What will the ‘Caroline Effect’ be in May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove?

I am in a state of shock.  Allie Cannell left a comment on my blog which I reproduce in full: “I agree with BPB”. I’m not used to such support! And I will return the compliment: I agree with Allie Cannell” when he says that the ‘Caroline Effect’ breaks the idea that voting Green is a wasted vote.  HP on the other hand is totally wrong when he/she says that Caroline Lucas has had no effect since “she shows up at parliament every day and effectively p*sses in the wind as she sits in a group of one, just 325 seats short of being able to do anything”.  It could be said that Labour MP’s are having the same effect as one Green MP, showing up at parliament every day and effectively p*sses in the wind as they sit in a group of 258, about 70 seats short of being able to do anything.

Dr Faust asks whether Labour and the Greens should actively work together with a view to sharing power?  I agree with HP’s comment about the desirability of this locally: “The Tory core is going to hold up okay but there are enough seats to be taken off them to get a more progressive group into power. If the Greens and Labour cannot work together to achieve this then all voters of a leftish pursuasion will have been sold short by both parties”.  I know it is wishful thinking, but it is worth thinking about.

The Caroline Effect will be a significant factor in May.  Voters will be less likely to fall for the Labour line of “Vote Labour or let the Tories in”.  That is a discredited line and those Labour candidates who allow it to be used deserve to be beaten.  The Caroline Effect continues to motivate and enthuse Green activists.  And supporters of other parties, Labour and Tories alike, are not immune either from the Caroline Effect.  But most of all, Lib Dem supporters are most likely to be swayed by the Caroline effect as they desert in droves.

Christopher Hawtree, the Champion of Rottingdean, sums up my feelings about May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove, that this is “very interesting times” with “many moves on the chess board”.

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15 Responses

  1. Labour and the Greens must work together on Brighton and Hove City Council now and under the next council (however the cards fall).

    That’s why overly negative campaigning from us both is best avoided. A coalition vs those pernicious Tories is a real possibility. And not a bad one. Even with Labour as the junior partner.

    • … says the man who openly branded the Greens ‘the Loony Left’ during the General Election campaign.

      Any port in a storm hey Dan?

  2. Hey, I never said the Labour MPs weren’t p*ssing in the wind either! Such is the beauty of FPTP, not that I shan’t be voting to keep it in May (or whenever).

    To be honest, I hadn’t given any though to the Lib Dems outside of Brunsick. But you’re right, some of them must exist and none of them will be voting Lib Dem, so where they vote might be interesting and potentially decisive in one or two locations. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but given the Lib Dems historically decent vote from university types it would be interesting to see how constituencies like M&B and H&S (where there are a lot of students) might shift. Did they have sizable Lib Dem votes in recent elections?

    Still can’t see the Caroline Effect happening anywhere, sorry.

    • Nope, neither of the main university wards has had a sizeable Lib Dem vote. The drop in Lib Dem support at the GE in Pavilion can be credited to students drifting to the Greens, many of whom are now living off campus and in other parts of the city.

      Does however mean a whole new generation of young voters are on those campuses. Many of whom are aware of Brighton’s uniqueness in having Britain’s first Green MP.

      • The ‘drop’ in Lib Dem support in 2010 amounted to a loss of only 12 votes when compared to 2005. An interesting factor over recent elections in Pavilion has been the resilience of the Lib Dem vote, even with no chance of winning. I can’t believe this will continue in May, but they have had opportunities to go elsewhere before, and not taken them.

      • There is certainly some truth in this – Liberal Democrat votes are almost as slippery and untrustworthy as the Lib Dem politicians themselves.

        We often assume that dissatisfied Lib Dem voters will automatically align with Labour or the Greens but this may only be true for a percentage. Perhaps the cold reality is that the Lib Dems have been the acceptable face of Conservatism for longer than we realise.

        The recent result in Oldham seems to support this, so we shouldn’t ignore the possibility that a sizeable contingent on the centre right will choose to vote tactically, and interchangeably, between the Tories and the Lib Dems as they see fit.

      • @ steampunk
        “Perhaps the cold reality is that the Lib Dems have been the acceptable face of Conservatism for longer than we realise.”

        Nationally the Lib Dems were, until recently, to the left of Labour on many issues. What’s happened, in my view, is not that far off what happened to Labour – a takeover by free market fanatics. This probably dates from Clegg’s election in 2008 but not before.

        “Liberal Democrat votes are almost as slippery and untrustworthy as the Lib Dem politicians themselves.”

        Would you rather that disaffected Lib Dems (many of whom, like myself, were disaffected Labour before that!) didn’t vote for you then? Best not to insult people for a sincerely held position, even if you don’t agree with it.

      • @Clive

        I was careful to refer to Lib Dem *votes* rather than voters as untrustworthy, but I stand by the implication that many Lib Dem voters are fickle.

        I think you are correct that the Lib Dems shifted to the right after Charles Kennedy, but the party has long been the refuge of middle-class fence-sitters.

        So, with no apologies, my insinuation is that the Lib Dem vote in recent years has been evenly split between wishy-washy voters with no hard principles and centre-right voters who see little to choose between Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

        I don’t think there is a “sincerely held position” for me to insult in this case, so I look forward to any Lib Dem voters who genuinely thought they were pursuing loftier aims waking up to the reaslisation they have been duped and choosing their allegiance more wisely in future.

      • Grrr, Liberal Democrats, I can’t stand them. (Not you Clive, the other ones). Off to Brunswick now to see if I can hunt any of them down. Don’t worry – I’m only armed with a clipboard.

      • @steampunk – as to your last paragraph, what can I say except that I have woken up? My membership card went into the shredder several months ago and I will not be voting for the party.

        However, I think that you undervalue the Liberal tradition, to put it mildly. The Welfare State and old age pensions were essentially Liberal creations for a start. More recently the Liberals/Lib Dems has promoted advanced positions – way ahead of public opinion – on matters such as gay rights and abortion.

        Maybe the future is Green, but the past is a bit murky, featuring as it does rather right wing figures like Teddy Goldsmith and Prince Charles’ chum, Jonathan Porrit.

        As things now stand, the charge of Lib Dem shapeshifting is difficult to dismiss, I have to admit. But when it comes from Labour, given what’s happened to that party in the last 20 years, I find it a wee bit rich. And at least Clegg hasn’t invaded anywhere yet!

  3. I’ve blogged about Labour’s sense of entitlement on the left – http://notesbrokensociety.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/hard-labour/ – but nowhere does it appear to be worse than in Brighton. Remember David Lepper’s behaviour at the Brighton Pavilion declaration? It is very easy to get the impression that Brighton Labour is much more interested in fighting the Greens than the Tories than the Lib Dems; it’s an attitude that is at best frivolous and at worst insulting. Voters affected by cuts in front line services, by public sector job cuts, and the abolition of EMA will not forgive a party that claims to own the Left but, in Brighton at least, chooses to behave like a gang of sullen schoolboys told that they’ve got to share the treehouse with the clever girl.

  4. The BPG calls me the “Champion of Rottingdean”. More accurately, that would be the “Champion of Rottingdean Coastal”.

    The ward, in which the Greens came second last time with no push, has the moniker of Rottingdean but the true emphasis should be Coastal, for it comprises more than Rottingdean, much more.

    And indeed, Rottingdean itself contained many a rebellious spirit: look at the banner Burne-Jones’s widow hung from her window during the Boer War.

    And Enid Bagnold was no blushing violet.

    • Rottingdean is also supposed to contain the shop that provided the model for the League of Gentlemen’s ‘Local Shop’.

      Burning question: can Tubbs and Edward can be persuaded to vote Green?

  5. Will the failure of Lucas to make her main residence in Brighton be used against the Greens?

    • No, I think the fact that she has a Hove residence in Brunswick & Adelaide will be quite useful actually.

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