Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder

Noel Coward once sent Winston Churchill tickets for the first night  of his latest play together with a message, “Dear Mr Churchill, here are two tickets for the first night of my play, a ticket for you and a ticket for a friend (if you have one)”.  Churchill returned the tickets with the following message: “Dear Mr Coward, unfortunately I can’t make the first night of the play but would like to attend the second night (if you have one)”.  I am reminded of this by a comment from the Beast of Regency, Dan Wilson, who poses the tedious questions “Where DOES Caroline Lucas actually live?  It’s a question Bappy won’t answer because it will annoy his Green mates. But we should be told!”

‘Bappy’ is one of the names I am called.  As for Dan’s question, to be honest I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care as long as she is around and about in Brighton Pavilion regularly, which she is, that she is available to her constituents, which she is, and that she represents them in parliament, which she does.  As for my ‘Green mates’, you assume I have mates in the first place, and secondly that they are Greens.  As it happens, unlike Churchill, I do have a friend.  Actually more than one, but as far as I am aware just one is a Green (and a Green councillor as it happens).  As a former Labour activists, many of my friends are current or former Labour Party members.

But more important than my impoverished social life is the local election campaign.  Here are some more updates from Doorstep Brighton:

Christopher Hawtree, more than a mere mortal, is so confident that he will unseat Mary Mears in Rottingdean Coastal that he is now targeting Fortress Withdean. He writes: “After going to Preston Park station this morning, I had a stroll around North Withdean. An interesting area, and all the more so when Ken and Ann Norman went by in a wagon, with two hairy dogs, and wound down the window in some puzzlement. They said that they are “friendly”, which I do not doubt, and seemed to wonder what I made of their territory; I do not think that they themselves are territory: they are unlikely to challenge one to a duel, but it does look as if Withdean is hotting up.” I am sure that Ken and Ann are quacking in their boots, not to mention the imminent derailing of the sparkling political career of Robert Nemeth.

‘Steampunk’ has reacted against Dan Wilson’s critique of Green councillors who he dismisses as “gap year … Greenos who chuck it in after one term”.  Steampunk writes: “Nothing wrong with young people devoting 4 years to serve their community before returning to families, careers and education. And I would venture that Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder compared to elected members of other parties who can afford to just fade into the background”.  I put that quote in so not to upset my Green friend.  I am sure that Labour, Tory and even Lib Dem activists might wish to respond to Steampunk on that observation. I know councillors in all parties that work incredibly hard, well beyond the European Directive on Working Hours.  They are decent, hard-working individuals who should get better paid, if you ask me.

As the battle for East Brighton hots up, I paraded my ignorance of the area by referring to two areas that are in Rottingdean Coastal and not in East Brighton.  Labour councillor Warren Morgan, who I was talking to at an event before Christmas, responded: “I’m happy for the East Brighton Tories to do well in Roedean and The Cliff – neither is in East Brighton ward…”. Peter Booth, one of the three Tory candidates, is united with Dan Wilson: “Roedean and The Cliff are of course in Rottingdean Coastal. We have been active in Whitehawk Way and Whitehawk Road today as our Facebook site East Brighton Conservatives will reveal! Our stay will not be brief!….and of course there is only one Mary Mears! (Thank you for considering us in her league!)”.  Actually, I don’t!

After my dig at the anonymous Goldsmid Conservatives, ‘Clive’ has directed me to their Facebook page. And there they are, the Tories’ Goldsmid council candidates – Adam Love, Debra Livingstone-Wade and Rob Buckwell.  You will not be surprised to hear them say that they “are working hard for the residents and community in Goldsmid ward.  Their priorities to improve the lives of people living in Goldsmid are: 1. Keeping council tax low; 2. Cleaner, safer neighbourhoods; 3. More school places for local children”.  If you are sad like me, with no friends, or “if you have a problem you’d like them to look into, or would like to get involved in the Goldsmid Conservatives, they’d love to hear from you.”  I’ll be on the phone to them first thing!

Regarding the irrepressible Ayas Fallon-Khan, Clive says that it “strikes me that the departure of Mr Fallon-Khan (touted on here as a deselection, not sure on what evidence) might indicate that they are not expecting to win this ward.”  Both are possible.  The Tories may well be divided and Ayas was deselected, AND the Tories have given up leaving the ward to these three estate-agent look-a-likes.

In Brunswick and Adelaide, ‘Andy’ thinks that “the Lib-Dems have increased their chances of holding their seat by ditching (David) Watkins. Watkins was good at turning up for dull council meetings, but not much else. He was never seen out canvassing or at local meetings.”  I don’t agree.  He will have some loyalty votes and some people won’t like what Paul Elgood has done to him.  This could cost Elgood a hundred or so votes and that could cost him the election.  What is more likely is that the Lib Dems, at just 8% in the polls, will be destroyed.  Steampunk says that he has “heard from two separate sources that Watkins is indeed intending to stand as an independent in May, if only to spite his ex-colleagues in the Lib Dems who have betrayed him.”

I also heard this week from the much loved, much missed, much lamented Chuck Vere regarding Rachael Bates.  Chuck writes of Momma Grizzly: “I hope she wins (in Hollingdean and Stanmer) – she has the balls to fight for residents & won’t waste time making empty promises whilst delivering nothing”.

And finally, a welcome to a new blog, from Sussex Socialist Resistance, that describes itself as the ‘Fourth International in Britain’.  Hang on, I thought that mantle was with the Socialist Workers Party, or is it the People’s Front for the Liberation of Judea? Perhaps it was the Judean Peoples Front for … I give up.  Just ask Monty Python.

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20 Responses

  1. The Blogger has mangled my pub. When I said that the Normans regard North Withdean as their territorty, I continued by saying that I do not regard them as terrortory. Indeed, I suspect that Ken Norman is not even a Tory.

  2. And my finger gas mangled my point. It hit the adjacent key. I meant pun.

    Though a pub is what North Withdean is lacking. You’d think you were somewhere in North Dakota.

  3. I do enjoy reading your many insightful comments about the politics of this city, but there are times when your analysis is sadly incorrect. This is certainly the case with the Conservative campaign in Goldsmid. As one of the three candidates, we are all working extremely hard to get our message out to the people of Goldsmid. Our party has far from given up on this ward, on the contrary we are campaigning extremely hard to win all three seats in this crucial three way marginal. We passionately believe in our priorities for the ward and the city, and I look forward to the time Brighton & Hove has some of the lowest council tax in the country under a Conservative majority council.

    P.S. I can inform you that I am not an Estate Agent!

  4. Regarding your headline (which ought really to be in quotes), my first response is similar to the blogger – that it’s a rather large generalisation and that it carries a hint of self-congratulation that ought to be watched.

    My second response is that there is some truth to it, though I would extend it to any councillor who stands under a banner that is NOT Labour or Conservative. Those parties have a fairly reliable bloc vote, who can be woken up on the phone when needed – for everyone else, no vote can be taken for granted.

    BPB – you never took up my point – re David Watkins and Ann Giebeler – about how little renegade independents seem to prosper. The exception is Jayne Bennett, but how renegade was she anyway?

    You also seem to assume that Watkins would take votes only from the Lib Dems in Brunswick. Not sure that this would be the case – an independent candididacy might just fragment the vote and muddy the waters still further. All to play for there, I would say.

  5. The answer to Dan’s ‘tedious’ question about where Caroline lives is apparently ‘Brighton’ – it says so on her Facebook page, so it must be true!

    As to BPB’s general view of Green councillors, and I hesitate to say this given his affection for Amy Kennedy, but, here in PP, that is certainly not the case.

    • Oh? A Labour supporting work colleague from PP recently told me that the two Labour cllrs in her ward were pathetic (her words) but she found Amy very diligent.

      As to Caroline’s address, Dan as a candidate should have access to the electoral roll so can easily verify her Brighton & Hove residency for himself.

      • I can only comment on my own experience, which is that Amy rarely replies to issues raised, other than a ‘holding’ response, whereas the Labour member are more likely to.

        Also, being on the electoral roll does not mean that you ‘live’ anywhere.

  6. […] the original post here: Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have … This entry was posted in Green Politics and tagged analysis, Auto Green, case, […]

  7. Firstly, on David Watkins deselection.

    Paul Elgood (and Brian Stone, for that matter) had nothing to do with David’s deselection. Candidates for the Lib Dems (as in other parties) are selected by an approval panel made up of ordinary members, Exec members and at least one person from Regional level. David’s approval was rejected by that panel. It was subsequently appealled to Region, who again rejected the appeal. Neither of these processes had anything to do with Cllr Elgood or Brian Stone. It was an unfortunate episode, because I liked David immensley, but Andy is right, the Ward requires someone who will go out and work with and for the community, not solely speak on its behalf. David’s deselection was purely of his own making, and that is the saddest part of the affair.

    I take exception to Steampunk’s assertion that Green councillors solely work hard. I’m sure many of them do. I still do not understand why Cllr Kitcat and others refuse to hold surgeries, mind.
    Paul Elgood also works extremely hard. Lib Dems can’t afford not to. Unlike the Tories and Labour there is no such thing as a ‘safe Lib Dem seat.’ Where we work we win, and we’re working extremely hard.
    But once again, there are Labour and Tory Councillors who knock spots off of others. Dawn Barnett is a hard working Councillor for Hangleton and Knoll. I recall a time when my parents who live in the Ward were having trouble with some god awful road works in the street. An email was sent at 10:30pm and at 9:30am the next day, Dawn was on their doorstep, and by 4pm the next day the works were finished. I dislike her politics, but she works hard, and has nothing to fear from a ‘return’ by Brian Fitch.
    Let us also recall that Les Hamilton Snr had a street named after him, by request of local residents (and a bus). He was a truly exceptional councillor, and we can all take lessons from his example. Les Jnr appears to have taken after his father’s spirit as a hard working fighter for his community. Although I’m sorry to say Les, that you have a little way to go to convince my ever combative Nan that you are as good as your father. I’m sure you are.
    Councillors should be there to act as local champions, whatever their party affiliation. I intend to do just that if I am elected. It is where members neglect their duties that the ‘upsets’ will occur. Whatever the national media say, the public tend to vote differently at local elections to how they do nationally. In my experience they are more likely to vote for the candidates that they see to be doing a good job of representing them and who fight for the local area. So parties over-analyse the national perspective at their peril. I will never let the national narrative get in the way of making my Ward a better place to live in. That wouldn’t make me a good local politician.

    As for Rachael Bates, her attendance at Guerrilla Rocks perhaps indicates she has better musical taste than political taste (no offence Rachael). A well organised rock/indie night, and slightly cheaper than average Brighton Saturday night out, with much better music. As a rule, I still tend to avoid the Pav Tav unless forced otherwise. Something about the place reminds me of my overly embarrassing 18 year old self.

    More young people involved in Brighton & Hove’s politics is a good thing, whatever those concerned about “careerists” say. Rachael, Tom French et al (do I include myself in this ‘batch of young people?’) add an energy and different perspective to a local election campaign, that most voters still have a misconception of being ‘old and stuffy jobs for the boys’ affair. Brighton & Hove is increasingly a young and up-and-coming City. It is time the Council began to reflect that the City more. I hope we continue to accumalate candidates and Councillors from across the social spectrum.

    As for the Central Hove campaign, things are going steadily, but well. Last week and this week have been tough, the weather hasn’t really helped with encouraging people to open their doors. But those I met yesterday and the week before were positive and engaged. Most voters consider themselves undecided as the election is “miles away”.
    Once again there is no uniform attitude to Central Hove. It often surprises me how each street, and in many cases, different sides of a street can be so different. Central Hove often feels like a microcosm of Brighton & Hove proper. Every day and issue is different, making it an interesting and vibrant Ward. It makes me sad that so many of its residents feel it is being neglected.
    It is a delight to be able to campaign in.

    • Hmm, I’m not so sure that Elgood works extremely hard – except where self-publicity is concerned, and he is a master of the spurious free-post survey which creates an effective illusion of work.

      I’m still sceptical that (as the Don Corleone of the local Lib Dems!) he didn’t have some influence on Watkins deselection, but you’ve just explained the party’s predicament with some honesty so I’ll let it lie.

    • Just quickly on the comment about not holding ward surgeries – in Regency we did, and over the space of 6 months at a cost of £30 a time to the Council, only one person came, and that was someone I had already been in touch with who just happened to be passing. No-one other than journalists and political opponents has ever raised concerns with me (and I think I speak for Jason too) about us not holding ward surgeries. We are there at the end of the phone, email, letter and will happily meet with people in person if requested to do so. I’m certainly not convinced that £180 over 6 months to be able to say ‘Nice to put a face to a name’ represents good value. I understand that the previous councillors before we got elected held regular surgeries but combined that in some form with holding local party meetings. I don’t know what attendance they got from non party members.

  8. Jeez. Could Dan Wilson *be* more creepy? Is he trying to stalk Caroline Lucas?
    Sigh.
    Yes, Caroline lives in Brighton. Yes, it’s in Pavilion. And yes, Dan, getting your panties in a bunch over someone’s private address *is* weird and rather unsettling behaviour. Try to get a grip & focus on trying to justify Labour’s sick-making actions over the past decade instead. Probably more important than some passing urge to go through an MPs bins, no?

    • The really disappointing thing about Dan Wilson continually banging on about Caroline’s address is that I have already explained to him in detail the answer to his question, possibly even twice. That he keeps raising it despite that is strange – either he has short term memory problems, or struggles to assimiate basic concepts, or he is being deliberately provocative.

      It is this sort of nonsense from Dan which makes it very hard for so many Greens to feel comfortable with the prospect of co-operation with the Labour Party. On the one hand he calls for ‘grown up politics, attacking the tories not each other’ – then he turns round and belies all those good words with juvenile and irrelevant attacks. If he wants to have a pop at Caroline/Greens for what we are doing in the political sphere, then we can talk, but while he debases debate like this, his actions suggest that the Labour Party is still feeling bitter about being beaten, and a bit lost – not yet ready to move on to the ‘grown up’ politics bit.

      Let us know when you’re ready Dan.

  9. Well said, Nikki.

    • I do think the issue of where Caroline lives is important, because she made it important at the election. Luke/Nikki – are you confirming that Caroline’s family home is now in Brighton?

      Quite often the participants on this blog, from all sides are guilty of focussing on a relatively minor issue, and making quite petty points about each other, although these can be rather illuminating. I don’t think Dan should be singled out for this habit, or does he hit a raw nerve?

  10. Caroline lives in Brighton.

    I would like to see someone prove otherwise.

  11. Luke Walter

    It is not for someone to “prove otherwise” about where Lucas lives. She and the Brighton Pav. Green Party should be open and honest and admit that her main family residence is in Oxford. A Brighton bolt hole is not the same thing.

    It’s no point the Greens banging on about new ethical politics when they can’t tell the truth about where their only MP lives.

    • I’ve always been a bit bemused at this obsession that some Labour hacks have that Caroline Lucas really lives in Oxford. I can state categorically that she left Oxford shortly after becoming a MEP in 1999. If they’re so convinced that her “main family home” is still there, perhaps they could provide some evidence? An address for example.

    • Caroline hasn’t lived in Oxford for over a decade.

      The truth is that Caroline lives in Brighton.

      Our Green MP has been absolutely honest about this and again – I find it really creepy that you’re all so obsessed where she lives!
      Try watching Parliament TV to see what she does – she’s ALWAYS in the chamber – then have a peek at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ and see what caroline’s up to… and then, get a grip, and – political differences aside – admit that she’s an incredibly hard-working constituency MP as well as being a tireless party leader.

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