Labour in Brighton: no vision, little leadership, few prospects for success in May

Ed Miliband was in Hove yesterday.  It is said that his secret appearance before a carefully invited group of ‘local residents’ was part of Labour’s campaign for this May’s local elections.  He is touring the country in a series of events aimed at understanding what voters want as part of a comprehensive policy review.

At the meeting he said that he understood that people felt that Labour hadn’t represented the needs of people in the last stages of the Labour government.  Actually, Mr Miliband, it was more than that.  It was Iraq, tuition fees, Labour’s unethical foreign policy, the third runway at Heathrow, to mention just a few.  All Ed Miliband is offering is a poor impression of a Labour Leader.  He is doing quite well at Prime Minister’s Questions, but he needs to offer a vision.

And the problem for Labour in Brighton and Hove is just the same.  Labour ended as a very unpopular administration, and saw the decapitation of its leadership at the last local elections (Simon Burgess, Ken Bodfish, Sue John, Delia Forrester).  Moving into the vacuum was Gill Mitchell, very pleasant but hardly dynamic.  Against Labour is a confident, ambitious Green Party to whom Labour has haemorrhaged support.  And in Mary Mears, the Conservatives have a confident, working class leader who is more able to connect with ordinary people that anyone Labour can field.

Since the late 1980’s, and from 1997 in particular, Labour had become the ruling party in the City, controlling the Council and with all three Members of Parliament.  Today they are nowhere, no MP’s, little leadership, fewer prospects.

Where is Labour’s vision for the City?  What is the Party putting forward to inspire the electorate and to regain those votes lost to the Greens?  The best Labour activists come up with is to attack the Greens.  Continue to do that and Labour deserves to experience more pain in the polls in May.

6 Responses

  1. Written like a true Green – many of the phrases are lifted straight from their leaflets.

    See here
    for the kind of dynamic candidates and campaigns Labour is running in the city, whether to fight Tory cuts to school sports or nursery provision.

    The Greens – many of whom I do respect – are tired, with up to half their councillors not seeking re-election, and the Tories have let the city drift and stagnate.

    Look at what was achieved under Labour – regeneration of the seafront, the new Jubilee library, a new stadium for the Albion, SureStart childrens centres and more. What can the Tories say they have delivered? A bandstand that cost a million pounds of taxpayers money, when lottery cash was available.

    The Tories are hiding their cuts till after May, trying to buy off the electorate with a council tax freeze. The Greens are trying to convince voters that somehow they will be able to ignore the 30m cuts imposed on the city council by the Tory govt.

    Labour’s manifesto will have realistic solutions to the issues facing the city, aimed at helping the “ordinary people” Mary Mears seeks to fool. Labour will get the city’s economy moving again.

    We have hundreds of new members and activists in the city, and I was at a packed meeting this week with fellow councillors and candidates who are already out campaigning to win on May 5th, where they are finding plenty of people returning to Labour from the Greens and Lib Dems.

    Labour is gaining council seats across the country week after week on swings of 10 to 25%, including in Cornwall and Cameron’s Witney constituency, and in two polls this week were 6 or 7% ahead. Are you really saying Labour in Brighton and Hove is going to buck that trend?

  2. The Greens will have to try to do better here than they did in the Oldham by-election or last year’s London elections, where they were totally wiped out.

    The Labour vote is very very high at the moment and the Greens will suffer from this, and not win wards such as Queens Park, Preston Park, Hollingbury or Goldsmith as a result. Likewise the Tories will drop seats in Portslade, Bevendean and Hangleton.

    • Erm, well, the Greens have already done rather considerably better in Brighton than they have in Oldham, London, etc. You can’t deny that.

      It’s Goldsmid, not Goldsmith, after Sir Isaac (1778-1859).

      What worries me, as an anti-Tory, is that looking at last time’s figures they are unlikely to lose more than 4 seats (2 in Portslade, 1 in Moulescoomb and 1 in Goldsmid). The byelection loss in Goldsmid I am assuming is cancelled out by the Stanford independent returning to the blue fold.

      So they are going to end up as the biggest party again, and if the Greens and Labour can’t come to some arrangement, will be back in again.

      Or am I being unduly pessimistic?

      • There are other seats that the Tories could lose.

        Including Rottingdean Coastal.

  3. What Warren neglects to say is that, unlike in Oldham and London, the Greens have had a presence in Brighton since 1996 (breaking through onto the Council at the height of Labour’s popularity).

    Since then, the Greens have atleast doubled their number of councillors at each election. In Pavilion, the vote has increased to such a level as to return the first Green MP for Parliament.

    Labour is running scared. As BPB has pointed out, Labour have no other choice but to attack the Greens.

    Just yesterday, a Hollingdean and Stanmer councillor launched a tirade of abuse at Green activists in the ward. I would find it incredibly difficult to ever work with this councillor.

    In H&S, Green campaigners have been working alongside Connexions staff and users to save the centre in the Dip.

    We’ve led a deputation at full council hailing the benefits of Connexions and was congratulated by a Labour councillor in the process.

    It was unfortunate that at the same meeting Labour councillors refused to back Green ammendments to ensure that changes to Connexions could not take place without the full consultation of staff and users.

    This is how we’ve secured the reprieve for Bright Start where the final decision won’t be made until after the May elections, where we could have a change of administration.

    • Christopher: I think you’re being over-optimistic.
      Rottingdean Coastal- the lowest of the three tories, one Mary Bridget Mears, polled 2679 votes. The nearest challenger, a Green, polled 932.

      You do get quite big swings in local elections sometimes, but even so, I’ll stick my neck out – Tory hold. Especially if the opposition parties continue to kick lumps out of each other.

      The blogger is right that Labour need to stress positive reasons to vote for them, and not revert to the ‘they can’t win here’ line. It won’t wash anymore.

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