What impact will students have on May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove?

The question has been raised about the impact the student vote may have on the results of this May’s local elections. 

DAP has written: “The students are always a factor, the SUs usually campaign to get students to register/vote in elections… Look locally and nationally, the students have been very much more active these last 12 months than in recent history… London demos/riots… Brightons demos… Brighton and Sussex uni occupations.  Moulsecoomb and Benevendean Greens could indeed get an umpf from the students (Moulsecoomb & Falmer halls fall into M&B as well as the private accomodation), but Labour could also.  This will make it hard for Labour to return their 3rd councillor in the area… Tories and LDs will not get anywhere.  Hollingdean and Stanmer has alot of the Sussex students… they’re renouned for being very left and active. I believe they have a strong Green Party Society too… Greens indeed could benefit from this.”

This is the first local election that I can recall when the Greens have a relatively strong organisation at Sussex University.  That, coupled with the active campaigning by Rufus, Summers and Walter in Hollingdean and Stanmer, is one reason why I believe that the Greens will do well in H&S.  Their surge here will be off-set by the Lepper personal vote, hence my prediction of 2 Green councillors and one Labour councillor being returned in H&S.

The new student blocks in Falmer (on the University of Brighton side of the A27) will be a factor for the first time, although I don’t believe that Labour or the Greens have particularly focused on students here.  The Labour Party in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean is dead on its feet, the Greens remain too thin on the ground to be able to effectively target M&B, while the Tories are stropng and confident elsewhere in the ward. Both Maria Caulfield and Ayas Fallon-Khan are likely winners for the Tories.

Elsewhere, there are pockets of students, but not in sufficient concentration to be a factor in themselves. Or have I got this wrong …?

14 Responses

  1. Students will make the LibDem destruction even more felt everywhere… coming in poor lasts…

    Tories will also be hit (in M&B for example) not because Tory students will change their mind and vote left, but beacuse previously non voting students/first timers will be more inclined to vote Green/Labour because of recent tuition fee rises/high youth umemployment/low graduate employment (as will the parents of future students) – The national ConDem will influence

    IF we can get them out there… 1 thing im sure Brighton SU will be doing (however successful or not that will be, we’ll see)

  2. The Greens in Hollingdean & Stanmer are heavily targeting the student vote. I understand they are readily campaigning at the campus, and will be there on the day.
    The Greens campaign in this ward has been in full flow for sometime, and is showing signs of a very carefully thought out strategy.
    An added advantage too is student hostility towards the coalition and the Lib Dems in particular.
    If someone wanted to bet me that 3 Greens will be returned from Hollingdean & Stanmer, they wouldn’t see much of a return on their stake!

  3. It is not only the student vote that makes Moulescoomb an interestng area for the Greens. Look at the rest of it.

  4. I think the best reference I have ever got was from Charlotte Verre after the General election when she said in an e-mail to the University of Sussex Conservative Assosiation something along the lines of:

    “We could have won it if the Labour vote had softened but in the end the Greens’ student mobilisation campaign was just too successful.”

    I learnt a lot coordinating the campus campaign at the general election last year and it was really really successful (if only i could tell you what the sampling data said), this year we started campaigning earlier on campus and we know how to do it. I’m confident we will get a good Green vote from the students again.

    We have made some connections with Brighton students, but as you say there hasn’t been a strong campaign there as we have to target. It will be interesting to see how those students vote this time though.

    There are a lot of students that live in SPNL, and H&EG too, what a supprise that they’re Green wards…

    I heard that the first time Kemptown ever went Labour was in the 60s when Sussex Uni opened and all the students started living there. Dont know how true that is though.

    • Kemptown went to Labour in 1964 by a mere 7 votes. They held it in 1966 too. This was on the back of a long Conservative administration though. In 1970 Andrew Bowden won it for the Tories and held on for 27 years though. I suspect the student influence hadn’t been that strong, although it will have counted for more, I suspect, since the 80s maybe.

  5. The Students have always been a questionable influence in the old Stanmer ward and the now H&S ward, will they place Sven “Long Hair Kung-Fu Man” Rufus back on the council,do they know how too tactical vote? or do they let Rachel “momma grizzly” Bates through the middle,she is after all an ex Sussex Uni student and that may count for something with her old campus pals, we could see Ian Fyvie out with his loud hailer!.

  6. Of course, another way the students might swing the vote is in relation to the party that promises the most effective action to limit the spread of student houses at the cost of family housing. The outgoing Labour Govt was in the process of addressing just that issue, but then the Tories came in and buckled to the demands of their landlord mates and watered down the new rules. However, a locally implementable mechanism exists to stop family houses becoming student lets and I for one would be happy to vote for a party that has the courage to impose it (unless that party is the Tories, obviously I’d never vote for them…). We then need more purpose built student accommodation in the right places with sustainable links to the campuses.

  7. Student turnout at local elections is typically very low indeed.

    • I agree, but then if they’re turning out for AV they are going to vote in the local election as well. In my 25 or so years of poll-clerking I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone vote in one election and not another when elections are combined (eg Europe and Local etc).

    • Agree Dan

      • It seems to me a motivated student vote this time. Many were inspired by first Green MP. That was also apparent in the Lizzie Deane camapign. And that was a summertime when most political types assumed that it would be a snoozy electorate

    • Thats what everyone said about the General Elections, and we had a decent turnout

  8. As in America the Tories are turning higher education into an opportunity that only exists for the rich. Inevitably we will see fewer students in the city over the years to come and they will be more right wing. But the current cohort of students are furious about the hike in fees. That will not benefit the Tories. In addition the new attacks on housing benefit may well affect some of them. http://tinyurl.com/6zumyfg

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