Why the Greens are likely to get the better of Labour in May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove

I’m always amused by the reaction some of my posts receive.  If I criticise the Greens, I can anticipate righteous indignation from Green activists from far and wide. If, as I did yesterday, criticise Labour (on this occasion for lacking a vision for Brighton) I am accused of being a Green supporter.

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know I dish it out to both Labour and the Greens.  I accept that it is not necessarily in equal measure, and that I have been more critical of Labour than the Greens.  I do this because I think Labour deserves it more. But that doesn’t make me a Green.  I hope that I might be seen as a critical friend of both Labour and the Greens.

Many in Brighton and Hove who see themselves as being on the left of British politics, are in a privileged position of having choice when casting their vote.  In many parts of the City a Green vote is certainly not a wasted vote.  Neither is a Labour vote.  Labour activists are mistaken to point to Oldham East and Saddleworth as evidence of the Greens in decline.  They are equally wrong to say that the result across the City last May point to Labour coming fourth and therefore Labour is the challenger to the Tories in May.  In Brighton Kemptown and Hove, many Green supporters will have voted Labour (as I encouraged in this blog).  In local elections voters are more willing to vote for less traditional parties, such as the Greens.

In Brighton Pavilion, voters will have far greater confidence to vote Green given the result last May.  Labour did some damage to itself by saying that Caroline Lucas had no chance of winning.  Voters will be less inclined to believe scare tactics in future.

When I criticise Labour it is not because I am anti-Labour or pro-Green.  I offer constructive criticism.  Labour needs to articulate a vision for the City so that a floating voter of the left, like me, can decide how to vote.  I will cast my votes based on three considerations:

1. Which of Labour or the Greens is articulating the better vision for the City, and which party’s policies do I prefer. (In this regard, the Greens are winning.  Labour must get its act together to make the choice a bit tougher)

2. Which candidates (there will be two or three fielded by each party in each ward) are most likely to beat the Tories.  Both Labour and Greens should take care not to make unfounded claims (see my blog Labour more guilty than the Greens of misleading the voters of Brighton Pavilion of 9th May 2010).

3. How impressive the individual candidates are (rather there are certain individuals I would be reluctant to vote for as I wouldn’t want to see them elected as a councillor).

In some seats voters will have a proper choice between Labour and the Greens (Goldsmid, Preston Park, Queen’s Park, Hollingdean and Stanmer, possibly Regency although Jason Kitcat will poll very well). As things stand, the Greens don’t have the edge, they have a sizeable gap.  I’m not sure whether Labour is capable of bridging that gap at present.

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4 Responses

  1. I think “They are equally wrong to say that the result across the City last May point to Labour coming fourth” should read “They are equally wrong to say that the result across the City last May points to the Greens coming fourth”.

  2. I must say I’d feel much happier if both Labour and Greens were dishing it out more forcefully to the Tories and Liberals rather than concentrating so much on each other.

    • Yet you’ve chosen yourself to stand in Regency? And Tom French is standing in Queens Park?

      Seems to me Labour is more interested in trying to wrestle seats back from the Greens than the Tories.

      The consensus is that you lost all three parliamentary seats in the city last year by concentrating your efforts on the fight in Pavilion to try and stop Caroline Lucas, are you about to repeat the same mistake?

      • Good point steampunk

        Labour could instead be going for places that have relatively big Lib Dem votes that, combined with the Labour vote, would take the Tory seats. e.g. Central Hove, and obviously Brunswick and Adelade. And I hope they are campaigning very hard in Portslade.

        The tories could lose quite a lot of councillors in this election i think. They shouldn’t be complacent either.

        Its not as though Labour have any MP seats to secure at this election like the Greens in Pavilion.

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