In Hove, the most interesting seat is surely Goldsmid and all three parties in Brighton and Hove (given its sole councillor and standing at 8% in recent opinion polls, I don’t think we need to regard the Lib Dems as a viable party locally) believe they can win the three seats in Goldsmid.
Currently, all three parties have one councillor, Ayas Fallon-Khan (Conservative), Melanie Davis (Labour) and Alex Phillips (Green). Councillor Fallon-Khan has been deselected by the Tories and will be standing in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean where (to the shame of Labour) he has a better chance than not of being elected partly due to his own personal strengths and because of the work undertaken by the sitting ward councillor Maria Caulfield. Fallon-Khan’s deselection will significantly reduce the Tory’s chance of holding a seat and I predict that they will go away empty handed in May. A challenge for residents in Goldsmid is to identify the Tory candidates for the ward. It appears to be a well-guarded secret, and long may that last.
Melanie Davis has worked consistently since elected last time out, but she will struggle with the dire state of the Labour Party in Hove, and in the east wards of Hove in particular. A quick look at Brighton Labour Party’s website shows out of date it is, some sections have been ‘under construction’ for many months, and has no reference to May’s local elections nor a list of candidates. (The latter omission may be wise since Labour is struggling to find candidates in several seats in Hove). The website is symbolic of a locally party on its knees. While there is activity elsewhere in Brighton (Queen’s Park, East Brighton, Regency and, em, well, err, somewhere else, I’m sure), Labour in Brighton and Hove is a poor shadow of its former self.
Back to Labour in Goldsmid, it at least has its own website. But a website is a two-edged sword. In reporting Labour’s track record in Goldsmid, there are only 6 entries since September 2008, and some are attacks on the City Council and the Tory councillor. It also provides links to its most recent leaflets, the most recent two having been published in Spring and Summer 2010 (oh, dear, not much ambition there).
On the plus side, Labour in Goldsmid has selected three candidates (important if you want to win an election!). They are Lis Telcs (who was soundly beaten in the Goldsmid by-election a couple of years ago by the Green’s Alex Phillips), Nigel Jenner (about whom I know absolutely nothing – he must be a footballer, then) and councillor Melanie Davis. Melanie should survive but I can’t see Labour doing any better than that. Her defeat would signify a crushing defeat for Labour in Brighton and Hove, something that can’t be ruled out.
Alex Phillips is one of the sitting councillor in Goldsmid having won the 2009 by-election giving the Greens their first ever councillor in Hove and critical momentum for Caroline Lucas’ successful campaign for Parliament in 2010. Alex, who works part time for Keith Taylor (who replaced Caroline Lucas as MEP in the south east) has nurtured the ward since her election and should be re-elected without too much difficulty. She will be joined in the election by science teacher Rob Jarrett and ‘young mum’ Ruth Buckley. Rob has been around forever, popping up here and there on different campaigns over the years. Ruth Buckley is relatively new to electoral politics, but part of a generation, particularly women, inspired by Caroline Lucas. The Lucas effect stretches beyond Brighton Pavilion and could result in a Green clean-sweep in Goldsmid.
However, if the Greens fail to make progress in Hove and in Goldsmid in particular, their hope of becoming the largest party on the City Council will be dashed.
Filed under: Council Elections 2011 Tagged: | Alex Phillips, Ayas Fallon-Khan, Bevendean, Brighton, Caroline Lucas, East Brighton, Goldsmid, Hove, Keith Taylor, Lis Telcs, Maria Caulfield, Melanie Davis, Moulsecoomb, Nigel Jenner, Pavilion, Queens Park, Regency, Rob Jarrett, Ruth Buckley