Greens heading for a comfortable second place in Brighton Pavilion

On 24 July, after the Greens victory in the Goldsmid by-election, I wrote, “If the Green Party is to make the next breakthrough at parliamentary level, the hard work begins tomorrow!”. Unfortunately, the Greens have gone very quiet.  I know it is the summer holidays, but the Greens have just 8 or 9 months to build a winning coalition.

Traditional campaigning will not be enough for Caroline Lucas to win. If anything, with Labour in free fall, the result is likely to see a Tory win in Brighton Pavilion, with the Greens coming a comfortable second.

But second is nowhere in a first past the post election.

Caroline Lucas needs to build a broad coalition.  She has the imagination to do so, but she will be hampered by her absence in Brussels. She must, therefore, rely on her team in Brighton and this is where things may unravel. It is one thing for a rather anonymous former Labour councillor to support Alex Phillips in Goldsmid.  It is another to harness a broad coalition of support, with ideas that will shape political thinking in Brighton for the next fifteen years, from the seafront to Hollingbury and Patcham. 

The key will be if the Greens can appear as comfortable in Hollingdean as they do eating vegetarian food in The George in Trafalgar Street. Will Caroline Lucas be able to inspire tired passengers on a crowded Number 26 bus as she is clearly able to do with bright young things at the Brighton Peace and Environment Centre in Surrey Street? In Brighton Kemptown, can Ben Duncan attract the same admiration in Birdham Road as he does in St James Street? Some, like Bill Randall, can talk to ordinary people, but others are hopeless!

At this stage I know the Greens are the parrty on the up in Brighton and Hove. But what do they really stand for, and are they able to get their message across in Chelwood Close, Stephens Road, and Crabtree Avenue? Come to think about it, do many Green activists even know where these streets are? It’s time to get out there.

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One Response

  1. Amy Kennedy assures me that Alex Phillips knocked on 60% of the doors in Goldsmid – a fairly amazing claim.

    If true, that means they ran a hardworking campaign (apparently orchestrated by Jason Kitkat Regency councillor) but I too saw little evidence of them anywhere apart from one leaflet through my door and a teller at the poll station (Though, to be fair, I was away on holiday for 7 days in the run up to electon day, so maybe I missed it all). However that low level campaign was enough to give them a big victory, so maybe they were campaigning in all the right places.

    I am a big fan of Nancy Platts – the Labour candidate in Pavilion, who is working very hard, ironically her appeal especially to progressives like me could mean the Green/Labour vote splits evenly and the Tories sneak it.

    However, pessimist that I am, I do believe the Greens have got enough support to give Caroline a comfortable 3,000 majority – Lucas has the advantage of being a national figure on Question Time and regularly in the Guardian – one of the most read papers in Brighton.

    So I disagree with your analysis. I think even if the Green campaign is low key, their brand is strong enough to win. Nancy despite her personal appeal is trying to sell her product attached to an absolutely destroyed Labour brand.

    The Tory brand has still (thankfully) not recovered from the wreckage of Thatcherism and there is no sign the Tories can get much more than the 10,000 votes they got last time. So my prediction is the following (with 2005 figs in brackets);

    Green 14,000 (9,600)
    Tory 11,000 (10,400)
    Labour 10,500 (15,400)
    Lib Dems 3,000 (7,100)

    The key for me is how much the Lib Dem vote collapses and how many of their voters switch to the Greens. This is where local Green campaigning will be important.

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