Labour’s prospects in Brighton Kemptown 2015

My dear readers (Grizzly, Warren, councillor Christopher and Doris), I apologise for my radio silence. Internet connectivity at my French country retreat leaves much to be desired. I have been catching up with the news and have discovered Brighton and Hove has a Green Council. What a turn up. I am grateful to those readers who expressed concern about my well being. GrapevineBandH asks: “Where are those enjoyable blogs lately? Are you unwell friend?” Momma Grizzly wrote: “Why so quiet on the blog, Baps? I’m missing out on B&H’s political goss!” while Alex Craven responded “No, please spare us of all that crypto-Green nonsense.” Bless.

My thoughts have turned to the next general election. The three Brighton and Hove membersof parliament will all be defending their seats. The two Conservative MP’s have interesting challenges.

But first of all a word about Norman Baker (Lib Dem, Lewes). Norman, you may recall, signed a pledge before the general election that he wold NOT vote for an increase in university tuition fees. So at the first opportunity to stand by this pledge, Stormin’ Norman does the exact opposite and votes FOR an increase in tuition fees. Norman can expect to be beaten at the next general election as the Lib Dems are wiped out across the country (as they were in the locals in Brighton and Hove). It will be a shame if the Lib Dem for Eastbourne, Stephen Lloyd was to lose. He is a man of integrity, who voted against an increase in tuition fees, and deserves to be re-elected.

As a result of Norman’s inability to keep his word, the Lib Dems lost out in the Lewes District council elections, and one of the beneficiaries was the Tory Party in those seats in Simon Kirby’s Brighton Kemptown constituency. If Labour and the Greens wish to challenge Simon Kirby in 2015, both will need to build support in Lewes District.

Those parts of Brighton Kemptown that fall within the boundary of the City Council, there are now 6 Labour councillors (up one), 5 Tories (down one) with the Greens static on three. Labour’s failure to win in Queens Park is a set back for Labour. The campaign run by Labour in Queens Park shows that a short term campaign focused largely around one very energetic candidate is not enough. The Greens had been building support over several years and that party was able to sustain support even with two councillors standing down. For Labour to recover in this area they need a good strategist (not the candidate!) and local residents buildig, building, building support. The East Brighton Three (Morgan, Mitchell and Turton) understand this – just follow @warrenmorgan on Twitter to gain a good understanding of what it takes.

In 2015 it is Labour that has the better chance of challenging the Conservatives in Brighton Kemptown. Labour would be wrong to follow the line it began promoting last year about an “invisible member of parliament”. Simon Kirby may not have the highest profile in Queens Park, but he is here, there and everywhere in Rottingdean Coastal and that part of his constituency that falls in Lewes district.

If the Greens want to challenge then it has a long way to go. Three Green councillors does not provide the platform needed but, should the Greens begin building in Lewes District (which it should do given the availability of former Lib Dem votes that are more likely to go Green than Labour), then the Greens could begin looking towards 2020 …

In future posts I will review prospects in the Brighton Pavilion and Hove constituencies.

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25 Responses

  1. Sorry BPB i have to disagree with your comment that Simon Kirby is only active in the areas such as Rottingdean, he has a programme that involves visiting all parts of his constituency on a regular basis, of course if “The Argus” wasn’t so leftwing biased most people would know this!

    • I actually agree with you, Ghost. The point I was trying to make is one of appearance. It is all too easy for those whose focus rarely leaves T James Street to appreciate the scale of Simon Kirby’s work, particularly in Rottingdean Coastal and those areas in Lewes District. BPB

      • As well as holding regular surgeries at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, below are just SOME of the things Simon Kirby has been involved with in the
        Queen’s Park area:

        Met with Amex residents and attended business meetings to discuss issues surrounding the
        Amex expansion;

        Spoke with teachers and pupils at Carlton Hill Primary School;

        Attended a variety of events at Dorset Gardens.

        Been actively involved with the No to Sainsbury’s campaign;

        Numerous meetings at Palace pier regarding tourism;

        Spoken with and visted local Hoteliers/B&Bs;

        Talked to pupils and staff at Brighton College;

        Meet local businesses at a visit the Freshfield Industrial estate

        Visited Aspire housing property for people with Spinal injuries and spoke to
        resident about the interesting alterations made to the property to help
        those suffering from spinal cord injuries;

        Engaged with the Council and local groups regarding the issue of dogs in
        Queen’s Park, making representations on behalf of a number of residents;

        Visited the AIDS memorial with various Ministers

        Contributed to the Seafront development meetings;

        Participated in the Stonewall equality walk;

        Made visits to St James’s street traders;

        Met with representatives from St Peters Church (I know this is slightly over
        border)

        Attended events at Brighton University;

        Accompanied Sussex Police on Operation Marble;

        Supported events run by the Gay Elderly Mens Society;

        Visited local Deaf centre.

        Additionally Simon has taken up many hundreds of individual pieces of casework on
        behalf of Queen’s Park residents.

        Simon is busy across the constituency: Moulsecoomb & Bevendean, Coombe Road, Meadowview, Queen’s Park, Tarner, Kemp Town, Bristol Estate, Craven Vale, East Brighton, Whitehawk, Woodingdean, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Saltdean, The Marina, Telscombe Cliffs, Telscombe Village and Peacehaven (East, West and North).

        Philip Brownlie
        Parliamentary Assistant to Simon Kirby

  2. A big decider will be the national economy – will the economy have picked up enough to offset Brighton’s public sector cuts? Also will the Green experiment at running a council be a success or not?

    The Greens might get a dose of reality, if so their raison d’être will evaporate and we will be back to Tory or Labour. If they manage to keep Green will that be acceptable in the real world? I doubt it somehow.

  3. Whatever the Tory MP’s presence in various quarters of KempTown, it is certainly the case that Rottingdean Coastal is the key factor in that constituency. The Tories could lose at least one seat there next time, and would probably have lost all three had the Lido gone ahead with its candidates, as was likely…

    The Hove Constitiuency will be all the more interesting. Of course the other parties will trot out a graph to say that the Greens came low fourth last year, but in fact something more interesting is going on, and it could be a three-way tussle. Several factoirs at play in that scenario.

    Looks as if the next Parliamentary campaign is already underway, especially if the Coaition crumbles.

    • I entirely agree that Hove is where it will be at in 2015. It will be a three-way marginal and, like Brighton Pavilion, with the right candidate, the Greens can prevail. Yes, Labour will use the graph and will, once again, be proven wrong. Much depends on the candidate, as it did in Brighton Pavilion with Caroline Lucas.

  4. A really interesting post and a valuable insight into a part of the city I didn’t know too much about. Thanks and good luck to all in the next five years in the area. 😉

  5. In the 2010 election Brighton Kemptown constituency had 6,253 fewer registered voters than the minimum that will be required in the next general election.

    As Brighton Pavilion had a number that’s well within the correct range I imagine the boundaries for that will stay pretty much the same, forcing Brighton Kemptown to be extended further outside the city.

    So it may well end up taking in the whole of Newhaven, which has just voted in Liberal Democrats to all 18 of its town council seats.

  6. Mike Weatherley certainly deserves to be re-elected as the MP for Hove and Portslade. He is extremely focused on doing what is best for the people of Hove and Portslade and is extremely hard-working… and I should know – I manage his diary!

  7. PS I’m glad you’re back, Baps. As the Queens Park Greens so maturely said to me:

    “Well, Momma Grizzly, I guess there’s not much else to do after such a defeat on May 5th eh?”

    I like to think they were talking about me reading your blog. 😉

  8. If you look at Simon Kirby’s web-site you can see what he has been upto in the last year.
    Of course it’s all speculation until the boundary commission report comes out in the Autumn, anyway wheres Warren?..he must be due a “chirp!”.

  9. Simon Kirby will be very difficult to shift. He seems to have taken a leaf out of Andrew Bowden’s book and concentrated on working hard to be a constituency MP. Lots of people I know have been helped by him already. I also think the Greens will have a chance to beat Labour into third if the boundary review takes Brighton Kemptown further into Lewes.

  10. Simon Kirby never seems to stop, I have personally seen him at many community events (across the whole constituency).

    He has been championing important local issues like saving the Saltdean Lido and opposing inappropriate development at the Marina site.

    On top of this he has held over 100 surgeries at various locations.

    I have to commend BPB on a much more honest appraisal than is offered by much of the left.

    • Steady on with the praise, Brighton Boy. Saying I have given a “much more honest appraisal than is offered by much of the left” will ruin my reputation!

      • I apologise BPB and will respect your wishes and refrain from further praise!

  11. A critical factor is going to be the new boundaries, as every single seat will be redrawn in the next 12 months. Whilst there’s little prospect of B&H losing a seat, there will be ward shifting will be critical in any analysis of what will highly marginal seats.

  12. Dave is right, boundary changes could change the picture significantly, depending on how the city’s treated. There’s one scenario where the new constituencies are drawn on a baseline of the eastern edge of the city, with Telscombe etc falling into a new Lewes constituency and the city being basically East Brighton (not in the ward sense), Central Brighton with Hove, and Portslade with Shoreham. Alternatively, as someone suggests upstream, they could pivot the other way, and take in bits of Newhaven.

    I’d be interested to hear what the BPB makes of either scenario, assuming that the Boundaries Commission don’t want to go beyond the Downs to incoporate Ditchling, Poynings etc into the city’s constituencies.

  13. As an aside, it is interesting that a government that trumpets localism is trampling all over local sensibilities with this boundary review. No line, no matter how ancient or bound up with civic identity, will be respected – even the River Tamar. Oh, all except the Western Isles and the Isle of Wight, which are sacrosanct – one is Lib Dem, one Tory – funny, that.

    All of this is in the interests of giving the Tories a bigger first-past-the-post ‘win bonus’ – 47% of the seats on 37% of the vote not being enough for them, it would seem. A pox on the anti-democratic swine.

    After the boundary review, stand by for a ‘chicken run’ from Messrs Weatherley and Kirby. No matter how many standard word-processed letters they chunder out to their constituents, neither will fancy the fight against Caroline Lucas in ‘Brighton and Hove Central’. Kirby may prefer to take down a very damaged Norman Baker in Lewes, which is likely to take in a part of his current seat.

  14. … oh, and welcome back blogger, I was a bit worried about you too.

    Following on from Dave’s point, the boundary review does render all GE speculation a bit pointless – unless there is a snap election, which I can’t see happening unless the Lib Dems mount a coup against Clegg.

  15. What is the basis for all these radical speculations about the constituencies taking in chunks of this and that, with rivers being diverted into the bargain?

    The three constituencies are approximately the right size?

    Though there is talk of a chunk of Brunswick becoming Pavilion. Which can only increase Caroline Lucas’s majority, and probably does not take that much from Hove.

    Clive’s assertion that the LibDems will carry on is at odds with its members’ discontent. Picture it: “who’d like to come out this evening and do a spot of canvassing for the LibDems?”

    There’d be a bigger queue to join a ship equipped with clipboards and fridges for sales-training course in the Arctic.

    • According to http://j.mp/ixsrDq each constituency in the future must have between 72,810 and 80,473 electors. According to http://j.mp/9OaO6g the three local constituencies had the following number of electors at the 2010 GE:

      Hove: 71,181
      Brighton Pavilion: 73,430
      Brighton Kemptown: 66,557

      Therefore there must be changes to at least Hove and Brighton Kemptown. My guess is that Hove will expand slightly to the West, Brighton Pavilion will stay pretty much the same and Brighton Kemptown will expand East.

      But that could be completely wrong and the boundaries (and even names) get completely changed.

    • Chris: the total number of constituencies is being reduced from 650 to 600 – I had envisaged that this was bound to lead to some fairly fundamental shifts in local boundaries, though I may be wrong about that.

      It is definitely true that, for the first time, boundary commissioners are instructed not to respect county boundaries.

      As to the Lib Dem membership, I really don’t know which way they will jump – but ask yourself this, would you want an early general election if support for your party appeared to halved?

  16. I wouldn’t paint Stormin’ Norman out of the picture just yet. I have a number of friends and acquaintances in Lewes who tell me his personal vote is quite the thing.

  17. Thanks for the Twitter plug!

    It is too soon to make any solid predictions about 2015, if that is when the next GE is (and Lib Dem turkeys do not vote for an electoral Christmas, so I see no reason why they will cause one earlier).

    Our selection of a candidate later this year will no doubt only increase this speculation though, and there has already been some interest.

    Worth noting that Labour put up a full slate in the Lewes District parts of the constituency and did quite well, pushing the Lib Dems back into third place in almost all wards, something I don’t think we did in the 90s. That’s not to say that the Tories didn’t collect many Lib Dem votes on their way to relatively healthy wins. No Greens stood.

  18. And another thing, it is worth noting that Labour’s three candidates in Queens Park scored as many – or in the case of Dan Chapman about 100 more – votes than I did. I’m assuming you didn’t mean Dan when you referred to a “campaign built around one energetic candidate” so I’m not sure how this bears out your points about building up a personal vote over many years.

    Chris Cooke had a high community profile long before the election campaign began, and Dan and Tom French are just the kind of young, enthusiastic candidates you say Labour has lacked in the past and who we needed to choose to win. The campaign organisation in Queens Park was much, much bigger than in East Brighton,both beforehand and on the day.

    One of the successful Green candidates in Queens Park was not even a Green Party member six months ago.

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