The Labour Group “is in good heart” after it’s third thrashing in as many elections!

The Labour Party has been tearing itself apart over the weekend following its beating at the polls on Thursday. I don’t find it easy to intrude on private grief, but here is advice offered, once again in the spirit of comradeship (dismissed in the run-up to the election). I share the following insights, observations and suggestions:

Group leader Gill Mitchell has said: “The new Labour Group met this morning and is in good heart.” You cannot be serious. In good heart? After the third thrashing at the polls in as many elections? The Labour Group should be distraught, should be apologising to the Party and should be asking serious questions about why the Party leadership locally has failed time and time again.

Gill thanks activists for “running such good campaigns”. Gill, other than East Brighton and the Brian Fitch One Man Show in Hangleton and Knoll, the Labour campaigns were generally rubbish, and you know it. That is why you say: “There is now an urgent need to look at how we are organised across the city as a party and how this can be improved to enable us to become a genuine, citywide campaigning party that is regularly in touch with local people.” Gill, you are right but I understand that Labour was once a “citywide campaigning party” that was in touch with local people. So what happened?

Along came Kinnock, Blair and Mandelson who set up a highly centralised party machine and this was replicated at local level. In this election, Labour’s GMB HQ had to be consulted about all aspects of different campaigns. Labour’s Regional Office brought with it the dead hand of bureaucrats.

Nigel Jenner is right when he says: “The Blair factor and also the war etc is still on peoples minds and that is why many jumped to the Greens.” Absolutely right, Nigel. Labour’s recovery will not begin until Labour, locally and nationally, APOLOGISE for Iraq and distance themselves from Blair. But what happened locally just days before the election? David Milliband, a Blairite from the top of his head to the tip of his toes, comes to Brighton, is welcomed by Labour councillors and candidates – and another few hundred votes are lost. What genious thought David Milliband would do anything other than alienate voters? Another avoidable Labour own goal.

D Milliband said after his defeat by E Milliband that he was resigning from front line politics. This demonstrates a mindset that cabinet and shadow cabinet is the front line. And Labour in Brighton goes along with it. If you want to start afresh, perhaps Gill Mitchell could say “we have learned, and we are sorry. David Milliband, so closely identified with Blair and jointly responsible for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is no longer welcome in Brighton and Hove”. Then, and only then, can you hope that the lost voters, the tens of thousands who have deserted Labour locally for the Greens, might just begin to think about voting for the Labour Party again.

Juliet McCaffery touches on something that I have warned Labour about in the run up to the elections – lying to the electorate. Labour did it in Brighton Pavilion in 2010: “only Labour can beat the Tories” and Caroline Lucas exposed the lie and Labour lost several hundred voters in future elections who had swallowed the lie. And then again in this election “Only Labour can form an administration” and the Greens exposed that lie. Why should the electorate believe Labour’s claims about electoral prospects when they have become serial liars.

Juliet is absolutely right when she says: “Several people in Withdean who voted Labour were thinking of voting Green but thought (prompted by me) that Greens had no chance – the danger is that now they will.” The fact is, Labour is finished (in local and general elections) for the next two elections at least in Withdean, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Patcham and, of course, the town centre wards in Brighton Pavilion. In several Hove wards the Greens will, this very evening, be casting their eyes for further gains in 2015. And there will be some idiot in Labour’s ranks drafting a leaflet saying “Only Labour can beat the Tories in Hove”. Stop them now. It’s not true. The Greens are already the main challengers for the Tories in Hove.

Labour should not have lied. Apologise, come clean, and sack whoever was responsible for the lies in 2010 and 2011.

And turning to the Party hierarchy, Kevin Allen, a decent, hard-working, now ex-councillor, is unforgiving: “Regarding Withdean, people have forgotten that local elections are not just about bums on council seats; they are also about keeping people in the habit of voting Labour.  We had three fine candidates who were given absolutely no encouragement by party headquarters.  That’s a disgrace.  Rather than being told to abandon their own ward they should have been advised to canvass hard in order to help rebuild the Labour vote in preparation for the next general election.  What we have now is a Green councillor in Withdean, an entirely avoidable result had our candidates been allowed to campaign properly.”

Get used to it, Kevin. It is going to get worse for Labour before it begins to get better. Labour is offering nothing new. It parades David Milliband, an apologist for war, as the hope for the future. Its party machinery is broken.

I hope to hear something substantial from Labour in the next few days, but I doubt it. And that is a shame for this Blogger who voted Labour last Thursday.

77 Responses

  1. I think one of the things Labour desperately needs to tackle is how some of their young candidates already look like career politicians.

    As I was sat on the grass outside the Library at Sussex Uni on Tuesday and saw David Miliband in his smart suit swagger into Arts A1 Lecture theatre, it encapsulated what Labour has become. And it wasn’t just me who thought he was strutting, my completely apolitical friends I was sat with commented on it too.

    Neither of the Miliband brothers connect with the public because they don’t seem like real people. I think it was the main reason for Aaron Porter’s downfall too, the New Labour look.

  2. BPB and those in Labour miss the point. Those voting for the Greens aren’t ‘ex-Labour voters’, they’re rightly ‘Green voters.’

    What we saw in this election was the hardening of the city-wide Green vote. The results for top Green candidates in M&B, East Brighton and Westbourne is testament to this. Indeed, even we Greens underestimated our potential vote in wards outside Pavilion.

    For the Greens, we’ll start reflecting on our own results and I will personally look at how we might have performed better in H&S. For now, the task is to truely make ourselves a city-wide campaigning force, from Portslade to Rottingdean, we will hard to double up our efforts, expand our membership, turn our members into activists and turn our activists into future potential representatives.

  3. BPB – clearly Labour have to do some serious rethinking about strategy and policies, it would be mad not to. However, history, as we know is written by the victors, and the story you are telling is based on this. You complain again about Labour Party ‘lies’ that only they could stop the Tories in the GE. Agreed, it was untrue, but the Green Party put out the same lie endlessly. Some of their material this time round was dishonest at best. Should they be apologising to the electorate – are they ‘serial liers’?

    In terms of Iraq. If you remember the sequence of events, Labour won a general election after the invasion, including winning all three seats in B+H. The anger rose not primarily from the initial invasion, but from the failure to deliver a stable and secure country in the aftermath. There was also a concerted effort to find an issue with which to beat Labour up, and this has been repeated over and over, although Labour is now two leaders on from Blair.

    If the rest of the country continued to hold Labour responsible for Iraq to the extent that they could not be forgiven, then they would not have gained the hundreds of seats they did last week. The focus on Iraq by Labour’s opponents has also hidden the many achievements of the party in power – some of which I listed yesterday. Of course their opponents don’t want this to be heard.

    Labour didn’t do well last week in B+H, but neither did they do badly. I believe they had five more seats than you predicted, and were only 1% behind the Green Party in the popular vote. Clearly they got it badly wrong in some areas, such as Withdean, but other losses, such as H+S were on the cards from last May – Sven would not have moved otherwise, and the focus on QP may well have cost a seat in PP. On the other side were welcome gains in Portslade, Moulescoomb, Hangleton and Wish.

    Finally, if Gill had come out and said they had got it all wrong, and started taking responsibility for Iraq, then who would be the first to use that against Labour in the future?

    • A brief comment – anger re Iraq increased after it became clear the British public had been misled about weapons of mass destruction. Has David Milliband ever apologised for his part in sustaining this fiction?

      • David Milliband is not, presently, a front-line spokesperson for the Labour party.

      • Iknow that, so why did all the councillors and candidates go running to him when he came to Brighton before the election? Elements of the electorate are still unforgiving about Labour and Iraq. David Milliband just re-enforces that view and continues to make Caroline Lucas look the principled politician that she is. (How long till we get the ‘Caroline doesn’t live in Brighton’ nonsense?)

      • I just don’t buy the Caroline is a principled politician argument. Anyone with no power or responsibility can appear terribly principled. Although clearly very smart and competent, she is no less a career politician than many others – who by and large are genuinely principled, and do not deserve to be denigrated by Caroline and her Party, who have achieved so little. At least they now have a chance to put the principles into practice.

    • The Conservatives in Kemptown can be pleased with the election results across the parliamentary constituency as a whole.

      Whilst obviously it was disappointing to lose Maria Caulfield, a great councillor who worked very hard for the people of Moulsecoomb & Bevendean, the results clearly show no love for Labour in Kemptown.

      Indeed the Conservatives won all 39 of the seats available for the Town and District Councils.

      B&H part of Brighton Kemptown 2011 (top candidates)

      C 31.4%
      LD 5.2%
      LAB 34.2%
      G 25.3%
      other 3.9%

      All of Brighton Kemptown constituency ie Lewes District and B&H together 2011 (top candidates)

      C 36.0%
      LD 8.5%
      LAB 32.2%
      G 19.4%
      other 3.9%

      For comparison 2010 GE

      C 38.0%
      LD 18.0%
      LAB 34.9%
      G 5.5%
      other 3.7%

  4. BPB – are your quotes from Juliet and Kevin from talking to them, or can you point me in the direction of the source? Thanks

    • No, I haven’t spoken to either for several months. My source is a series of emails that have come into my possession. There is much, much more which I haven’t yet used. There is anger within Labour (understandable) with these emails being passed on. The emails had limited circulation (about 60 recipients) which demonstrates the elitist nature of The Labour leadership, thinking that this important review of its future can be restricted to a relatively small group.

      • It’s not an “elite” chosen by the Labour leadership, the email list is of the Labour candidates which someone on the list chose to begin a discussion on, and which someone has leaked, and which you are choosing to publish.

        You have said there should be a debate within Labour, but when someone starts one you refer to it as “Labour tearing itself apart”. You say that this is going on within an “elite”, but by publishing it you ensure that any further discussion will be conducted within a more restricted group to prevent comments in an open deate being used selectively by opponents.

      • Warren, what about your members? What about your supporters? Surely they have a right to be part if that debate? The list of those included in the debate is restricted to councillors and candidates plus a few selected others. Why should Simon Fanshawe and Steve Bassam be selected to participate in this debate when other ordinary members are not included. As for your opponents being able to quote selectively from the emails, it is not me who has revealed the content to them – it was a Green who made the emails available to me. There is anger in the Labour Party that they have been led from one defeat to another to another, that Labour introduced tuition fees, took the UK into the war in Iraq,lied about WMS, and a whole lot more, and then ran a poor election campaign and lost for the second time in a year to the Greens.

        Warren, don’t shoot the messenger. Try not to follow your leader, EM, who is carrying out a review, involving an elite in the Party. Try to engage the wider membership, your non-’ember supporters (god forbid, they may even want to join you if they felt listened to)’ and listen to the wider electorate (it could just help you become electable again). You must be angry with me this evening, but what about coming out of your fortress for once and face the public and your members.

      • You are missing the point. It is not the leadership who has decided who is on this list and who should be consulted. It is whoever started the discussion – an individual candidate or former candidate. I can’t change who was or wasn’t included by somebody else.

        Of course there should be a wide discussion within the Party membership, and that should take in supporters too. But it should not include opponents – I doubt the Greens would have me at a Party strategy meeting.

        I can’t understand your view that the national Labour Party is conducting its post election review within an “elite”, all members have been asked for their viiews and everyone else has been asked to contribute via the website:

      • Warren, just the name of the website you quote made me squirm and emphasises my point: ‘campaignengineroom’. The real campaign engine rooms arein the constituencies, wards and neighbourhoods. I doubt whether ordinary part member will given a direct say on policy and what goes in the manifesto. I would suggest policies such as no to privatisation of the post office, no to academies, yes to free university places, yes to democracy in the Labour Party, yes to higher taxation, etc

      • Oh, and “coming out of my fortress to face the public” – you might have forgotten but there was an election last week, one where I doubled my majority by the way.

        In the run up to that I spoke to at least a thousand people on the doorstep in my ward, as well as asking all 10,000 voters for their views via letter or leaflet. Not one of them raised Iraq with me that I remember, Iraq was an issue in 2005, less so in 2007 and a little in 2010, but it remains an obsession with angry people on the left like you.

        Nothing – not even apologies – can change what happened with Iraq, but for people in my ward who are seeing benefits cut, opportunity withdrawn, household bills spiralling, education attacked, the NHS broken up, Iraq is not the top of their list of concerns.

      • You really need to get over Iraq. Whatever the rights or wrongs of what happened there, the crucial argument is the same as it has always been – do we run our affairs for the benefit of the elite or for the benefit of society as a whole. Labour is the only party formed to represent that whole.

        The Greens will have their day and I’m glad that the party in power in this city is left-of-centre, but they are no substitute for a party founded on social justice and which draws its bank of activists from those committed to that concept.

      • Tim, ‘just get over Iraq’ doesn’t wash. WMD and the 45 minute threat was a hoax committed on the British people and perpetuate by David Milliband. Each time he comes to Brighton (whether invited or not) strengthens the hold the Reens have on some natural Labour votes. Remember, I voted Labour on Thursday, but I voted for Caroline Lucas last year. Unless there is a massive change by Labour, at least in Brighton, Ms Lucas’s majority will soar and Labour will come a distant third in Brighton Pavilion AND in Hove. BPB

      • Tim said: “You really need to get over Iraq. Whatever the rights or wrongs of what happened there, the crucial argument is the same as it has always been – do we run our affairs for the benefit of the elite or for the benefit of society as a whole. Labour is the only party formed to represent that whole.”

        But the point, for many former Labour voters, is that Iraq symbolised the clear commitment of the New Labour government to run the country in the interest of the global elite.

        The current disastrous reforms of the NHS were begun by Labour, ditto the school academies programme, PFI, and a whole load of unacceptable intrusions into privacy and civil liberties. Not to mention the disgraceful treatment of asylum seekers and subsequent distasteful bidding for racist votes by all three major parties at the last general election.

        Labour may have been formed to represent the whole of society (to represent the working class, surely?) but I don’t think that claim holds water now.

  5. Proof of the pudding is in the eating with the new green administration…back to the days of the Militant Tendency is strong possibility, and for a Green Cllr to turn round at the count and say “if we could raise the community charge by 80% we would” doesn’t bode well.

  6. Stop papering over the cracks warren – you and your clique are destroying Brighton labour party and could do worse than listen to the advice helpfully posted on here.

    Also gill mitchell selected the email list. Subsequent posts were clearly a reply to all with the subject line changed.

  7. Fitch leader

  8. I have to confess that a lot of the comments here are missing the greater point – Labour has every right to privately examine the reasons for it’s failure to break through in Brighton – and whilst I’d agree that this needs to be the broadest possible conversation amongst it’s members and then with the public, it does trouble me that people are concentrating on the leak and not the matter at hand. (I’m also not impressed that the BPB indicates it’s one of my colleagues who leaked it).

    For me, important though it was for crystallising a sense that Labour didn’t listen, Iraq is no longer the issue outside of middle-class dinner parties. The real issue is the recession, cuts in public services and living standards. The Tory argument that Labour got us into this is eminently debatable (they would have regulated the finance industry even less stringently), but it still resonates with the public. Of all the parties, the Greens are currently the only one in Brighton untainted by the compromises of power. This undoubtedly contributed to our success last week – and this is why we need to work hard, be realistic, honest and live up to our promises.

  9. In reply to Tim: I am not sure why some Labour activists think their party has the monopoly on social justice principles.

    The Green Party puts fairness and equality at the heart of its manifesto alongside sustainability.

    Many Green Party activists joined the party because of its social justice and civil liberties principles – more than environmental policies.
    Probably about half the Green Party members in Brighton and Hove used to be in Labour at some point, including some prominent activists and they have since found a welcome home in the Greens.

    It is good that Labour locally has begun to reassess where it is going and hopefully the local party will become less tribal and more open to working with the other parties.

    The attacks by local Labour councillors on Caroline Lucas when she spoke at a Compass meeting inside the Labour conference in 2009 are an example.

    However for those on the progressive left of Labour locally who are sceptical of where this reassessment will in reality lead, the Greens as a broad church movement might provide some with a welcoming political home.

  10. Dani seeks to perpetuate the myth begun by the Tories and popular with the ‘Green Left’ that the ConDem NHS ‘reforms’ are an evolution of Labour policy. Let us be clear – Lansley’s proposals in the Health and Social Care Bill bare absolutely no relation whatsover to Labour’s reforms begun by Alan Milburn who has publically refuted that claim.

    The reality is that the NHS has been a mixed public/private economy since 1948 and contrary to popular belief GPs are private businesses who contract with the NHS for their services. At no point has it been Labour policy to wholly contract out entire services to the independent sector and my Party – which let us not forget started the NHS – has always abided by the principal that the NHS should be free at the point of use for those in need and, for example, abolished taxpayer subsidisation of those claiming tax relief for private health treatment.
    In contrast, the ConDem ‘reforms’ would open the NHS up to EU competition law and the principle of ‘any willing provider’. This could mean that GP consortia who choose to commission services from the local NHS could face legal challenges from independent sector providers such as Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealth and others who can choose to spend lots of money paying expensive lawyers to make legal challenges on commissioning decisions.

    What do the public think of Labour’s stewardship of the NHS? well in March this year as revealed by The Observer, the Tories suppressed a poll commissioned by the Department of Health from Ipsos MORI which demonstrated significantly high public satisfaction with the NHS – a continuing trend for the last decade.

    When Labour came to power in 1997, the total for those patients waiting stood at 1.3 million – the highest since the NHS began in 1948. Labour pledged to reduce the number of people waiting by 100,000 within the first term and achieved that by 2000. Waiting times to see consultants fell thanks to Labour investing significantly more money in the NHS and more patients were being seen faster by more specialist staff with more equipment available to them for conditions such as cancer. Procedures such as cataract and heart surgery fell significantly in stark contrast to the position Labour inherited in 1997. Unlike the early to mid 90s, under Labour patients were not routinely dying on hospital trolleys because there were no beds, doctors, surgeons or funding available. Indeed numbers of UK-trained doctors and nurses on the GMC and NMC registers increased significantly from 1999 onwards because Labour invested in education and training.

    Part of the reason I suspect that Dani and others spin this myth about privatisation beginning under Labour is because in some parts of England – not all – independent sector treatment centres were commissioned to conduct some procedures such as cataract surgery. Yes, there was a mixed record particularly regarding stricter financial controls but overall increasing capacity by utilising the independent sector meant that patients were seen quicker and waiting lists went down. Would you really care whether your granny’s cataract surgery was performed in an NHS hospital or an independent sector treatment centre under the NHS if she ran the risk of going blind by having to wait a few months longer?

    So, let’s cut out the privatisation myth it suits some to peddle and oppose the ConDem’s health Bill which if passed unamended will be an unmitigated disaster for the NHS and see its complete fragmentation in England.

    BTW – anyone interested in learning more about Labour’s NHS record or the ConDem’s Bill should have a look at the wealth of data and reports available from The King’s Fund – the independent health thinktank.

    • That all might be so Craig, but an equally simple fact was that the Labour Government was obsessed with the specious notion of patient choice, as a value to be embedded and pursued at all costs by the NHS. It is this notion, that the market has ‘disciplines’ that can be grafted onto the NHS, which I expect people like Dani are referring too. Indeed, my very first ever meeting of a Labour party in Hove after moving here featured a talk from a Labour member who was high-up in the PCT who was excoriating the government’s policy. She acknowledged the good happening in terms of the funding Labour provided, but was at a loss as to the constant refrain of organisational reform Ministers and their SPADs were addicted to.

      Labour then didn’t actually open the door to privatisation, but you did everything to create a narrative about what ‘reform’ must always entail which makes the move Lansley has made seem like a continuation, because it’s the same ideological thrust as the Tories one, minus the controls over said companies that Labour put in.

      Yet again that brings us back to the central problem. Labour – as Glasman has noted – were formed as a party to humanise capitalism, it became a party which lauded capital and took its side against the interests of the people. Having whored to the banks who then destroyed the government’s finances, and then had the temerity to criticise Labour during the election, even now, you can’t be clear on this as a party. You’re so desperate to be deemed ‘respectable’ that you’ve lost the sue of your outraged voice.

      The defining economic issue of the last 30 years has been the gross inequality and instability of the neo-liberal economic system,, but Labour are so fundamentally torn on this that the response fails to convince, certainly none of those who are desperate for a party to say that another world is possible, and that world can begin to be built in the city in which we live.

      The reason why Iraq resonates is that it was Labour Black-Wednesday moment. In 1992, the Tories – who had built their reputations on being the party who could administer economic good times better than anyone else – lost it all in a single day. From that point on, they were doomed. They didn’t recover that until probably 2008 at best, and arguably, the sense of that lingers still, which is why they didn’t get a majority.

      Similarly, Labour, lost all credibility as a progressive party; Iraq was a shorthand for being craven before the interests of the powerful and the elite. The sad thing is that Labour could – and should – make much more of the fact that the largest group of people voting against war were its own MPs, but it is divided over whether it should be a party of principle, or a party of power-worship. When push comes to shove, too many within it deem any sort of criticism of the leadership a hanging offence (it was ridiculous adoration of Gordon Brown as ‘The Leader’ which was the straw which broke my camel’s back) and as a result, you end up with the Miliband-style irritation that Labour gets hit over the head by it.

      Here’s why people go on about it: it was the greatest foreign policy dsisater in 50 years, and was based on lies. It led to a gulag of black prisons where people languished for years, slowly going mad, without foundation and certainly without trial. It led to massacres and rape, the largest theft in world history as the money for reconstruction was simply disappeared, mostly in the hands of US-contractors and their local allies. It made life for all of us more dangerous and played into the hands of the real enemies of tolerance and democracy.

      Now, what’s this got to do with Brighton labour? It was your party, your government, and you squandered a reputation built over the decades over it. These things have consequences. You might not like them, but if you’re so horrified by these consequences, next time don’t give your leaders the powers without holding them to account. Because your Cabinet and your PLP failed to hold the government to account, the voters have held you for it instead.

      Personally, I’m less bothered about Iraq than I was the awful economic policy, built on keeping housing supply under tight control as demand rocketed so people could feel richer when the reality was that in real terms, inequality was growing as the super-wealthy creamed off even more. As a result, social mobility ground to a halt, and society got split between those with property assets and the rest, as parental wealth became an even greater determinant of life chances than it had ever done for generations. You basically used the property-less as a lever to enrich the property-owning to mask the fact that your governments were essentially neo-liberal as makes no difference.

  11. BPB-you are too hard on Labour and by association labour people like Warren who do a thankless job for constituents out of a sense of social justice. The results have made me think of why I am Red and my family /daughters are Green and what if any lessons might result.
    I am Red because I believe in redistributive justice by capturing state power (for the benefit of the disadvantaged), for regulating capitalism and achieving social progress. I have also met scary Greens who I feel would have me arrested by their police(if they could) for using a spare sheet of A4 paper.
    My family is Green because they distrust Labour(who had 13 yrs in power), believe Greens are Left of Labour and want to give new forces a chance.t Labour in Brighton must realise it has the expertise on how to fight Greens and to differentiate from them.
    30% of all Green councillors in the country are in Brighton and many of the rest in Norwich.There should be home and awayday seminars involving Labour people in both areas-to reinvigorate the party and to effectively challenge Greens. 2015 doesn’t have to show further demise but could be the beginning of a fightback. when Labour was only 0.3 of 1 per cent behind Greens it is nonsense to imply they are doomed!

    • ps Norwich Labour have strengthened minority control of their council and did not lose any seats to the 15 strong Greens. There must be lessons for Brighton Labour there?

    • Sorry Zombie, either your maths or your data is faulty. The Green Party of England and Wales has a total of 130 councillors on 43 councils, including 23 councillors in Brighton and Hove. That gives B+H around around 18% of the total, not 30% as you claim.
      Norwich has 22 Green councillors (if you include both city and district councillors) so Brighton and Norwich *together* have around a third of the total Green councillors. Still a significant proportion, but much less than you claim.

  12. Consistently hard on us BPB that is how it reads. Thanks for voting for us and all can be assured that we will be listening and learning, consultation is King, with a bit of humility.

    We went into the campaign with thirteen councillors and emerged with thirteen. We finished overall 1 per cent behind a party that
    has no previous experience at running our City.

    I spoke to many Greens at the count and at the pub afterwards (kind of weird choosing the same venue). I found the majority to be very approachable. I could never wish them luck as I believe their strategies, especially on the local economy, are worrying. But they won the most seats and I respect that.

    BPB, will you be as critical of the Greens when they make mistakes as you have been with Labour ?

  13. Meanwhile, to revert to the topic’s title, I can only assume that the Blogger does not live in Central, where correct use of the apostrophe is de rigueur.

  14. Not quite sure how the blogger can suggest that “the Greens are the main challengers to the Tories in Hove” if he means Hove and Portslade as a whole. Yes, they had good results in the eastern wards, including a spectacular win Central Hove. But in Portslade and west Hove Labour did pretty well. That win in Wish was at least as impressive as Chris Hawtree’s in Central. Both seem to have been based on a face-to-face canvass too, which is interesting.

    If you are talking about a general election, these elections are not a reliable guide to what will happen anyway. Hove has a pretty sophisticated electorate by and large and people vote different ways in different elections.

    Re Labour renewal – my feeling, FWIW, is that the main problem is that ordinary party members now have so little say on policy that the party’s become little more than a fan club. Opposite problem to the Greens, really, where anyone can propose a policy and – however off the wall it is – it automaticaly becomes party policy unless someone opposes it (at least that’s my understanding).

  15. One thing that annoys me about politics is the assumption that people’s votes ‘belong’ to a party. Call me naive, but having met a number of ‘undecided’ voters, I believe people do sometimes think about how they should vote, appropriate to the election in front of them.

    I have often advocated within Brighton & Hove Green Party that we should focus on people who don’t usually vote, and encourage them to do so. I think some of this paid off with Allie’s hard work getting the student vote out for the General Election. Surely by doing this we contribute to a better democracy overall rather than a bun fight over the people known to have previously voted Labour or Green (or Lib Dem)?

    I have voted Green in most elections since I turned 18 in 2002* and whilst I am in Brighton I will (probably) continue to do so. Yet when I was living is Sheffield, I considered voting tactically and on the performance of existing elected representatives, such as for Labour’s Linda McAvan MEP in the 2004 Euros. (Though the pluralism didn’t continue when my lovely local LibDem MP Richard Allen was replaced by newcomer Nick Clegg who’s oxbridge personality offended me).


    *I include the date not to make you feel old, but to give you a context of the political environment I’ve grown up in: A certain Campbell quote and paradigm of the 90’s/00’s “The Labour Party is intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”; Being maltreated by police whilst protesting at DSEi; Afghanistan; Iraq (& Removal of Woodcaft Folk’s funding as they took part in a demo); Tuition fees; Inaction on Palestine; Compliance with US ‘Star Wars’; Slow action on MDGs; Removal of 10p tax rate (I’m still worse off)………..

    • A bit bigoted there Vicky.

      Clegg offended you because he happened to have been to Oxbridge. Is it compulsory to have attended a Comprehensive school and ex Poly’ to be socially acceptable?

      Your reliance on the student vote is also worrying. These are usually young adults who have never paid tax. Of course they are concerned about ‘green issues’ because they don’t have to worry about day-to-day living and the cost of bringing up a family. Rich pickings for you if you promise to help them with tuition fees.. At least these fees are now only payable when they start to earn a salary rather than in advance.

      Many business people I’ve spoken to are worried about Green taxes. They feel you concentrate on the Public Sector at their expense. It has been shown that the Public Sector now earns, on average, 16% more than its private sector counterpart. Where is the fairness there?

      I think your party has done extemely well in the City and I think that the Torys need to encourage more of their younger activists and widen their membership base.

      Apart from your very ‘left of centre’ politics, I do wholeheartedly agree with your anti-car/pro walking/cycling policies and hope we do have some sort of congestion charge. The city is choking with too much traffic.

      The 70% food recycling policy here is worrying. When my children lived in Kilburn, they had food recycling and the smell was awful in the summer. They also had a plague of rats in the house, which only started after the food recycling. There would have to be, at least, a weekly collection.

      • I don’t mind Oxbridge people who are in touch with, and speak up for the average Joe. Diversity is important- it’s just a shame when they all congregate in one place, like the cabinet. (Plus at the time I was only 19 at the time so still a bit more prejudiced perhaps).

        The point I was trying to make was not that students per se should be relied upon, but that an effort should be made to reach all people who dont usually vote, and that this would be more productive for political parties than fighting for the votes of those who already intend to do so.

        I proudly stand by my left-of-centre politics as I am deeply concerned about the welfare of my fellow citizens.

      • Linda, as a public sector employed Dr, maybe you could explain to me why some of my colleagues have reduced their NHS hours to work in the private sector, where ‘average salaries are lower’, or why several nursing staff do the same? I’m not arguing for higher NHS Dr salaries just illustrating the private sector often pays more, much more!

    • Just a couple of points.

      Vicky – The ‘filthy rich’ comment was made by Peter Mandelson and people always (purposely?) omit the rest of the quote – ‘as long as they pay their taxes’. This, of course, contrasts with our current administration who seem to be intensely relaxed about them not paying their taxes.

      Linda – although I speak from the opposite side of the fence I too have qualms about the level of influence the student vote can have in major university towns. I don’t know what the solution is but is does strike me as almost undemocratic that whole administrations can change on the back of votes cast by people who won’t be resident for even one full council term.

      You’re way off beam, however, on the comparison between public and private sector employees. I know that it’s Coalition policy to demonise the public sector in order to decimate it, but it has been pointed out time and time again that the reason for the seeming superiority of public sector remuneration is that there is a far higher proportion of professional-level personnel in the public sector due to contracting out of more menial (and hence low paid) roles. In fact, when you compare like for like at the higher levels Public employees are often paid considerably less and have fewer benefits than their privately-employed peers. In my own field, IT, this is especially noticeable.

      • Apologies I misquoted… but still, I’m really concerned about people earning lots of money even if they pay tax. I’m a big believer in the pay multiplier effect – i.e. anything over a 10x difference between bottom and top wages is bad for social cohesion.

  16. I find the idea that students deserve less of a vote quite insulting.

    Since when do students not have to bother about the cost of day to day living?!?!? I buy all my own food and have watched prices go up over the time I have been a student (Sainsburys basics chips have gone up by 50% in 2 years!) 🙂

    Some students already have familys too, and many of the rest are probably thinking about how their decisions now are going to affect them having a family in the future.

    Many students also stay in Brighton after their degree could be here for many years.

    I’m supprised none of you have brought up the fact that students are legally allowed to vote twice in local elections though. And all the commonwealth and European students can vote too in local elections.

    I don’t know whether thats fair, i can see the idea that you should be able to be part of the local democracy everywhere you live but I don’t spend much time back up north now so I don’t think I should have been allowed to vote twice.

  17. Vicky, you don’t seem so far removed from the following link:

    classless, free access to articles of consumption

    • Linda – nice try with your congestion charge gambit — not very subtle though, and glad none of the Greens here fell for it.

      For the benefit of newcomers Linda is a rabid Tory partisan, and it is very unlikely that she would ‘wholeheartedly agree’ with ‘some form of congestion charge’. From this and the poor loser comments on the site on Friday from other blues, it is pretty evident what their line of attack on the Greens is going to be from that side.

      The communist comment is not exactly Queensbury rules either, and is also not very intelligent. Vince Cable may have only just spotted how nasty, mendacious and spiteful many Tories are, but it’s been apparent to me for very many years.

      • Actually the Communist comment is spot on. The Greens are watermelons – soft and green on the outside with a deep red, marxist interior. This will soon be exposed to the city now they have some actual power.

      • No Clive, You’re wrong there. I’m more bluish green and I really do believe in a Congestion Charge and more residents’ parking. I lived in London for a long time and saw the improvements when those road policies were implemented. We do need to rethink road usage here, especially in my ward, where the grass verges are churned up and the kerbs are ‘chocka’ with cars.

        Torys are quite a tolerant party and do have a strong social conscience. They tend to be self-employed, self made, aspirational but intolerent of the feckless.

        I wish the Greens well. Obviously being actually in control of the Council will mean being pragmatic with some of your more extreme manifesto ideas- good luck.

    • If you don’t like it / don’t understand it / scared of it… call it a Commie. well done.

  18. We start eating babies on May 19th when Big Bill Randall, the Bastard Brighton Baby-eater begins the reign of green terror. The Committee for Public Health ad Safety will begin its interrogations soon afterwards.

    • … to be followed by the forced collectivisation of estate agents.

      I apologise to Linda if she is sincere about C-charging. Personally I’d say it should be looked at, but with the cavil that Brighton isn’t London. It is not a panacea, and it’s also a flat rate tax, which is hardly progressive.

  19. (That was a ‘reply’ to Rob, not BPB)

  20. Christopher Hawtree, QDG, will surely be appointed to the leadership of the newly constituted, and much anticipated, Commissariat of Literacy when the Green Politburo assumes supreme power next week. Long may his campaign for the proper use of the apostrophe flourish. We look forward to the belated arrival of the split infinitive on his agenda of concerns and will happily overlook the fact that it was omitted from his manifesto commitments.

    In the meantime could he devote some attention to seeking to correct the lamentable lapses in style and usage of some of his colleagues? In particular one Allie Cannell who seems single-minded within the Green Party in her/his devotion to bad syntax, poor structure, faulty grammar and the persistent misuse of the apostrophe. Although s/he seems to have a small reserve of bile available to be directed against people who wear suits – as long as the wearers belong to the Labour Party .

    The lapses are all the more worrying given, I am told, this person is a candidate for an honours degree in a local institution of higher education (which he/she sadly refers to as a ‘Uni’ – just imagine Christopher Hawtree saying …When William Wordsworth was at the Uni of Cambridge’).

    Now step up Christopher and make the Green Party (mis)use of language an early priority for your new Commissariat. And give this Allie person, and the rest of them, some lessons in literacy (and honesty?).

    • Wow! Way to go with the unnecessary, spiteful personal attack! Really added a lot to the debate… Frankly I’d be more worried about your own disturbingly high levels of bile than anything Allie can muster.

  21. Tim Sewell, on May 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm said: “although I speak from the opposite side of the fence I too have qualms about the level of influence the student vote can have in major university towns. I don’t know what the solution is but is does strike me as almost undemocratic that whole administrations can change on the back of votes cast by people who won’t be resident for even one full council term”

    Hmm Tim, I wonder what that solution might be? How about going out and talking to them? You could even try to make some policies which appeal to them! Might be better than writing off a whole section of your electorate, many of whom will stay in Brighton after they graduate and continue voting Green.

    • Having qualms about a possible democratic imbalance can’t really be characterised as ‘writing off’ – as I said, I don’t know what the solution could possibly be, just that I think it’s worth some thought. I wasn’t, either, looking at it from a partisan point of view – I’d have the same qualms about any (largely) transitory group’s influence on electoral outcomes whether they voted red, green, yellow or blue.

      I think you missed my point.

      • Most people stay at university for three or four years typically so I don’t see what the problem is. They are resident in the city for the duration or nearly the duration of one council and during that time will depend on its services. I’m sorry if I missed your point but when people say they have qualms about a section of the electorate having an influence I get worried. I have recently heard that a local councillor said that she didn’t believe students should be allowed to vote because of their temporary residence in the city.

        If any group has undue influence on elections it is older people, who are much more likely to vote than young people. It is because of this that polices are geared towards older voters, hence why all pensioners regardless of their wealth get free bus passes while some of the most dramatic cuts are being made to higher education.

      • By the way, I’m not saying free bus passes should be scrapped, I actually think benefits which go to everyone in society are a good thing, but hopefully you can see my point.

  22. Just a mention that this Green/Labour warfare would be no more if people were allowed a second preference. I have voted Labour in general elections (live in Hove) but Green in local and European. The dilemma for voters in Hove (and Kemptown) in 2015 will be painful – whichever way we vote we are likely to get a Tory MP and government. If the Greens do well in council the Green vote is bound to grow and largely at the extent of Labour. The Greens have targetted fantastically at this election. I predicted a range of 17-23. They reached the upper end. I foresaw that Withdean and C.Hove were possibles when the Goldsmid by-election result came through – I fully expect H&S, Withdean and Central Hove to be cleaned up by the Greens next time. The Tories could be wiped out in Pavilion also as the Greens are now second in Patcham. Labour had better watch their backs In M&B and even East Brighton where the Greens are now second. What this election has changed is that it is now very easy to see where the Greens can get a majority of seats, whereas before I have to admit I thought it was a longshot. In hindsight and without Celia standing in Hove, the Greens could have easily added an extra there and in H&S and Withdean giving them a majority of seats. But surely we have to look at changing an electoral system where a party with 29% (the Tories) can get 5 more seats than a party with 32% (Labour)?

    I have already decided to vote Green at the next general election despite probably meaning I will have a Tory MP and government on a minority of the vote. I will also be resiging (again) from the Labour Party and hope to join the Greens (if they will have me). I figure they will need all the help they can get. It has been a two decade long slog for them to get past the ‘wasted vote’ syndrome of this system that holds new parties back, but finally after having to endure inept right-wing Labour and Tory councils with no mandate, we have a council that truly cares about the city. Just hope the 4-5 Labour councillors needed will back the Greens agenda enough of the time. My one worry about the Greens is that they have a tendency for their youngish councillors to resign in the first 12 months (especially the ones who didn’t expect to win). They also don’t vote as a bloc as they have no whip (which I admire), but it might make things interesting now they are the largest party. I hope we don’t get stalemate.

    • Yes we will definately have you as a member. Your right we need all the help we can get as we’re continually running to try and keep up with all the success we always seem to have. You can join here:

      Its a bit of a myth that the Greens don’t vote together. We don’t have a whip but that doesn’t mean that our councillors all vote different ways. They talk about it together and 99% of the time all come to a joint position about how they will vote. An extra 10 councillors will make doing it this way harder but its one of the main reasons I’m in the Green Party so I wouldn’t want them to do it any other way.

    • Neil – so you are leaving the Labour Party (again) for what reason? It seems as if it’s only because they are successful at the moment as you give no policy reasons. You already vote Green, or Labour tactically, & have decided your vote for 2015. Although you wil be welcome I’m the Green Party, they should we wary of such glory seekers.

  23. Allie Cannell states “Your right we need all the help we can get as we’re continually running to try and keep up with all the success we always seem to have.”

    Allie, please could you provide more information of Green successes outside Brighton And Hove. As far as I can see the Greens are pretty much of a cult in B@H and irrelevant in most of the rest of Britain.

    • I see encouraging signs in Lewes.

      Meanwhile, what is missing from this discussion is the subject of split votes. I noted down all that I could see. Some piles were bulldogged together for counting, or so it seemed, but the others were a fascinating array.

      And I hear that the same applied in other wards.

      So if we had Parliamentary constituencies with two or more MPs apiece, that would make for interesting results….

      Meanwhile, I am flattered that Clive thinks the Central one “spectacular”. It is difficult to describe the thoughts as one goes from door to door: that mixture of the fact it can be done while keeping up an awareness of the dangerous edge of things, which means another street, another bell. It can never be dutiful.

      As it happens, I thought that more than Central was possible.

      I’ve several theories of voting projections, and tremendous as Sue Shanks’s win in Withdean is, I am delighted by rising Patcham.

      If I were the Tories, I should be asking David Smith why he did not mug up the subject of libraries. There are few subjects on which one cannot get up to speed with a bit of study.

  24. Dr Faust, I have been thinking of joining the Greens for a long time. It has been painful to see the Labour party become so anti-democratic with its top-down patronising the members approach, giving members no real say over policy. The Greens want to pay people a minimum £8.10 an hour [tick], have a citizens income [tick], do something about quality of life in urban areas by reducing the number of cars clogging the city [tick], they want cheaper public transport, 20mph limits, and seem to believe in more open discussion on policies and more internal democracy within their party. I will find out more on the last one. But maybe you are right, maybe I am a ‘glory hunter’. I certainly don’t see much of a future for the declining B&H Labour party. I want to be in a party that isn’t so controlling and has a real zeal (and dare I say youthful zeal) for social justice. What did Labour offer in this election other than the lie ‘Only Labour can beat the Tories here’?

  25. Allie, Am I still allowed to join the Greens as I believe in ID cards, own a car, and thought the arguments for and against Iraq were evenly balanced?

    • Yes, I don’t think you have to sign off to believing all our policies to join. Maybe we’ll even win you over to agree with more of our policies 🙂

      We do have lots of democracy in our party, the recent call to Labour to change this years budget with us was something that came out of the EGM of all members on Monday night.

      We have lots to do to make sure the party remains democratic. It was a bit of a shock that we ended up with so much power after the elections so our party structures are probably not quite up to date but I think the key thing is that members at meetings always demand democracy if ever someone starts trying to cut corners.

  26. On student votes: students should surely have the same rights as other citizens but there is a distortion when their votes are concentrated and can outvote a residential district because of one polling district comprised of students( the Uni in H & S). These students probably changed what the residents of Hollingdean, Bates and Coldean wanted. The Uni polling district has no affinity with these residential areas. As a special case isn’t there an argument for creating a one seat mini-ward in future, so as not to effectively gerrymander?

  27. The turnout in Hollingdean and Stanmer was 11,733 and around 1,000 students voted, thats hardly out voting the non-students!

    Also there was around a 50% turnout at Sussex University campus whilst only a 37% turnout accross the ward. If other people voted then the student vote would have very little effect.

    • actually 11,733 is the total electorate. I think the number of people who voted is 4,301. Not quite as good point but still hardly students out voting everyone else.

      • I think it is correct to say that Labour won 5, and possibly 6 of the 7 polling districts in H+S – so there is a problem in that the the great majority are being overwhelmed by a concentrated group of people without a real connection to the area. Don’t know the answer – students are as entitled to vote as anyone else, perhaps they need a ward to themselves.

      • Dr. Faust, the Greens won atleast three of the polling districts in H&S – GT, GY and GZ. In GW (Saunders Park), we hit around 35% of the total vote. In GX, one of our weaker districts, some of us were counting 33% of the vote and 20% in GU (Coldean).

        In GV (Bates), one of the smaller districts and with a much more reduced turnout than any other district, we were on around 15% of the vote and Labour romped home. From your logic and that of Zombie, should Bates not be its own mini-ward as to not unfairly “gerrymander” the rest of the district.?

  28. Dr Faust, how about the ‘answer’ being that Labour try and appeal to students rather than ignoring them? If students did vote overwhelmingly for the Greens, whoose fault is that? As for Labour winning 5 or 6 polling districts, maybe they did, but obviously by a close margin otherwise you wouldn’t be criticising the student voters so much. The truth is the Greens were more popular overall, simple fact. In fact a lot of those Labour voters who vote Labour out of fear of the Tories rather than for positive reasons are probably very happy the Greens have won. I expect a lot of them will now switch to the Greens now they realise the Labour leaflets proclaiming ‘a vote for the Greens here helps the Tories’ was a complete lie.

    Allie, cheers, will get on with resigning from Labour and look forward to helping deliver some of those leaflets for the Greens when I join.

    • Also worth noting that on polling day all three of the sitting Labour councillors visited the University of Sussex – after half an hour they buggered off.

  29. Allie – you make my point for me. If 23 per cent of the votes cast came from the Uni(1000/4301)- that is significant. If of those 1000 votes at Uni, 600 voted Green and 250 Labour the net difference is more than enough to have changed the result the residents of H & S wanted. Dr F’s point about the polling stations is further evidence of a democratic deficit because of the Greens.

    What of the future? If a city election rerun could be held soon then Greens could get all Pav seats by deploying the wasted vote argument against Labour, plus 9 in Hove and 3 in KT. Labour once held Lewes wards in the 70s and Hampden Park and Langney in Eastbourne-all long lost to Lib Dems who can keep it that way because of the wasted vote argument.. Lab has one more election to turn things round I think or else have its position taken as happened in these other towns, though this time to Greens.

    Fortunately there wont be a rerun until 2015. How Greens in power perform the coming cuts and national politics will intervene, as will the ability of local Labour to reinvigorate and campaign.

    It can be done. Lancaster City had 12 Greens (now 8) and with Labour stronger since 6/5/11.So all is not written until it is written!

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