console herself that despite the potential for being squeezed our small but beautifully formed vote more or less held up.


The defending Tories across the borough in May will be looking at the thirteen per cent drop in the blue vote last night and wondering what this will mean for them. Could the political map of Southend be about to be re-drawn?



Full results:


Turnout 26.22%

Total votes cast 1998

Con maj. 55



% of total vote

Georgina Phillips




Chris Bailey

Liberal Democrat



Tino Callaghan




Jane Norman




Last time (May 2012)

Turnout 37.11%

Total votes cast 2628

Con maj. 504



% of total vote

John Lamb




Chris Bailey

Liberal Democrat



Tony Chytry




Jane Norman




West Leigh By-election

19th January 2014

Jane Norman, Southend Labour's candidate in the West Leigh By-election, has been involved in local politics for many years and has served on Southend Council previously. Jane is a former nurse and currently serves 'on the bench' as a JP. She is particularly concerned about the effect on crime caused by recent cuts to the number of neighbourhood beat officers and the closure of Leigh Police station to the public. To read or download a copy of Jane's by-election leaflet, please click on the 'pdf' link below. If you'd like to get in touch with Jane, you can email her at jane.norman@southendlabour.com


Although it will be a real challenge for a Labour candidate to win this seat, Jane is contesting the election so that voters who are disenchanted with the way the borough council is currently run can register their feelings at the ballot box by voting for a real opponent of the current administration rather than just another shade of Conservative.


Jane has not made any promises that even if elected she would be unable to keep, unlike the UKIP candidate who has concentrated on issues over which local councillors have no control. The LibDem candidate has been very careful not to mention his group's voting record in the council, which has permitted many of the cuts to local services to be made. So why should he expect his presence in the Council Chamber to improve things for the people of the town? A vote for Labour's Jane Norman on Thursday 23rd is a vote against the current Tory administration and its allies.


The result of the by-election can affect the balance of power on Southend Council and remove the Tories from control, so please use your vote. Polling stations open at 7am and close at 10pm on Thursday 23rd 


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