The Art of Electoral Politics

In a recent blog I was critical of the Greens for not campaigning in an effective way over post office closures or the threat to the Open Market. Given that Party’s ambition to win Brighton Pavilion, it needs to fandamentally improve in its campaigning, not least because of the regular absence of Caroline Lucas from Brighton on European and Party business.

In the late 1980’s and 90’s, before the creation of the unitary Brighton and Hove authority, there were annual elections in Brighton, with a third of the Council up for election each year, and the County Council elections every fourth year.  This resulted in Labour, for example, always being on elction footing.

In the marginal wards Labour activists went door-knocking throughout the year, as there was always an election the following May. Leaflets were published at least quarterly and in some areas even monthly.

It was rare for any Labour candidate to be told, “We only ever see you at election time”.

Sadly, that is now the case for all parties, not least the Greens. Take Goldsmid, for example. In May and June you couldn’t avoid being confronted by Alex Phillips or one of her campaign team.  She attracted wall to wall coverage and had a compelling website.

But what has happened to Alex? In a previous post I said it felt like she had disappeared from the face of the earth. Of course she has not, and a recent Tweet from her saw her asking for more support, this time in sponsorship – she is running in support of Rise, formerly the Women’s Refuse Project (why on earth did it have to change its name?).

While I hope she gets a lot of support and money for Rise (one of the most important charities in Brighton and Hove), she should be seen to be doing something, not merely asking for things.

And it is not confined to Alex. Most, other than Bill Randall, are anonymous in the pages of the Argus. Yesterday I admitted I couldn’t remember the name of the 3rd Green councillor for the area including the Open Market (I looked it up, it is Ian Davey).

But what is worse than being invisible, is when a local councillor uses community meetings to score party political points against other parties on the Council. I have been at several meetings in recent months where a senior Green has done so on more than a couple of occasions. Inept. Uninspiring. Counter-productive.

4 Responses

  1. It’s an interesting pattern:

    – Post offices are used as an example of why the Greens aren’t a campaigning party. Examples are provided on how the Greens across the country are campaigning against post office closures. We’re then told that Greens in Brighton don’t do this. Then, examples get provided about how this isn’t true. Still, after this, it gets repeated again and again that Greens don’t campaign, and Greens don’t campaign against post office closures.

    – Fabrica gets used as code for the Greens being elitist. Examples are provided about how Fabrica is the opposite of elitist, but no correction, and the code gets used again and again.

    Now, we hear that no other Greens but Bill Randall, and Alex Phillips during her election campaign, get into the local media.

    You can see what’s coming, right?

    In the Argus over the last three weeks:

    – Ben Duncan, talking about council spending on online media officers
    – Ian Davey, talking about campaigning for safer streets and 20 mph zones
    – Paul Steedman, talking about campaigning for more local food and making Brighton the “urban growing capital” of Britain
    – Pete West, talking about tighter licensing of clubs over noise pollution

  2. Scott,

    Would it not be appropriate to mention, when making this kind of contribution, that you are a Green Party press officer?

    I’m all in favour of politicians engaging on blogs etc. but you really ought to be open about it.

  3. I could say something obvious, like, who is Brighton Politics Blogger, but yes, I have worked as a national press officer for the Green Party since mid-March 2009. Before then, for three years, I was the local party co-ordinator in Coventry for the Greens. I’m also a 5’4 Virgo, 37 yrs old, Canadian/Irish, and prefer Strictly over the X Factor.

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