Labour activists’ pathological obsession with the Evil Princess and All Her Works

I have referred in previous posts to the ‘Caroline Effect’ – how the election of Caroline Lucas has changed, and is changing, the face of politics in Brighton and Hove. I was wrong. There isn’t a ‘Caroline Effect’, there are several ‘Caroline Effects’.

Effect 1: galvanising anti-Tory opposition. Many tribal Labour supporters, like me, alienated by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, student fees, privatisation (to mention just a few) have yet to regain confidence in Labour. Labour is burdened by its record in office and support for cuts. “We wouldn’t have gone so far so soon” is hardly a rallying cry to galvanise people who are angy. Ed Milliband is yet to inspire, so too Labour’s leaders in Brighton and Hove. By contrast, Caroline Lucas is able to articulate an alternative (regardless of whether she will ever be called on to implement a programme). Because of Caroline’s leadership, the Greens continue to have momentum.

Effect 2: inspiring a generation of activists. Talking to young activists, many of whom either have not been active before or have been involved in single issue campaigns, are hitching their wagon to the Green Party because of Caroline Lucas. Who is Labour’s alternative. Locally there is nobody. Nationally there is no Labour leader who can hope to rival Caroline Lucas.

Effect 3: demolishing the two party monopoly in Brighton and Hove. There is a viable alternative to Labour in Brighton and Hove (and it isn’t the Lib Dems). Labour threw everything into its attempt to stop Caroline Lucas last May, including compromising its reputation for honesty. It failed and its scare tactic has undermined the loyalty that many showed Labour last time. Its dishonesty continues in this election each time Labour distorts election results in a crude attempt to mislead the electorate.

Effect 4: infuriating Labour activists. Speaking to many Labour activists there remains a pathological obsession with the Evil Princess and All Her Works. Labour will continue to flounder until it can get over Caroline Lucas’ success and until it can offer an alternative as attractive (politically and in style) as Caroline Lucas. A further problem for Labour is the number of young Green women activists who are emerging out of Caroline’s long shadow. They include Alex Phillips and Amy Kennedy.

Labour has missed a chance this year by leaving all its existing councillors in place, particularly in winnable seats. They have the stale pal our of defeat hanging around them. There are some young Labour activists who could have won seats (including some which I have predicted that Labour will lose). Instead, some Labour councillors have decided to cling on to the cost of the Party.

NG demonstrates the desperate lengths that anti-Lucas activists are now going to. He recently left the following comment: “There are two issues which are going to damage her and possibly Green candidates in the local elections: 1) her support for votes for rapists and murderers, and 2) her continuing to maintain her main family residence overseas in order that her children can attend a private school.” Utter tosh. This reference to the votes for prisoners is one that has challenged politicians of all parties. To characterise this as “votes for rapists and murderers is gutter politics of the lowest order. My suggestion to NG is to get out of the sewers and offer something positive.

Because of the Caroline Effects, the Greens will continue to go from strength to strength in Brighton. Until Labour activists get over Caroline’s success and begin to offer an attractive alternative, Labour will continue to flounder. Reaction to this blog will reveal whether Labour has learned anything and is moving forward.

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23 Responses

  1. How I see it is that its splitting the left vote, and I know many people must hear that a lot. I have never understood why people like Caroline and all of these other talented Greens you often talk about don’t just bite the bullet and join the Labour Party. After all it is “the peoples party”, and if they are unhappy then change from within! Old Red Ed often says how he wants activists and members to have a say and be more vocal and this could be there chance!

    And to pick up on the point of her living in abroad in order for her children to go to a private school… Thats a pretty serious issue right? If thats true then we really do have problems, because in Brighton we are blessed with fantastic schools! Elm Grove and Dorothy Stringer have left me with only brilliant memories of extremely competent staff and a great learning environment!

    It is true we feel robbed with regards to losing out on Nancy Platts. She would have been a great local MP, very far removed from the new labour approach.

    The focus now for Labour candidates is not to get all bitter about the past. It is to win the seats we are contesting. And we will do so!

    If anyone can provide a bit of information on her residence and the private school issue I would love to hear it!

    • I am very reliably informed that Caroline Lucas kept her main residence in Brussels so her eldest could finish his 6th form exams, which are completed this June. They are all moving to Brighton in July this year to be permanent residents in Brighton Pavilion

      Hope this is one more reason to stick to political issues, and not personal issues.

    • Harris, that is hilarious! To question why we Greens don’t pack our bags and join the Labour party, to ‘change it from within’ completely fails to grasp that the growth of the Greens is driven in large part by ex Labour members and supporters who after years of futile struggle to get the Labour party to be something they could be proud of again, came to us!

      Apart from the fact that your comment shows a tacit admission that there is a lot that needs to be changed in the Labour Party, you also show touching faith in ‘Red Ed’ being able to change the general direction of the party from being a virtual Carbon Copy of the Tories (because let’s face it, much of what we are despising the Coalition government for at the moment was started under Labour, and your leader is committed to a broadly similar programme of cuts as Cameron).

      I used to be Labour – not a member, but certainly a voter – and my family has a long tradition of Labour activism. I am not a particularly tribal politician, and will happily vote for (or with) whoever I believe offers the best range of policies that meet the needs of our societies most vulnerable and approach the future with realism as to our place on the earth and desire to stay on it. By a country mile, that is the Greens at the moment. I have often said that the biggest threat to the growth of the Green party is if Labour ever rediscovers itself – our members and supporters would very likely flood back to the Red camp. But there’s no sign of that happening locally or nationally just yet.

      It is a crushing disappointment to many of us from the labour movement (yes me too), that the heritage of the party has been squandered in the way it has, but your history is worth nothing if you fundamentally disregard it in the policies you promote or implement now.

      In terms of being able to influence the way a party behaves, the Greens too lead the way. Our policies are created by and voted on by our members, and unlike any other national party, we are bound by those votes. Labour is not influenced by the views or wishes of it’s members, being controlled from the top with very little accounability. Perhaps instead, you should join us in the Greens…

      • You found that funny? Councillor you seem to think the Greens have really taken off! They are in the end tiny with one MP and a 121 councillors (wiki).

        I dont doubt that New labour made some mistakes, but thats not the point. We dont dwell on the past we move forward! The Greens are stopping many positive changes in Brighton. The Greens ARE splitting where left wingers go, while many come flocking to the LP a fair few do also go to the Greens, its an awful shame!

        The Greens and Labour should stop any fighting and work together. Lose the bitterness!

        But Sven, I bet we could talk all day about this sort of thing! Perhaps one day we will

    • I’ve never understood certain Labour activists’ “pathological obsession” with Caroline’s family’s dwelling. Surely, as long as it doesn’t impinge on her job, it’s a private matter for her and her family?

      However, in order to allay your concerns, I think I should point out that she’s actively looking to buy a family home in the Brighton Pavilion constituency.

      Now can you please get over it and focus on the actual issues?

    • Harris’s first post is the perfect encapsulation of what is wrong with Labour. Labour has to prove to me that it is worth supporting, it is not the natural home of the left.

      Older activists who remember the times when Labour had left wing policies might not need convincing that Labour is a force for good, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

      But all people of my generation (early 20s) have seen from them as long as we’ve politically aware has been nationalist nonsense about British identity, financial sector deregulation, the working time directive and social charter opt outs, privatisation attempts, PFI, marketisations, attacks on civil liberties, intense relaxation about the filthy rich, and of course, imperialist wars.

      Just baseless stating that Labour are the ‘people’s party’ isn’t going to convince me. Lamenting that Greens don’t just join the Labour Party is hilarious and shows that you don’t understand the problem

  2. Another Caroline Lucas effect is that people in Hove would like a Green MP.

    It’s currently only a Tory MP by accident.

    And the Tories, with that absurd case, have shown that Jason Kitcat would make an excellent candidate.

    • Conservative votes in Hove 2010: 18294

      Green votes in Hove 2010: 2568

      Hove does not have a Conservative MP by accident, it has one because (suprise, surprise) he won an election!

      • Look, please, at the underlying trend.

        What will happen to those LibDem votes next time?

        Next time, Hove will be a tussle between Green, Labour and Conservatives. And I suspect that the national eye upon it will mean that a Green win is all the more possible.

        Westboure rocks.

      • The underlying trend to date actually shows a slight decrease in the Green vote in Hove from 2005 to 2010.

      • Quite right Rob. Stick to facts rather than all this conjecture- much of it wishful thinking perhaps.

        The Greens have done well in B&H and are an alternative Left Wing party, but not credible if their manifesto are a menu of wishes rather than serious costed policy. They need time to mature.

      • The essential question is: what will happen next time to the LibDem votes from last year’s General Election?

        I think that the Greens could have got more votes in Hove but the effort was concentrated in Brighton.

    • I think ‘misfortune’ was the word Chris was looking for.

    • Oh, Chris- Do stop it…

      • All right then. Hangleton looks a swing state with Jo Heard as an Independent instead of Tory, as does Wish with the Barnards as Independents.

  3. I’m a Labour party member and a great fan of Caroline Lucas – very glad to have her as my MP. I don’t give a damn about her residence or kids’ schooling at this stage, and I’m very glad she supports votes for prisoners. I was, however, very unhappy with her perplexing vote on Libyan action – a very unhappy decision.

  4. The real issue in this election is the number of trade unionist candidates, who could deny Labour half a dozen seats and an outright majority

  5. As a Labour Party member in Brighton & Hove, and left leaning, I do find it frustrating that a number of the old councillors are still hanging around.

    The Greens have been well received in many central areas. However, amongst those who do not line up FULLY on the left wing there are many, many Labour voters- and familiar names on the ballot paper, outside the main town, may encourage them. In the areas where Labour hold seats, I suspect a familiar name may be hard to unseat.

    For example, this is the problem the brilliant Green candidates may have in Hollingdean and Stanmer (Although I think this may be where a shock result does occur- and I won’t be upset by it).

    My point is that Labour will be soul searching after this election because it’s numbers will not increase on the council, not because they will decrease. There will be some chair swapping though.

    This means that from within the coalition that runs the city Labour will have a chance to renew itself. It is just a shame that some of it’s quality candidates won’t make it.

    • I cannot follow the Baron’s second paragraph. Needs tightening.

      Tho’ the thrust of it discounts the theory that he is Mr Fanshawe.

  6. For the record, this Labour activist/politician is not obsessed with Caroline Lucas, and I don’t have a view on where her family lives now or in the future. She’s clearly an able politician who has achieved her objective of getting elected as an MP, and now faces the very difficult task of being one amongst 650, leading a Party and being a good constituency MP.

    There’s a difficult balance, despite what BPB says about talented Green politicians on the rise locally, to be struck between strong leadership and the Greens becoming a “one person show” with the lines between politician and tv personality getting blurred. I don’t think Caroline is in the same league as George Galloway but the Greens need to be aware of the risks of being bracketed with Respect in that way.

  7. ‘I know many people must hear that a lot. I have never understood why people like Caroline and all of these other talented Greens you often talk about don’t just bite the bullet and join the Labour Party. ‘

    I am welcome in the Green Party as a socialist, I would be expelled if I was in Labour!

  8. er three kids and she’s promoting sustainability?

    private education bad but it seems to have done her no harm?

    houses here and there,

    same old, same old…

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