There are five nominees for the Brighton and Hove Politician of the Year: Juliet Williams (Lib Dem), Paul Perrin (UKIP), Mike Weatherley (Conservative), Nancy Platts (Labour), and Caroline Lucas (Green).
And the winner is Caroline Lucas. Her election in May, the only non-Conservative in Sussex and the first ever Green Member of Parliament, came after the liveliest, most keenly fought election campaign in living memory (for that credit should be shared with Nancy Platts and Chuck Vere). But Caroline’s achievement was extraordinary, locally and nationally.
The award is for more than the election victory itself. It is also for how she has conducted herself since May, her energy and determination as a local MP. She is almost the only politician who has provided any opposition to the ConDem Coalition, and thereby encouraged those who are opposing the cuts and who are being impacted by them.
Her victory shows that there is an alternative to Labour and the Tories. It poses the biggest challenge to Labour for a generation. There is no Labour politician locally who matches Ms Lucas in terms of competence and reputation. For traditional Labour voters, Caroline Lucas provided a viable and attractive alternative, allowing them to cast an anti-Tory vote without fearing that their vote would be wasted. There were those in Brighton Pavilion who stuck with Labour for just that reason, fearing that a Green vote would split the anti-Tory vote and allow Chuck Vere to be elected. Next time they will have no such dilemma and Caroline Lucas will be returned with a significantly increased majority.
The challenge for the Greens is whether they can convert the goodwill and enthusiasm resulting from Caroline Lucas’s election into electoral success in May’s local elections. There is no reason why they should not be able to do so other than the Green’s poor organisation in their target wards. It takes more than energetic candidates to win elections; it requires the organisation and mobilisation that Caroline Lucas was able to achieve. Can the Greens do it again? I am not yet sure.
Filed under: Council Elections 2011, General Election 2010, Politics, tactical voting | Tagged: Brighton, Caroline Lucas, Charlotte Vere, Greens, Hove, Juliet Williams, Lib Dems, Mike Weatherley, Nancy Platts, Paul Perrin, Pavilion, UKIP | 15 Comments »