Greens electoral tactic may just take them over the winning line

The description that the Greens are using to describe themselves gives a fascinating insight into that party’s ambitions for Brighton and Hove City Council. It is employing a tried and tested method of ‘borrowing’ a vote for one of its candidates from the other parties. In certain wards it has described its candidates as “Green Party First Choice Candidate”, “Green Party Second Choice Candidate” and, where there are three seats up for election, “Green Party Third Choice Candidate”.

This tactic is being used in seats where the Greens have concluded that they can’t win outright. Where they believe they can win all the seats, they describe their candidates simply as being from “The Green Party”.

From this we can assume that the Greens are confident of winning St Peters and North Laine, Hanover and Elm Grove, Queens Park, and Regency. If the Greens were to hold all the seats in these wards they would return 11 councillors. In Preston Park and Goldsmid wards, the Greens are not prioritising any candidates. In Preston Park the Geens are grouped in the middle of the ballot paper with very popular sitting councillor, Amy Noelle Kennedy (Noelle? You’ve kept that quiet, Green Amy!) listed alphabetically just beneath one her fellow Green candidates.

More surprising is the Green’s decision not to prioritise their candidates in Goldsmid. Up against the Greens is another popular sitting councillor, Labour’s Melanie Davies. I have predicting a split result here with Melanie topping the poll with two Greens elected in second and third place. What concerns me is that sitting Green councillor, Alex Phillips, is one from the bottom of the ballot paper, and listed well below her fellow Green candidates who are near the top of the ballot paper. I think that the decision not to prioritise Green candidates in Goldsmid is a mistake and whoever was behind this decision shows a fundamental lack of political and campaigning judgement.

Having said that, I believe that Alex Phillips will be one of the two successful Geens. Her breakthrough in the Goldsmid by-election, when she became the first-ever Green to be elected in Hove, was key to giving the Big Mo to the Green campaign in Brighton Pavilion. Alex Phillips is currently the Baby of the Council Chamber, but she is cut from the same cloth as Caroline Lucas and will, in years to come, be as significant a politicians as her mentor.

Assuming three and two Greens are elected from Preston Park and Goldsmid respectively, that would take the Green total to 16.

Then there is Hollingdean and Stanmer. The Greens have not prioritised candidates in this ward, suggesting it is confident of winning all three seats. I have always said that I expect Jeane Lepper will hold her seat. If the Greens do win two seats here, it would take the Green total to 18.

The Green’s number 1 target is Brunswick and Adelaide. Once again, the Greens are not prioritising its candidates for the two seats up for election in this ward. Success here would take the Greens to 20. Just where the next 7 seats might come from is a matter of guess work. Central Hove could just provide a shock and Chris Hawtree, as the “Green Party First Choice Candidate”, could be elected.

The Greens could pick up the odd seat here and there. Allie Cannell and Chris Hawtree are confident about Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. Rottingdean Coastal and Patcham have been mentioned in dispatches. I don’t see it, but the Caroline Effects may yet prove to be the decisive factor on May 5th.

Finally, the romantic in me wishes George and le Toothbrush a long and happy life together. But their chances of success in May? No chance.

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26 Responses

  1. What does the split in the Tories in Hangleton betoken?

    Could Averil Older’s daughter as an independent be welcomed by Brian Fitch?

    And in Wish, Mark Barnard is always astute on the local scene. He must sense something in the air. the Greens could rise there.

  2. Well that would be an amazing turnaround from the 2007 results, which were to nearest 10:

    Brunswick & Adelaide:

    1st Lib Dem 1670
    2nd Cons 720
    3rd Lab 540
    4th Green 482

    Goldsmid:

    1st Cons 3760
    2nd Lab 3530
    3rd Green 2603

    Hollingdean & Stanmer;

    1st Lab 3430
    2nd Cons 2500
    3rd Green 1680

    They came 3rd or less in all three wards. I’m not that good at maths, so not sure what the swing would be for Greens, but it would take a miracle for your assumptions to come true.

  3. Dear Linda F,

    I’m afraid your numbers for Brunswick are very wrong. Greens came second in Brunswick & Adelaide in 2007.

    See this council link http://bit.ly/h9xbLY

    If you add a good proportion of the LibDem votes to the Green vote in those other two wards we clearly can win. And Greens have a strong record of getting people out to vote who don’t otherwise vote.

    regards,
    Jason

  4. My apologies, I missed out Hazel Ellison’s 430 votes in B&A.

    I don’t see a majority of LibDem, votes going to Greens. Like the LibDem national party, some are Liberal and some Social Democrat. Greens are more to the Left than Labour, so perhaps it’s more likely the left LibDems will vote Labour and the right vote Tory.

    Apart from B&A, I find it hard to see how the Greens can achieve the results that BPB foresee.

  5. “Could just take them over the winning line” is the headline, but the key sentence is “Just where the next 7 seats might come from is a matter of guess work”.

    The Greens are not seriously contesting enough wards – about 8 or 9 out of the 21 – to win enough seats for a majority. These elections will not produce a Green-run council. Labour is likely to hold and win seats in around 15 wards, more than enough for the 28 seats needed to outvote other parties.

    This post is a triumph of optimism over reality. The truth is, if voters want a non-Tory council they are better advised to elect Labour/Labour & Co-operative councillors on May 5th.

  6. Warren — it obviously depends (due to our electoral system) where you are. It verges on misleading, dishonest even, for Labour to suggest that in ALL wards a Labour vote is best placed to stop the Tories.

    Take my ward, Regency, where Tories came second both in my by-election and the main May 2007 elections. Labour were third each time and Greens first.

    If you are a left leaning Regency voter without any strong party affiliation, who wants to stop the Tories gaining seats, then a Green vote is your best bet. Same in Goldsmid where Tories came second in the 2009 by-election there.

    The tactical considerations in Rottingdean or North Portslade are of course somewhat different!

    regards,
    Jason

    • Jason – if it is misleading and dishonest to suggest that a Labour vote is the best way to stop the Tories in all wards – which I would agree with – could you tell us in which wards a Labour vote is the best way to stop the Tories, and in which wards a Green vote is the best bet.

  7. Jason,

    I have to disagree, and it really isn’t “misleading or dishonest” for me to advocate a vote for my party in wards we can win. Labour had a seat in Regency until 2007 and can win there again, and clearly the same applies in Goldsmid where we have a councillor and where we held all seats at one time.

    The situation nationally and locally is very different to 2007 and 2009 and voters are now far more anti-Tory than anti-Labour.

    Greens can’t advocate a “vote on principle” for Greens in wards where they can’t win *and* a tactical left vote for the Greens in wards where the Greens are fighting Labour and/or the Tories. If you are saying Greens should vote for Labour in wards where we currently hold all or most of the seats then I’m happy to take that!

  8. Warren — I will of course always urge people to vote Green wherever they are, Greens are in a strong and growing position city-wide. But your post was a tactical plea saying that Labour was the only way to stop the Tories across the city, no matter the ward – hence Labour’s misleading use of the 2010 city-wide general election result, as previously noted by BPB.

    I challenged your argument based on the facts in a couple of wards I know. I wanted to debate the tactical issues in a non-partisan way recognising the differences between wards.

    But if you’re going to keep turning it into a Labour drumbeat it’s not a productive conversation. I believe voters will inform themselves and come to a reasoned decision for the best of this city.

    regards,
    Jason

    • Jason – but it is always going to be hard for two candidates to have a reasonable argument about tactical voting when you are both obliged to urge everyone to vote for your own party. If you were to say vote Labour where the Green Party cannot win, and Warren likewise then there would be some point – otherwise its just trotting out the same lines. Everyone candidate on this blog does rather tediously trot out the party line, no matter how much it flies in the face of reality.

    • Why is it “misleading” for Labour to use the citywide results from 2010 in a citywide set of local elections, but it was ok for the Greens to use a South East regional result from the 2009 European elections in a city council by-election?

      Of course I’m not going to say “vote Labour in St Peter’s and North Laine to stop the Tories winning here” as clearly it is Labour and not the Tories who are the challengers to the incumbent Greens. I’d still advocate a vote for Labour of course.

      However my original point is that it is Labour rather than the Greens who are contesting more seats in more wards and who are more likely to overtake the Tories in terms of seats than the Greens. That’s not “Labour drumbeating” it is an observation of fact.

      • The 2009 Euro result we use is from Brighton & Hove counting area specifically:

        http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/downloads/bhcc/Results_for_website.pdf

        Not the whole of the South East region, where we didn’t come top – although we did push Labour into 4th place.

        Combining percentages from three constituencies as you are doing is statistically dodgy, although we’re not too bothered because we reckon people will remember that Greens won the Pavilion Parliamentary seat last year and realise there is something fishy about your figures.

      • Greens are standing candidates in all seats – a full slate in fact. So how are Labour contesting more seats in more wards? We are both contesting all the seats, as are the Tories I believe.

      • The problem, though, is that the Greens are more likely to make gains from Labour than the other way round. (Although I think a strong Labour campaign means Queens Park is a marginal)

        Where Labour challenge the Tories (Let’s call that Portslade) there will be Labour gains, but I suspect that is it.

        As a Labour Party member I am happy to concede that the Greens will be the biggest party in the ‘Christmas Coalition’ as I call it.

        Green, red, and a few old silvers left…

  9. Green shoots in various areas could be bamboo beneath other parties. Voters like the idea of looking ahead.

  10. Word at Tory HQ is that the illustrious Jo Heard may well win in Hangleton and Knoll as an independent. A seasoned campaigner for charities and for the Conservatives, and a well known face in the Ward, the decision not to select her as a Tory candidate for the seat is starting to look questionable. Don’t underestimate this well known and upstanding member of the community because she may well cause an upset.

    • ..or maybe it was her decision to stand as an Independent?

      • I gather that the Tories flew in a preferred candidate, which was indeed a bizarre thing to do.

        So it could now be Barnett/Fitch/Heard shoot outs by the Grenadier.

        Perhaps Brian will be promising twenty four hour opening for the Library and every book ever published; what’s more, a branch library on every Number Five bus. You can get through half of Middlemarch on the journey out there.

    • I did an interview with Jo the other week on the subject of Alzheimers. I knew she wasn’t happy with the Tories, but I didn’t realise she was standing. I now know candidates standing in all parties as well as an independant. It’s hard to be partisan!

    • From a hard day of campaigning in Hangleton and Knoll I find it near impossible that we wont see AT LEAST two of the Labour people in, with Brian getting the highest amount of votes.

      As with the independent, what we are hearing is she stood for a Tory seat, withdrew and went for Hangleton and Knoll and didnt make the grade, unfortunate for her I guess eh!

      If she does well stand by for three Labour.
      Without family bias I can honestly say that Brian Fitch is by far the best campaigner in a local council election I have ever seen.

  11. See the “Candy Apple”Coalition is looking solid then!, we all know what happens when you mix Red and Green..you get Brown!

  12. goldsmid was not prioritised because that would have meant writing off the chances of the other two candidates who both internally and externally are equally, if not more so, popular than the recently elected cllr – personally if we don’t get all three candidates in goldsmid i don’t have a preference of the exisitng cllr over the candiates, actually probably the other way round

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