Greens and Labour should prioritise its candidates in key marginals to maximise representation

In this local elections, which is likely to be decided by the smallest majorities, it is not too late for the Greens and Labour to prioritise some of its candidates to increase the chances of having councillors elected. The Greens have prioritised candidates in the seats where they have little or no chance of being elected, but inexplicably in some marginals they have not. I have said before that this decision demonstrates a fundamental lack of judgement and political instinct.

Take Preston Park and Goldsmid wards. The Greens have one sitting councillor in each ward, and they have a reasonable chance of winning all three seats in both wards. Nevertheless, the result will be close and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that both Amy Kennedy and Alex Phillips could be defeated. Both are excellent councillors and their experience will be necessary for the Greens should they be the largest party on May 6th.

Alex Phillips, in particular, could be vulnerable as she is second from the bottom, eleventh of twelve, on the ballot paper. Her Green colleagues are second and fifth. It would be a major set back for the Greens in the City, and for the City itself, if councillor Phillips was to lose. While there are a large number of young and very young candidates standing for the first time in May, none other than Robert Nemeth has much hope of winning. As someone who is well past my ‘sell by’ date, I am all for a wide range of ages of councillors on the Council. Alex and Robert are likely to be the only two councillors below the age of 30. (A little aside regarding the lovely Luke Walter – should Jeane Lepper retain her seat, as I think she will, Luke will be the one most likely to lose out purely because he is bottom of the ballot paper).

That is one reason I hope that Alex Phillips will be re-elected. Another reason is she is more likely than most to be able to work with Labour, a quality that will be needed post May. The Greens should have prioritised (and still could) its candidates in Goldsmid, with Alex Phillips as the First Choice Green Candidate. It is foolish to jeopardise he prospects of one of your key assets. If you live in Goldsmid and are not a Green supporter, I would encourage that you loan one of your votes to Alex Phillips.

Similarly in Preston Park, Amy Kennedy should be the First Choice Green Candidate. It is less of an issue in Preston Park as the three Green candidates are grouped sixth, seventh and eight, with Stassi Amy at seventh. Like Alex, Amy is a formidable councillor, and a strong feminist. If she was to lose her seat it too would be a great loss to the Greens and the City.

There are few obvious Labour seats where prioritisation should take place, but that shouldn’t stop the party. In Goldsmid, sitting councillor Melanie Davies is the highest Labour candidate on the ballot paper, as is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll. Other areas where Labour is defending a seat, the sitting councillors is the highest Labour candidate on the ballot paper. That leaves longshot seats for Labour, such as Queens Park, Hanover and Elm Grove, and even St Peters and North Laine. Targeting, say, the top candidate on the ballot paper could see some interesting developments. Just a thought.

20 Responses

  1. Agree with a lot of what you said!
    Not sure about the Queens park being a longshot though, I mean have a look at the amount Labour lost by!

    Also I certainly hope the Greens that do retain there seats are willing to work with Labour (and vice versa), on certain issues especially housing, thats a hot topic and more housing is much needed.

    I dont think that many shock Green victories will occur this time actually, my confidence has risen after the door knocking and the results im hearing.

    • I can finally agree with Harris Fitch on something! Housing certainly is a hot topic.

      I am pleased that he also agrees that more housing is needed. This is particularly true of Council Housing. I wonder if his Labour colleagues agree with him though? After all it was they who disastrously tried to sell off Council Housing in 2007.

      It was also under Labour that no Council Homes were built in 30 years, leaving a legacy of huge waiting lists!

      So whilst Housing is undoubtedly an important issue, residents are well aware that Labour’s record on this issue in Brighton and Hove is truly shameful!

      • The stock transfer that Mary Mears supported until the last minute.

        And it’s wrong to say no social housing was built under Labour – there’s plenty I can show people in my ward – Monument View, The Causeway, Pulborough Close. But housing associations don’t count as far as the Tories are concerned.

        And it was the Labour government which enabled local councils to build council homes again, not the Tories.

  2. One of the advantages of either being top or bottom of the ballot paper is telling voters exactly where you are. With us in H&S, all three are at the bottom. In PP, all three are in the middle. This makes it far easier for voters to find all three Green candidates.

    I still haven’t detected any swing back to Labour and would remind Labour candidates and supporters to look at the regional breakdown of recent opinion polls – still no enthusiasm for Labour in the South of England but a very large swing back to Labour in the North, Scotland and Wales.

    • Luke, it’s your birthday, give yourself a little break…

      • But Luke LOVES to talk about these things. He can’t take a break from it because it’s part of him! Whereas I, on the other hand……

  3. I would suggest that proritising for Labour in Queens Park could see Tom French in (assuming he got number one). Given his current work rate he’d deserve it too.

  4. I’m a little more confident than you, Baps, about younger people getting elected. I look forward to joining many people of my age as councillors in May.

    Fact fans: Robert Nemeth has stood as a candidate in local elections twice previously – once in a by-election and once with Mike Macfarlane, both times in the Regency ward.

  5. If Amy were to be prioritised in Preston Park then it would be the death knell for the other Green Party candidates chances. It would make Amy’s election a certainty, but I think she should be safe anyway, so why risk it. If my memory serves me right, I think one of the Green Party candidates in Preston Park withdrew very late in the last round of elections because of a disagreement over this very issue.

    Labour might as well try the tactic in SPNL and HEG, and maybe there would be a surprise result. I would agree with Harris that Queens Park is a reasonable shot for them to get all three seats, so prioritisation would limit the potential win. However, they may regret not using the tactic in Hollingdean and Stanmer.

    You cannot expect to win all the seats in any ward if you prioritise your candidates. It is essentially a tactic for parties who do not have the confidence to simply invite the people to vote for them. The continued use of the tactic by the Green Party may suggest a tactical nous, but also a lack of confidence in their ability to actually win the Council by the strength of their arguments alone.

  6. Hugh could do well for the Greens in Patcham. Look at all those boards going up. And he’s making it fun there.

    I like the way he got in a reply to Geoffrey Theobald’s reply to his Supplmentary Question about curtailed buses there in the snow. He said, “so you mean they’re the wrong sort of hills?” before the Mayor silenced him and said he had to go back to his seat.


  7. Re Goldsmid, Vince Meegan lost last time as a sitting councillor, while his colleague Mel Davis was elected – another case of alphabet democracy. Plus I believe that the statistics indicate that it helps to be a woman (?).

    The only failed Tory last time round was called Wade; they have a ‘Debra Livingstone-Wade’ standing this time, which I assume could be his spouse learning from her husband’s misfortune (?).

    Alex Phillips’ Green colleagues appear to have rather deeper community roots than she does, so it is probably only fair not to prioritise. This was pointed out by a Green member (as it would appear) on another thread.

  8. Interesting new development in the use of statistics has landed on my doormat. The Green Party are claiming to be ‘ahead in Preston Park’, and use this claim above a bar chart of the 2010 general election result – of course showing the Green Party winning with 31.3% of the vote. There is no evidence whatsoever for the claim in respect of Preston Park. I wonder how many other wards the Green Party are making this claim in?

    I look forward to the usual condemnation of such misleading tactics.

    • Indeed.

      To prioritise on the ballot paper, you have to register additional party names with the Electoral Commission. eg “the Brighton Party First Choice candidate”, “the Brighton Pary Second Choice candidate” and so on..

      With the AV referendum going on I’m not sure this tactic might not confuse some people this time.

    • The reason that the Greens haven’t prioritised in Preston Park or Goldsmid is becasuse our canvassing returns show that we’re far enough ahead to win all three seats.

      Where we think we’ll win all three seats we don’t prioritise. Simple as that.

      We don’t release our own polling because quite rightly the other parties would say it is not reliable as we conducted it. But it is also in our own interest to have accurate statistics so we know whats happening.

      • Allie – of course you will say that, but the reality is that you prioritise where you think you won’t win any seats otherwise, and so wish to concentrate your chances. Nothing wrong with that – it makes tactical sense, but there’s no point pretending otherwise. Prioritising in seats where you could possibly win all the seats would inevitably risk only winning one, eg PP. If you win all the seats where you have not prioritised then I think that amounts to 22 seats, so you will certainly need some of the tactical choices to work as well. There are 21 wards in the City, and you are only confident of winning 8.

        Would you like to comment on the ‘Greens are ahead in Preston Park’ claim. Are you saying this is just based on your canvassing returns?

  9. I’m not sure that a party’s own polling is ever accurate. As my elderly father said after being visited, ‘I told em I’d vote for em’. When I suggested that said party was not the usual one of his choice he replied ‘Well you tell em anythin to get rid of em dern’t yer!’

  10. All parties would have carried out their own sampling in various wards during the count at the General Election. Yes, the parties will draw different conclusions from the sampling but, by and large, all parties would see which party was ahead in which ward and polling districts in those wards.

    Unless any of pseudonyms were at the GE count and measured the sampling from the various wards and polling districts, I would advise knocking on doors to find out folks attitudes to the parties, rather than mere guess work and spin.

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