Tactical Voting: It MUST be Green in Brighton Pavilion

It is suddenly becoming much clearer.  An ICM poll puts the Greens 8 points ahead of the Conservatives and a full 10 points ahead of Labour in Brighton Pavilion.  However, the most significant aspect of this poll is that two thirds of Labour and Lib Dem voters would be willing to vote Green if it would result in the Tories being kept out.

The telephone poll of 533 voters adjusted to match the local electorate’s profile was undertaken by ICM Research’s Government and Social Unit between 16 – 21 December 2009.

This blog has for some months wavered between support for the impressive Nancy Platts (Labour) and the rather too distant Caroline Lucas (Green).  However, I have been consistent in saying that Nancy’s greatest challenge is the Party she is representing, the “right candidate standing for the wrong party”.  The other problem she is facing is that it is Brighton Pavilion is the Greens number one target.

The Greens now have a head of steam which should allow them to have a clear run-in against Charlotte Vere, playing on the goodwill of Labour and Lib Dem supporters, to harness a substantial vote against the Tories.  Labour supporters are very unlikely to vote Tory to keep the Greens out, some will, for honourable reasons, remain loyal to their party and to Nancy Platts.  The Greens need to nurture the green/left/anti-Tory vote.  It is likely that Caroline Lucas can now look forward to a substantial victory at the General Election. 

If the situation was reversed, with Labour having a ten point lead over the Greens in Brighton Pavilion, it is not likely that two thirds of Green voters would consider voting Labour.  That is both a strength and a weakness of the Greens – able to attract wider support, but ultimately not a party of the left (although New Labour has tried to ensure that it is not seen as being of the left).

This blog, having sat on the fence for so long, calls for unreserved tactical voting in Brighton Pavilion for the Green Party.

A final word for Nancy.  You don’t deserve this.  You are an impressive candidate and individual. You have been let down by your Party and by events. I hope that you will find another seat in due course since you will make an excellent Member of Parliament, but it won’t be ion Brighton Pavilion.

Desperation from class conscious David Cameron: Appeal to Lib Dems is “vacuous spin” that fools nobody

How must you feel if you are an honest, long standing Liberal Democrat?  David Cameron has urged the Liberal Democrats to focus on the similarities between their two parties, that there was a “lot less disagreement than there used to be” between his party and the Lib Dems and that he doesn’t think that “we should invent differences where there aren’t differences”.

If this is part of a co-ordinated plan nobody has told Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s chief of staff Danny Alexander who told the BBC that, “This kind of vacuous spin is fooling nobody. David Cameron seems to be confused about what a fairer Britain means.  For the Liberal Democrats it means cutting taxes for the lowest-paid, for him it means cutting them for millionaires.  ….. the Conservatives cannot be trusted where fairness is concerned.”

If this has not been co-ordinated, it is a sign of desperation from the Tory leader. His poll numbers remain soft and his lead is eroding while, in today’s Observer, it is reported that Labour’s vote is hardening.

There was a great article by John Harris in the Guardian on 8th December  that said “It was all looking so good for the Tories: an assured leader taunting a government in tatters. But recently, criticisms of David Cameron’s background and his party’s inconsistency have hit home.  Now the prospect of a Conservative landslide seems to have disappeared”.

The real Achilles Heel for the Tories is class. They are embarrassed by Cameron’s background, of the double-barreled surnames, the nom-doms.  Ipsos MORI’s Ben Page says that Cameron’s background is an issue, that ordinary people believe that he cannot be “in touch” with them and that he cannot know about their lives.

In Brighton Pavilion class will be an issue. Chuck Vere, in spite of my attempts to educate her on Brighton bus routes, will be seen as a London-based Tory, not in touch with issues facing ordinary people in Brighton. Caroline Lucas, while addressing the distance that some perceive she has from ordinary community issues locally, is torn between Brussels and Brighton, a factor that singularly undermines her electability locally.  Nancy Platts wins hands down on these issues, but remains seriously disadvantaged by being the Labour candidate. Any one of these impressive women would make an excellent MP, but each has to overcome these burdens if they are to cross the winning line in front of the other two.

Women candidates and websites to be proud of in Brighton Pavilion

Sad person that I am, I have spent Boxing Day (well just a couple of hours) surfing the net looking at the websites of different parties and politicians. (The reality is that I was playing with a new laptop, a Christmas pressie).

Previously I have said that Chuck Vere has hit the ground running with a clean, easy to follow website, although she did not like reference to her looking awkward in the photo gallery. The photos are much improved, showing a range of events around the consituency (although none yet on the Number 50 bus from Churchill Square to …. you get the point!)

Caroline Lucas’ website balances her dual life of Super Green in the European Parliament with her campaigning activities in Brighton Pavilion.  The greater emphasis on ‘local’ is much to be applauded, as was her mailing to every home in the consitutuency in early December.  It must have cost a small fortune and cannot be sustained in the long term without an army of supporters in each and every neighbourhood, not just those in the Muesli Belt.

To my horror I discovered I didn’t have a link to the website of Nancy Platts.  I am sincerely sorry for this oversight, one that I have corrected this evening. Nancy’s earlier website has had a fundamental overhaul and is now the equal of those of her two challengers. The Gallery of photos shows her record as a local campaigner that far exceeds that of Caroline and especially that of Chuck.  She has the advantage of being local and having been in place for a couple of years. And she knows where Crabtree Avenue is (Question to CL and CV – Crabtree Avenue is on which bus route …?)

But if you are limited in time because you have a life, perhaps I could draw your attention to a video (also on You Tube) on the Brighton and Hove Green Party website, a speech made earlier in 2009 by Green Councillor Amy Kennedy in which she introduces a successful motion calling on Brighton & Hove City Council to celebrate its leadership of women’s rights by adopting the Fawcett Charter.  The all-women campaign in Brighton Pavilion stands as a beacon highlighting the best in British politics at a time when the political process is in poor health.  Labour, Conservatives and Greens can be equally proud of the three impressive women selected to fight the seat at the General Election.

Roger French is nominated as Scrooge of the Year

I hope you all had a great Christmas. Mine was good, but am now back and ready for some blogging.

A new category for the Brighton Politics Awards 2009: Scrooge of the Year. The front runner is Roger French of Brighton and Hove Buses for increasing fares on Boxing Day, with a flat rate fare of £2.50, yet services are severely reduced.  For example, the No 50 (for Charlotte Vere and Caroline Lucas’ benefit the 50 goes from Churchill Square to Hollingdean) is running just hourly.

So reduced service and inflated prices from Scrooge of the Year, Roger French.

Have a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year

The Brighton Politics Blogger wishes you all a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.  I hope that it brings you everything you want – the re-election of a Labour Government? A Green MP?  Several Green MP’s? A coalition government between Labour and the Greens? Whatever you want, have a good one.

A call for society to no longer treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt

If he was a vicar in Brighton, I would most certainly nominate Father Tim Jones in the Brighton Politics Awards 2009, although there is no category for “Courageous Prophet”.  I could, indeed would, create such a category and he would win it!

Tim Jones, parish priest at St Laurence and St Hilda in York, used his Sunday sermon to say that sometimes shoplifting was the only option for poorer families, and he said that it was certainly better than “prostitution, mugging or burglary”.

It is worth looking at greater length what Father Tim said. “My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, it is neither. I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the cost are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need”.

“Let my words not be misrepresented as a simple call for people to shoplift. The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are. Rather, this is a call for a society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt.”

I personally do not agree with shoplifting, nor for that matter any form of theft. However, I feel more strongly about rich people avoiding paying taxes, and wealthy bankers getting ill-deserved bonuses.  I feel most strongly that we as a society have allowed a situation to remain where the poorest in our communities cannot make ends meet and where unemployment passes from one generation to another.  Labour has done a great many good things since 1997, but continuing financial inequality and exclusion remains (along with Iraq and Afghanistan) its greatest failing.

I suppport Father Tim’s call for society to no longer treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt.

The Tories remain the party of the rich, in the view of the voters and in reality

Don’t you really hate people who are proved to be right, who say “I told you so”, and then return weeks after the event to make sure that everyone knows just how right they were?  I hate people like that, so it is surprising that I say to you, “I told you so”, “I was right”.  A poll in today’s Independent says that voters think that the Tory Party is a party for the rich, with 52% agreeing that “a Conservative Government would mainly represent the inetersts of the well-off rather than ordinary people”.

Well you heard it here first.  Back on November 12th, I wrote “All new Tory Party: only investment bankers, Lloyds brokers, and management consultants need apply”. On November 30th I posted a blog entitled “Double barrelled problems for rich, non dom Tories”. On December 12th I wrote “Today’s Tory Party remains remains anti-environment, anti-Europe, anti-gay, pro-rich, pro-bankers, and pro-toff” .  In each I highlighted the class-bias of David Cameron’s ‘New’ Conservative Party.

What the Indi’s poll confirms is that the Tories cannot shake off their image of being the party of “rich toffs”.  My November 12th post included the paragraph “Clearly the Tory’s polling must suggest that the party is seen as Tory toffs: Eton, Bullingham Club, double barreled names. Earlier in the week I posted how the Tories were advising their candidates to drop double barreled names.  So Brighton Kemptown candidate, Simon Radford-Kirby is no plain Simon Kirby, failed candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Digby Seaman-Scott, presented himself  as plain Digby Scott”.

Cameron, and for that matter Radford-Kirby and Charlotte Vere, should be worried.  The “playing fields of Eton” line worked well, and the Tories attempts to ‘class-down’ their true credentials is, and will continue to haunt them.  The alternative is no less damaging, being identified as the pro-rich Party, while trying to justify the tax arrangements of ex-non-doms.