Saturday, 10 April 2010

A Look @: Essex (Part II)

This post will look at the central seats in Essex. For South Essex (Including Thurrock and Southend) click here and for the North Essex seats click here. Politics in Essex is dominated by the Conservative party and that's unlikely to change this year. They won 14 of the 18 Parliamentary seats in the county at the last election and they'll be hoping to push towards the full set in May. As for the Council, they currently hold 60 of the 75 seats with the Liberal Democrats a distant second with just 12 councillors.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed




Bill Rammell




CON Gain


Simon Burns




CON Hold

Epping Forest

Eleanor Laing




CON Hold

Brentwood & Ongar

Eric Pickles




CON Hold


John Whittingdale




CON Hold

Rayleigh & Wickford

Mark Francois




CON Hold


Bill Rammell will struggle to hold onto his Harlow seat in May, despite his notional majority more than doubling due to the boundary alterations. Rammell won his seat in 1997 securing a 10000 vote majority in the process. But in the last two elections his Conservative opponent Robert Halfon has reduced this to virtually nothing and he was unlucky not to take this in 2005. Halfon is running again this year and he will be looking to complete a decade's work by finally taking Harlow. Rammell re-election hopes haven't been helped by the requirement to pay back almost £3,000 relating to various expenses claims. He'd probably lose without the extra problems; Tory Gain.

The Chelmsford constituency has seen extensive boundary changes for this election. The seat has been redrawn much tighter around the actual town of Chelmsford and the rural areas of the old West Chelmsford seat have been redistributed to the Maldon and Saffron Walden seats. Simon Burns was first elected as an MP for Chelmsford in 1987 before the last boundary review altered his seat to become West Chelmsford. This time the change has halved his notional majority and has left this seat within reach of the Liberal Democrats. Simon Burns has also been hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. He has been in court after knocking an Army Major off his bike and he has had to repay over £3,000 in relation to rent claims. This should help the Lib Dem candidate Stephen Robinson as his party are notionally second and currently hold all 5 council seats within the town. Labour aren't completely out of it either, although Peter Dixon will do well to go against the national swing to win this. The Lib Dems don't have much of a swing to make up here but I'm not sure Burns been bad enough to lose this in May. I think it'll be close, and the Lib Dems will mark this seat as one for the future, but for now, Tory Hold.

The rest of 'central' Essex is pretty straight forward. Eleanor Laing held Epping Forest for the Conservatives in 1997 and it's a seat they haven't lost since its creation in 1974. Laing was caught out in the expenses scandal and it is possible the financial dealings that helped her avoid £180,000 capital gains tax could cause a surprise result. But she was reselected by her local party after paying back some of the money, and there is a lack of a clear rival for the voters to get behind. Katie Curtis is the Labour candidate hoping to offer the main challenge, but it'll be extremely tough to get rid of Laing's majority; Tory Hold.

Brentwood & Ongar is Conservative Chairman Eric Pickles' seat and it's a safe one. Created in 1974 Pickles became its second MP when he held the seat for the Conservatives in 1992. David Kendall is the Lib Dem candidate and he'll be hoping to build on the 12% increase in vote share his party achieved at the last election. But I expect Pickles to be comfortably re-elected in May; Tory Hold.

A significant boundary alteration and a name change haven't affected Conservative MP John Wittingdale's chances of re-election. His notional majority is up slightly on the vote he secured in 2005 after his Maldon seat has lost some of its Chelmsford wards and gained others from the old Rayleigh seat. Wittingdale has represented the Maldon area since 1992 and I expect he'll continue to do so during the next Parliament; Tory Hold.

Finally, Mark Francois has seen his Rayleigh seat substantially changed for this election. He'll be defending Rayleigh & Wickford on a slightly reduced majority but this shouldn't matter. This will remain a safe Conservative seat for the foreseeable future and Francois will win his third term in May; Tory Hold.


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