The divisions within the local political parties that provide such gold dust for this Blogger

Allie Cannell, one of the more astute political observers around, and the type of organiser that Labour would kill for, has asked one of the more sensible questions of late: “How do you have such good knowledge of all the campaigns in all the wards, BPB??? The political parties would pay a fortune to be as well informed about the opposition as you are.”

The simple response is that the political parties do have all the information themselves but a condition that effects many politicians is intrigue and division, and this leads to some handy tips coming my way.

On divisions, each of the four parties locally (and out of the kindness of my heart I still refer to the Lib Dems as a party rather than a joke with an appalling punch line), is divided to the core. Starting with the Lib Dems, they had two councillors and they managed to split right down the middle. That takes some doing. Imagine what it would be like if they had more activists to fill a phone box!

The Tories are split between the working class Kemptown Conservative Association and the ‘united’ Brighton Pavilion and Hove association. Could this be a bit of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. A uneasy truce exists within the local Tories, but just wait until the evening of 6th May when the knives will be out for Mary Mears, Dee Simpson and Maria Caulfield, especially if the Tories do badly. Payback time.

I heard that at a recent hustings organised by the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, the Tories were represented by Mary and The Bishop, (Brian Oxley) – Kemptown and Hove together. Mary is said to have responded to every single question while the The Bishop sat serenly by, in silent prayer, without muttering a word!

There are hidden divisions with the Greens, but they are well covered. Originally, the fault line was between those supporting Caroline Lucas for the nomination to fight Brighton Pavilion and those who wanted a local candidate (in the form of Keith Taylor). Dynamic though he may be, Keith is no match for Caroline. I really can’t see that Keith could have pulled off a sensational victory for the Greens last May! Similar divisions persist. Who will be the top two on the Green list for the next European elections. This dispute is simmering. I couldn’t possibly comment on this contest other than to say that women candidates are doing better than male candidates of late, and there are several excellent women Green activists locally.

Labour, traditionally the local party most divided against itself, has few divisions of late, so I am told. Yes, the East Brighton Polituro has taken over from the defeated Queens Park Mafia. So shell-shocked has the party been following two successive and devastating defeats at the polls, that people are pulling together. Yet there was no proper analysis and no changes following previous defeats. But following the third devastating defeat, the reality of which is scheduled to hit home mid afternoon on 6th May, Labour must take a long and hard look at itself.

So why is all of this relevant to Allie’s fascinating question? Politicians of all parties ‘speak’ to me, some directly (you can find me most evenings in the Neptune masquerading as Chris Hawtree), others by Twitter Direct Messaging (@BrightonPolitic) or by emailing me at My mobile number is 0765 3789 754 123 856 (ha ha ha, as the horse used to say in the John Smith Bitter advert).

I use only a fraction of what I am told. I struggle, believe it or not, to get much out of any Green activist other than Green Amy who sends me the occasional recipe for tasty cakes. The Greens are a disciplined bunch.

As I said above, the parties have all the information that I rely on since most (not all) of it comes from them. I remain just a humble scribe, with few friends and fewer prospects.

11 Responses

  1. Presumably Averil Older will be campaigning for her Hangleton daughter rather than her erstwhile colleagues? I always saw a look of despair upon her face when some of these held forth.

  2. So there are such deep divisions within local parties that they send you e-mails dishing the dirt on one another!?!

    I’m glad you have problems getting info out of the Green Party then. We have our tensions but I dont think there are divisions that big in the Greens.

  3. Personally I take a degree of back-biting and skullduggery within a party’s ranks as a sign of good health – ‘rude’, one might say. Perhaps one day the stony-eyed, implacably silent Greenists will ‘human-up’ and begin supplying suitably juicy copy for you. We can but hope.

  4. If Allie Cannell is such an astute activist with a finely attuned sense of student issues, then why did he fare so badly in the Sussex Student Union Elections?

    • oooh, that hurts deep RickT 🙂

      My excuse is that I found it very hard to campaign against someone who I thought might be better than me at the job.

      Becca will be a great Operation Officer so i’m quite pleased she won.

      I did enjoy that election campaign, and it was actually quite a different way of campaigning to party politics.

  5. Not sure about the Greens discipline when it comes to picking candidates.

    I wonder if Mr. Hawtree’s Green friends know he went out delivering leaflets anonymously in the dead of night to households around the North Laine asking “are the Greens a bunch of cabbages?”!

    That leaflet in full:

    • Sadly Mr Hawtree has a long reputation of negative campaigning and nasty personal attacks

    • That leaflet looks like its pretty old as it says Keith Taylor is a councillor.

      I don’t believe Chris would go around delivering things to smear the Greens either, he works hard campaigning for the Greens. Some sneaky campaigning going on here… I wonder who Daft Old Codger is for a start.

    • (Hi Nigel F.)

      Christopher has long campaigned vigorously on matters of the built environment and we rather admire his style!

      Mercifully, Chris left the question of whether we were cabbages open and began actively supporting the Greens not long after Pete West returned to St Peters.

  6. Here are two people leaping to his defence, but no word from the man himself.

    Of course he can’t respond – or is very scared to. I used to be a friend of Chrisopher Hawtree but our friendship ended over increasingly bizarre allegations he was making about councillors. Some of these rants were left on answerphone in the middle of the night and certainly make for interesting listening. Christopher also will be aware of some of the other things I know about him – another reason I am sure he does not want to engage in this discussion.

    Ask yourself the question steampunk – why does Chris feel the need to deliver all these things secretly and anonymously at night? Why not a letter to the Argus in his own name? Methinks he is nothing more than a political opportunist riding multiple horses at once … and plodding along for a fall!!!

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