The Government in Crisis: Basildon signals swing to disillusion among voters: Essex man's confidence in John Major has been damaged. Kathy Marks visits a key marginal

DAVID AMESS'S fanatical enthusiasm for Basildon, the Essex town he represents in the House of Commons, is the subject of much mirth at Westminster, even among his Tory colleagues.

'You have the most famous constituents in the western world,' John Major told him in the Commons yesterday after he managed to mention Basildon twice during a question about mortgage interest rates.

It is doubtful whether the famous constituents of this key marginal would return any sort of compliment to the Prime Minister at the moment.

In the town which signalled Labour's general election defeat by confounding the pundits to remain Conservative, Tory party workers and ordinary voters are disillusioned.

'We were thrilled to win the election and we expected John Major to lead us into a time of prosperity,' Stuart Allen, chairman of the Basildon Conservative Association, said yesterday. 'Now the euphoria has passed and we are extremely disappointed with the Government's performance.

'People are perplexed by what the Prime Minister is doing. His political naivety in not realising the effect of closing 31 pits is quite beyond belief.'

Stan Blackbourn, the constituency treasurer, said: 'Interest rates are starting to come down, and the promise of capital investment is very encouraging, but the Government has been lax in not tackling economic problems much sooner.' Party workers believe that Basildon would remain Tory if another election were called because of Mr Amess's popularity. But the continuing rise in unemployment is of great concern in a town where unemployment has doubled over the past two years.

Commuters stepping off the train from London last night and heading off into the gloom were scathing about the Government's performance. Stephen Howell, a City dealer and Tory voter, said: 'I believe in strong leadership in every walk of life and that is something which we are not getting at the moment. There is no way I would vote for John Major again.'

David Walsh, a Conservative county councillor in the town, said many grassroots supporters felt that the Prime Minister was obsessed with Europe to the detriment of more pressing economic problems. 'He has lost the respect of a hell of a lot of voters,' he said. 'We need a change at the top.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat