Being criticised for my constructive criticism of Green councillors in Brighton Pavilion

Local thespian, Ralph Brown, has taken issue with my blogging style.  In a Tweet earlier this evening Ralph twittered: “@BrightonPolitic I’m afraid your blog is losing it’s grip. Innaccurate, attention-seeking and shit-stirring speculation. Must do better”.  There’s nothing more satisfying than being recognised by one’s peers!

What Ralph has taken issue with is my criticism of local Green councillors. Ralph’s reaction was just what I was hoping to avoid.  It is fine to take issue with what I say, but he offers no evidence to support his view that what I have written is inaccurate.  In fact, I was quoting an assertion he had made about Brighton’s Open Market and Green councillor Keith Taylor’s failure to campaign to save it. 

“Attention-seeking and shit-stirring speculation”?  On the contrary, I have written from the perspective of supporting Caroline Lucas, the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion.  I have called for tactical voting by Labour and Lib Dems.  I did the same in the Goldsmid by-election that saw the election of energetic and impressive Green, Alex Phillips.  But a blog must be allowed to make constructive criticism, and I do so because, as I said earlier, Caroline’s campaign is being let down by Green councillors in certain Brighton Pavilion wards, and specifically in St Peter’s and North Laine ward.

A far more constructive criticism comes from Luke Walter.  I am happy to reproduce the full text of his comment, and would urge you to read his excellent blog:

“I think there’s strong evidence to suggest that the Greens message, particularly in this campaign, is reaching other parts of Brighton, beyond traditional Green areas.  You can read my analysis of the ward breakdown from December’s ICM poll here: Whilst the poll has it’s flaws, it suggests that the Greens are performing well in Patcham and Withdean (actually out-performing the Tories in Withdean). Whilst there is work to be done in Hollingbury and Stamner, and the Greens need to shore up the vote in Regency, the message is getting through. In Hollingbury and Stamner, the Greens need to continue to make the case to Labour-supporting residents that their best bet to beating the Tories is to vote Green, as this blog has advised and rightly so. There is no doubt that the Greens can get their literature through the letterbox faster than any other party, and can certainly rely on a kind of national support the Vere and Platts campaign could only dream of. They just need those extra voters to trust the Greens, which we hope they will.”

Thanks, Luke, very constructive.  And Ralph, I will try better!  But perhaps you could encourage those hardworking but bureaucratic Green councillors to get out campaigning for Caroline!

Green councillors may be hard working bureaucrats but they still lack the ability to campaign on local issues

Luke Walter, as always, puts up a spirited defence of Green councillors in a comment on my earlier post, 83 days to go, and Caroline Lucas continues to be let down by local Green Councillors.  He writes: “I would actually say that the Green councillors around St. Peter’s and North Laine, particularly Keith Taylor, is busy pounding doors almost every weekend, the rest of the time he’s pursing case work. Yes, perhaps they have missed one issue, but you have to remember, the local party is pretty stretched in regards to the campaign.”  He goes on: “I would say Green councillors work hard, one way or another, as the vast majority of councillors do.”

Allie Cannell also comments: “The Green Party makes it very clear that all green councillors have to do a lot of work as part of their role and are not allowed to just sit in the role, as some councillors do…..  They all meet up reguarily with the local party and have to report back on what they’ve been doing to make sure they are complying by these standards the green party demands!!!!”

I have no doubt that Green councillors and Keith Taylor in particular work hard as ward councillor (although I am not in a position to have any first hand knowledge of this).  What my observation is, and has always been, is that the Green councillors, particularly in a ward such as St Peters and North Laine, are poor campaigners.  They appear to have slipped into the habit of Labour councillors of being hard working, dedicated … bureaucrats!  To bring about change, it isn’t enough to be a hard working councillor, you have to campaign. 

On 3rd February, this blog referred to an earlier exchange with local thespian, Ralph Brown regarding the Open Market.  I had said that local Greens had much to learn about local campaigning.  Ralph accused me of being a Tory!  (I have hardly recovered from this slur but am making good progress, as I am sure Charlotte Vere will be pleased to note!).  Ralph said that Keith Taylor had been working on the regeneration of Brighton’s Open Market “for many years”, and that I should, in effect, ‘watch this space’.  I continue to watch and wait, and I all I observe is  further decline in the Open Market.  What Keith and many Green councillors lack is a grounding in grass routes campaigning, and so will lack that cutting edge required to win the Council in May 2011, and will undermine Caroline Lucas’ campaign in May 2010.

I have called on Labour and Lib Dem supporters to vote tactically for Caroline Lucas in May, and I would love to see a Green council elected in May 2011.  I am not a Green Party member, but I hope that supporters and members of that party will see my criticism of local Green councillors as constructive.  Unless the Greens learn to campaign, unless they broaden their support base beyond the Muesli Belt, and until they can understand and articulate issues from the perspective of ordinary people, they will remain a party with mere aspirations for office and may well lose the historic opportunity to demonstrate a new politics by forming an administration in Brighton and Hove.

83 days to go, and Caroline Lucas continues to be let down by local Green Councillors

There are just 83 days until the expected general election and the campaign in Brighton Pavilion is getting into full swing, whereas there is an eery silence in the campaigns in neighbouring constituencies.  It is as if candidates are too scared to do anything.

But in Brighton Pavilion all three candidates are ensuring that residents cannot forget the election, or them.

Today Nancy Platts has blitzed Regency Ward, and from those I saw out and about, all were local party members.  She has put out another of her questionnaire-type leaflets throughout the constituency (although it is a shame that the return address in the event of non-delivery is Northumberland!). Where Nancy excels is in her ability to react to local issues within a few days, even hours.  Her campaign to save the Preston Circus Fire Station is playing very well, and securing for her a very positive reaction. She has leapt on the plans to fell trees in Clyde Road, meeting with residents immediately that the plans were unveiled. And this in the heart of the ‘Green belt’.

Caroline Lucas, as a member of the European Parliament, and therefore often away from Brighton, needs others to help her maintain a local face, but she continues to be failed by Green members locally.  Apart from the likes of Bill Randall, Jason Kitcat, Ben Duncan and Alex Philips, local Green councillors, particularly those in St Peters and North Laine, are noticeable by their invisibility.  The plan to fell trees in a street such as Clyde Road should have been a campaigning gift for councillors for St Peters and North Laine, but as this blog has said on many occasions, many Green councillors lack the ability to campaign. A well-organised party would have had a leaflet out within 24 hours, in the name of Caroline Lucas and the local Green councillors.  (I offer this criticism as one who is calling for a tactical vote for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion.  Caroline Lucas is favourite to be elected, and if she is it will be in spite of the majority of Green councillors, not because of them!).

Charlotte Vere continues to be a one-woman tornado, sweeping her way around the constituency, tirelessly meeting meeting people and making a very favourable impression. When I met her recently, the impression I was left with is that she would make an excellent member of parliament, but what a shame about her Party.  (I say the same thing about Nancy Platts, great candidate, wrong party).  Charlotte is probably the most impressive of all three when relating to ordinary people, followed closely by Nancy.  She lets herself down by her constant digs at her opponents on her website.  She could learn from Caroline and Nancy who totally ignore, at least in public, the other candidates!

Even though she is the ‘superstar’ of the Green Party, Caroline’s ‘bed-side manner’ isn’t great, which is why she so needs her local councillors.  Yet she continues to be let down by them.  It is as if, apart from the tireless Alex Phillips, most Green councillors don’t want Caroline to win …..

Tactical Voting in Brighton Pavilion (for Lucas) and Brighton Kemptown (for the lesser of two feeble campaigns)

Caroline Lucas is consolidating her position in Brighton Pavilion. She has, as already stated in this blog, the Big Mo – Momentum.  Nancy Platts continues to run a high profile and energetic campaign, impressing all by her personal and political style.  Nevertheless, Caroline Lucas has the tide flowing with her, and the election remains hers to lose, although the Tory candidate, Charlotte Vere is getting herself known – and liked – and could yet pip Caroline at the post.  Therefore, with greater certainty, this blog continues to urge all Labour and Lib Dem supporters, who do not want to see a Tory MP in Brighton Pavilion, and who want to ensure that the Conservatives do not have a Commons majority, to vote for Caroline Lucas on May 6th.

The situation in Brighton Kemptown is becoming a fascinating campaign, not because any candidate is making a strike for victory, but because none are!  Simon Burgess, a decent man, not cut out for electoral politics, appears to have lost heart, demoralised from his defeat in the local elections almost 2 years ago.  Apart from the occasional foray into the media, he is largely a shadow of a candidate.  His website tends to focus on his activities in St James Street (largely irrelevant to the wider constituency albeit consisting of the most vocal of his patch – and the most fickle), and his activities within the Labour Party as Vice Chair of the National Policy Forum (certainly a turn off for the voters if ever there was one).  There are 89 days to go and he is yet to make his mark.

Ben Duncan on the other hand, has a much higher profile, seems to be everywhere, and is about to boost his campaign with the launch of a new campaign website.  His decision to take down his long standing blog has caused a number of the Blogerati to speculate that he has been ‘reigned in’.  If that is the case, that decision is foolish.  He is a lively, interesting, active candidate.  There are two things that cause this blog to hesitate suggesting tactical voting for him: first, he will struggle to connect beyond the Muesli Belt and, even more than Simon, tends to focus on the Queens Park area; and second, the Greens are probably not robbust enough to run two campaigns in neighbouring constituencies.  Their focus is on Brighton Pavilion where they almost certainly will pick up their first Westminster seat.  But in doing so they show a lack of ambition.  Or is it that nobody is allowed to challenge the great Caroline Lucas’ place in the spotlight ….?

As it stands, Simon Kirby is strolling into Parliament.  I don’t know which campaign is the less feeble campaign, that of Simon Burgess or Ben Duncan.  Which one is more ‘deserving’ of tactical votes? Perhaps you could post your views.

90 days to go until the General Election – Tactical Voting Campaign needed more than ever

If, as expected, the general election takes place on 6th May, there are just 90 days to go until polling day.  It has been said that a general election is decided by less than 100,000 voters, those ‘swing’ voters in key marginals whose votes decide which party gets a majority.  In some constituencies, like Arundel, a monkey with a blue rosette would gain a majority – and in the past it seems that this has happened!

But tactical voting can change that.  Perviously this blog has called for tactical voting in eight of the sixteen Sussex seats.  There is a danger that all sixteen seats could go Conservative, but with tactical voting Sussex could yet return eight non-Conservatives.

The key seats are: Lewes (Tactical vote for the Lib Dem Norman Baker); Eastbourne (again Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd); Hastings and Rye (Labour Michael Foster); Hove (Labour’s Celia Barlow); Brighton Kemptown (tight call between Labour’s Simon Burgess and the Green’s Ben Duncan); Brighton Pavilion (the Green’s Caroline Lucas); Crawley (Labour’s Laura Moffatt); and Worthing East and Shoreham (Labour’s Emily Benn).

This blog previously called for tactical voting in Worthing East and Shoreham for the Lib Dems, but such is the disorganisation and incompetence of that party in West Sussex that it has yet to select a candidate!  The website for the Worthing Lib Dems is one of the most inadequate websites I have ever seen.  The campaigns tag takes you to an empty page! It demonstrates that the Lib Dems cannot be taken seriously as the third party of British politics and should really stand aside in key seats such as Brighton Pavilion and Worthing East and Shoreham.  Therefore, this blog is changing its recommendation and is calling for tactical voting for Labour’s Emily Benn, granddaughter of Tony Benn and niece of Hilary Benn.  Alas, she does not share their politics.

By contrast, the website of the Lib Dem candidate in Worthing West and Arun, Hazel Thorpe, is lively and impressive.  Unfortunately, Hazel (who I personally admire) has little chance of success but nevertheless, this blog urges all Labour and Green supporters to vote tactically for Hazel Thorpe.

My next blog will review the two Brighton seats.

Why Rio Ferdinand is morally superior to John Terry

Fabio Capello has sacked John Terry as England captain because, so it seems, he has cheated on his England team mate, Wayne Bridge. Fortunately, the new captain, Rio Ferdinand, has a clean record as far as the dressing room is concerned.

It seems not to matter that Fredinand was banned for a year for drink driving, featured in a home made sex video with team mates Kieron Dyer and Frank Lampard, was banned from football for eight months for missing a drugs test (he forgot as he had “gone shopping”, apologised to gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for calling Chris Moyles a ‘fagot’ on air, and was the organiser of a Manchester United Christmas Party that ended with allegations of rape and sexual harassment against another player (who was later cleared).

But at least he didn’t do the dirty on an England team mate. Rio is the man charged to lead England  in the World Cup and to be a role model for millions of young boys and men.  Women across the nation must be so relieved.

Labour claiming government spending is Party spending

In a Tweet a few minutes ago, @brightonhovelabour claimed that “Labour provide free internet and laptops to #brighton families with children who get free school meals”.

This is in effect Labour claiming government spending to be Party spending

The local Labour Party must immediately apologise for this claim and withdraw the Tweet.  It is not Labour that is providing the laptops.  It is the tax payer. The Government is not the private preserve of the Labour Party.  Yes, there is a Labour government, and yes it is a Labour policy, and good policy at that. 

 But the Labour Party should never be arrogant enough to claim that government expenditure equates to the Labour Party itself doing something.

Signed: Outraged from Brighton

Brighton Politics Blogger hitting an all time low

“Ad hoc, ad loc, et quid pro quo, so little time, so much to know”

Thus spoke the Nowhere Man, that odd little creature in the Beatles film, Yellow Submarine. Today there is so little time and so much to comment on.So I will be brief:

John Terry: Lay off him won’t. He may be an overpaid, self-indulgent individual, but unlike other Premier Division footballers he hasn’t been accused of forcing himself on women, rape, or beating up his partner. Enough, I say.

Ivor Caplin: Former Labour MP for Hove. Having to repay £17k in the Expenses scandall for refusing to respond to questions on his expenses. This on’t hlp Celi Barlow trying to defend her seat.

David Cameron: Making a fool of himself in an interview with the wonderful Johann Hari in today’s Independent. He denied voting against gay marriage, saying he defied the whip, and even when referred to the Hansard record of his vote, he repeated that “his memory” is that he abstained.

Katie Price: Getting married again. I wasn’t invited but as Liza Minnelli said to her mother, Judy Garland, when saying she couldn’t make her sixth wedding, “I promise to come to the next one”.

David Cameron (again): For having George Osborne as his Shadow Chancellor.

Nicholas Soames: For playing the immigration card – he has just realised there is a general election looming.

Brighton Politics Blogger: Shame for bringing blogging to a new low!

The election of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion will see Keith Taylor become an MEP

Thanks to Gary Dunion, a Green Party activist in Perth, Scotland, (follow him on Twitter @garydunion) for alerting me to today’s breaking news regarding the appointment of Brighton Green councillors, Rachel Fryer and Keith Taylor, as the Gren Party’s spokespersons on Education and on Planning and Regeneration, respectively.  Congratulations to both.

I was reminded of an exchang I had with local thespian, Ralph Brown (@ralphwjbrown) regarding the Open Market.  I said that local Greens had much to learn about local campaigning.  Ralph accused me of being a Tory! He said that Keith Taylor had been working on the regeneration of the Open Market for many years,and that I should, in effect, ‘watch this space’.

Well I’ve watched and waited, and I have observed a further decline in the Open Market, including the closure of the most prominent stall run by Council Leader, Mary Mears.

Given Councillor Taylor’s ‘success’ in the regeneration of the Open Market, I am glad that the election of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion will not see, nice guy that he is, Keith gaining any additional authority for planning and regeneration. What it will mean is that Keith will succeed Caroline as a Member of the European Parliament!

Marina Pepper: Latest on Brighton Pavilion

Marina Pepper has responded on Twitter to rumours that she might become the Lib Dem candidate for Brighton Pavilion.  She said: “Rumours flying around that I’m about to stand for Parliament in Pavilion. Lots of old buffers blogging their opinions on my chances. LOL”.

This old buffer did say she didn’t have a chance of success. But she didn’t say she wouldn’t stand – as a Lib Dem or for someone else.

In fact the Lib Dems have a candidate but they seem to have kept it a secret.  The candidate is Bernadette Millam.  She is listed on the excellent UK Polling Report site, but little, if anything, is known about her.

It is clear that the Lib Dems are not taking the seat seriously.  Why don’t they just nt stand so that Lib Dems can simply vote for Caroline Lucas.