Labour’s nightmare choice in Brighton Pavilion – split the vote to keep the Greens out, or stop the Tories and see the end of Labour

On Sunday morning I blogged about the threat to Labour from a Green victory in Brighton Pavilion on Thursday.  There is joke doing the rounds that Labour supporters are being encouraged to vote tactically for the Tories to keep the Greens out!

It would be quite funny if there wasn’t some truth in it.  The consequences for Labour in Brighton and Hove of a win by Caroline Lucas would be catastrophic. It would be further compounded by Labour losses in Hove and, more so, in Brighton Kemptown. Such results would see the Green targeting Brighton and Hove City Council in the 2011 local elections.  What is more, they would stand a realistic chance of winning control.

Labour, on the other hand, would struggle to avoid a wipe-out on the scale seen in 1992, and it could end up with a shambolic rump of a Labour Group, similar to that of the Lib Dems locally.

A Tory victory in Brighton Pavilion would probably see David Cameron reach Downing Street. What a choice for Labour supporters. Split the anti-Tory vote to keep the Greens out, or vote Green and see Labour’s further decline in Brighton and Hove.

16 Responses

  1. This seems ludicrous – most Labour supporters I know would be delighted with a Green victory. I certainly would. Over the weeks and months I’ve agonized about which way to vote, but would be happy to see the Greens win. I’d vote for them myself but at the end of the day, after much deliberation, I’ve concluded that the best vote for me is the vote cast for the party with the best track record on combating poverty. As good as the Greens are, that party is Labour. But a Green win in Pavilion would be fine by me.

    • It’s always easy to overdo the death of political parties in a particular locality.

      What keeps parties locally going – in the sense of have some kind of local electoral presence – is their organisation.

      Political winds often change direction and even if parties suffer big setbacks, and others win success, if their organisation remains shipshape then they can expect a comeback.

      In Brighton, both Greens and Labour, unlike the micro-rump of LibDems, have very strong electoral machines, so I expect that either party would stand a good chance of winning Pavilion next time, even if they lose it this time.

      The problems come if activists flag in their motivation and the party machine breaks down.

      Then the scenarios BPB outlines are more likely to happen.

      The LibDems, interestingly, have been leafleting and canvassing in Pavilion – largely unheard of in recent years and which seems strange given their fourth place last time and other more fruitful seats nearby.

      Even with national Cleggmania, they stand absolutely no chance of winning in Brighton, so one wonders why they don’t focus on Hove?

      Perhaps it’s just to try to spike the Greens on the back of the Clegg frenzy – even though this phenomenon is not so apparent in Brighton?

      Very typical of the approach of local LibDems, if that’s the case 😉

      I guess why they have always peformed so poorly in the city.

      • Why are the Green Party accusing the Liberal Democrats of trying to spike the Greens in Pavilion?

        Don’t they believe that the people have a right to hear from a candidate that is standing in the election?

        I am quite frankly amazed at the cynicism of such an assertion.

        As a Pavilion resident for four years, I have received election leaflets from the Liberal Democrats at every set of elections, whether they be local, European or Parliamentary.

        Does democracy really scare them so much?

        Elections are the opportunity for the people to make a judgement on who they best wish to represent them, and it will be the people who will decide on May 6th.

  2. I think this nightmare scenario is possible – but far from certain at the moment. Labour is still doing well in Pavilion and has a realistic chance of winning. Realistic enough to make it important for every supporter to vote for them.

    If the scenario were to be played out as you suggest then I do think it illustrates why the Greens do not want to offer any support to Labour in Hove and Kemptown. They need Labour to be eliminated and humiliated, so that their chances of taking over in 2011 are raised.

    Such self indulgence may hand the country to David Cameron – but I don’t think the Greens will be too fussed about that – as long as they have their one seat. They’ll party all night while the people who depend on government services for their well-being face an uncertain future.

    • Oh dear dr Faust you really do not get the greens do you? You really should try thinking outside of the labour box sometimes. It is very liberating you know.

      • I think Dr Faust has hit the spot perfectly. The Greens are as self-obsessed as the Tories. One small “victory” for the Greens will contribute to the rest of us having to suffer longer term.

        Green supporters need to get over the spin that the party are putting out there and realise that Labour have as much chance (if not a better chance) as the Greens of winning the Pavilion seat. Nancy Platts is a far more impressive candidate than Caroline Lucas and has been far more visible locally.

      • Guy says the greens are ‘self obsessed’.

        They have targetted three seats in the whole country.

        Labour have had 13 years to change the voting system to a proportional one, which would mean we would probably never have to endure an unfettered Tory government again. But they didn’t as they wanted majority rule too,

      • Perhaps you can enlighten me then. What is your preferred outcome for the election? Would you prefer the Brighton seats to be 2 Labour and 1 Green, or 2 Tory and 1 Green? As for the overall outcome, is a Labour government, with Nancy winning in Pavilion, a better outcome for you than a Tory government with Caroline winning? Or what would your ideal outcome be?

    • Bonkers and somewhat paranoid – a bit like your leader!

      I promise you, humiliating Labour in the election is not our objective. We’ve reached this threshold after more than a decade of positive campaigning in Brighton.

      It’s ridiculous for Labour Party members to accuse us of being self-indulgent. Assuming we win in Pavilion on Thursday it will be because the public believe we have something more to offer than Labour. Simple as that.

      • A decade of positive campaigning? Really?

        Surely it would be better to have a positive record in Brighton?

        I have two green councillors in my ward – neither hold surgeries. Both seem too busy trying to get Caroline Lucas elected. Well I have news news for you, it will be the people who make that decision.

        Brighton is ranked 271 out of 394 in country for recycling. Hardly a record your 13 Green councillors can be proud of.

  3. It is well known that parties agonise over their position on the ballot paper, what with so many people making up their minds at the very last minute.

    How curious, then, that alphabetical chance means that the “other” parties are all above the fold on the Pavilion ballot paper, and the main ones below it.

    I should say that one does not have to read very far in the collected works of Dr Freud to infer from Labour’s behaviour over the posters and boards that it is not exuding any sense of quiet confidence. And people can readily pick up on that. Which is unfortunate for Nancy Platts because, in person, she appears equable. If she loses, she should not repine because she is sure to do well elsewhere, or in some sphere which draws on this tumultuous experience. And indeed “lose” is an unfortunate verb because the merry Hell of an Election campaign is something which few people go through. And England depends upon those willing to undertake these rollercoaster rides that makes the Palace Pier resemble a game of bowls in, er… Hove.

    As for Hove, this is surely now far from a bowls-fixated constituency. As Nick, er. Boles found. It has become very hard for anybody to “call” Hove. In walking around it, I should say that there are equal numbers of Tory and Labour posters, with a smattering of LibDem and a fair number of Green. How indicative this might be is far from scientific, if indeed polling is any science at all, but one might infer that the LibDem showing last time certainly owed something to Iraq; perhaps the fall in the Iraq question is balanced by the rise in the “Clegg effect” this time around, and the LibDem vote will remain around 9000, or edge upwards. But who knows?

    One should not overlook Brian Ralfe’s bring-the-troops-back stance: he has a more sombre expression on his posters this time. If the overall vote is tight, then a few hundred could make a difference. Rochdale has hogged the headlines, but perhaps some remember Gordon Brown’s unfortunate handwriting and Portsalde.

  4. No offence to Labour people, but Labour has no on but themselves to blame for defeat or for handing the country to the Tories.

    Labour has been in Government for 13 years. Whilst they have made some advances for progressive politics, they have also failed voters in many other respects. The poor Labour record is why they lost the council in 2007 and it is the reason why they could only muster 15% of the vote across Brighton and Hove at the European elections.

    A Tory victory will be of no fault to the Greens, it will be the fault of Labour and their death bed conversion to PR, to talking about new ‘green’ jobs (none have materialised) and trying to address the wealth gap. Under Labour the gap between rich and poor has increased since prior 1997.

    If voters turn their back on Labour, it will be of no fault of the Greens but the fault of 13 years of Labour and of Labour not going far enough.

    Labour fail.

  5. BPG

    I am very disappointed with your blog.

    I am primarily a supporter of democracy – your support for manipulation of the electoral system and voters to attain an unrepresentative result in the election is the source of my disappointment.

    I love having rational discussions with rational individuals – particularly if they disagree with me. But people who prostitute their democratic right to manipulate the system (rather than express their genuine preference) have nothing worthwhile to say.

  6. That’s why we need pr, so we can all vote for the party we support, and end these inevitable never ending debates.

    Zero action on electoral reform as promised in the 1997 Labour Party manifesto is one reason why I and many others finally left Labour.

  7. Steven Laing said:
    “Brighton is ranked 271 out of 394 in country for recycling. Hardly a record your 13 Green councillors can be proud of.”

    Steven, Labour ran this council for years followed by Tories now – shouldn’t they take the blame? I think my track record on highlighting the failures of their actions and strategies is very clear. See:

    We could be topping 80% plus on recycling & composting if there was a modicum of ambition amidst Labour & Tory councillors. Our current waste mix is 35% food, 10% garden and 37% recyclables (even under the existing limited scheme). I’ve not seen support from other parties for the budget amendments I proposed on food waste or garden waste schemes. So it’s not for lack of Greens trying on this issue.

    As Regency is the only ward with two Green councillors, I surmise you’re referring to Sven Rufus and I… We held surgeries for some time, advertised them widely but had very poor attendance. So I attend residents meetings, I deal with all my correspondence promptly and attend anyone’s home or business when they request a meeting. Nobody has complained to me about a lack of surgeries.

    Greens do have a positive record in Brighton & Hove. Since our first councillor was elected in 1996 we’ve only added councillors at each election. We’ve taken seats from all the other parties. We’ve done that within a system which favours the two main parties. Strangely enough, Labour had to do something similar 110 years ago.

    As others say, this situation is of Labour’s making. I’m not just talking about policy failures but their missed opportunity to introduce PR when they had a clear mandate and a manifesto commitment in 1997. The progressive majority in Britain would have been able to let their diversity of voices shine at elections without any fear of a right-wing minority winning government. Shame.

    • Blamong Labour is all very well, and they have not delivered a vote on PR. But the reality is that a right-wing minority may be returned – we are where we are with the system at the moment. A Tory government would snuff out any immediate chance of PR – so why not settle for one MP, which is all you are after, and encourage anti-Tory – i.e. Labour, voting in Kemptown and Hove. This would increase the chances of a minority government, and hasten the introduction of PR. There could even be another election within the year under new rules. Voting Green in Kemptown and Hove is a vote against such progress.

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