Goldsmid – a three-way marginal that the Greens really must win to become the largest group on Brighton & Hove City Council

In Hove, the most interesting seat is surely Goldsmid and all three parties in Brighton and Hove (given its sole councillor and standing at 8% in recent opinion polls, I don’t think we need to regard the Lib Dems as a viable party locally) believe they can win the three seats in Goldsmid.

Currently, all three parties have one councillor, Ayas Fallon-Khan (Conservative), Melanie Davis (Labour) and Alex Phillips (Green).  Councillor Fallon-Khan has been deselected by the Tories and will be standing in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean where (to the shame of Labour) he has a better chance than not of being elected partly due to his own personal strengths and because of the work undertaken by the sitting ward councillor Maria Caulfield.  Fallon-Khan’s deselection will significantly reduce the Tory’s chance of holding a seat and I predict that they will go away empty handed in May.  A challenge for residents in Goldsmid is to identify the Tory candidates for the ward.  It appears to be a well-guarded secret, and long may that last.

Melanie Davis has worked consistently since elected last time out, but she will struggle with the dire state of the Labour Party in Hove, and in the east wards of Hove in particular.  A quick look at Brighton Labour Party’s website shows out of date it is, some sections have been ‘under construction’ for many months, and has no reference to May’s local elections nor a list of candidates.  (The latter omission may be wise since Labour is struggling to find candidates in several seats in Hove).  The website is symbolic of a locally party on its knees.  While there is activity elsewhere in Brighton (Queen’s Park, East Brighton, Regency and, em, well, err, somewhere else, I’m sure), Labour in Brighton and Hove is a poor shadow of its former self. 

Back to Labour in Goldsmid, it at least has its own website.  But a website is a two-edged sword.  In reporting Labour’s track record in Goldsmid, there are only 6 entries since September 2008, and some are attacks on the City Council and the Tory councillor.  It also provides links to its most recent leaflets, the most recent two having been published in Spring and Summer 2010 (oh, dear, not much ambition there).

On the plus side, Labour in Goldsmid has selected three candidates (important if you want to win an election!). They are Lis Telcs (who was soundly beaten in the Goldsmid by-election a couple of years ago by the Green’s Alex Phillips), Nigel Jenner (about whom I know absolutely nothing – he must be a footballer, then) and councillor Melanie Davis.  Melanie should survive but I can’t see Labour doing any better than that.  Her defeat would signify a crushing defeat for Labour in Brighton and Hove, something that can’t be ruled out.

Alex Phillips is one of the sitting councillor in Goldsmid having won the 2009 by-election giving the Greens their first ever councillor in Hove and critical momentum for Caroline Lucas’ successful campaign for Parliament in 2010.  Alex, who works part time for Keith Taylor (who replaced Caroline Lucas as MEP in the south east) has nurtured the ward since her election and should be re-elected without too much difficulty.  She will be joined in the election by science teacher Rob Jarrett and ‘young mum’ Ruth Buckley.  Rob has been around forever, popping up here and there on different campaigns over the years.  Ruth Buckley is relatively new to electoral politics, but part of a generation, particularly women, inspired by Caroline Lucas.  The Lucas effect stretches beyond Brighton Pavilion and could result in a Green clean-sweep in Goldsmid.

However, if the Greens fail to make progress in Hove and in Goldsmid in particular, their hope of becoming the largest party on the City Council will be dashed.

9 Responses

  1. Alex Philips’ Goldsmid triumph was notable for being a rare win from the Tories rather than Labour.

    Christopher Hawtree is often upbraided on this blog for daring to challenge Mary Mears in Rottingdean, and yet his upcoming campaign may be the one of the few opposition bids this year with a credible prospect of reducing the Tory majority on the council.

    As BPB has said before, if the outcome of the May election is merely a trading of selected seats in central Brighton between the Green Party and Labour then the Tories will stay in power. Is this really the outcome either party wants?

  2. Nigel Jenner previously managed the council youth service, and while I haven’t worked with him personally (perhaps Michael Taggart can oblige us with a character study!) – on paper that’s a respectable credential. I suspect Labour will give Liz Telcs higher billing though.

    Alex Phillips is one of the most energetic personalities in the Green Party today, and her exuberance could just give her team enough momentum to take a second seat in the ward. Ruth Buckley would bring a refreshing down-to-earth perspective to the council by virtue of not being a career politician and I would like to see her elected.

    The Greens certainly have a better chance than Labour of taking the remaining Tory seat, but even so I think it is a tall order and more likely the status quo will prevail, one apiece in Goldsmid to Greens, Conservatives and Labour.

  3. I sense rising support for the Greens in Goldsmid tho’ there is recognition that Melanie Davis has been diligent. Liz Telcs came across poorly in the by election.

    When sampling Moulescoomb, it was evident that Allie Cannell could do well for the Greens there. It is a swing state.

    What the Blogger is missing in Rottingdean Coastal is the result of that by election last year, in the East Sussex bit of Saltdean, when the LibDems were only a few behind the Tories. Mix that mood with the Lido, and it could be the most explosive mixture since the Luftwaffe straffed it.

    In everywhere except perhaps Stanford, the old certainties have gone.

    When doing a library petition from door to door in South Portslade, I saw many a stripped floor.

    I gather that tomorrow’s Argus has an article about Mary Mears’s on-the-hoof proposal that I should move to North Dakota.

  4. Whilst websites and leaflets are visible evidence of activity, real engagement is about speaking to people. Labour’s team in Goldsmid – Lis, Mel and Nigel – have been knocking on doors and speaking to Goldsmid months before the Greens even selected their candidates. PS: new Labour (not ‘New’ Labour) website coming soon!

  5. Chris – perhaps you should do an exchange with Mary? You go to Dakota if she goes to Lapland 🙂

  6. @steampunk, first post – but there isn’t a Tory majority on the council!

    The door is almost open, if only Labour and Greens will talk to each other, and not cancel each other out by targetting the same wards (and what @Christopher is doing pootling around South Portslade if he’s standing in Rottingdean is anyone’s guess).

    On the original post, the Tory candidates for Goldsmid are in place and easily googleable. Perhaps the BPB is just twisting their tail?!

    They all look like estate agents, and will no doubt run their usual under-the-radar campaign, hoping that the core vote is enough to defeat a divided opposition. Which it might be, sadly.

    • As I said, I was doing a library petition. It was one of eight, based around the branch libraries, and all handed in by different Councillors. Perhaps this led to Cllr David Smith’s later declaration that he wanted to challenge me to a duel.

      The LibDems picked up votes in South Portslade.

      The residents are a feisty crowd, and put up a huge number of SAVE HOVE LIBRARY posters in their windows around Norway Street etc. Councillor Bob Carden had a fit when, as chance had it, the Planning Committee’s minibus went round that one-way system a few days later for a site visit.

      He called it mischief, I call it publicity.

  7. Bappy,

    You need more spies. There’s been some great campaigning by Labour in Wish ward these past weeks.

    • Plausible. It was once Labour… And Elgood claims to have a LibDem “team” at work there.

      I do find it hard to picture a LibDem gathering in a pub after a solid evening’s canvassing, and indeed a Tory one.

      That said, the Tories should have opted for Robert Nemuth in Wish rather than continue with the nationally discredited Ted Kemble. The Jason Kitcat case resonates. Garry Peltzer Dunn and Robert Nemuth would have presented a far stronger Tory case in Wish.

      Ladbroke’s should keep eyes on Wish.

      My sense of this Election is more multi-party wards than ever before.

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