Doorstep Brighton 4: post office closures and saving the number 81 bus

Yesterday I bogged about how Labour candidates Jeane Lepper, Tom French and Melanie Davis almost had a good bit of publicity when photographed with Sally Gunnell in the Argus.

I forgot to mention a real coup by the Greens regarding the threat to close the Post Office in the London Road Co-op.  Defending post offices from closure is a big winner.  The Green councillors were pictured in the Argus last week launching their petition against the closure.  But a source tells me that, in spite of having a high profile launch, the Greens lack the presence in St Peters and North Laine to maintain a regular presence collecting signatures at the Co-op.  Surely there is an opening for Labour activists.

Labour candidates in East Brighton, Gill Mitchell, Warren Morgan, and Craig Turton are doing well in their campaign to protect the number 37 bus.  I heard a rumour that, every time he stood for election in Hanover, Labour veteran Brian Fitch would run a campaign to save the number 81, and every time he was successful.  Legend has it that the number 81 was never under threat.  I’m not sure whether the story is true.  The sad reality today is that you don’t have to make up stories of cuts.  They are all too real.

And now an unholy spat is developing between Labour candidates in Queen’s Park and their Tory and Green opponents.  Tom French is campaigning to save the …. number 81 bus!  The spirit of Brian Fitch lives on (as does Brian Fitch himself!).  Tom French has been criticised by his opponents threat.  Who knows what the truth is? 

Last night I read an interview with the entire Lib Dem group on the City Council, also known as councillor Paul Elgood.  Rumour has it that I not a great fan of the Lib Dems.  Truth be told, I like the Lib Dems a little less than root canal treatment.  This interview, which you can read in the Brighton Free Press, must be one of the shallowest interviews I have ever read.  It reminded me of the questioning by the BBC of the Prime Minister in the 1950’s which had questions like “Sir, would you like to share with the viewers some more of your successes at the conference?”.  Come on, Brighton Free Press, you can do better than that.

14 Responses

  1. Paul Elgood is probably the shallowest, most vacuous person I have ever had the misfortune to work with. I shall not miss him when he is forced to find something else to do after the May elections.

    • Hmm. Here are some voting figures for Hove and Portslade:

      2001: Harold da Souza (Lib Dem) 3823 (9.1%)
      2005: Paul Elgood (Lib Dem) 8002 (17.9%)
      2010: Paul Elgood (Lib Dem) 11240 (22.6%)

      Nationally the Lib Dem vote has also gone up, of course (until now, ha ha) but not by that much. Clearly PE must have been doing something right.

      Re ‘shallow and vacuous’, I’ve also got to ask, have you ever met any of B&H’s current Tory leadership?

      • No comment! 🙂

        Re: election results, surely it’s the ward results we are interested in.

        In 2007, Mr Elgood won a measly 942 of over 4,000 votes. David Watkins, now standing against him, had only 200 fewer and two Green candidates had between 400 and 500 votes. That was 4 years ago – before the march of the Greens and before the slump in popularity nationally of the Lib Dems in opinion polls.

        Add to this that Mr Elgood’s popularity is seemingly on the wane – in 2003, he polled 1,222 votes with no-one else except Mr Watkins polling even half that number – and he certainly has a fight on his hands.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Taggart, BrightonPoliticsBlog. BrightonPoliticsBlog said: Doorstep Brighton 4: post office closures and saving the number 81 bus #doorstepbrighton #bh11 […]

  3. Thanks for the kind words re the number 37 bus campaign – a vital service for those on the Bristol Estate who are elderly, have young kids or have mobility problems. Is the Fitch story true? Possibly 🙂

  4. Will there be a campaign to save the 5 buses? Word is that Brian Fitch is returning to Hangleton… which should bring altercations, of one sort or another, with Dawn Barnett and provide the public entertainment which the area otherwise lacks.

  5. The Brighton and Hove Free Press (which is an offshoot of the Friday Ad, by the way, not the socialist grassroots project it purports to be) is an odd concoction. As far as I can see, it mainly rips its other stories from The Argus and Brighton and Hove News, with a smattering of unquestioned press releases added into the mix.

    This interview is one of the few original pieces of writing, so it’s a shame it’s clearly just a response to an emailed list of questions. Particularly when you read the profile of the author, Charalampos Xekoukoulotakis, who claims to have experience in newspapers, TV and radio, to have published a national Greek paper, and to have been educated at various British and American universities, including, among others, Oxford, Cambridge, London, Surrey, City, Brighton and Indiana. That’s quite a CV!

  6. A fact check for Michael Taggart – PE’s share of the vote from 2003 to 2007 dropped by just 2% on the total share. You need to remember that 2003 was the all postal ballot and so turnout was much higher, and thus giving proportionally higher figures.

    • It’s a fair point. But a fall of 2% is still a fall at a time when the Labour Government nationally was becoming increasingly unpopular and when a Liberal Democrat councillors up and down the country were reaping the rewards.

      A 5% swing to the leading Green would put Mr Elgood and he or she neck and neck. And who knows whether the popular Mr Watkins will be able to retain some of his vote share? Any votes he takes will be votes that previously went to Lib Dems, not the other parties.

      As an aside, I do think it would do our politicians some good to remember that when they can only persuade 1 in every 8 electors to vote for them, as Mr Elgood did in the last election, they do not have any overwhelming mandate to represent anyone. It is virtually representation by default of an uninspired electorate.


      • Agree with your last paragraph, as a general point. But how you can describe David Watkins as ‘popular’ when he polled 250 less than Paul Elgood last time round, is beyond me. Also, your memory is faulty about 2007 – nationally, the Lib Dems were struggling after Charles Kennedy’s deposition, with poll ratings not a lot higher than they are now.

        You’re right that Paul Elgood has a fight on his hands,but if he loses, it will be more down to Nick Clegg’s failings (now there is a shallow and vacuous man) than his own.

  7. Yet another Michael Taggart fact check – on that logic it means that the Greens got just 1 out of 17 of the electorate to support them last time – now that really is very underwhelming.

    • How is that a fact check Andy? You’re making a new point (which I agree with), not contradicting any statement I have made.

      • The Green vote was strong in Brunswick last time as the ward did not have so much as a leaflet.

        Statistics tell one something but not all.

        I very much believe in the pavements.

        Moulescoomb is interesting.

        And so is South Portslade.

      • What news of South Portslade? Very quiet on my radar.

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