Queens Park: One of three key seats that will decide the Council in May 2011

Queens Park provided a complete body blow to Labour at the last local elections when three of its most senior members were beaten by the Greens.  Green Rachel Fryer topped the poll with a massive 1,826 votes, followed by Paul Steedman (1,549) and Ben Duncan (1,473).  The top Labour candidate was Delia Forrester just 15 votes behind Ben Duncan on 1,458 votes.  Former leader of the Council, Ken Bodfish was fifth (1,455) and the then Leader of the Council and Labour’s prospective candidate in Brighton Kemp Town, Simon Burgess (1,418).  The introduction of the School Place Lottery cost Labour dear.  The nice folk on East and West Drive didn’t want their darlings mixing with the ruffians from the Council estates.

This result was the low point for Labour at this election, and symbolised the unpopularity of the Labour Council.  The Greens had hoped to win one of the three seats, but won all three.  The three new councillors have worked very hard, are widely respected, and would expect to win all three again next May.  But there is a potential problem.  At one point it looked as though all three would be standing down in May, but they are reconsidering their positions.  Ben Duncan is definitely standing. He is probably the most high profile of the three, although both Rachel and Paul are highly respected within the ward and beyond.  I personally hope that at least one, if not both, will be on the ballot paper with Ben in May.

The Greens must hold all three seats in Queens Park if they are to become the largest party on the Council.  Even if Rachel and Paul don’t stand, the reputation of the Green Party in this ward should see them home.

For Labour, the three young men selected (Dan Chapman, Chris Cook and Tom French) will no doubt put in a strong performance, but their appeal will be limited. All three would hope to poll well in the gay community, but  Ben Duncan has a strong track record on campaigning on LGBT issues in the ward and beyond.  The Queens Park mafia broke the local party, and there is little enthusiasm or campaigning experience within the local Labour Party.  The unpopularity of Bodfish Forrester and Burgess might continue to be reflected in May’s poll.

Queens Park will be one of the key seats in May, and the result here will provide an indication whether Labour has turned the corner or whether its decline is still terminal.

I would like to see the Greens become the largest Party, not because I am a Green but because I think the Greens have the most energy and ideas locally.  Labour has had its opportunity and don’t deserve to get back in, not yet, anyway.

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10 Responses

  1. Why is sexuality even a point worthy of note In this blog post?

  2. The Greens underestimate Labour’s team at their peril. Chris Cooke has a very high profile in the community, Tom French proved himself one of the ablest campaigners of any party in the St Peter’s by-election in July, and Dan Chapman was the campaign organiser for Simon Burgess, whose result in May saw the Green vote seriously squeezed particularly in Queens Park, and the Tory swing kept well below the national average. It’s a concern that you think their appeal will be solely with the LGBT community because they are gay (Greens criticised Labour for having no LGBT candidates in 2007 – at least 5 in winnable wards are this time.) Dan and Tom have the energy you say Labour lacks and the Greens have – and there are plenty more like them.

    With all due respect to Ben, Rachel and Paul, the comments I hear as a resident and at community meetings that overlap my ward do not bear out your view that they are thought effective.

    Two of the Queens Park candidates flanked Ed Miliband when he spoke yesterday – his appeal may well tempt many away from the Greens here and citywide next May.

  3. Warren, atleast provide examples rather than rumour and hearsay.

    It was my understanding that Labour members across Brighton and Hove favoured the elder Miliband, not the younger. Even young Tom changed his mind after initially backing Miliband junior.

    If I was you, I wouldn’t pin my hopes of a Labour revival on Ed Miliband.

    • OK, I will – residnets from Bakers Bottom said they don’t hear from their cllrs or get a response when they contact them.

      Residents in another similar ward were saying at the weekend that they voted Green in the local elections but would back Labour now that Ed Miliband was Leader and the Party had moved on.

      If Labour is still polling around 40% next May that will inevitably make it harder for the Greens to hold/win seats than in 2007 when Labour was in government and polling much lower. (32 or 33% in May 2007 acording to Populus and YouGov.)

  4. I don’t understand the point about the introduction of the new Schools Admissions system. The new system benefited the Queens Park area rather than being to its detriment., Previously Queens Park children had little or no chance of attended the better performing schools (Dorothy Stringer/Varndean) and now they are guaranteed places there. In fact it’s an open secret that the new system was put in place by Labour to try and secure the seats in the key Queens Park marginal. That’s why it was such a crushing blow for Labour. Now the Schools Admissions issue has largely been forgotten I fully expect the Greens to increase their margin of victory in this ward.

    • The point about the admissions is that the Green Party had an opportunity to do something principled about it – by agreeing to extend the Falmer catchment into part of Queen’s Park, but refused to do so for fear of electoral loss, and nobbled Richard Mallander off the Committee when it looked like he might do the right thing. Labour’s position was no more principled, but the Green Party fully supported it for the very same cynical reasons. It did ‘benefit’ the children of Queen’s Park, but only at the price of trampling on the opportunities of the children down the road.

  5. Is this the same Warren, as Warren Morgan? He who famously had a banner Argus headline saying you couldn’t find a Cllr in East Brighton for toffee? The MP had to get involved to get him to turn up to community meetings.

    Talking about Green Councillors not turning up is a bit rich.

    • Indeed it is MJ, and yes, I was the subject of that headline back in 2003 when first elected and still working full time. A resident was unhappy I was not attending the Whitehawk Crime Prevention Forum. The MP didn’t intervene.

      I quit my job, have chaired the Forum for the past six years, and the resident who complained now delivers leaflets for me and helped get me re-elected in 2007.

  6. @greenhollingdean – from where I sat in the relevant CLP meeting the diversity of opinion over the leadership election was such that we made no endorsement of any candidate, so your understanding is incorrect.

  7. […] going in each ward, the key wards between Labour and the Greens being Regency, Preston Park, and Queen’s Park.  The Greens are optimistic about Hollingdean and Stanmer, although I think that it might win one, […]

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