Doorstep Brighton 13: Ghosts, Spectres and the Grudges of Christopher Hawtree

Christopher Hawtree has raised the spectre of the ‘Simon Fanshawe Problem’, as he describes it. He asks what happens if there is a hung Council after the local elections. Would Simon become the King, or Queen, Maker?

‘Steampunk’ asks whether the “trepidation of Fanshawe’s ‘domineering approach’ imply that, given a close result in May, there will need to be some rough and tumble between the sheets (besides behind smoke filled doors) to determine who comes out on top? How much slack does Mr Big need exactly? I can’t speak for Simon Fanshawe but I can’t imagine Bill Randall will be thrilled at this prospect.”

If this was to happen there are many elder statesmen and women locally who could be an honest broker if talks were collapsing, although I think that Mary Mears and Bill Randall could work it out together. It wouldn’t be pretty, but they both have the best interest of Brighton at heart in spite of their obvious political differences.

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke suggests that Celia Barlow might be standing in Central Hove. Chris Hawtree says that this “must surely stem from her being seen by the Brighton Political Satellite’s cameras as she waited on Church Road to go into the selection meeting the other Saturday.”

Chris Hawtree suggests that “the LibDems are so desperate that Paul Elgood is trying to lead Argus readers into thinking that Brian Stone is already a Councillor. Beneath the letter in which he tries to get in on the great border/North Dakota debate, he puts ‘Couns Paul Elgood and Brian Stone’.” He says that the campaign in Brunswick and Adelaide is “getting dirty”, but ‘Andy’ says that “if politics is getting dirty it is only because Hawtree makes it so. His grudges are legendary – Sue John, Ken Bodfish, Mary Mears and most famously his duel with the clown David Smith.” Not so, says Hawtree: “I do not have grudges. Life is too short to waste on such things. Banter is another matter. Sue John and Ken Bodfish came to dinner, and it was a jolly time.”

Luke Walter says that the Green slate was completed in January, “probably the first and only party in the city to do so”. I have been quite critical of Labour for not having candidates in all seats in place months ago. I reserve the same judgement for the Greens. This election has been known about for ever. Candidates should have been identified months and months ago. Immediately after the general election the Greens should have selected all it’s candidates as well as having a recruitment drive on an unprecedented proportion. I realise everyone must have ben exhausted after getting Caroline elected, but a superhuman effort continues to be required if the Greens are to make the breakthrough elsewhere.

Warren Morgan says that “most Labour candidates in our target seats have been in place for over six months – many were selected before the General Election. What’s the point of the Greens selecting candidates but keeping them under wraps? Surely the whole point is for them to be out there campaigning and making themselves known? If I don’t know the Green candidates running in my ward, the public are hardly likely to have registered them.” Luke responds, jokingly, that the Greens “just like to keep the opposition in suspense.”

As for the Greens and the 2015 general election (assuming the Coalition lasts that long), I think that the Green candidates for Brighton Kemptown and for Hove should be selected by the autumn. There are one or two individual who would make outstanding candidates. I will return to this theme after May.

Rob Buckwell, leader of the Estate Agents Tendency of the Tory Party, and candidate in Goldsmid, says that I am “right to point out that bringing council tax down is important to us. However, you are wrong to say that I “cannot think beyond council tax cuts”. We have many other important issues which we are campaigning on. If you are lucky enough to live in Goldsmid, you will have received or soon receive our leaflet outling some of these. Of course, if you don’t…”

Showing more imagination in Goldsmid is councillor Alex Phillips who with St Peters and North Laine Green councillor Ian Davey organised a very effective demonstration on Saturday in The Drive against the ludicrous decision of the Tories to remove the cycle lane. If you haven’t watched the video, do so by clicking this link.

A word of apology to Ms Phillips. The title in a post yesterday referred to ‘Ice Cold is Alex’, a feeble play on words referring to that great movie ‘Ice Cold in Alex’, trying to reflect it was very cold on Saturday morning.  A resident of Goldsmid ward questioned me about this. I apologise to councillor Phillips who is anything but cold. She is one of the most able politicians locally, hard-working and who the Greens should consider for to be a candidate in a national election in the not too distant future. Perhaps I will return to this theme after May….

8 Responses

  1. I went along, in Brighton, to the two meetings, with Ed and with David Miliband.

    I was impressed by the way in which Ed’s chair, Nancy Platts, was welcoming, even if Ed ducked my Question about Labour working with an ascendant Green party this year in Brighton. David, however, was lumbered with Fanshawe as his chair, and Fanshawe not only sneered at me but continually, during the public section, asked questions of his own, including a bizarre oine about American truckers, and thereby cheesed off a lot of Labour people who had turned up to ask something.

    I thought, after that, that my initial impression was right: Ed’s got it. Some doubted this, but…

    If Labour is to face the future, it has to face up to the Fanshawe problem, and perhaps ask him why, if he so favours “brave” architecture, he has not taken the opportunity to fetch up in some of it himself rather than be ensconsced in a nineteenth-century terrace.

  2. *Sigh* my joke doesn’t really work out of context. Still, the question of whether Labour and the Greens will get in bed together after the election is on everyone’s lips.

    Although as far as I know you’re the first person to raise the spectre of a tryst between the Greens and the Tories, which is pure mischief; the differences between us are more than irreconcilable, they practically define us.

  3. Nothing from the Tories yet in this part of Goldsmid.

    Though I did get a leaflet from Fox & Sons the other day, trying to drum up a bit of trade.

    Meanwhile in Brunswick, there are reports that the Greens are claiming credit for ‘saving’ the Western Road Post Office.

    This consisted of ringing up the Post Office, asking if this branch was shutting, and getting the answer, ‘no’.

    Fanshawe: not the first fanatical modernista to live in an agreeable Georgian house (Basil Spence did much the same) but definitely the most local and the most ubiquitous and irritating. One for Labour to put in a box and sit firmly on the lid.

  4. I really couldn’t / dont want to see the Tories & Greens join together to form an administration in May. Not only because it’ll keep the Tories at the top for another 5 yrs, but i really dont see it being any use to the Greens…

    Labour & Greens yes (whatever you say about Labour hating the Greens since the GE, i think its only a few of them; they really should get over this quickly, and im sure they can)

    As unfortunate as it is; i dont think we’ll be seeing a Labour majority. Though i do believe Labour can win at least 2 in Queens Park (especially Chris Cooke, and probably Tom French), and win back the Moulscoomb seat.

    As someone whose lived in Brighton for only a couple of years, i was shocked at how many seats the Tories actually have… from your corresspondence it seems it wont happen, but they really do need to be wiped out of Brighton and pushed down into the darkest areas of Hove… Brighton; Tory? This still confuses me…

  5. I think the deal for a Green/Lab coalition is on the table and has been for a while, but when the presently nice warm Milk turns sour as the Greens grab seats at the count from Labour will Gill and co be the sort of pussies to drink it?

  6. There’s no deal between the Greens and Labour on or under the table. We are contesting the elections against each other and against the Tories, though Goldsmid aside we are fighting Greens in the city centre wards, the Tories in the rest.

    We will have to see how many seats each of the three parties have after the count – at the past 3 or 4 sets of elections a number of seats have been decided on a hundred votes or less so predictions are just that at the moment. Some have said 18 seats each is a possibility!

    Dull but essential constitutional point:

    Under the old committee system a coalition would have meant an agreed programme of policies, an effectively unified group with one Leader and a Whip ensuring key policies got through committee and council votes.

    Under the Leader and Cabinet system the Leader is appointed at the Council AGM a couple of weeks after the elections, by eliminating ballot. So they would need a majority of those voting (some cllrs could in theory abstain.) Beyond that the Leader appoints up to 9 other Cabinet members – from one or any number of party groups) who alone make all the decisions bar the Budget. So a coalition in the sense we understand from what the Conservatives and Lib Dems have done at Westminster is not entirely the same here.

    Unless the govt gives B&H special dispensation to change, we are stuck with this system until 2015.

  7. I think the prospect of Greens and the Tories getting under the duvet for a bit of rough and tumble are about as likely as the President of Uganda proposing to legalise homosexuality on May 6th. In fact, I would feel more confident about placing a bet on LGBT rights coming about in Uganda by the end of this century, before Greens and Tories ever march down the aisle looking dreamily into each others’ eyes.

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