Where will Lib Dem votes go in Brighton and Hove?

As the Lib Dems drop into single figures in more and more opinion polls, the big question is “Where will Lib Dem votes go in Brighton and Hove?”.  It is true to say that there are not that many in the first place, but their distribution could make all the difference in certain key seats.  Experience on the doorstep throughout the city, reported by Green and Labour activists alike, is that former Lib Dem voters are not keen to be reminded of their Lib Dem past.

Nationally, it is said that Nick Clegg is giving the veil of respectability to David Cameron, and Simon Hughes continues to give the veil of respectability to Nick Clegg.  No such problem locally.  There may, ironically, be a chance that the Lib Dem vote won’t drop too badly throughout the City, not because the vote is holding firm, but it could become the ‘conscience’ vote for Tories who know that a Lib Dem vote will not hurt their first choice, the Tories, as much as a vote for Labour or Green. 

But traditional Lib Dem voters continue to desert that party in droves.  In a comment in response to an earlier post on this blog, ‘Clive’ says: “My membership card went into the shredder several months ago and I will not be voting for the party”.  He warns activists not to underestimate the Liberal tradition: “The Welfare State and old age pensions were essentially Liberal creations for a start. More recently the Liberals/Lib Dems has promoted advanced positions – way ahead of public opinion – on matters such as gay rights and abortion”.  One challenge for Labour and the Greens is to articulate a vision equal to that of the Welfare State for the 21st century.

I suspect that Labour will not benefit as much as the Greens from former Lib Dem votes this time round since Labour comes across locally as still being bitter about their humiliations at the last general and local elections.  The Greens, on the other hand, come across as positive and bright.  That perception is not altogether fair.  Labour has a number of bright and enthusiastic young activists and candidates, not least Tom French, standing in Queen’s Park, and Dan Wilson in Regency.

I expect the Tory vote to slump in Brunswick and Adelaide, with Tories shifting their support (as the did in Oldham and Saddleworth) to the Lib Dems.  Paul Elgood is active and has a personal vote.  That may yet save him, but at least one seat will go to the Greens.  Labour doesn’t stand a chance in Brunswick and Adelaide.  To change that position the Party has to select candidates, not just in B&A but, so I am advised, in three other Hove seats.  Doesn’t that say it all about the state of Labour?

3 Responses

  1. I should not underestimate Paul Elgood in his Brunswick territory, although I do wonder where David Watkins will put his X on the ballot form. But I do not see how the Conservative vote can “collapse” there. It did so four years ago, when, despite a long campaign, they only got a few hundred votes: considerably fewer than the Greens, who did not push it. And a waste of time for Labour to attempt anything much there. But it is evidently a swing state.
    Elgood could, just, keep his seat.

    Elsewhere, the one-time LibDem votes, even if just a few hundred, could go elsewhere, and make a difference.

    Wish ward is particularly interesting. It was Labour…. And South Portslade has been volatile, and the LibDems did well there in the General Election. Tho’ I reckon that Labour would get back a seat there and in the North section.

    As I have said before, I do not think that this Election will follow any party’s predictions. The shifting populations are the real subject. The old demarcations have gone.

    For example, look at Hangleton. It is not the place it was four years ago. If votes go elsewhere, then the Tories could lose a seat.

    The electorate is in a feisty mood.

    But I am not going to give my ultimate predictions as the BPB seems to regard my take on Rottingdean Coastal as off-beam. But of course, the pavement is more accurate a gauge than the bar-stool.

  2. It seems quite complex to me out there from Liberals. I detect some embarrassment from people who voted LD at the GE but no massive uniform switch.

    One comment struck me from one such voter yesterday who said that if they were going to vote Green, they would have done it in May when the Greens were campaigning hard. Since they had not heard from the Greens since, she said she was open to persuasion. Labour will have to work hard to win these affluent LDs. Probably harder than the Greens.

  3. As one of the Conservative candidates for Brunswick and Adelaide ward our doorstep reaction so far has been extremely positive. The electorate would seem to be in the mood for change and to have councillors who work for a living rather than turning their councillorship into the business to pay the bills.

    I and my co candidate Richard Latham look forward to what I am sure will be a hard contested election.

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