No Green/Red coalition in Brighton and Hove, and the Tories eye up 2015

The only consolation, if that is the right word, for some Labour and Tory activists following their joint defeat on Thursday is an element of glee that the Greens will be forced to make cuts. What a bizarre and sad reaction. What does it say about a politician that they can take any pleasure from seeing cuts being made? Take Momma Grizzly, Rachael Bates, she has said on Twitter: “Can’t wait to see the Greens having to make the cuts they said they’d never make.”

Such a reaction can be put down to one of two things, a bad reaction to defeat, or a deeply rooted ideological commitment to cuts and small government. Grizzly is an interesting Tory Party activist, the kind on the ascendancy within the Tory Party. And the group of young Tories who stood for election last Thursday (Robert Nemeth, Rachael Bates, and to a lesser extent Rob Buckley, Michael Ireland, Kerry Underhill, Rob McFarlane and Georgina Dore) are from that wing of the party that is ideologically committed to ‘small government/big society’, activists who are social libertarian and economically hardline (in the George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg mould).

It is likely that this ‘Magnificent Seven’ (irony is not my most attractive characteristic) will stand again in 2015, but in safer Tory seats. 2015 will see another lage turnover of Tory councillors – the Normans will stand down in Withdene (where Rob Nemeth somehow managed to lose the seat for the Tories), so too may the Theobalds along with Brian Pidgeon in Pacham, and several of the Hove Tories will call it a day. Expect the Seven to secure nominations in these seats and, if elected, see the Tory group move sharply to the right. Several of the Seven are closely associated with Hove MP, Mike Weatherley. Grizzly tells me that all seven are in fine fettle.

Meanwhile, Labour is repoted to have rejected a coalition with the Greens on the Council. Gill Mitchell, leader of the Labour group, offered qualified support. She said: “With the Greens having 23 seats they are clearly able to form a minority administration to run the council. Labour successfully ran the council with the same number of seats between 2003 and 2007 and the Conservatives governed with 26 seats for the past four years. So it is right that the Greens, as clear winners, are given the opportunity to implement their manifesto in the same way. We will support the Greens where they bring forward sensible proposals in the best interests of the city as well as being an effective and challenging opposition when we think they are getting things wrong.”

One of Labour’s unsuccessful candidates, James Asser (who stood in Regency Ward) said: “It’s the right decision and everyone I’ve spoken to agrees.” (James is one reason why Labour can have some optimism for the future – very personable and engaging).

Warren Morgan has commented that no coalition has been offered, that the Greens don’t need one. “They won more seats than Tories & the right to implement own manifesto.”

As for the Greens, many are nursing sore heads this morning after celebrating long and hard on Friday evening at the Sussex Cricketer and again last night at 112 Church Road. For my part, I could be seen strutting my stuff at Abandoned until the wee small hours ….

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30 Responses

  1. Looking at that picture of the young Tories I did wonder where they will all be in 5 or 10 years. I’d say several will have got fed up with the whole shooting match and given it up, and I would predict at least one road-to-damascus conversion to the left.

  2. I havn’t made my mind up on how I think this should go.
    Really should Labour go into coalition with the Greens? We spent the last year getting attacked by the Greens, and seeing as their gains were our losses I really would not be surprised if members and councillors felt a bit bitter.

    I have always felt that the Tories are our real enemy and the Greens were just a split off and similar to Labour (indeed in some cases I agree with the Greens more than Labour). But things have changed now. I won’t forgive how Green activists have spoken to me at the general election and I wont forgive the vicious attacks on our local election candidates and I especially wont forgive the graphs which the Greens used most notably in Preston Park.

    But BPB and others, note that things are changing for us, and our party must and will modernise locally in order to win back the confidence and the trust of people in Brighton and Hove.

    • Harris

      Interesting comments. Many, many Greens have felt similarly about how Labour candidates and councillors have treated us over the past 16 years.

      In that time Labour seemed to have spent more energy defeating Greens than stopping Tories. Indeed you may not be aware how many times the Labour and Tory groups voted together in the last 4 years to block Green motions and proposals.

      You may disagree on the choice of graphs we’ve made, but I happily stand by our record on our leaflets — they have been honest, clear and the graphs have been relevant to the areas contested. We didn’t use a graph including part of Lewes District to claim “only Labour can win a city-wide majority.” Respect to Cllr Warren Morgan for his post admitting error in the big claims being made.

      Much as I disagree with them, it’s clear the ‘new Tories’ BPB refers to know what they believe in and stand for. But do Labour or LibDems for that matter?

      We’re not perfect and I apologise if some Green activists were discourteous. But I feel for any party to renew it needs to talk more about it’s own errors before going back to attacking those of its competitors. What do you think Harris?

      All the best,
      Jason

      • I must look like a right blog dweller for my speedy response to this eh!

        Firstly well done, and well done to your wife.

        Yes, I agree! We are talking about what went wrong and why. I don’t really tend to attack Greens, and in the seat I stood in I was against the real enemy. But you have to see where I am coming from Councillor? About the Greens laying into Labour and then needing our help.

      • Jason – the Green Party have been relentlessly attacking Labour since they started to seek election to the Council. Labour voters and seats have been their target, and have gone about their task ruthlessly, and successfully. At the same time, the Green Party have been hyper-sensitive to any criticism which would tarnish their oh so perfect image. For Labour supporters like myself, this smug and sanctimonious approach has often been too much to bear. You present as the party of principle, but the only one they you pursue with real vigour is your own self (righteous) interest. Even in this post you can’t stop yourself saying something negative about Labour & Lib Dems when compared to the Tories.

    • Re. “their gains were our losses” – I would disagree with that characterisation. Greens took 5 seats from Labour, 3 from the Tories and 2 from the LibDems (or ex-LibDems). It’s not all about Labour to Green.

  3. Safe Tory seats in 2015? They don’t exist!

  4. i should not be suprised if there is a great scramble by the Tories to bag a nomination for the Hove Park seats.

  5. As Mary Mears said, “We’ll be back”.

  6. I really hope no-one sees this as Labour being bad losers and having a “sulk”. If the Tories were still the largest group, we would have joined with the Greens – even if they were the larger group – and prevented another four Tory years of Tory control. There are many points apon which we have common ground, and we would have had to set aside any bad feeling from the election and the past four years and made it work.

    There would still have been some within both parties (cllrs, supporters and voters) who would have seen it as a betrayal and have walked away, we’ve seen nationally how difficult coalitions can be. If it is not necessary then it is better for both parties to maintain clear and separate identities and viewpoints.

    The Greens are the largest party by some distance and it is better for them, voters, business, the voluntary sector – and for the officers who do work very closely with the manifesto of the winning party in setting the council agenda – to have a clear programme of government to refer to.

    We will support the Green administration where we believe it is doing the right thing and will be – I hope – a constructive opposition where we don’t. Inevitably we will vote with the Tories on some things as we did over the past four years – the Greens have voted with them on rare occasions as well. But we won’t vote the Tories back into office.

    I’m hopeful that the Greens in power will be much more open and democratic in the way they run things, and inform and involve opposition members in a way which has not happened since 2008, particularly in the Budget process. If the Government does allow us to return to the committee system before 2015 then closer working may have to be negotiated, but for now it is a Green Leader and Cabinet taking the decisions.

    • Warren you were only going to be in a coalition if you were the biggest party(which is where you slipped up), we have all heard about the Fireworks at your group meeting yesterday and that Brian Fitch staged a coup on Gill Mitchell, as from Tuesday or there abouts Brian will be group leader..please fel free to call it “tosh” but when he steps up we’ll know the truth.

      • No, we would have joined a Green-led coalition if needed to outvote the Tories as largest group. No, it was a very harmonious and positive meeting yesterday and there was no challenge to Gill as Leader. No, Gill will still be Leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group after our AGM on Tuesday.

        Will Mary Mears still be Tory Group leader at Annual Council in ten days time though….?

      • These Fitch’s are literally everywhere.
        I have heard interesting things about Brian Fitch wanting to take control. From what I know he was asked to do so from a few members. That has got to show something…

        He would do well in doing so. The current Labour party in Brighton lacks enthusiasm, perhaps due to its leader locally?

        Say what you will about Fitch, but he has done well in Hangleton. In fact from searching on this blog I can see that the blogger has some good things to say about him? What do you think blogger? Him or Gill?

  7. A terrible shame that a coalition did not emerged. Looking at how the actual percentages of the vote broke down (33% Green, 32% Lab, 29% Tory) it seems clear to me that a progressive coalition was exactly what the voters wanted – and I am one of them. Interesting to know if the Greens ever offered a coalition deal to Labour? Which of the two was being tribal?

    • The Greens have tried to work with Labour for years. (I would try and find the press releases saying so but can’t be bothered)

      In the pub after the count I think it was assumed we were going to offer to work with Labour again. It seems like before we had the chance they turned us down.

      • Allie – did you really think they would join you? There is no way you would have done the same if the roles were reversed. Of course you would offer to work with Labour, they would provide cover for the cuts. They may not have the sharpest political antennae, but even they could see that coming a mile off.

  8. The greens might have to make cuts – here one for starters – we can save a few quid by not removing the cycle lane in Grand Avenue.

  9. It seems to me that all is well for Labour now. It can hibernate and take time to put it’s local house back in order.

    The reason why no coalition would not be offered goes beyond the number of seats the Greens have. It is to do with Labour needing to put clear water between itself and them. And what a fine time to do it (as young Rachel puts it…-because of her age I won’t get overly angry in my ordinary citizen cloak, she’s just a kid…)

    The Greens will be under scrutiny right now, and governing at a difficult time. Both the opposition parties can make political capital. It’s good for Labour and its need to renew.

    But I worry it’s going to become dirty for the town and bad for politics.

    Politician should remember the reason they are there.

  10. Bobby Nemeth failed in Withdean. How is that possible? Is my recollection right or is this the third election he’s failed in here? I remember a by-election loss and one he ran in tandem with another boy. For Shame.

  11. Any bets on the first by-election? I would say at least one in the next 12 months, possibly more. I hear not all Green Party councillors are prepared for what lies ahead. Don’t put your party organisation into hibernation yet.

  12. Fitch is standing against Gill..you need better informants Warren, I cannot speak for Mary I have no info there.

  13. One thing that has come out of this election is a mandate for change in the local Conservatives. Watch this space for a reinvigorated Conservatives armed with an ambitious and unifying new vision for Brighton and Hove.

    • I look forward to it, Mr Mac. I’ll be happy to pass comment, if that would be appreciated. I’ll pass comment even if it is not appreciated!

  14. BPB – You’re right that young Conservatives in Brighton & Hove do have a shared bond, but you clearly don’t understand what it is or why it’s distinctive. All the young Conservative candidates, me included, are committed modernisers. We appreciate that the Conservatives need to articulate a clear positive vision for our city’s future that speaks to all of its residents (especially 30-40 somethings with kids, at least in Goldsmid), not just the traditional Conservative-base.

    We know that far too many of the electorate believe we’re all the old Tories and don’t understand their aspirations or deliver their vision for modern city which places quality of life and the local environment at its heart. Our challenge is to shape our party and our policies so all sections of the city believe we share their interests and will stand-up for them.

  15. Now the Green Party is in a position to put its principles into practice will it do so?

    The Green Party are keen supporters of PR and only supported AV as a ‘tiny step’ in the right direction

    As they received 33% of the Brighton and Hove vote – I assume they will only vote in council with a maximun of 1/3rd of the council seats – thats 18 rather than the 23 seats they actually received.

    Or don’t principles work like then when in power?

  16. [...] posted a comment on the Brighton Politics Blog saying: “I really hope no one sees this as Labour being bad losers and having a [...]

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