Ten days to go and the campaign has gone oh so quiet

I’ve been silent for much of the last week, listening and observing. I have spent a bit of time in the majority of wards, for one reason or another, and spoken to several candidates in each party. What has emerged is a depressing picture – and election campaign that has failed to catch the imagination of the City, including party activists and members.

With very few exceptions (East Brighton, Queens Park, and seats in west Hove) Labour is in the doldrums. Some candidates and councillors are out and about, but in some seats it has been hard to get any party members to do any door knocking. In one town centre ward, just the three candidates have done in any door knocking and even then one of the three has limited his activity to the minimum.

It is largely candidates and councillors doing 95% of the work for Labour. So disorganised are they in some seats that members have complained about not being given posters for their windows, while others have decided not to out them up at all.

Members in Queens Park are full of praise for the tireless efforts of Tom French (no surprise there) and to a limited extent his running mates. In East Brighton, Warren Morgan (no doubt fortified by regular supplies of Sugar Puffs), Craig Turton (masquerading as the Sugar Monster) and Gill Mitchell, are going about their business with quiet determination (I said QUIET DETERMINATION, Warren). Labour posters are in clear evidence in East Brighton, but other than Hollingdean and Stanmer, and Hangleton and Knoll, this election is resembling a poster-free zone.

Tim Ridgeway recently counted the posters he could see from the number 26 bus (Chuck, the 26 goes from Churchill Square to the Hollingbury Industrial Estate) and he counted less than 10 posters in all. This included the Green heartland of St Peters and North Laine where Labour posters are numbering the same as Green posters. (I’m not predicting a shock result here but my sources have been impressed by the one woman campaign being run by young Clare Calder who is said to be out on the doorstep most days).

The Greens are faring a bit better, with activists turning out and members from beyond Brighton coming in at weekends to help. Momentum has been maintained in their key target seats. Much effort is going into defending the seats in Queens Park and challenging for gains in Brunswick and Adelaide and in Goldsmid where Green posters are clearly in evidence and Labour posters largely absent.

In Hanover and Elm Grove, where Labour is focussing much of its efforts, moving resources from elsewhere in the city, the small advances being made by Labour in what was once its safest seat, will come nowhere near displacing the Buddha (Bill Randall) and his two Green running mates.

Hollingdean and Stanmer continues to be a hot-bed of activism. Momma Grizzly is out most weekends but most of her efforts are focused on Coldean. Jeane Lepper has been here, there and everywhere, like a Catherine Wheel of bonfire night, and always a complimentary word for her Green opponents (well, perhaps not). But it is the Greens that are most evident and winning the poster war. In particular, Luke Walter is campaigning full time. Ironically he could be the loser in this Alphabet Election as he is bottom of the ballot paper and might be pipped to the post by Jeane Lepper.

In Regency, when James Asser isn’t stuck on trains, he and Dan Wilson, along with the Determined Anne Freeman, are working their socks off, but so too are the Kitcat Two. Dan and James may well reduce the Green majority but they have too much to make up.

Finally, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean looks as though it may produce a split result, but the Tories remain narrow favourites to take all three seats but Anne Meadows might yet hold on to her seat.

I still don’t have a feel for the campaigns in Central Hove, Wish and Westbourne wards. Has everyone given up and gone home? And what of Christopher Hawtree? It is very quiet on the Hawtree Front and our readers are missing your daily overview. Just 10 days to go and it will all be almost over …..

18 Responses

  1. “So disorganised are they in some seats that members have complained about not being given posters for their windows” – could be because like in East Brighton ward – where doorstep enthusiasm for Labour far exceeeds 2003 and 2007 – demand for posters is outsripping supply. Same in Hangleton and elsewhere.

  2. A Labour party member told me ruefully last weekend, “no matter what you do, the Tories will always win in Central Hove”. So I suspect that having come fourth last time round, this year they have been focussing on the more winnable wards further out such as Wish, Hangleton and the two in Portslade. Or perhaps everyone has gone to Queens Park?

    The Miserable Democrats have put out a leaflet here with a bar graph of the 2007 election result where they came second, and the words “so close” wrapped around the blue and yellow bars, as if that is an incentive to vote for them rather than a reminder of their shameful alliance!

    So a lot depends on how far the Lib Dem vote will collapse (spectacularly), how much Celia Barlow’s Ā£28,000 expenses claim has damaged her political reputation (significantly), whether perception of Tory laziness in the ward is as prevalent as it seems (repulsively) and finally, how effective the cheerfully low-budget Green campaign has been (wait and see).

  3. Wish is fascinating, and so is Hangleton. Labour has suddenly popped up in Brunswick by singing the praises of the previous Labour council and lauding the King Alfred plan. The LibDems are trying to obscure Watkins’s support of that and they now waffle about a “community co op” thing. Last autumn I sensed from the doorsteps that it would be two Greens in Brunswick, even if Paul Elgood keeps his current vote.

    It’s not for me to comment on Central and Westbourne.

    • But what about the Greens support for the King Alfred? The one which caused you to secretly leaflet the North Laine area with anti-Green propoganda?!

  4. Well I’m not a candidate and I’ve been out canvassing & delivering for the Torys.

    I was with 4 candidates, including Mary Mears, pounding the streets of Kemptown on Thursday. Today I was helping deliver for Goldsmid this morning and we have another couple of activists going to help them on Monday.

    There is a hive of activity going on in most of the wards from our activists: telephone canvassing, envelope stuffing, literature deliveries, knocking up and general cross ward support. There is much that goes on ‘under the radar’.

    I assume the other parties are just as busy and enthusiastic, although they probably don’t bother so much in wards that aren’t target or marginal. I come to this conclusion, because I have yet to see any literature or sighting of a candidate, other than Tory, in Hove Park Ward.

    Posters in windows don’t usually equate to more votes. Many Tory voters don’t like to display them ; they prefer to keep their political allegiances private. I noticed at the GE in 2010 there were a vast array of LibDem posters and boards around in B&H, and yet this did not reflect their final vote.

    • Why are pavements always “pounded”?

      Not a vote-winning approach.

      And risks injury, many a person on a doorstep might say.

  5. Word is that the Greens are under pressure in Regency and are stalling in Queens Park and Brunswick. They may also drop one seat in Hanover, Preston Park and Goldsmith.

    The Labour vote is too high to see Green or Tory gains.

  6. As a paid up member of the Labour Party who fully supports our Queens Park campaign, I would like to say how happy I would be to see us get completely stuffed in Hollingdean and Stanmer…

    • I must add that i have nothing against the sitting H&S councillors, I just feel that a heavy defeat in this ward would be a catalyst for change that Labour needs locally

  7. Don’t worry BPB, Luke is most definitely not a lone Green campaigner in Hollingdean & Stanmer…and our opponents are most definitely not complimentary nor do they resemble any sort of firework…apart from the occasional banger…usually when we’ve leafleted their homes šŸ™‚

  8. I have just read the Blogger’s piece again. He or she remarks that candidates are doing the bulk of the work. Surely this is a good thing? Obviously not possible in a Parliamentary campaign, but locally a candidate can cover the territory, pace it out.

    Some fellow went on at me about Europe, one of those who thinks that repetition is emphasis, and so I said: why are you telling me all this, why don’t you take to the doorsteps and speak with other people and put across your views, you might get some votes. But of course that requires more effort than sounding off.

    That sort of person always thinks he or she has dented enthusiasm but doesn’t realise that another letterbox rattle is another possibility.

    • Come on don’t play games Chris – your loose tongue has already outed the Blogger so why you’re playing this “he or she” nonsense is anyone’s guess. It’s a he, by the way!

  9. I wouldn’t worry about labour. The vote is certainly against the Tories and greens where it matters now. Look at the polls. From where I have been the traditional labour voters who decided not to come out or switch in 2007 are now postally voting labour or agreeing to come out on that faithful day to make it happen.

    as to out friend who wants to see Hollingbury and stanmer change I wouldn’t be so sure. speaking to activists I can say there will be a team there helping to win yet another labour victory!

  10. Won’t the left wing protests next Saturday have some effect on voting?, I and a friend who’s a Inspector in Brighton think that there will be widespread unrest and uncalled for violence/damage, it will be a Saturday and there will be families around the City, you may just see some Green/Socialist votes slip down the drain or stay at home and some Tory voters make sure they take the trip to the polling station.

    • Provided that the protesters have ‘exhausted all democratic avenues’ before they start damaging property and assaulting police officers I’m sure they will have the full support of the people – well, at least one person anyway.

  11. The Conservative campaign in H&S is certainly not just focused on Coldean. We’re campaigning hard all over the ward, Baps! Tsk tsk.

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