As the Lib Dems drop into single figures in more and more opinion polls, the big question is “Where will Lib Dem votes go in Brighton and Hove?”. It is true to say that there are not that many in the first place, but their distribution could make all the difference in certain key seats. Experience on the doorstep throughout the city, reported by Green and Labour activists alike, is that former Lib Dem voters are not keen to be reminded of their Lib Dem past.
Nationally, it is said that Nick Clegg is giving the veil of respectability to David Cameron, and Simon Hughes continues to give the veil of respectability to Nick Clegg. No such problem locally. There may, ironically, be a chance that the Lib Dem vote won’t drop too badly throughout the City, not because the vote is holding firm, but it could become the ‘conscience’ vote for Tories who know that a Lib Dem vote will not hurt their first choice, the Tories, as much as a vote for Labour or Green.
But traditional Lib Dem voters continue to desert that party in droves. In a comment in response to an earlier post on this blog, ‘Clive’ says: “My membership card went into the shredder several months ago and I will not be voting for the party”. He warns activists not to underestimate the Liberal tradition: “The Welfare State and old age pensions were essentially Liberal creations for a start. More recently the Liberals/Lib Dems has promoted advanced positions – way ahead of public opinion – on matters such as gay rights and abortion”. One challenge for Labour and the Greens is to articulate a vision equal to that of the Welfare State for the 21st century.
I suspect that Labour will not benefit as much as the Greens from former Lib Dem votes this time round since Labour comes across locally as still being bitter about their humiliations at the last general and local elections. The Greens, on the other hand, come across as positive and bright. That perception is not altogether fair. Labour has a number of bright and enthusiastic young activists and candidates, not least Tom French, standing in Queen’s Park, and Dan Wilson in Regency.
I expect the Tory vote to slump in Brunswick and Adelaide, with Tories shifting their support (as the did in Oldham and Saddleworth) to the Lib Dems. Paul Elgood is active and has a personal vote. That may yet save him, but at least one seat will go to the Greens. Labour doesn’t stand a chance in Brunswick and Adelaide. To change that position the Party has to select candidates, not just in B&A but, so I am advised, in three other Hove seats. Doesn’t that say it all about the state of Labour?
Filed under: Council Elections 2011, Politics | Tagged: Adelaide, Brighton, Brunswick, Dan Wilson, David Cameron, Hove, Lib Dems, Nick Clegg, Oldham, Paul Elgood, Queens Park, Regency, Saddleworth, Simon Hughes, Tom French, welfare state | 3 Comments »