Political Awards 2010: Politician of the Year Part 1

This award has five nominees, one for the three main parties in Brighton and Hove (Conservative, Labour and Green) and one for two of the fringe parties locally (Lib Dem and UKIP). 

The nominee for the Conservative Party is a politician that has established himself and consolidated his position in a relatively short period of time.  Mike Weatherley is the MP for Hove, elected in May with a majority of 1,868 over the sitting Labour MP, Celia Barlow.  This was a good showing by Celia and the narrowness of Weatherley’s majority should not lead to the conclusion that this will be a marginal next time.  Weatherley has quickly established a reputation as a hard-working constituency MP.  He goes about his business with diligence and little fanfare, but he is making it count where it matters – the careful nurturing of communities of interest.  He is following in the tradition of other effective local MP’s such as David Lepper, Des Turner and Andrew Bowden. Weatherley understands that an MP who neglects his core support will struggle to retain the seat in a bad year.  Weatherley is a formidable politician, likely to stick around for many years to come.  Hove is set to become, once again, a safe Tory seat.  This is why Mike Weatherley is the Conservative Politician of the Year.

Paul Perrin of UKIP is not my kind of politician.  For one, he is a member of UKIP.  I am on record as saying I would prefer to stick pins in my eye than vote UKIP.  But Perrin has a slightly obsessive characteristic needed to make a mark on behalf of a party that is going nowhere.  Without the likes of Perrin, it would go somewhere – to deeper, if not permanent obscurity. Perrin blogs and Tweets with great enthusiasm.  He is the only local UKIP activist who I can name, probably because he is the only UKIP activist locally.  But his single-minded determination to fly the UKIP banner in Brighton and Hove means that he is the UKIP Politician of the Year.

Finding a Lib Dem to nominate as Politician of the Year has proven to be a challenge.  There was a temptation to nominate David Watkins simply because he has been deselected by the Lib Dems, not for breaking pledges and promises (that gets you promoted in Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems), but for being basically a decent sort. But the Lib Dem who stood out for me over the last year is its candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Juliet Williams. At one hustings in Brighton Pavilion, she substituted for that constituency’s candidate on the panel. Juliet gave a barnstorming performance, completely on top of her brief, passionate, with grace and humour.  With candidates like her (not forgetting some backbone and principles) the Lib Dems could avoid being trounced at all elections for the next 5 years.  Juliet Williams is the Lib Dem Politician of the Year.

Tomorrow, Labour and the Greens.

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15 Responses

  1. Oh dear, where to start? Can you give any solid examples of why Mr Weatherley is such a hard-working MP, or is this just a case of bold assertions being passed off as fact? As one of Mr W’s constituents, I just see photo-ops and the odd constituency-friendly gesture of independence, as over fox hunting. Other than that, it’s standard word-processed replies to letters, full of puff and spin and avoiding the questions raised. I’m not saying he’s any worse than others of his ilk, but I can’t see that he’s any better either.

    Even if Weatherley were as impressive as you claim, the idea that – seven months after the election – Hove can now be pronounced a safe Tory seat is laughable. For a start there is the ongoing process of social change that sent it Labour in the first place. Then there is the little matter of an 11.5k Lib Dem vote in 2010. Applying the national pattern to Hove, about half of these voters would now go to Labour, wiping the Tory majority out easily.

    Juliet Wiliams – fair observations, she was effective, though Simon Burgess rather more so at the debate I saw (and I didn’t vote Labour). David Watkins, as I’ve noted here before, polled 250 votes less than his ward colleague Paul Elgood in 2007. Why do you think this might have been?

  2. Cheers – flattered by the nomination – I must have too much spare time (or am neglecting too much other stuff).

    I think the main thing that sitting MPs tend to demonstrate is that party is far more important than the public.

    I had to laugh seeing Weatherley start to campaign to let shops decide for themselves on cigarette/tobacco displays- the legislation banning the displays comes from the EU. And as noted by the Conservative MEP Roger Helmer the coalition have given away more powers more rapidly than even the last Labour government did.

    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2010/10/has-the-coalition-lost-the-plot-on-the-eu.html

    Weatherly only wants to be 30% an MP he is happy for the other 70% to be handled by Brussels.

    ps. You misspelled my name in one place – adding a g on the end.

  3. Juliet Williams was not the LibDem candidate in Pavilion but Kemp Town, and she was good. Much better than the party’s local offering. The one in Pavilion made no impression whatsoever.

    Why is Watkins deemed “decent”? His behaviour over the mess into which the King Alfred proposal slumped was disgraceful. His speech at the Planning Committe was intellectually redundant, rambling on something about Mysttic Meg, whoever she might be and whatever she has to do with Planning. Only Sue Paskins spoke cogently at that meeting.

    I do not think that the Blogger can have strolled around Hove, or studied the statistics, if he reckons it is a Tory stronghold. The reason that Labour dropped behind is because its canvassers did not turn out on behalf of Celia Barlow. It could become a four-way marginal.

  4. What odds can I get for Jason Kitcat and Tom French getting the Green and Labour awards? And was the notable lack of mention for the city’s highest profile Lib Dem, Paul Elgood, designed to get up his nose?

    • During the election I got to every meeting/hustings that I knew of/was allowed to attend! Don’t think I saw Paul Elgood at any of them…

      Saw another Lib Dem stand in for him a couple of times — Bit if a black hole actually, as he spoke, masses of time passed on your watch but at the end it was impossible to remember a single thing he has said.

      • All of this may be true, but it will have made little difference. How many floating voters go to hustings these days?

        I can’t speak for Paul Elgood of course, but he may have thought it wasn’t the best use of his campaigning time to bother with them, for this reason. I wouldn’t altogether blame him if so.

      • Hi Paul

        A touching story. I’ve drawn a Venn diagram to illustrate the predicament:

      • he he. If only all problems could be boiled down like that.

        I’m not Paul, honestly!

      • Nice diagram. Not sure about the relative sizes of the the circles though.

        On a serious note, unless rich parties are to continue to monopolise UK politics entirely, equal access to voters is essential. The original ‘electoral address’ had the concept right (one page for each candidate delivered to each address) – but it seriously needs modernising.

  5. Why do you describe your stance as Left? What does it mean anymore? Post-Blair, post-Brown, mid-Clegg, pre-Ed M?

    I made this comment on ‘defunct R/L in politics’ last April.
    “Right/Left is redundant, e.g. Right can be totalitarian fascism ‘downright’ or free market, personal libertarian ‘upright’. Left can be totalitarian communism ‘left out’ or free market personal libertarian ‘left over’ (Sweden). Chalk/cheese, left to right, up and down, in or out, ready or over! Names should describe predictable attributes so that they mean the same thing in each mind. Without this prerequisite, debate and qualification or quantification becomes meaningless. Common definitions are essential to avoid misconceptions; it is perfectly possible for two parties to agree, but walk away with entirely different understandings of what went on between them. Left/Right should not be used until, or unless, a palette of terms is proposed to delineate their true range of contradictory meanings. Nigel Carter 11apr10″

    I stood for UKIP in Pavilion and agree completely with your high opinion of Paul Perrin our dynamic candidate in Hove. Along with Dr James Chamberlain-Webber in Kemptown, we are still working for Freedom of the Individual AND the UK.

    Nigel Carter 30dec10

  6. In case you are unsure, UKIP has always been, though demonised by opponents:
    Anti-racist,
    Anti-sectarian,
    Anti-illegal immigration, pro Aussie-style controls
    Pro-integration, anti-multicultural apartheid,
    Pro the innocent and the rule of UK law
    Pro free enterprise
    Pro free unions
    Pro democracy and empowering individuals
    Anti-EU, pro friendship with the world inc Europe
    Pro Commonwealth trade and links

    Nigel Carter 30dec10

  7. Happy New Year to everybody! :-)

  8. Nigel/Paul – could you tell me what the UKIP line is on the special relationship with the United States?

    You bang on and on about Europe, but I’m not clear whether your party thinks we ought to run our own foreign policy, which we haven’t done since Suez.

    • UKIP policy is to run the UK for the the benefit of UK citizens. I only ‘bang on about Europe’ to the extent that the EU interferes with that.

      USA is a global super-power the better our relationship with them the better it is for us. We do have a ‘special relationship’ with the USA whether or not many Americans recognise it. We need relationships with the rest of the world including EU, USA, China, India, Asia Commonwealth etc…

      There is absolutely no point in getting control of the UK back from the EU only to surrender it elsewhere.

      Happy new year all!

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