Are the Greens squeezing Labour and can Labour sqeeze the Tories in Brighton and Hove?

There continues to be a great debate in the comments section of this blog, showing the interest in May’s local elections.  I think Steampunk is quite right when he says that there is a unique political climate in Brighton.  Brighton and Hove can only be judged by Brighton and Hove standards.  It might even be more acurate to exclude Hove, actually!  The jury is still out whether the Greens will build on their single seat in Hove won by Alex Phillips in the Goldsmid by-election.  I suspect they will end with at least four seats, all three in Goldsmid and one (hopefully two) in Brunswick and Adelaide.

HP is wrong to dismiss the ‘Caroline effect’ as Luke Walter describes it.  The Caroline effect is a local phenomenon, and Labour activists are deluding themselves if they deny it.  Caroline Lucas has become a figure of hate for the hardcore band of Labour activists who see her as a greater enemy than the Tories.

Caroline Lucas has the effect of galvanising support for the anti-cuts movement.  Non-alligned, even many Labour suporters, are delighted that there is a Member of Parliament locally who is providing leadership against the cuts.

Compared to Ed Miliband, she at least is arguing consistently against the severity of the cuts, whereas Miliband is struggling by the idiotic ‘blank sheet of paper’ for the next 2 years.

Yes, there will be those who voted Green at the general election who will return to Labour in these local elections.  Depending on the candidates for whom I might vote, I could be one of them.  There are many, like me, who may split their votes, where there is a chance of electing a Green for the first time but not wishing to commit all support to the Greens for fear of electing Tories.  Having said that, Labour have shouted ‘wolf’ too often and frankly many people don’t believe them anymore having been warned that it was Labour or the Tories in Brighton Pavilion, and then seeing Lucas elected.

What is most likely is that more Labour supporters (and some Labour members) disillusioned by the Party locally and yet to be inspired by Miliband, will lend their votes to the Greens as often happens in local and European elections. 

That is why I remain of the opinion that Labour will lose out to the Greens in central Brighton and Hove, and possibly in the ‘northern’ wards, as Luke calls them.  What I hope for is that Labour, in traditional Labour / Tory areas (mainly in west Hove and Portslade), will pick up seats, but they must not underestimatethe effort the Tories are putting into these areas.

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4 Responses

  1. I agree with BPB

  2. I think the ‘Caroline Effect ‘ is one of the hardest elements in all this to quantify. What political activists view as her influence, positive or otherwise, is not necessarily how the majority of the voters see it. She certainly gave the Green Party locally a boost, but that has not translated across the country, e.g. in Norwich, an area of strong Geeen support, but they failed to take the Council, even after the GE.

    A couple of thoughts:

    Should Labour and the Greens actively work together with a view to sharing power?

    Is this a good election to lose – as long as you don’t lose too badly?

    • What do you mean by “a good election to lose”?

      One in which it would be easier to duck out of trying to remedy the situation that the Coalition is imposing upon Brighton and Hove?

      That is not an atttitude for which voters would have any respect. They take more of a long view than pundits believe.

      Very interesting times, many moves on the chess board.

      • The ability of any party, including then Tories, to make a significant difference in the present climate is very limited. Labour and the Greens will be implementing significant cuts if they win – rightly blaming the Government – but having to do it all the same. I don’t expect anyone is going to stand on a platform of raising Council Tax significantly to defend services. Labour certainly won’t.

        Labour could look at the 1992 general election as a good election to have lost – with the longer term benefit – for good or ill – of a long period of government to follow. The time gave them the ability to make themselves more electable, and for the Tories to implode.

        Of course every party has to believe that they can win, that they will make a difference, and campaign for every vote. What is a good election to lose is largely a question for hindsight – but I think this may be a case in point.

        In terms of parties working together it may also be a good time to tie yourself to someone else to share ther blame – as Cameron is so effectively doing to the Lib dems.

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