Who would be the best MP in Brighton Pavilion? Nancy, Caroline or Charlotte. Too close to call.

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon debating with a friend the question as who would make the best Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion. The outcome of the election in this constituency is far from certain, and any one of Nancy Platts, Caroline Lucas or Charlotte Vere could still make it to Westminster.

When it came to the best constituency MP, we agreed that Nancy had the edge over her two opponents. Like David Lepper, she has a strong base within the community, has made a personal commitment to Brighton and Hove, and would thrive in her role within the constituency.

Charlotte might find the parochialism of Brighton and Hove a bit suffocating, and she would be torn between her life in Brighton and that in London. During the campaign she has shown energy and enthusiasm, but sustaining that for the next 15 to 20 years is perhaps too great an expectation.

Caroline would be least likely to put in the hours necessary to be a worthy successor to David Lepper. As Leader of the Green Party, national campaigning and media commitments would inevitably detract from the role locally. This has been the weakness of her campaign to date.

However, when it comes to being a Westminster MP, Caroline has the experience, ability and stature to make far and away the greatest impact of the three. As she is likely be the only Green MP, she would have the platform that would allow her to demonstrate the abundant talent she has. She would be a breath of fresh air in the Commons. Charlotte Vere would be more at home at Westminster than Nancy, which places her second.

Nancy would be the best constituency MP, Caroline the best Westminster MP. Charlotte is, perhaps, the best all-rounder!

14 Responses

  1. Interesting post, good balance of argument and reason.

    All three have qualities and talents and Brighton Pavilion voters are genuinely very lucky.

    Naturally my sympathies are with Caroline. Out of all the MEPs in the South East Caroline has the highest profile, this is due to the years of hard work she has put into the region. If she can replicate this in Brighton, she would make an excellent constituency MP indeed.

  2. While local concerns are certainly one thing, there should be a difference between regarding an MP as a councillor writ large and as a representative in Westminster. A Green MP would present Pavilion in a new and continually engaging national light.

    How many times has an MP suddenly, briefly, come into the national orbit for some reason or other, and most people have never heard of him or her? That duck house guy, for example. Nobody knew he existed, apart from his constituents. And even now his name has faded from the general consciousness. His ducks are better known.

    But to be the Green MP in Westminster would be distinctive, a focus for so much more.

    I have met and liked Nancy Platts, but how individual a voice could she present whichever side Labour finds itself in what is most likely to be a hung Parliament?

    This is certainly a most fascinating Election, and must surely be the longest campaign ever. Perhaps we are heading towards the American situation in whch one Election is no sooner over than the next begins, though, on that front, we have perhaps heard less from America than usual at this stage.

    • Both Charlotte and Nancy would be forced to toe the party line at some point instead of standing up for their constituent’s views. I don’t see that Catherine would have to do that.

  3. One Labour MP can accumulate a lot of support within its own ranks whereas one isolated Green MP may find it a lot more difficult to gain access to other MPs so as to persuade others to vote in his/her favour.

    Caroline Lucas is effective at the media stuff, but I think it’s a mistake to depend on that. We all know how fickle the media can be, and the realisation that green policies result in further taxation could eat away at that influence. Sometimes pressure groups should do what their best at – being pressure groups?

    That aside, the bottom line is that it’s always going to be a two-horse race to government under FPTP.

  4. Alex,

    Is it not true that Keir Hardie not once stand alone on the benches? Is it not true that trade unions were not taken seriously until they formed their own party, representing their own interests? Was an argument not put against workers that by paying them more, working less hours and enfranchising them, would lead to a collapse in the fabric of British industrial society?

    Let’s not forget that parties have to start from somewhere. It’s how politics matures and grows. Is it not right that the environmental justice movement (arguably the largest social movement ever) should enter the political mainstream and represent the interests of many people who have been ignored by politicians from the greying parties of old? I think that time has come and I think you should be worried, change is in the air and if there’s one thing the main parties don’t want it’s change. They’ve always been reluctant to the idea.

    The Labour Left has had few of its demands met by Gordon Brown and the Cabinet. In fact the Labour Government has failed in many respects. I doubt that we’ll see a photo of Gordon or any other Cabinet member on the front of Nancy’s leaflets in Brighton. Why the shame? Is it because Labour has always promised so much and delivered so little?

  5. I find it hard to believe that anyone would think that Charlotte Vere is a good candidate. Her campaign basically has consisted of attacking the Greens and handing out a petition about how rubbish First Capital Connect are!

    Nancy Platts has done a lot of work in the community, but probably her biggest selling point is that she doesn’t support a lot of Labour’s policies! Doesn’t that kind of point to the idea she’s in the wrong party? And would she really be able to vote against the whip in parliment?

    Although Caroline Lucas doesn’t have as much time to run her campaign as the others, and probably won’t have as much time for Brighton when she’s elected, she has the biggest team, of all the candidates, to support her in her role and represent her in Brighton when she can’t be here.

  6. Apologies, Mr. Walter, I appreciate your passion for the Green pressure group, but I don’t see how those arguments approach my view that there is little point in wasting our democratic rights on something that cannot and will not influence the direction of policy.

    I do not believe Caroline Lucas can achieve what she intends to do and what’s more I doubt she thinks she can either. If she does, then I rather think her doctorate in literature has blurred her ability to distinguish between the literary and the literal.

  7. Caroline Lucas would probably retain more influence and legislative power if she remained an MEP. She is obviously adept at moving those Brussels and Strasbourg levers: no bad thing.

  8. Surely it has to be Nancy as she’s the only one that doesn’t look like a bouncer at a k d lang concert.

  9. First off, Paul, I don’t think any one will appreciate the homophobic comment. I don’t know how BPB views such things, but I find it regretful that such a comment has been made on a blog which is pretty good at trying to stick to robust debate.

    Alex, I respect your opinion but I think you’re wrong. As I said, I find it odd that the political wing of what is potentially the largest social movement ever, does not have a presence in Westminster. A Green victory in a FPTP election will completely dispell the myth about the Green Party, this will do more damage to the Lib Dems than to Labour.

    At a meeting with Nick Clegg last night I asked him if he thought it was an incredibly irony that the Lib Dems always receive far less popular support in PR elections than at elections fought under first past the post. His response was to blame the type of election, he dismissed the European Parliament and London Assembly elections as unimportant.

    I think it will be fair to say that all three ‘main’ parties in the constituency have a core vote, no doubt about that. It depends on who is able to win over those few swing voters who live in a couple of wards in the constituency. It will be an election won under the tightest of margins.

    At the national level the war between the Tory’s spin team and Labour’s will only get more bloody, more ugly. Unless they can show some restraint, they risk putting off a lot of voters from going to the polls. This is perhaps a situation that could benefit the Greens in Brighton because it will mean more ‘committed’ voters will turn out on polling day. This is how a Green win can go from being likely to very likely.

    And Dan is also right, Caroline is of course a respected MEP and is perhaps an asset for the ‘European’ brand at a time when Europe is deeply unpopular, she presents a different image of what the European Parliament is capable of doing. However, if she is the first of possibly more Green MPs, and there are more potential constituencies out there, then that becomes a game changer in British politics, it represents a new politics, one of possibilities not more of the same.

  10. I disagree with the notion that Caroline Lucas would be the most effective westminster MP. A good MP at westminster is a team member, using their influence among all their freinds and allies to try and get decisions and results that favour the constituency, as well as broader national policy. Charlotte Vere and Nancy Platts, and to a lesser degree Mirriam Bernadette, have a ready made set of friends and allys in their party, among whom they’ve already, no doubt, got friends, and where they will quickly make more.

    I do think though that Caroline in her role as Green party leader will have the most media access, which will no doubt be useful for the party, I’m dubious as to how much use it will be for the constituency.

    The whole situation does remind me a little of George Galloway and the Respect party in Bethnal and Bow Green: Party Leader goes to the most winnable seat in the country where they previously had no ties, and makes a large media storm about it. Have the residents of Bethnal and Bow Green benefited from having a strong independant voice in parliament, I’m not convinced. I do grant that it is not exactly the same in Brighton though as the Green’s have been building up support for a much longer time than respect did.

    As a disclaimer, I am a Labour PPC, so I could well be biased on this!

  11. Tim, unlike Gorgeous George, Caroline actually has long-held connections with her constituency.

    She’s worked hard for ten years for the city as a successful MEP – so your comparison with flash-in-the pan Galloway and Respect in Bethnal & Bow Green doesn’t hold.

    It’s natural for Labour supporting commentators on this excellent blog will try to downplay the significance of the first Green MP for Brighton people and the whole country.

    I think the record of the city’s three Labour MPs is interesting to this discussion re whether an Green MP or Labour MP can do more for the city.

    While all three current Labour MPs are hard working for individual constituents (as Caroline would be too) – in my view they’ve failed to get a better deal for Brighton on a whole range of issues notably on council grant funding (which includes cash for front-line social care and education services) where the city languishes on the grant floor.

    Instead, Brown is doling out tax payers’ cash to big northern cities.

    A Labour-led council up to 2007 didn’t change his or Blair’s mind nor did the city’s Labour MPs.

    Brighton, despite some diversification in its economy, is still lately composed of the public sector and leisure and tourist industry.

    The city seems more divided between rich and poor than it was when Labour took power.

    I’m not sure that backbench ‘influence’ with Government ministers counts for that much.

    I don’t think even if we had a front bencher MP to represent Brighton that would make much difference such is the dysfunctional nature of our highly centralised political system.

    Better, I feel, for the city to have the ‘limelight’ and campaign impact of a dynamic, independently-minded MP ….for such a dynamic, independently-minded city.

  12. Sorry but I cannot agree with anyone who regards Charlotte Vere as comparable to Caroline Lucas or Nancy Platts. Charlotte Smear’s campaign has been characterised by relentless mud slinging,particularly at Caroline Lucas and the Greens. I suspect she is far more right wing than she lets on and I for one do not want to be represented by her.

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