Brighton Pavilion shortlist reveals Tory class divide and prejudice

The Conservative Party has announced a shortlist of six candidates for the General Election campaign in Brighton Pavilion.  And in so doing it has revealed what a class-divided Party it is.

First there is Scott Digby (or is it Scott Seaman-Digby?), the national Tory commercial director.  Why would he possibly have wanted to drop the Seaman from his surname.  It hasn’t held him back when becoming Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Borough of Hillingdon.  Then we have fellow London Tory councillor, insurance broker Mary Weale, who represents the good folk in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

No 3 is Charlotte Vere, a former finance director, now chief executive of Big White Wall, a charity for those with mental health problems.  She is joined by Anna Firth, who has been described as “a leading campaigner” for better early years education, and by Douglas Chirnside, a TV producer.  There was a TV producer called Douglas Chirnside (a common name amongst TV producers, I am sure) whose finest work was a series called “Sex and Shopping”.

Finally, there is someone from Brighton (you remember Brighton?  This election is for a Brighton seat!). Andrew Wealls was the Tory candidate who was beaten by Alex Phillips in Goldsmid in a by-election in July. I know Andrew and like him.  He is a decent, hard-working chap.  If selected he could put in good effort, but is hardly going to set the campaign on fire, especially against Nancy Platts and Caroline Lucas.

More interesting is the absence of Mary Mears and Maria Caulfield, two very strong female candidates, well-known and well-respected.  Either could out-flank Nancy and Caroline, not least on the Council estates in Brighton Pavilion.  Their omission from the shortlist is evidence of the deep class division that runs through the local Conservative Party. This division exists on the City Council where Mary Mears (Open Market) defeated Geoffrey Theobald (Brighton College) for the post of Tory Leader and, consequently, Leader of the Council.

From my point of view, the omission of Mary and Maria is great news as their selection would have almost guaranteed a Tory gain. The Conservative Association, led by the hapless Carol Ramsden, has handed Nancy and Caroline a head start, first by selecting Dr David Bull who then stood down, and now possibly Scott Seaman-Digby-Weale-Vere-Chirnside-Firth IV of the Royal London Borough of Uppity Class, as its candidate.

It may yet be a straight fight between Nancy and Caroline.  Bring it on.

14 Responses

  1. Well, quite right. What a Tory beauty contest where substance is beaten by style and breeding. Gotta agree. If the Tories are serious, a local woman would have been a good choice and a serious contender.

    Anyone who is parachuted in is gonna be pilloried, as the Greens well know. Might this three way marginal become a two way fight between Green and Labour? We’ll see.

    From a Labour perspective I’ve been pleased with the response from voters on the doorstep outside the Muesli Belt. Nancy is dong well in Patcham, Hollingbury, Coldean and elsewhere. Pavilion isn’t just the North Laine, after all.

    Interesting to note that Wealls has been leafleting Regency Ward in advance of the primary.

  2. Hi

    Saw your post today. Nothing sinister and really not some mad toff either. I just thought that it was easier not having to spell my name when meeting new people, it was snappier shorter and balanced well – two five letter words work well together etc.

    Without banging on, my roots are far from Tory toff, much as you may wish to hope so. I come from proudly working class stock and my grandparents lived in one borrowed room when they got married in 1945. From their to a new build council estate in Hayes, Middlesex with brief stints in condemned housing in Brentford, My Granndfather often tells the story of the rats that stole his lunch sandiwches from the kitchen table.

    Hard work meant that my parents and my uncles and aunts made their way in the world well and I was the first in my family to go to university and from there a career in retail and local politics.

    The actual leader, Vllr Ray Puddifoot, of Hillingdon can verify I am but a Cabient member. This 11 years experience will help me really address and deliver on locqal issues, I have been involved in projects to deliver new schools, reduce local taxes, address older peoples servces, refurbish libraries etc. I am really very good at working with the local community and understanding people’s needs, and then successfully helping deliver solutions.

    That aside I am delighted to be in the running and will be working hard to be selected as the candidate for Pavilion. The battle is far from over and the Pavilion association has a lot of plans to up the ante in the fight against Labour, and the Greens.

    I met some local Labour members at the weekend after the Remembrance Parade and they was very clear that the Greens are not the opposition. We shall see in the coming months.

    Best regards

    Scott Whatever-you-wish-to-call-him

    • Hi Scott, great reply, robbust with a touch of humour. I will enjoy it if you were to become the candidate. As for your grandfather and the rats, he was lucky. We were so poor living as we did on middle of M1, even the rats moved out! Also glad you were the first in a thousand generations of Kinnocks, sorry, Seaman-Digby’s to go to university. Hope we meet soon. BPB

  3. Apologies for the spelling on Cllr, local and Cabinet etc, typing on the Blackberry on the hoof – no excuse but apologies.


  4. Constructive Criticism vs. Cheap Shots

    Per comments on your earlier blog “Caroline Lucas, as local as the Isle of Wight”, I’m all for constructive criticism – that is what politics and political debate should be about. Actually, and maybe I’m too idealistic, if more politicians and more political debate offered constructive criticism and not cheap shots, then maybe as a society we could make some real progress. Imagine that.

    That said, this blog does strikes me as a bit of a cheap shot. As you have also said, people don’t have to read it and it is just your opinion, which of course is fair enough. But, people clearly do read it (including me) and you leave yourself open for comment, so maybe you’ll allow me to do a little record straightening for you.

    Firstly, as it is not a published list, I have no idea whether Mary Mears and Maria Caulfield have actually applied to be on the candidates list – do you? If they haven’t applied to be on the list then they couldn’t have applied to be shortlisted for the Pavilion seat. So that may well make the decision theirs, not that of the conservative party or local association…

    What makes people who are not from Brighton incapable of representing Brighton Pavilion in Parliament? Surely political experience, experience at representing and implementing projects for local communities, business experience, someone who has actively campaigned for charities, someone who is prepared to be a local politician, someone who is passionate, someone who is a good listener, someone who has the gumption and a dogged enough approach to fight for the rights of Brighton Pavilion is more important that someone that simply comes from Brighton; as you say yourself Andrew Wealls is local and “a decent, hard working chap”, but is “hardly going to set the campaign on fire” . Don’t get me wrong, I see where your coming from – I’m from Cornwall originally and the feeling there about localness is very similar, but I have seen some pretty ineffective MPs there who are “local”. Local does not equal good MP per se, in my experience.

    Lastly, I’m still failing to see why the shortlist reveals class divide and prejudice? Are you truly saying that by judging people on their names and their jobs that you can identify their backgrounds? Can an Insurance Broker not be from a working class background? Is a campaigner for Open Early Years education a Tory toff? Is someone with a double-barreled name from a privileged background? I know plenty that aren’t.

    In short, all your blog demonstrates is your own prejudices. You are basing your views purely on names, what they do for a living and where they live.

    Surely the whole point of the Open selection meeting next week is an attempt to open up the process; something that neither Labour nor the Greens have done. If the conservatives were to win next year, at least voters can’t say that they haven’t had any input into the process of who is representing them (even if they didn’t vote for them in the general election) and that an MP has been foisted on them.. They won’t be able to say that if Nancy Platts or Caroline Lucas were to win.

    In the time that I have drafted this, I have just seen Scott’s comment. So, he isn’t a toff and isn’t from a privileged background. So, if you feel strongly about ensuring that a privileged Tory won’t be representing you either as a PPC or MP, go along to the open primary and vote for him!

    And Dan, the same goes to you – if you want substance over style and breeding, at least go to the Open Primary and vote, it appears that Scott has plenty of substance and grew up on a council estate, so not exactly the typical tory style and breeding to which I think you’re referring.

    All of this is meant in good spirit and I hope you take it that way…

    • Hi Ben, you genuinely add to a positive tone of debate, and one I do appreciate. I don’t think you are being unreasonable thinking that I am taking ‘cheap shots’. I don’t intend to. What I hope to do is write a blog that people read, that they can agree or disagree with, and that provokes thinking and debate. On that l last point I think I am having some success. I also would love to think that my inadequate attempt at humour gains the odd half smile! If you don’t already blog, start doing so. You clearly have an interesting perspective and one that would strengthen the blogosphere. Kind regards BPB

  5. @ben I applied to attend the Tory primary via email email published in the Argus. The email bounced back. Make of that what you will.

  6. BPB – thanks for your comment. Your blog certainly provoked thinking and debate, so much so that this is the first blog I think I have have ever commented on! And I don’t yet blog either, but you’re right, maybe I should start…

    I am a bit of an idealist, naively so sometimes. There are a lot of good people in this world that would make good MPs regardless of their background, privileged or unprivileged, and their political attachments, be they conservative, labour, or green; although I will stop short here of some of the more radical fringe parties, who shall remain nameless..

    I wasn’t expecting such an encouraging response, so thank you.. And in the spirit of openness, I should declare that I do actually know Scott; he is a good friend and I have been following the work he has been doing in Pavilion in advance of the Open Primary (or Caucus, I should say). I guess that’s what provoked me enough to write my response, but he got there before me. He is a decent guy with principles, someone who gives a shit about people. I have seen him first hand in his local ward dealing with residents who are staunchly anti-tory, but they love him as a person and as their elected representative. And that’s exactly what being a local MP should be about too.

    So, I am happy to bring on more debate in the future, whether or not Scott is selected. I am politically unattached (although I did study politics, so I do follow it!), but what I do believe is that politics should be about listening, about constructive criticism, about admitting mistakes when they are made (we are all human) and about a recognition that politicians have a responsibility to society to do what’s best.

    So, keep up the thought-provoking blogs and all the best…

    And @ Dan, I’m not the best person to comment on that. If Scott’s reading this, maybe he can point you in the right direction…

  7. The email in the Argus is wrong – should have been:

    I have advised the association try and set up the .com as well in case people use it in the coming few days

    You can also call 01273 411844

    Best regards


  8. Stumbled across your blog as I am interested in the Brighton Pavilion election and was amazed to find that you get polite replies from tories.

    I say this not because they are tories but because your blog is so clearly narcissistic and inconsequential. They are treating you with much more consideration than your superficial, snide and irrelevant opinions deserve.

    If you want to be taken seriously, (and I doubt that you do), have something more to say about things that matter rather than blabbering from the depths your seemingly abysmal ignorance plumbs.

    • Thanks for your encouraging message of support. Much appreciated!

      • Q. E. D.

        Here’s a suggestion. Instead of sarcasm, why not tell me and others interested in the campaign what you believe are the three most important issues which you want any MP for Brighton Pavilion to address in the next four years.

  9. […] new Tory candidate for Brighton Pavilion continues, with Brighton Politics Blogger stirring up an unprecedented number of Tory comments to his/her blog. Good luck to the candidates, selections are a nerve wracking […]

  10. Just to clarify a point of fact, Geoffrey Theobold did not attend Brighton College, nor did he send any of his children there. So again, the suggestion of class divide falls there too.

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