The Greens are yet to reach their peak – next stop Hove and Portslade

I thought that the Greens would do well in Thursday’s elections, and they did. But I had doubts where that Party goes next. I felt that there were certain limitations to their reach. I was sure that the Geens would extend their reach to the maximum at this election, and then the challenge would be to hold that position at the next general election (no difficulty there) but defending their council seats might be a challenge. I have changed my mind because of the results on Thursday.

In Brighon Pavilion, the Greens are now challenging in the Tory heartlands. The Normans, Anne and Ken, will not stand again in Withdene and the Greens, having won one seat and having come close in a second, will have high hopes of winning all 3 seats in May 2015. In Hollingdean and Stanmer, Jeane Lepper, now the sole Labour councillor in Brighton Pavilion, will not stand again, leaving the way open for Luke Walter to join Sven Rufus and Christina Summers on the Council.

And there is the final frontier, Pacham. The Theobald Machine held firm once more, but with a local council election being held on the same day as a probable general election, everything is up for grabs. And will any of the current three councillors stand again? Brian Pidgeon will retire, and Carol and Geoffrey Theobald must be considering when it will be the right time to call time.

Three years and 363 days out I am making this prediction – the Greens will win EVERY seat in Brighton Pavilion in 2015.

I will comment on Brighton Kemptown at a later date, but I think that, for the Greens, Hove and Portslade is where their future lies. After Thursday, the Greens have 6 seats, Labour have 6, and the Tories 8 seats. The Greens have consolidated its first and only seat in Goldsmid where Alex Phillips led a strong campaign to win a seat off the Tories and to defeat Melanie Davis who was a strong candidate and respected councillor.

But it is Christopher Hawtree’s breakthrough in Central Hove that changes everything. That single gain shows what is possible, and the Greens must already have begun to eye Westbourne, Wish, and the other seat in Central Hove. The Portslades, North and South, have similar demographics to Hollingdean and Stanmer, and both will become vulnerable should (as is likely) both Bob Carden and Les Hamilton stand down in 2015.

And then there is Hangleton and Knoll, a large ward which, again, like Hollingdean and Stanmer, is an area where the Greens could thrive. Dawn Barnett and Brian Fitch are no longer spring chickens, and won’t go on and on and on. Does Brian have another campaign in him (probably) but will he want to be a councillor, should he be re-elected in 2015, will be approaching 80 at the end of that term in office.

So why all this speculation about 2015? If the Greens begin building in Hove, establishing a local organisation in each of these wards (don’t fall for Labour’s mistake and run everything from a High Command), and get a dynamic parliamentary candidate in place sooner rather than later, who can support, motivate, encourage, nurture the party in Hove, then there will be a further Caroline Effect, although it could come to be known as the Alex Effect …..

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45 Responses

  1. Feeling positive in Sheffield as well, one of our two Green councillors Jillian Creasey was re-elected. So so pleased, we were worried the Labour tide would wash her away, despite all the good feeling for her and the Greens in the ward. It didnt, and the Green vote went up, all over Sheffield in fact. We only had one person ask us this time “do you have policies then” !!! I think on the doorstep we found people more interested, more willing to listen than before. Its such such hard work, yes, but I want a future for my niece, grandaughter, friends daughter etc, and that gives me the energy to keep going. As well as being able to vote myself for a party I support and believe in, such a relief after years of being ……….till I die ! Go

  2. You seem to be devoting quite a few paragraphs to extolling the virtues of Christopher Hawtree…

    • Christopher Hawtree is one of a kind, and will add a new dimension to the Greens in the Council Chamber. I suspect CH thinks I don’t respect him but as any regular reader will know I engage more with those who engage with this blog. I do respect him and think he will be an excellent ward councillor. I don’t see him as a parliamentay candidate, though. Too old, too male.

  3. Yes, we have some big decisions about next time when the General Election and the Local Elections will coincide, so it will be interesting to see what affect that has, hopefully seen as we have an MP already here people will vote for us both in the locals and nationals.

    We also did supprisingly well in many Kemptown wards too and I’m sure with a bit of work could do well there.

  4. Who knows, BPB – you could be right, but only if one assumes that everything else stands still for the next 4 years. The Greens have yet to prove that they can be effective and deliver what people want as lead party on the Council (a lot of uncosted promises may come back to haunt them). We don’t know what course Labour will take after its inevitable post mortem on recent events but you can be sure that we won’t lie down and simply allow a green tide to engulf us unopposed. And what of the national picture? Will we be, by 2015, gambolling on the sunlit uplands of recovery or, as seems more likely on current showing, staggering bleary-eyed from a prolonged period of austerity and stagnant growth?

    Given that a week is acknowledged by all to be a long time in politics it’s a brave blogger who’ll make too categorical a four-year prediction one day after an election.

  5. Some comments here over the past few months have derided me for extolling Patcham, but I continue to say that Hugh has done wonderfully there, tripled the vote after the exhilarating work there last year in the General Election. I could write a long piece about that.

    I have never thought of Hove as a “breakthrough” but saw that the vote is there. Walk about places and you get a sense of what they are like. Westbourne has always looked very interesting: the Portland road shops… Denise Cobb is lucky to have stayed in this time, and Brian Oxley’s vote dropped more than I had expected.

    I too am sorry that Luke Walter did not get in. He will do so.

    People have also said that my interest in Rottingdean Coastal is also perverse. Look at the result this time. Neither the Greens nor Labour campaigned there, so far as I know, but add their votes together and the Rottingdean Tories have reason to wonder… and they are lucky this time that the Lido crowd did not put up candidates. That would have made it a four-way marginal.

    After the Count I spoke with Caroline Penn, and should be surprsied if Labour does not put her forward again somewhere, and I also liked meeting Mark Collins and Rebecca Tayler, who will do much more if they can find the right perch. And there was amiable joshing while Jan Young and I coincided outside the Hove Town Hall polling station. Twelve hours there were a fascinating study in demography, and I heard from those outside the Library that the air was electric.

    For me, the mystery all along was: where is Celia? I suspect that Labour did telephone canvassing. it doesn’t match the pavements and bells, and what I found so gratifying and heartening was the people who offered to help when met along the way.

    I should like to say that I was touched by Paul Elgood’s congratulations at the Count.

    • Well done Chris – and Greens in general. I hope that maybe my goading/cajoling on the winnability of Central Hove a few months back may have played a tiny part…

      What happens next depends on how the Greens perform at the helm. Of course.

  6. news from inside kings house … officers were practically hanging out the bunting at the demise of the conservatives.

    • Not the Chief Executive and Super Directors though….they were praying for the Tories to remain in power to save their highly paid jobs and plans for privatisation. It has even been heard that they are working to try and establish a Labour/Conservative allaince. Wishful thinking I hope!.

  7. Just picking up on the previous comment from boy, I am a senior council officer who does not want to be named but I can confirm that officers are overjoyed at the downfall of the conservatives. Indeed, several very senior members of staff had their resignation letters already written should they get back in. Without doubt the council has taken many steps backwards over the last 4 years and many of the decisions have been scandalous and completely undemocratic. The forced departure of the previous CE Alan McCarthy was a sign of things to come in a time when decisions have been taken on the basis of an ill-informed personal whim of completely uneducated councillors only interested in one thing – their own backside. You will not find a single officer who is not delighted at this new dawn, when we will again br able to work with cllrs who genuinely care about the city and it’s residents. The term live by the sword, die by the sword has never been truer.

  8. BPB – it’s difficult to disagree with your analysis after your largely successful predictions this time round, but you comparison of H+S to H+K and Portslade omits the significant factor of the student vote. Not only are there student halls in H+S, but an increasing number of students who live around the Dip area. It will be hard for the Green Party to represent the aspirations of the liberal middle class in large parts of the City, whilst still appealing to those living on minimum wage, in poor housing, and in need of economic growth. They will have to decide to whom they will set out their stall. For me, the Green Party can never be the best hope for those whom the Labour Party was established to represent, and I don’t see those people voting for the Green Party, even in four years time. Whether they will come out and vote Labour is another matter.

    The party in power will always be a target – and they will have to learn to make difficult choices. Oppositional politics is easy – you are never wrong if you have never had to make a decision that matters, and you can always say it would have gone better if people had only listened to you. This luxury will soon be over, after blaming the Tories fades away in the months ahead.

    Not having a majority, and the fact that most decisions will be determined by financial pressure from Central Government, may save the Green Party from themselves – they should be grateful for that.

    In terms of the GE in 2015 – light years away in political terms – but I confidently predict here and now – no Green Party led Government for the UK, and not part of any coalition either.

    I was driving along the seafront this morning and saw the Union Flag fluttering outside of King’s House. I wonder how long that will survive – the flag not driving along the seafront. I can imagine Green Party members itching to get their hands on it, but they should tread very carefully – issues like this set a tone.

  9. where has Warren “only Labour can win enough seats to oust the Tories, the Greens cannot hope to approach 20 let alone 28…” Morgan gone? Hopefully off to examine how so much drivel has come out of his mouth during this campaign? Talk about getting it wrong in just about every sense of the word…

  10. Ecosoc – Warren along with myself and other colleagues in the Labour group has been sepending the day reflecting on the result, cnsidering the various Party requests for our support,and how we rebuild, regenerate our Party and re-engage with the electorate.

    • I’m always  stunned when people seek to create a HUGE gap between local & national politics & parties. What Lab seem to not understand is that what happened with their party in Gov, sickened & appalled so many that that bloody stain will take decades to be wiped clean.. If indeed, it ever will. Presumably the Brighton & Hove Lab team are members of the party that dragged us into an illegal war, began essentially vandalising the NHS & introduced uni fees, yes? You all had your chance to stand up at conference, vote and protest against this, no? Well then, what you sow, etc…
      Local may be different from national, but you have to admit, that ideology plays its part. We all need to vote for our dreams This is why Lab failed to make gains & the Greens romped home. That and amazing dedication & teamwork. Hats off for once to the B&H soc media team for live tweeting results. Really superb stuff. 

      • Ok I will take full responsibility for all the problems of new labour… OH WAIT no I won’t because I wasn’t a member/would NEVER support illegal war ect ect.

        The Labour party members locally can take great pride in trying to elect good people into the council.

        Ideology plays a part. Proper socialists are still in the LP.

      • Nikki – Almost too difficult to know where to start with this. Were you ‘sickened and appalled’ at the huge funding that went into public services under Labour, particularly the NHS. Are you too young to remember the terrible waiting times that people had to tollerate having worked for a lifetime to contribute to a health service that was failing to deliver for them. Are you seriously suggesting a return to the NHS of the 1960’s, 70’s or 80’s? I know this is hard for some people – but many things did actually get better under Labour. This could be a long reply – but I’ll just suggest you think of ; civil partnerships; minimum wage; 30% reduction in crime; devolution for Scotland and Wales; debt cancellation for many of the poorest countries; Sure Start; 90,000 more nurses, and so on. The legality of Iraq is a matter of opinion, but I don’t suppose you would have felt differently if it were ‘legal’ – in my opinion, clearly a mistake, but not the seminal issue on which people should decide that Labour can never be supported again, and some military interventions were positive – e.g Sierra Leone, should we have not done that? Although you dismiss the idea of a ‘huge gap’ between local and national issues, the rest of the country has somewhat moved on – or am I missing people rushing out to vote for the Green Party in order to crucify Labour outside of Brighton. It may not have been their finest hour across the UK this week, particularly in Scotland, but control was gained of 26 additional Councils.

        Also, just to think about the idea that the Green Party ‘romped home’. In seats maybe, but – Green Party 33%, Labour 32%.

      • Just to weigh in on this – I only spent one day knocking doors, on Election Day itself, but on that day not a single one of the 50 or so voters I chatted with mentioned Iraq even once. The conversations were all over local concerns. You should indeed take to heart everything the good Doctor mentions in his excellent response. To abandon the only major political party founded and, for the most part, run to organise and represent the hopes and needs of ordinary people because one of its actions is distasteful to you strikes me as narcissistic in the extreme.

  11. Will the blogger please confirm that his identity was ‘outed’ outside Hove Town Hall on Friday afternoon?

    • Peter Booth asked me to confirm that my identity was ‘outed’ outside Hove Town Hall on Friday afternoon. Absolutely. That was me. Outed. Exposed. I also shot Roger Rabbit. I was also part of the conspiracy that killed JFK.

      • BPB.you’ve kept us all going these last weeks, we’ll keep you’re secret TR

        And Warren welldone mate, the dumper trucks are back in the garage..next time.

      • one there for Warren!

  12. Bappy, you’ve been celebrating a bit hard, haven’t you? Why not lie down for an hour or two? There’s no way the Green’s will ever again benefit from the sort of fair winds and following seas they’ve enjoyed this year.

    Or, to turn the metaphor on its head, the troubles of the other parties created a perfect storm for a cuddly, untested party to slip in through the tradesmen’s.

    The Tories have been contending with the fact that, both locally and nationally, they are in power and making unpopular cuts. Rightly or wrongly, Labour is still dripping with the mud that stuck to them over the economy and Iraq. Then there are the Lib Dems; loathed like never before.

    The only surprise is that the woeful Ukip didn’t make more capital from this once-in-a-lifetime set of pleasant circumstances for fringe parties.

    I am already due to eat my neighbour’s rancid shoes over my prediction that London’s AV referendum turnout would be less than a third. I will happily add his underpants to that meal if the Greens add seats to their current haul in four years.

    • Greens, not “Green’s”. The shame…

    • You seem to think this is the only Brighton election the Greens have had a great result.

      We have been winning elections in Brighton for 15 years now. From when Labour were at their height to when they were at their bottom, when the Lib Dems were on top and the Tories were pretending not to be the nasty party.

      Greens have shown that when people have a genuine choice they choose to vote Green because they like us. We’re not just a protest party.

      We have still never lost a seat here.

  13. Who knows what will happen. Perhaps the Greens will go from strength to strength perhaps they have reached their high water mark. Will they scrap with central government like Lambeth in the 1980’s or will they pursue a policy of real politic? Danger for their popularity lies both ways…
    Before we get to the question of how they will fare in the next election should we not ask what differences we will see our new council make? If we are not able to answer that question then with all due respect to BPP guesses about what will happen in 2015 seem like so much idle speculation.

    • The Greens will be judged now on what they do. Up to recently they have capitalised on being the umbrella that allows the discontented to protest, the ecologists to proselytise, those disillusioned with Labour to believe thet have found a more socialist alternative and all this backed by a huge student population and youth receptive to care for the environment and change.

      But this doesn’t explain the quantum leap that saw Greens top the poll in Withdean. It can explain Holl. & Stanmer since 2000 students are registered at the University’s polling district. Hangleton & Knoll is full of middle class and working class voters, not students, so not obviously susceptible to Greenism.

      To make a breakthrough to control the council and take the other Brighton/Hove parliamentary seats, more Withdeans are needed. Withdean is mostly middle class and still with a significant Lab vote. Therefore the Green win must have come from former Tory voters rather than disaffected lefties.

      Greens will have to please their traditional supporters and the middle class Tories who lent their votes in Withdean. This may prove a contradiction over 4 yrs of running Brighton. The Clegg phenomenon shows how a bubble of support can be blown up and popped when people percieve something other than they expected.
      It is hard to see how Greens can accommodate this new diverse spectrum of support, as far ahead as 2015.

      • I was thinking the same myself. A difficult juggling act for a party left of Labour. They might have to ditch some of their more radical policies and distance themselves from anarchist organisations like SmashEDO etc.

  14. G/E Candidates
    Conservative-Mike Weatherley
    Greens- Alex Philips
    Labour- Simon Burgess

    • Is Hove losing its AWS requirement for the next GE? Or do you know something about Simon that we don’t?

      • Burgess will stand and so will Philips..can say no more but unless Simon get’s tun over and Alex dies in a freak windfarm accident it’ll happen.

  15. Won’t Mike Weatherley be nearly 70 by 2015 ?

  16. Dr Faust – “Nikki”‘s post is surely a Private Eye Dave Spart spoof?

    • You could well be right Craig, but nothing gets under my skin more than people saying how crap Labour were, particularly when people continue to denigrate their achievements for their own political gain.

  17. Ghost – My uncle drove a TR7 – Made in Britain….was a non-starter and underneath the bonnet not very green!
    Then that nationalised industry went spectacularly bust.

  18. http://brightonhovelabour.com/2011/05/labour-congratulate-all-successful-city-council-candidates/

    “With the Greens having 23 seats they are clearly able to form a minority administration to run the council. Labour successfully ran the council with the same number of seats between 2003 and 2007 and the Conservatives governed with 26 seats for the past four years, so it is right that the Greens, as clear winners, are given the opportunity to implement their manifesto in the same way.

    “We will support the Greens where they bring forward sensible proposals in the best interests of the city as well as being an effective and challenging opposition when we think they are getting things wrong.”

    • I think this strikes just the right tone for now.

    • Warren you keep out of the Green fiasco mate..you’re my pal and i don’t want you getting the guilt by association tag.

  19. I wonder what you think of the Rottingdean result? A Green got 1000 votes but was beaten by 2 Labour, although not a Fitch.

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