The student vote will swing Hollingdean and Stanmer for the Greens and consolidate their position elsewhere

It seems that the consensus is that the student vote will make a difference primarily in Hollingdean and Stanmer, and has already made a difference in St Peters and North Laine, and in Hanover and Elm Grove, with Regency also benefiting from the student vote.  All this is possibly stating the obvious as these seats have high concentration of students, and all are in Brighton Pavilion where the Green’s organisation has galvanised the student vote.  In Moulscoomb and Bevendean, where Labour and the Greens have little organisation on the ground, the student vote is less influential, allowing the Tories to take seats in this tradional Labour seat.

DAP thinks that students will make the LibDem destruction even more felt everywhere, coming in poor lasts.  He thinks that the “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)”.  Perhaps, but I think that Moulsecoomb and Bevendean will be won, not by issues impacting on students, but on the record of Maria Caulfield as lead councillor for housing. 

My dear Baron Pepperpot agrees with my take on Hollingbury and Stanmer: “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!”

As you know, Baron, I think the Joker in the Pack is Jeane Lepper who I believe will hang on because of her many years careful stewardship of the ward. I still say two Greens and Jeane Lepper for Labour.

Brighton’s own Mr Pickwick, Christopher Hawtree, thinks that the student vote will be influential everywher: “It is not only the student vote that makes Moulescoomb an interesting area for the Greens. Look at the rest of it.” I don’t think so, it requires strong organisation on the ground, and Labour doesn’t have it, and the Greens are targeting their efforts in selected wards.

The activist with probably the best knowledge of the student vote, and someone who has received little public credit for the success of Caroline Lucas’ campaign is Allie Cannell.  He writes: “I think the best reference I have ever got was from Charlotte Vere 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.”  I am sure you are right.

Regarding the student vote at Brighton University, and those in Kemptown, Allie writes: “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.”

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke tends to discount the influence of the student vote: “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!”  Now having Ian Fyvie on the Council would be something, but somehow I think he will just miss out, by a thousand votes or so!

HP thinks it is studentification’ that could be a factor.  Not on students, I think, but on those living in town centre wards who complain about car parking and noisy neighbours, blaiming it all on students. HP writes: “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.”

But is any of this speculation meaningful? Dan Wilson thinks not: “Student turnout at local elections is typically very low indeed”  but Mr Pickwick senses something different now: “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.”

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5 Responses

  1. I’m ever grateful for your certainty it will be a good result for the Greens – but I do disagree with you about why we won’t/can’t take the third seat. You constantly tell us that there is a strong personal vote for Jeane Lepper, and that will carry her across the line. I wonder what you base that on?

    Is it simply the fact that she got a much higher vote share than her ward colleagues 4 years ago? Have you heard good reports of her from residents in the ward? In either case I disagree. I have not heard much about the contribution made to the ward by any of the serving councillors neither on the doorstep, nor in passing encounters out and about in the ward. In fact the opposite is more likely to be the feedback I get. So I don’t agree that her ‘careul stewardship’ of the ward will give her much of a boost. It’s interesting that in fact she has recently been trying to get a slice of one of our Green campaigns, a tactic spotted and rebuffed by the residents that we have been helping.

    So what about the personal vote. Hmm. Local politics is a funny game – name recognition is important but dare I say it there was a slightly more renowned Lepper in the area until last year, and I strongly suspect that the extra votes the Jeane got was not so much a ‘personal’ vote, but instead a ‘coat-tails’ vote – carried along by the name recognition of her MP husband. That no longer applies – in fact the MP factor now is so strongly in our favour that I find we get much more of an open reception on the doorstep than I could ever have hoped for.

    Perhaps you know something I don’t, but I don’t get any sense that Jeane will be anywhere ahead of the other Labour candidates.

    Allie Cannell has done fanstatic work at Falmer, and deserves real credit for the result in the election last year. He has given us a really strong base to work from, and this could give us a big headstart in May. We’re never complacent, but there are so many positives for us, that we can be confident. And all three seats is absolutely acheivable.

    (Oh, and one more thing – yes I do have long hair, but I have no history of involvement in Kung Fu. Very confused by that!)

  2. Personal votes didn’t help Messrs Bodfish & Burgess 4 years ago did it in QP, and it QP the tories fielded paper candidates and in H&S they are fighting the ward and that needs accounting for, Sven ref the Tag I try to maintain a sense of humour at all times in politics it’s just a bit of fun and hope it didn’t cause offence, you sure you’re not “a mild mannered Cllr by daytime- but at night he’s Hong Kong Fuey!”- good luck Sven we all want whats best for Brighton after all.

    • no offence, of course not! Just that the comment was a bit too left field for my little brain to process…
      Yes, I try to be mild mannered by daytime, but at night – I’m mostly tired.

      • It’s all that practising for that ever popular Green Group sport of “Theobald Baiting!” that makes you tired, Jason Kit-Cat appears to be the B&H undefeated champion.

  3. Such is the nature of this Election that a non-politcal evening led a couple of us to a pub, and, lo and behold, there was the genial Dan Wilson.

    And so it came to pass that talk turned, via H. G. Wells’s mid-period novels, much admired by Graham Greene, to… the local Election.

    We agreed that the Election, so far, does not have a great deal of fun about it. Perhaps this is the nature of the times; perhaps it is the systems of campaigning; perhaps it’s the winter.

    Perhaps the student vote will bring some brio to it.

    We also agreed that, in such fora as this one, it can seem the stuff of banter – predictions being akin to hoping to nudge pennies from a moving shovel in a Palace Pier arcade’s glass case – but in fact it is people’s lives: I came back yesterday evening, the mind full of sometimes harrowing stories heard on doorsteps or from people who had asked me in.

    People sometimes jeer at Councillors as a bunch of freeloaders but I should say that in almost any area a Councillor who gives his or her time to it has quite a load. And, in the nature of things, that sort of work is not made public.

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