Labour faces meltdown on Thursday as it intends to put most eggs in few baskets

When the Labour Party was the dominant force in Brighton politics, it was able to sustain election campaigns in most, if not all, wards. Hove Labour Party was never as strong but it could put up a reasonable showing across the old Hove Borough.

But, ten years of steady decline has resulted in Labour resembling the Lib Dems – competing seriously in just a handful of wards. Here we are, two days out from polling, the Party hierarchy has already decided which wards to give up on and to which it will direct its limited resource of activists.

The good news for the Tories is that several seats in central Hove are being written off, with a focus on Hangleton and Knoll (where Labour are handing out window posters printed on green day-glo paper) and the two Portslades. In Brighton, there is some good news for the Greens as theformer safe seat of Hollingdean and Stanmer is being left to it’s own devices. Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, also, is not being prioritised. The powers that be a determined to devote a disproportionate amount of people on polling day to the one Brighton seat that Labour believes it can pick up seats from the Greens – Queens Park.

In H&S and M&B Labour currently has five councillors – all women. In Queens Park it has no councillors and Labour is fielding three young(ish) men. So obsessed is Labour that it appears to be willing to sacrifice councillors Jeane Lepper, Christine Simpson, Pat Hawkes, Ann Meadows and Mo Marsh just so that it can record that single victory over the Greens.

A few days ago I suggested that Labour should not have focused so much on Queens Park and should have had one of it’s action days in Hollingdean and Stanmer. The Tories seem to have devoted more time and effort into H&S than Labour, with Mary Mears, Simon Kirby and others turning out to support Rachael Bates who most observers will agree (though not Momma Grizzly herself) has little chance of success.

Hanover and Elm Grove has secured some additional attention frrom Labour, but it is being openly discussed in the Napier and elsewhere on Muesli Hill that ‘the call’ will come from Labour supremo, Keith Day, probably around 6pm, for activists in Hanover and Elm Grove to move into Queens Park.

It looks as though St Peters and North Laine, and Preston Park are regarded as already lost by Labour. That would see two Labour seats in Preston Park going Green. In Goldsmid, Labour will fight to defend its single seat.

But it is Queens Park that is the obsession of the Labour High Command. If Labour picks up a seat, even two, possibly all three seats in Queens Park, much will be made of it by the Labour Party. But if it is achieved it will be at the cost of other seats.

Labour will win in East Brighton. The is no suggestion that activists move out of that area, and quite right too. But it could find itself as influential in Brighton politics as the Lib Dems currently are in Brighton and Hove politics. Labour needs a good clear out and should start again, building from the bottom, and not from Party HQ which has presided over defeat, decline and now further defeat. These people have no idea how to organise a political party, no idea how to win, and Brighton and Hove politics is the worse for it.

If this is the best Labour can offer in Brighton and Hove, we are doomed

The other week, shortly after Ed Miliband was elected Labour Leader, I received a ‘letter’ from the Labour Party entitled ‘A fresh fight for a fairer society’. It must rank as one of the most ineffective party political communication I have ever seen. If this is the start of Labour’s ‘fightback’ in Brighton and Hove, then the Greens and Tories will be laughing all the way to the election count next May.

It starts “Dear Voter”, immediately defining the relationship. The election is six months away, but I know that Labour is interested in just one thing. There is nothing about wishing to engage, work in partnership, recognise past failings.

The letter goes straight to an attack on the Tories and Lib Dems. That really should please me, but some how it doesn’t. There is no scene setting, nothing positive, just a rant against the Tories and Lib Dems. Only in paragraph 5 is there anything remotely positive and apart from that the whole of the first page is negative. There is some complete guff at the bottom “Labour Values” and “Community thinking”. What on earth does either of that mean? Is it “Labour values community thinking”?

At least page 2 starts with something a bit more positive – “We say – there’s a better, fairer way.” It then reports that “At our recent Party conference we elected a new leader and we will begin a fresh fight for a fairer society.” What the letter fails to do is say who the newly elected leader is. (I understand it to be one of the Miliband boys).

The rest of side 2 is ok, presenting some policy priorities, and then making an invitation to join the Labour Party. But the letter is not signed, and the only two names on the letter are mine (in the address box) and the name of the publisher, a Mr Keith Day of 49 Church Road, Hove. Even the email address in the “Contact us” section is “council@brightonhovelabour.com”.

This leaflet is a disaster, a waste of paper and of effort. Please, Labour Party, this is an embarrassment. We, the people of Brighton and Hove, need you to put up a bit of a credible challenge next May. At this rate you will let the Tories hold those seats where you should be challenging. If this is the best Labour can do, we are all doomed!

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