Labour faces meltdown on Thursday as it intends to put most eggs in few baskets

When the Labour Party was the dominant force in Brighton politics, it was able to sustain election campaigns in most, if not all, wards. Hove Labour Party was never as strong but it could put up a reasonable showing across the old Hove Borough.

But, ten years of steady decline has resulted in Labour resembling the Lib Dems – competing seriously in just a handful of wards. Here we are, two days out from polling, the Party hierarchy has already decided which wards to give up on and to which it will direct its limited resource of activists.

The good news for the Tories is that several seats in central Hove are being written off, with a focus on Hangleton and Knoll (where Labour are handing out window posters printed on green day-glo paper) and the two Portslades. In Brighton, there is some good news for the Greens as theformer safe seat of Hollingdean and Stanmer is being left to it’s own devices. Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, also, is not being prioritised. The powers that be a determined to devote a disproportionate amount of people on polling day to the one Brighton seat that Labour believes it can pick up seats from the Greens – Queens Park.

In H&S and M&B Labour currently has five councillors – all women. In Queens Park it has no councillors and Labour is fielding three young(ish) men. So obsessed is Labour that it appears to be willing to sacrifice councillors Jeane Lepper, Christine Simpson, Pat Hawkes, Ann Meadows and Mo Marsh just so that it can record that single victory over the Greens.

A few days ago I suggested that Labour should not have focused so much on Queens Park and should have had one of it’s action days in Hollingdean and Stanmer. The Tories seem to have devoted more time and effort into H&S than Labour, with Mary Mears, Simon Kirby and others turning out to support Rachael Bates who most observers will agree (though not Momma Grizzly herself) has little chance of success.

Hanover and Elm Grove has secured some additional attention frrom Labour, but it is being openly discussed in the Napier and elsewhere on Muesli Hill that ‘the call’ will come from Labour supremo, Keith Day, probably around 6pm, for activists in Hanover and Elm Grove to move into Queens Park.

It looks as though St Peters and North Laine, and Preston Park are regarded as already lost by Labour. That would see two Labour seats in Preston Park going Green. In Goldsmid, Labour will fight to defend its single seat.

But it is Queens Park that is the obsession of the Labour High Command. If Labour picks up a seat, even two, possibly all three seats in Queens Park, much will be made of it by the Labour Party. But if it is achieved it will be at the cost of other seats.

Labour will win in East Brighton. The is no suggestion that activists move out of that area, and quite right too. But it could find itself as influential in Brighton politics as the Lib Dems currently are in Brighton and Hove politics. Labour needs a good clear out and should start again, building from the bottom, and not from Party HQ which has presided over defeat, decline and now further defeat. These people have no idea how to organise a political party, no idea how to win, and Brighton and Hove politics is the worse for it.

73 Responses

  1. As I mentioned in the previous thread, if Greens are the second largest party and they formed a coalition with Labour, how would they deal with the Labour Cuts v Green Robin Hood Taxes/No Cuts?

    Surely Labour would need to side with the Torys in that case?

  2. Why Queen’s Park? Is it because Labour think it will form part of Brighton Pavilion after the boundary changes?

  3. Some interesting observations BPB. This could be heading for the best possible scanrio for the Green Party, which would be – Tories as largest party, and remaining in power, but Labour reduced to say 8-9 seats. The Green Party then do not have to implement the cuts – can be the rallying voice of opposition, and replace Labour as the main anti-Tory across the City. A tactical triumph with all eyes on 2015. Perhaps.

    I have never really thought the the Green Party wanted to win, attacking Labour always more important to them (and probably more fun for the unreconstituted ex Labour members) – and as I said some time ago, this is a good election to lose, so long as you don’t lose it badly.

    The Queens Park/Preston Park blanace is interesting. Last time the Green Party sacrificed two seat in Preston Park in order to win three in Queens Park – following the school admissions furore. This means that both parties are in a slightly false position at the moment – as in any other circumstance Labour would have lost Preston Park, but held Queens Park – particularly given the margins.

    Interesting to hear that, when the school admissions issue is raised on the doorstep in PP, which it still is (negatively), the Green Party say it was Labour’s doing, so vote Green. I bet they don’t say that in Queens Park, where they disgracefully sold out the children of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean for a few more seats on the Council.

    A reversal this time would be great for Labour, but the loss of Kevin Allen and Juliet McCaffrey (to be replaced by two Green Party men, by the way), would significantly lower the level of experience and competence in Council. Both deserve the support of the voters.

    • thanks for this thoughtful response, Doctor. I agree that, to an extent, this is a good election to lose.

    • the idea that Kevin Allen and Juliet McCaffery could be considered a loss to the council in terms of experience and competence is laughable whatever your political colours.

      • Not my experience at all, particularly when compared to many of the others of all parties

  4. hah. Greens aren’t by any chance worried about Queens Park are they?

    Massively strong labour campaign going on in all target wards. Greens would be well advised to watch their flank.

  5. This is utter tosh BPB, total fiction, another of your Green tinged rants. It is absurd to suggest any Labour held seats are being abandoned and that sitting councillors are being “sacrificed”. It is arrogant of you to talk about “now further defeat”for Labour before voters have gone to the polls and proved your predictions wrong. You are even wrong about East Brighton in this post.

    Its still quite astonishing that you state Labour is no longer a citywide force when it is Labour who are seeking to win seats in 14-15 wards (you have said yourself in previous posts that there are safe seats where opponents don’t commit huge resources and effort), and the Greens who are actively contesting only 8 or 9. As I’ve said time and time again, only Labour can win enough seats to oust the Tories, the Greens cannot hope to approach 20 let alone 28.

    We have spoken to tens of thousands of voters across the city in the last few months and weeks and based on those returns the results are going to be very different to those you predict.

    • Warren, I hope you do prove me wrong, and I will be very content to eat a huge slice of humble pie. But from what I am being told, my predictions are not likely to be proven to be “utter tosh”. If all of Brighton and Hove resembled East Brighton, with the quality of organisation and Labour councillors such as yourself, Gill and Craig (there are several other excellent Labour councillors – I have frequently mentioned Jeane Lepper amongst others) then I wouldn’t be making such pessimistic predictions.

      My criticism, as always, is offered in a constructive spirit. I accept my timing leaves a lot to be desired – I should have waited until Friday evening. I do wish you well on Thursday as I am generally closer to people in Labour than I am with people in the Green Party. In spite of earlier comments, I am voting Labour as it makes sense to me to do so where I live.

    • Warren Morgan: “…It is arrogant of you to talk about “now further defeat”for Labour before voters have gone to the polls…”

      Warren Morgan: “…Conservatives lost this election a long time ago, deservedly so…”

      Surely not double standards from the esteemed Mr Morgan, or will he apologise for his arrogance?

  6. Bit harsh on Labour BPB.

    The hard work continues across all wards including SPNL Plenty of new blood among our candidates , a good mixture of experience and fresh ideas.

    • Hi Pete, I accept that hard work has continued across some wards, but Labour doesn’t have the activist base anymore to do so in all wards. I appreciate that my knowledge isn’t extensive regarding each and every ward (and I must accept what you say about SPNL) although it has been suggested that in a number of wards activists, even candidates, are being encouraged to work in Queens Park. Good luck on Thursday. BPB

  7. I agree with BPB that Lab is heading for around 8 seats and the Greens 20 ish. Lab left as a rump should allow the Tories to rule again on a minority basis. Labour will have to move left to outflank the Greens and wont be able to work with them.
    But it is sad to see the party organisation so carefully built by the likes of Nobby Clarke, so bereft. In the 70s Lab used black on dayglo posters and today’s sparse pathetic apologies are blobs that can’t be read-symptomatic of moribund organisation and ideas. Brian Fitch is an exception as his posters do stand out and blanket Knoll.
    Apart from not knowing how to fight the Greens, I think the loss of annual elections for Council is hurting Labour. Annual Elections were opportunities for new activists to be found and get involved at Ward level.It provided political communication with client voters and helped mobilise them and their loyalty.
    Labour needs to show at local level how Social Democracy can be a coherent progressive alternative to a Green broad church.

    • Completely agree about the annual elections. Labour are the big losers, as it is more difficult to maintain an organisation with no elections for 4 years. The Tories are not an active political party in the same way, and the Green Party are happy not to have to commit limited resources year after year. They are heavily reliant on the student vote and activism, which means that having to only recruit voters every four years, is a great help to them given the transitory nature of their support.

      I also think it makes the people involved in their Council – and thinking about who they want in charge, which can’t be a bad thing.

      • How long ago did Brighton council have annual elections? I’m interested to know, not trying to make a point.

      • I think it was before the creation of the unitary B&H There was a ward election in 3 out of 4 years and in the 4th year there was an election for the County Council seat – one for each ward. Not sure what happened in places with only two seats – perhaps there weren’t any.

      • Forgot to add – that makes it 1997.

      • Not sure I agree with the assessment of the Greens vote – in the time I’ve been involved in Brighton, I have spoken to a massive amount of families in the Queen’s Park and Hanover & Elm Grove area who are obviously solid Green, not just the student vote.

        But I’d also ask Labour, Lib Dems and Conservative parties why they don’t target and work with students and those involved in activism within the community, if they think these are “easy” votes? I’d like their concerns to be listened to by all of the parties here, not just us.

    • Good point about the posters- Hanover Labour posters look yellowy-green! What was wrong with the red ones in QP. Bizarre choice- gives the impression there would be an even stronger green vote for the Green Buddha!

  8. Mary Mears and Simon Kirby were indeed in H&S and I should add, Baps, that they were out in support of all of the H&S Conservatives – we’re a strong team and we intend to win as a team.

    • Hi Grizzly, remind me of the names of your invisible, or should that be imaginary, fellow candidates …. BPB

      • You are a cheeky one, Baps.

        My running-mates are Rob Labs and Patrick Lowe.

    • I think we probably have a better idea of where Tory voters are than the Tories.

      • Considering many of the residents we’ve spoken to say that we’re the only party that they’ve had on their doorstep, I find that quite hard to believe, Luke.

      • Rachael – don’t forget we are building on our canvass from the general election. So the Tory voters you get to talk to now we mainly noted last year.

  9. I will be amazed if the Greens don’t take all 3 seats in Q.P, they have worked very hard there from the evidence I have seen. Labour posters must be outnumbered 10 to 1 by the Greens. Also going to be very interesting in H&S where Green posters are everywhere, I still doubt the Greens can do it there though. M&B is very depressing if true. I think the TU anti-cuts candidate and a strong Green showing there will mean the left vote is split 3 ways, meaning the Tories could pinch seats on very few votes. Pity UKIP didn’t put up a candidate. Yet another reason our electoral system is so undemocratic when so few votes elect councillors most voted against. There are 11,000 potential voters in M&B and a councillor only needs a 1000 to get elected.

    • Your’e avin a giraffe mate, I’m not sure which Queens Park you live in but there are shed loads of Labour posters around here. It’s about even.

  10. PS. Surely 20 Greens and 8 Labour would stop the Tories. Are the Labour party so right wing in Brighton they would let the Tories carry on the cuts with no regard for the poorest? Rhetorical question maybe. Sad reflection on local democracy if no-one wants to win because they have to carry the can for government cuts they can do little about.

    • I hope and believe that people are intelligent enough to see where cuts are coming from, and that Labour and the Greens are intelligent enough to work together for the good of the city.

      To read this blog over the last few days you would not know that this city has been governed, none too effectively and with precious little imagination, by the Tories for the past four years.

      How about some comment and consideration on that, and less of the bickering and bar charts?

  11. Predictions are idle with two or so days to go.

    The result swims right now around the collective consciousness of those who will vote, and that entails so many imponderables, from the man who hopes to get back from work in Haywards Heath in time to those who do not realise they have more than one vote… ah, the wheels of democracy.

    Hove is certainly changing, though I was aghast in Albany Towers to find a man, with an unfortunate name, who will vote Conservative because the National Front is not standing, and that all blacks should be sent elsewhere. And this he declared while dressed in baggy underwear. I am amazed at the number of people who leap from shower to front bell.

    Meanwhile, there are some in Westbourne who, understandably, are unaware that local elections are going on.

    All eyes on Westbourne next time. Another Brunswick.

    • Better tell the baggy underweared man from Albany Towers not to vote Tory, because we have ethnic minority candidates.

      However Labour & Green…….!

      • An interesting observation. The candidates are looking rather white, but I don’t know enough about their backgrounds to comment on whether they are from minority ethnic groups.

      • Someone can still be a bigot regardless of ethnic background, the same way I know plenty of white skinheads who detest racism in all its forms.

        Besides, the Greens certainly do have BME candidates, we’re not all caucasian.

      • Linda / Luke – I know this is based on just looking at people and not knowing their backgrounds – but the number of BAME candidates across the board looks very small, and perhaps something the local parties need to address. It appears to me that there are only five candidates across the City – Labour; Jatin Patel and David Speirs: Tories, Ayas Fallon-Khan and Rob Labs; Green Party, Anton Simanowitz.

        Many apologies if I missed anyone out. Not all candidates have pictures on the party web-sites. It certainly doesn’t look as if any party can claim any particular credit here.

  12. Well BPB, my suggestion that the Labour canvassers hop on the number 81 and come over to Queens Park from H&S appears to have been followed up…

  13. Bang on the money BPB, my sources within Brighton Labour tell me that everything has been thrown at QP and Warren is running scared. Yesterday he told porky pies about the Tories not having been in Whitehawk, only to find a list of comments on their eastbrightonconservatives Facebook from people who have been out working in Whitehawk.His twitters are getting sillier and sillier, and by my reckoning 151% of all the EB electorate are now voting labour, and EB is awash with labour posters. Me thinks not warren. Perhaps too much sugar intake from those sugar puffs is finally having an effect.Watch out that those labour figures do not explode in your face.No longer a serious politician Warren

  14. If this town was fought on Posters anyone such as I would tell you we would have had Gill Haynes,Dave Hill,Rod Fitch and Harry Spillman all in Parliament over the years and Labour would have controlled the council back in the seventies, 70% of voters will decide where their cross goes because of that little screen that sit’s in the corner of their living room, and it’s probably the reason why the Green Machine in some quarters have pushed Servalan and national policy.

  15. If Warren Morgan etc get back in, will Whitehawk be renamed Sugar Puff Mountain?

  16. A wise Psephologist Ghost in our midst.

  17. Rumour has it that all is not well at Labour HQ. Steve Bassam does not agree with Warren’s targeting of QP and is worried about the sneaky under the radar Tories in East Brighton.

    Ghost. Are your reliable Labour sources the same as mine?

    • I (suprisingly) have no insider information on the situation at Labour HQ, but they would be right to be worried about the campaign being run by the Tories in E Brighton, which has received much support on the doorstep.

  18. Andy mine is family and Union’s, seems to tally with what BPB is saying, Bassam has seen the tories outside his house a number of times and when travelling around the ward in which i am told he lives and so Warren has been exposed as doing little in the ward which has led to Unions thinking they have been shown false canvass returns which they get funding for, also Simon Burgess has been parachuted into Moulsecoomb to save the day too little too late as well, Labour apparantly made a big song and dance about doing the Stonewall walk last Sunday or Monday whenever it was and they did not bother showing up and the organisers had to get a celeb to draw the raffle when it should have been Gill Mitchell(I think), the walk was started by the Tory mayor and Simon Kirby got a big cheer so i have heard from my cousin who is very active locally in Labour pty. This has all led to in-fighting and made them look pretty bad with stonewall and a mag called G-scene-whilst i give Warren a ribbing on hear I wouldn’t want to see him in trouble and feel a bit sorry for him.

  19. The EB stuff posted here is pure fantasy. The Tories are “visible” in EB when there are cameras around and we’ve seen a few photo ops but little in the way of sustained campaigning. I’ve yet to meet anyone in W’hawk who has received a Tory leaflet.

    • Craig, what do you call sustained campaigning?
      anyway where is Warren? he has been “a very naughty boy!” rumour has it Steve Bassam is going to give him “the prods” and then”a chinese burn” when he sets eyes on him.

    • As the most vulnerable of the E Brighton candidates by far Craig is rightly worried!

      If Craig hasn’t met anyone in W’hawk who has received a Tory leaflet perhaps it is actually because he hasn’t spent much time there himself?

      Conservatives have worked very hard and run a very clever campaign in East Brighton and it will definitely be a result to watch!

  20. Ghost – has your union cousin been out today in East Brighton? I’m hearing that Bassam has taken over the campaign and sent a whole bus load of GMB people out to East Brighton today. A last minute push to stop a late Tory surge perhaps?

    • Think GMB have been out in M&B Andy, no stopping the surge now not even a influx of giant Sugar Puffs will stop the tories, Warren was seen earlier in East Brighton but it was on a Yacht in the Marina, looked the millions!

      • Well, the Marina is in Rottingdean Coastal ward, not EB. I’m not in the multi-millionaire yacht-owning class, unlike our temporary Member of Parliament Mr Kirby.

  21. Let us not forget that what organisers do on the day can make a huge tactical difference. For example in Moulsecoomb & Bev. turnout last time was 27%. That means the Tories took a seat on apathy rather than popularity. I would bet that Lab could retain all seats there even with weak or no canvasses -IF what human resources there are are used judiciously. I would use last minute leaflets, loudspeakers and blanket knock up working class roads because to get turnout up could mean saving seats. I wouldn’t waste resources number taking if I hadn’t a good canvass.
    Some Lab activists like Brian Fitch are switched on tactically and I just hope enough are belatedly aware to save what can be saved from the Green Tsunami’s impact.

  22. Tsunami ? Isn’t that a force of destruction ?

  23. All of the above re EB, Bassam, unions, Tories etc is, of course, complete tosh.

    Word is that the Tory leadership has abandoned forlorn efforts in EB to try to save Maria Caulfield in M&B from an expected 10% swing to Labour. Mostly by negative campaigning in last-minute smear leaflets.

    Meanwhile Tories have resorted to paid-for emails and texting in EB to try to shore up their vote – one ex-Tory voter got the text as Craig, Gill and I were speaking to them in Kemp Town tonight. Their reply: “we’re voting Labour”. At least we have the courtesy to go out and speak to voters face to face.

    • Thank you for your reply. While I have no idea what a “tosh” is, I will assume it is a term of endearment and would appreciate you taking time out when not calculating launch trajectories or removing temporal lobe tumors to enlighten me, I am just biting into some savoury beef brisket and thinking of you. Good that you’ve finally entered into the spirit of things mate, can we still race dumper trucks down Whitehawk way next week?

  24. Having just returned from all day ‘eve of poll delivery’ I see tonight we have entered the role of pure fantasy!
    Mr Morgan has posted the following on his facebook:
    “Pleased to hear Tories have conceded defeat in my ward to try to save a seat elsewhere. Reward for my team’s efforts over last 12 months.”
    Complete and utter tosh Mr Morgan – and I think now shows your posts about your hard work are in the realm of complete fantasy.
    Reports from around the city today that Labour have retreated into their ‘heartlands’. Indeed in East Brighton today they have bussed in the GMB – so your seat is safe?
    So I retreat to bed with fire in my heart, and find myself in agreement with BPB’s assessment of the situation citywide!
    Mr Morgan will need a extra large portion of sugar puffs in the morning!
    East Brighton Conservatives are made of stronger stuff!

  25. So Warren Morgan thinks we’ve thrown in the towel in East Brighton? Along with volunteers I have spent all day delivering our eve of poll letter. Our campaign has been thoroughly organised from Facebook and twitter to good old fashioned door knocking and leaflet drops. We have contacted thousands by surveys, leaflets, telephone canvassing and door knocking. We have done very well considering we don’t have the resources from union backers. How dare you say we have given up. you really must be worried.

  26. Always interesting to hear the views of the armchair generals and their fantasy wargames but out there on the streets the story is very different.

    B&A was graced again today by her Lucasness (quick put up the floppy paste table with the raggy green cloth on it for another photo op and put it away five minutes later ) but this is no substitute for talking to the people who live in the ward. Afraid you have to speak with all the residents not just your mates who have popped over for a chat.

    From our conversations with the real people of B&A the Green machine is recognised for what it is and that a ‘Green’ council would be a complete disaster for Brighton & Hove. Higher community charges, congestion charging, lack of investment from business, infighting galore, you know the rest.

    Time to go to bed and up early. See you on the stump chaps


  27. ROFL. We’ve not had any union help on the doorstep in East Brighton. We’ve had no external help at all. You will have been defeated by fewer than a dozen people.

    Speak to your Leader.

    • Leaving aside the obvious point that anyone over the age of 12 who uses phrases like ROFL clearly cant be trusted, Mr Morgan is treating us loyal BPB followers as mugs if he expects us to believe that the Unions haven’t been drafted in to try and sure up Labour support as they retreat back into previous Labour heartlands like E Brighton.

      Perhaps they fear another successful decapitation strategy which did for Simon Burgess et al last time round?

    • Not like it used to be Warren, you’re dead in the water without the Unions and their cash which you have to sing for, get some sleep and have a Berocca on the morning, I’ll be down by the Coach House in Rottingdean with me dumper truck to give you a lift to Whitehawk you’ll know me i’ll have a Donkey Jacket on and a copy of the Guardian positioned strategically somewhere.

  28. My ‘tosh’ is quite the word tonight isn’t it 😉

  29. So what was the GMB rep in the white van doing today handing out Labour literature. Cannot even get the story straight – what a joke.
    I refrain from further comments.
    We need our rest for the battle ahead!

  30. I worK for the gmb and can confirm it is complete tosh.

  31. You will all be seeing and hearing a lot of the gmb van today though 🙂

  32. Warren/Rob, Remember you only get one chance to make a good Souflee!…get knocking doors “Divine”..i have a feather boa in my dumper truck for you.

  33. Labour party members in a GMB-owned van. Big difference.

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