The obvious impact of the Green victory in Goldsmid Ward is the loss of overall control on Brighton and Hove City Council. For the Greens it provided their first ever Councillor in Hove and the first time the Party has won a seat off the Conservatives. Neil Harding provides a good summary of the impact of the result on the City Council.
In the longer term it provides huge momentum for the Greens in the twelve months before the General Election. For Labour it is a disaster. It reaffirms that Labour is a party in decline in Brighton and Hove, now firmly established as the third party in the City. They lack credibility, a party associated with defeat after defeat, heading for three losses in the City in the General Election. Ironically, it isn’t a disaster for the Conservatives who had a credible result even though they lost their seat in a by-election caused by the unacceptable actions of their former councillor, Paul Lainchbury. Unlike Labour, they were not humilated.
This was the worst result possible for Labour. Labour Group Leader, Gill Mitchell said last night “The Conservatives are fatally wounded and they will not be able to get anything through the council”. To describe the Tories as fatally wounded is pure nonsense and demonstrates the mindset of Labour, still seeing the battle lines as Labour v Conservatives.
There is anger at both parties, but most particularly against the party of government. Mary Mears, a most perceptive politician, has already identified the Greens as the main opponents to the Tories. She dismissed the result as a protest vote on national issues but was quick to attack Green policies, saying that they have not properly costed their programme. That is, indeed a challenge for the Greens.
But for today, the Greens, and Councillor Alex Phillips in particular, should enjoy the moment. If the Green Party is to make the next breakthrough at parliamentary level, the hard work begins tomorrow!