Charlotte Vere: An Apology

Following an earlier post today, now removed, I accept that I was mistaken in suggesting that an error had been made regarding election expenses by the campaign team of the Conservative candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Charlotte Vere. When this was pointed out to me by a friend, I took the post down until I could establish the correct facts.
 
Having had contact with Ms Vere’s campaign, I have been assured that the leaflet referred to in my earlier post had always been intended to count towards Ms Vere’s election expenses.
 
I would like to apologise to Ms Vere and her campaign team for my error and any inconvenience caused.

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Waiting and watching in Brighton Pavilion

Unlike the weather, the race in Brighton Pavilion is hotting up.  I have been deliberately quiet for the last couple of weeks, trying to see how ordinary people, not anoraks like me, might be experiencing the campaigns of Nancy, Caroline and Charlotte.  I wondered if the campaigns would be visible, and if so which ones would be most effective.

In the last 14 days I am delighted to say that, while going about my every day life, I have had direct contact with all three campaigns, speaking with both Nancy Platts and Charlotte Vere, and with a member of Caroline Lucas’ campaign team.

It has re-enforced to me that Brighton Pavilion is very lucky to have a campaign with three remarkable and impressive women. Nancy continues to focus on what she does best – putting herself around, presenting herself as the energetic community campaigner that she is – the strongest of the three in this respect. Her focus is on her campaign, and she ignores (at least in public and private comment) the other two. She is dignified and diligent.

Caroline Lucas is strengthening her position within the constituency, less aloof and being seen more around the consituency.  She seems to be popping up here and there (although not yet everywhere). Her campaign is measured and she appears never to make reference to her two opponents, and she and her immediate support team certainly never attack the other two.

In person Charlotte Vere is different from her ‘vitual presence’.  While I have been very critical of her attacks on her opponents, I even accused her campaign of ‘going dirty’, in person she comes across very differently, warm and intelligent. Her ‘attack-style’ of politics does not become her. Perhaps it betrays her relative lack of experience. Perhaps it is a screen for some quite right wing political views and attitudes.

While the election campaign has over 3 months to run, it still appears to be Caroline’s to lose.  By increasing her local presence and profile, she should consolidate her lead in the polls, and would go a long way in persuading hesitant Labour voters to take the difficult step of casting their anti-Tory vote for a Green candidate.

Today’s demonstration in Brighton abused the memory of those who died in Gaza

Returning to Brighton this afternoon after a few days abroad, I encountered the anti-EDO, ‘remember Gaza’ demonstration, but the youths on the street seemed more intent on provoking the police than paying respect to the victims of the Israeli assault on Palestinians.  I saw a poster promoting the demo – it had a picture of Gaza and a picture of demonstrators and police clashing in a similar demonstration last year in Brighton.

I was angered by two things: the overwhelming display of force by the police – horses, riot gear, and so on.  Generally officers appeared to be focused on restraint, but from the little I saw, it would not take much for the policing to turn very ugly.  However, I felt greater anger at the demonstrators who were using the human tragedy that is Gaza as an excuse to have a go at the police.  It felt like the ultimate insult to the victims of Israeli aggression to use their suffering as cover for juvenile, anarchistic provocation of the police.

I recall a time when demonstrations were disciplined and stewarded.  They were about issues and not an excuse for confronting the police. The demonstrators today abused the memories of those who died in Gaza.  I am disgusted by their self-indulgence.

When candidates are desparate, their campaign goes dirty ….. just look at the Vere campaign

Most political campaigns start off with the noble  intention of keeping their campaign clean and honourable, but there can come a point when a candidate begins attacking their opponent because their campaign is going nowhere.

What is unusual about the Vere campign is that it is hardly eight weeks since she was selected, and her campaign has turned dirty.  The Conservatives must be desparate, faced with the increasing prospect of the election in Brighton Pavilion of Caroline Lucas as the first ever Green MP.

On her website, Charlotte Vere has chosen to promote a blog that says that if you vote Green you will get blackshirts.  This blog has repeatedly called on her to take don the link, but she has chosen the disreputable option and left the link in place.  She has also tried to create an impresion that Caroline Lucas is hiding something to hide in her expenses.

I had high hopes for the election campaign in Brighton Pavilion, with the prospect of three high calibre women candidates running campaigns that could be a template for a new form of politics. Nancy Platts and Caroline have impressed by keeping it clean, and conducting themselves in a dignified manner.

Charlotte Vere could learn a lot from her impressive opponents.

Could the Greens deliver the impossible by winning Brighton Kemptown?

It is probably not achievable in 2010, but why not aim to make Brighton the first Green city, with the first Green MP elected in Brighton Pavilion, followed by a Green MP in Brighton Kemptown and a Green Council in 2011?

With Caroline Lucas’ campaign going from strength to strength in Brighton Pavilion, is it possible that Ben Duncan could be swept along in her slipstream and produce the real shock locally by winning the other Brighton seat?

The double-baralled denying Simon Radford-Kirby is hardly setting the world on fire.  His recent picture with a gaggle of Tory MP’s was excrutiating.  In his thick pinstripe suit and impressive hairstyle, he resembled a spiv estate agent at the height of the property boom in the eighties and nineties.  You could almost here him say “Loads of money ….!”.  Why on earth should Labour voters switch to him?

Lovely Simon Burgess, like the impressive Nancy Platts, has been let down by his party, big time.  Following his defeat in the local elections when riding high as Council leader, he has struggled to regain the enthusiasm that he once had and his campaign is limp and unlikely to be re-energised before May.  Sadly I cannot see what value a Labour vote is in Kemptown.

So for anti-Tory voters, why not galvernise around Green Ben Duncan?  If enough Labour and Lib Dems vote Green he might, just might, pull off the shock of the election.

The danger for the Greens, of course, is to try to go for it in both Brighton seats.  A Party with ambition should not rule this out, but should also not spread itself too thinly, resulting in a double Tory victory.

Cameron’s inability to articulate clear policies is eroding confidence in his ability to be Prime Minister

Am I alone in cringing every time David Cameron avoids giving clear and direct responses to clear and direct questions?  He says he opposes various Labour proposals and then, when pressed, will not say what a Tory government will do?  On the Andrew Marr programme this morning, for example, he said the Tories opposed Labour’s plans for VAT, but would not commit to reversing them.  Why can’t he just come out and say precisely what the Conservatives will do?

The reason is is that his policy base is shallow and the cuts planned are so severe.  When pressed on a specific policy, at this early stage in the general election campaign, he is crackingd. Last week he said the Tories would definitely introduce tax credits, then he said they wouldn’t, then he said they would, then he said he definitely would.  What was his excuse for his muddled mind?  That he does loads of interviews, and during that interview he was thinking about other things.  Oops.  This is the person who wants to be PM, and he can’t even get a flagship policy right.

I enjoyed the message on one of his defaced posters: “You can airbrush your posters, but you can’t airbrush your policies”.  As the election campaign moves forward, Cameron’s refusal to be specific about his policies will erode confidence in his ability to be Prime Minister.

Caroline Lucas has the Big Mo

In the West Wing they call it the Big Mo.  Bartlett had it. Santos had it.  Now Lucas has it.  Momentum!  The real difference is that in the case of Caroline Lucas it is real.  It may be the start of a snow blizzard out there, with freezing pavements and fresh snow everywhere.  But all you can see while slipping and sliding around Brighton Pavilion is Green.  I lost count at the number of Green Party activists delivering Green Leaf. 

In the past month or so, the Greens have posted a letter/leaflet to every household in Brighton Pavilion, had the ‘bump’ of the opinion poll that put Caroline Lucas well ahead of Charlotte Vere and Nancy Platts, and now they are blitzing the constituency with Green Leaf.  What was a stunning campaign in Goldsmid that saw Alex Phillips elected, is being reproduced in Brighton Pavilion, but eight times bigger.

Caroline Lucas has the Big Mo.  With four months or so to go, and with the ever increasing probability of a significant win, momentum is definitely on the side of the Greens.

I cannot feel anything but sadness for Nancy Platts, a strong candidate but for a party that is committing political suicide.  The Hoon / Hewitt betrayal  has wounded every Labour candidate.  Brutus and Judas, Hoon and Hewitt, two has-beens whose enduring legacy may yet be the destruction of Labour at the polls.