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.

18 Responses

  1. Dear Baps,

    Two things to say on this one:

    1. A ‘Green-sponsored’ ICM poll showed that – I wouldn’t do a poll either unless the methodology used produced a sure-fire ‘win’ – but then again it has happened to the Greens before – the poll said win, the result said something else.

    2. Most voters in BP haven’t met me yet – they will. Do come and say hello when you see me out and about, you don’t even need to tell me who you are.

    ‘Tis not a Green Win just yet …..

    Best wishes,

    Charlotte Vere

  2. Charlotte,

    This poll sounds pretty legit judging by this (non-Green) source: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2394

    “but then again it has happened to the Greens before – the poll said win, the result said something else’

    Which poll are you referring to here? I know many European election polls exaggerated the Green vote (not to the extent of a ‘win’) and that some commentators expected a much better performance in Norwich North* (but not a ‘win’ either). Is there a poll I’m missing?



    *This was primarily due to confusion over the relationship between the boundaries of the city itself (where the Greens topped the poll in the Euros) and the Norwich North constituency (most of which doesn’t cover the city let alone the Green areas). This is not a commentary on the effectiveness of the campaign, just on speculation of the result.

    • You are absolutely right Tom – the Norwich North poll said a strong showing not a win, however the result was a poor fifth behind UKIP and this with a strong local presence and an enormous focus of resources on attracting votes.

      A situation very similar to Brighton Pavilion.

      Best wishes,


      • Here is the only poll conducted of Norwich North by the way: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2190

        Nonetheless, I personally don’t think the situation there is that similar to the one in Brighton Pavilion. There’s just too many different factors to consider a polling is only one of them. However I do hope the Brighton and Hove Greens are bearing Norwich North in mind because I want them to actually win in Brighton Pavilion 😉



  3. Tom

    The polls before the European elections indicated that the Greens could win up to four extra MEPs in addition to their pitiful two, which incidentally means they are on a par with the BNP – and any silly arguments that the Greens should be included in any televised general election debate are also arguments for the BNP to be included.

    I’m sure Caroline, Alex Philips et al cracked open the bubbly when they saw the poll result they had paid for. What was the actual question asked?

  4. Hah, that UK Polling Report page reveals that the question was skewed to give the best result for the Greens rather than to get the best accurate picture of voting intentions! Plus, they had just leafleted the constituency before releasing the polls!

    Gosh, who’d have thunk it – the Greens up to their elbows in dirty tricks! I expect this to be a mean-spirited, negative campaign.

    • John – the ICM poll is recognised as being “kosher” by all the experts including Anthony Wells and Mike Smithson .

      There’s no point in trying to rubbish the poll, but that will, of course, be the inevitable response from local opponent party supporters.

      ICM have stringent standards and ask a standard set of questions.

      The only (minor) difference from the usual opinion poll question structure was the inclusion of a prompt for the Green Party alongside prompts for the other parties.

      Nationally prompts for the “minor” parties are not usually included, but given the scale of support for the Greens in the constituency and the fact that the bookies currently have them as favourites, it would be odd not to have their name prompted alongside Labour, Tory and Lib Dems.

      The margin of error on this kind of constituency poll is plus or minus 4.3%.

      Even if with this error and we assumed Labour were on the maximum 29.3% they would still be behind the Greens on 30%.

      The main finding from the poll is that currently Labour appear to be losing and tactical voters wishing to stop the Tories should vote Green.

      As for Greens commissioning a poll after they have leafleted – they are leafleting all the time! So what?

      At least they can get leafletsout on time, unlike it seems, Nancy’s campaign…

      However you are right I think it will be a bloody campaign.

  5. I think the poll has served it’s intention well.

    It certainly seems like the Greens have Charlotte, Nancy and the other parties on the back foot and scrambling for some kind of reasoned response, but as usual none is forthcoming.

    A prompt for the Greens in any Brighton Pavilion poll is logical and it is right, given that the Greens are on a par with Labour with the number of council seats they hold on B and H council, and given that the Green candidate is the most high profile candidate in the constituency nationally.

    I agree with Brighton Sense that the campaign will be bloody. I expect to see a lot of negative campaigning coming from Labour, the Tories and especially from the Lib Dems, who will go out of their way to make sure Caroline doesn’t win in the constituency as the party most likely to suffer as a result of a Green win will be the Lib Dems.

  6. Charlotte are you a climate sceptic like most of your Party!

  7. Sorry people, I’m afraid the Green Party has got form on this. The Green Party commissioned a Res Com poll before the European elections which showed, contrary to all other polls the Green Party on 15% just ahead of the Liberal Democrats and 11% ahead of UKIP. They release the results a day before the elections to make sure over polls couldn’t contradict it. The result was the Green Party getting less than 10%. In the Norwich North by-election the Green Party persuaded the media they were contenders, as it was UKIP (who the BBC excluded from a debate) beat the Green Party.Green activists from all around the country have been beating a path to Brighton, canvassing and leafleting before the poll was taken (think carbon footprint guys).

  8. Finn,

    No offence but your argument is a silly one.

    For the Greens the ICM poll, both it’s timing and results, was brilliant political strategy that has served it’s intention of putting the opposing candidates on the back foot.

    Political parties always carry out private polling, as do charities, non-govenmental organisations and media outlets.

    The argument that the poll is somehow unfair or biased is very silly and is an argument best left in secondary school classrooms.

    This is politics and I for one am pleased for seeing the Greens doing well at it in Brighton.

  9. Was the Green-financed poll taken across all wards in the consituency?

    As for dirty, the Greens are the most negative party of all down here as far as I can see. Which is a shame.

    • Hi Dan

      You asked whether the poll was conducted across all wards. The answer is yes. Every ward in the constituemcy was covered.

      In fact, you can read all the ward level breakdown of the released questions on the ICM website – a measure which also underlines the professionalism of the poll.

      Click to access 2009_dec_greens_brighton_poll.pdf

      While the poll was financed by the Greens, the poll was conducted by an independent and reputable national market research company.

      In response to Fin, I don’t think making the point that the Greens have been doing a lot of work prior to the poll and therefore the poll is suspect holds water. Do you imagine the Greens will just stop work from now on to election day? They will be likely to ramp up their campaigning.

      As I mentioned before, Greens are campaigning all the time – they are not running some kind of ‘placebo’ or phony election campaign to see what the result would be if they didn’t canvass or campaign.

      They are campaigning to achieve a significant swing that will win them the seat.

      Naturally, Dan, I would challenge you on your view about which party is more prone to dirty tricks.

      One example: you may remember back in 2003, Brighton Labour issued a letter to their supporters about the postal vote-only council election of that year. Labour Party observers had somehow – against election rules – seen the intention on the postal votes. Many ballot papers were received by the council some way ahead of the final deadline for mailing postal votes which allowed Labour to PR it internally ahead of the final polling day to their members to help the party make up for lost groun and, raising the spector of a Tory win, backed by the information on voting intentions on the received ballot papers . This is illegal but it was done to increase their activist capacity.

  10. Luke,
    It’s a great bit of campaigning – granted; it means CL’s literature can carry a poll by a kosher pollster that shows she can win, thus avoiding a squeeze, because the Greens were third last time. I’m just pointing out the poll was skewed by the Green Party who commissioned it.

    A lot of Green activists from all over the country were drafted into BP (and Norwich South was there a poll here?) to canvass and leaflet before the poll. A whole sheath of press releases were issued by the press office all featuring CL whist the poll was being conducted. The Poll itself was different from the usual methodology used by pollsters, though still fair, in way most likely to favour the Green Party.

    Charlotte V must being cursing those Tories who sought to use the Green Party as ‘useful idiots’ – still the £5k donation to the Greens in Devon was put to good use giving the Tories 14 councils seats, the Liberal Democrats would have otherwise retained.

  11. Finn (and Dan),

    Politics, as in elections, have their negatives and positives, I cannot see how this poll is an example of negative campaigning. The exact questioning in the poll, which only prompted the Greens and asked would others consider voting Green to stop the Tories, is in no way negative and should not be presented as such.

    National parties always try and draft in candidates from across the country, whether it’s a fly-by visit from Gordon Brown, David Cameron on Nick Clegg, so that a local candidate can get a photo with the party leaders’ arm around them, or whether it’s the voluntary efforts of well-meaning and hard working activists, elections are fought and won when the whole party is behind a candidate.

    Let’s take Norwich North, throughout that by-election the local Labour party was split and disoriented and local activists were not forthcoming, instead Labour HQ (as did the Tories and Lib Dems), sent interns and MP assistants to Norwich to campaign for their candidates, as well as throwing a huge chunk of money at the campaign, almost four times as much as what the Greens had spent.

    I just think a lot of people in Brighton need to grow up and except the political reality in the constituency and in the poll.

  12. I never said it was negative campaigning Luke, in fact I’m very impressed with this stunt. The Alliance Party (Northern Ireland), did something similar in the 80’s.

    Brighton S, I’m sure the Greens do campaign all-year-round in BP; that doesn’t change the fact that GP activists were called to arms and travelled to BP and Norwich South, whilst the poll was being conducted. I suspect there was a poll in Norwich South, but not released because the results showed the Liberals as main challengers to Labour.

    The Greens are clearly going to treat BP in the GE as other parties treat byelections – not very green to get everyone to travel to Brighton is it.

  13. Finn,

    You have no basis to suggest that there was a poll for Norwich South. The campaigns in Norwich South and Brighton Pavilion are seperate from another and are run by two different campaign teams who have two different strategies and different funds.

    Brighton Greens comissioned a poll because they could afford to do so, Norwich Greens didn’t because they could not afford to do so.

    I doubt the Liberals are seen by constituents in Norwich South as the main challangers to Labour. The Lib Dems have been hemorrhaging council seats (and votes) in Norwich since 2005, so much so that the only bar chart they could possibly use to suggest they’re challangers are figures from the last General Election- half a decade ago!

  14. Does the Green poll really support the case for tactical voting?

    Read my critique of this argument at http://theorypolitics.wordpress.com/

    Martin Shaw

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