Queens Park provided a complete body blow to Labour at the last local elections when three of its most senior members were beaten by the Greens. Green Rachel Fryer topped the poll with a massive 1,826 votes, followed by Paul Steedman (1,549) and Ben Duncan (1,473). The top Labour candidate was Delia Forrester just 15 votes behind Ben Duncan on 1,458 votes. Former leader of the Council, Ken Bodfish was fifth (1,455) and the then Leader of the Council and Labour’s prospective candidate in Brighton Kemp Town, Simon Burgess (1,418). The introduction of the School Place Lottery cost Labour dear. The nice folk on East and West Drive didn’t want their darlings mixing with the ruffians from the Council estates.
This result was the low point for Labour at this election, and symbolised the unpopularity of the Labour Council. The Greens had hoped to win one of the three seats, but won all three. The three new councillors have worked very hard, are widely respected, and would expect to win all three again next May. But there is a potential problem. At one point it looked as though all three would be standing down in May, but they are reconsidering their positions. Ben Duncan is definitely standing. He is probably the most high profile of the three, although both Rachel and Paul are highly respected within the ward and beyond. I personally hope that at least one, if not both, will be on the ballot paper with Ben in May.
The Greens must hold all three seats in Queens Park if they are to become the largest party on the Council. Even if Rachel and Paul don’t stand, the reputation of the Green Party in this ward should see them home.
For Labour, the three young men selected (Dan Chapman, Chris Cook and Tom French) will no doubt put in a strong performance, but their appeal will be limited. All three would hope to poll well in the gay community, but Ben Duncan has a strong track record on campaigning on LGBT issues in the ward and beyond. The Queens Park mafia broke the local party, and there is little enthusiasm or campaigning experience within the local Labour Party. The unpopularity of Bodfish Forrester and Burgess might continue to be reflected in May’s poll.
Queens Park will be one of the key seats in May, and the result here will provide an indication whether Labour has turned the corner or whether its decline is still terminal.
I would like to see the Greens become the largest Party, not because I am a Green but because I think the Greens have the most energy and ideas locally. Labour has had its opportunity and don’t deserve to get back in, not yet, anyway.
Filed under: Council Elections 2011, tactical voting | Tagged: Simon Burgess, Ben Duncan, Rachel Fryer, Queens Park, Tom French, Paul Steedman, Ken Bodfish, Kemp Town, Dan Chapman, Chris Cook | 10 Comments »