Why are the Tories bothering with their Brighton Pavilion open primary’ (or what Jason Kitcat argues is, in fact, an ‘open caucus’) given that Conservative Central HQ operative, Scott Seaman-Digby is so far in front of others that his selection is almost a formality.
Scott has busied himself around the constituency on official Party business well before the announcement of the shortlist. He has become well networked and opportunities have been created for him to meet with community leaders, the police and others. If I was one of the other five, I would be totally pissed off.
To his credit, he has been very busy meeting with councillors, Association members and others, and he has created a comprehensive website in record time, having launched it well before the shortlist was announced. It was as if he had been tipped off about the shortlisting in advance. He is clearly very talented, and I have no doubt that he would be a diligent and hard-working Member of Parliament.
But for all his preparation and the launch of his website ‘Digby4Pavilion‘, a review of his ‘My Brighton Blog’, launched on 23rd October, reveals how shallow is his knowledge of Brighton and Hove. He refers to meeting with “Michael and Simon, the two selected Brighton candidates”. I think the Michael being referred to is Mike Weatherley, Tory Parliamentary candidate for Hove & Portslade. Anyone with any local knowledge knows the uneasy relationship between Brighton and Hove, actually, and would never refer to Hove as Brighton.
His repeated, folksy use of life in ‘Pavilion’ is most strange. For example, he says that he met “local Pavilion councillors”. I know of no one who ever, ever uses the term ‘Pavilion’ as if it is a recognisable community or geographical area. Kemptown, yes, but Pavilion, no. And his reference to going to “the coast” and to “the seaside” suggests someone who sees Brighton as a fun day out, a bit of recreation, rather than a complex mix of communities.
Follow his itinery recorded in his blog. He discovers Bill’s in North Road, visits the North Laine, the Lanes, the County Hospital, Brighton College, Preston Manor, Withdean Stadium and Waterhall. He has lunch with Association members at Withdene. At the Open Market he meets a stall owned by the family of Councillor Mary Mears, the Conservative Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council. Yet he is still to meet working class Mary Mears (and here we return to the class divide within the local Tory Party – visits Brighton College, lunches in Withdean, but has yet to make the acquaintence of Mary Mears).
In an earlier response to this blog he says that “the time I have spent in Brighton since 2001 probably qualifies me as equally local, on the ground pretty much 4 days a week at present”. (What does that say about his commitment to his constituents in Hillingdon?).
Given his itinery to date, he has barely scratched the real Brighton. Sadly, his commitment does not run deep. In his blog on 27 October he says that “if I am not successful then the site winds down with a thank you to everyone I have met in the process”. He is a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ kind of politician.