The Impossible Task for Labour and the Tories in Brighton Pavilion

“Roll up, roll up, see the slaughter of the Innocents” or more to the point, who wants to put themselves forward to become parliamentary candidate in Brighton Pavilion for either the Labour or Conservative parties?

Assuming there are no significant changes to the boundaries before 2015, Caroline Lucas will be defending her seat, and likely to be returned with a bumper majority. Last time, many left of centre voters were undecided whether to vote Labour or Green, fearing that a vote for the Green candidate would let the Tories in. Labour pumped out this message in their literature, and as a result many people ‘played safe’ and voted Labour. Many of these same people will not be misled again and will be voting Green. The lies told by Labour in their election literature this May, that only Labour could form an administration (result, 23 Green councillors, 13 Labour) will have persuaded more voters not to believe Labour’s farcical claims in the future.

Caroline Lucas is steadily building up a strong personal vote. She is widely admired and respected, nurturing the constituency. She is an impressive individual who is conducting herself impeccably.

Further damage is being done by rumours and innuendo that is being spread by some Labour activists about Caroline and other leading Greens. Those responsible for this should take care – false claims about employment and travel perks are libellous. Not just that, it continues a trend going back to May 2010 of Labour being bad losers. Labour activists should spend more time sorting themselves out rather than making unfounded claims against Green activists.

So who in their right mind amongst the Labour ranks wants to put themselves forward for a ritual humiliation, trailing in a distant third? It is less of a problem for Conservatives. The Tory candidate can expect to make a respectable showing, but they too will be soundly beaten by Ms Lucas.

Can the Caroline Effects influence the Hove constituency. I’ll post something on this laterin the week.

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48 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t be so sure.
    Expect big things from the Labour Party in the future.

    • As you say: “I wouldn’t be so sure”. I always worry when such confidence is put in writing. Why risk setting yourself up for possible failure? It just seems cocky to me. Far better to say little and get on with it. Let the electorate do the talking.

      • Have to say, completely agree with Christina on this one.

      • I agree. ‘Say little and get on with it’ is probably the best advice posted on here!

  2. All depends on how the Green administrations record develops over the next few years, both Caroline and her Cllrs will likely be up for re-election on the same day in 2015..i wouldn’t back against Caroline but i don’t think they will be weighing Green votes in Withdean next time,I Expect a no change on the 3 current Brighton & Hove MP’s.
    More inportantly when will we have our first By-Election on B&H City Council?..there will be a few new Cllrs saying it’s a bit too time consuming pretty soon.

  3. Labour’s line at the next election will be “only Labour can form a government against the Tories”.

    Implying that Caroline Lucas is proping up the Tories! As you say I think most people can see these arguments are utter tosh.

    • Allie – who else can form a government against the Tories?

      • Thats not the point.

        That argument implies that if there was such a small difference in seats that a Green MP (or even MPs) had the casting vote they would vote to keep a Tory minority government. Its ridiculous!

  4. Four years is a long time in politics, but looking from the present, you are probably right. I suspect a good deal will depend of how popular the Tory -led government is by then – don’t rule out the possibility that the economy may be recovers enough. However, this will only work in Caroline’s interest, as there will be less appetite for change – reducing Labour’s chances. If the people want a new government then the Green Party will not be able to deliver it, and so it becomes a Tory/Labour choice for more people.

    However, I suspect the peformance of the Council will be a key factor – and you can rest assured that the pressure will be on to not do anything that could put Caroline’s chances at risk – that will remain the most important campaign for the Green Party.

    So a combination of Tory imposed cuts, and a desire to see Caroline re-elected will save the Green Party from themselves, if they can cope with the boredom.

    BPB – please stop the drivel about the leaflets – The Green Party did exactly the same.

    How about Labour targetting Tory voters with ‘vote Labour to get the Green Party out’?

    • It is a good line ” Calling all Tories- only Labour can get the Greens out in B & H” -it might even work since Tories were an uncomfortable 3rd in Pavilion.
      They could possible be squeezed by Lab if the Greens foul up with B & H Council or St Caroline makes some uncharacteristic blunders.

      H Wilson said a week in politics is a long time. Let alone 4 yrs! So BPB is surely wide of the mark when he assumes Lab will be poor trailers in 3rd place-St. Caroline only presently has a 1200 majority over Labour.

      I suspect that falling living standards of the middle and working classes will play well for Labour in 2015.

    • I do get your point about Labour targetting Conservative voters, but I’m not so sure many would buy it. I certainly would never vote Labour, even if they were the only ones that could pip the Greens to the post.

    • Dr Faust: Not having posted here before but I heartily agree with your plea to BPB to stop the constant one-sided remarks about tactical messages in election leaflets.

      In the general election in Pavilion, Lab, Green and Tories all played the ‘you should vote Y to keep X out’, and in the recent local elections the same. All used bar charts showing figures of varying vintage and geography, aimed at presenting that message in the most advantageous way. None of these messages were ‘lies’, they were political spin.

      Now I would like to think these messages put voters off, and parties would understand this and desist; but this is not the way of the political world. And the tendency to use tactical messages increases when there is little difference in political substance as arguably there is between Lab and Green.

      Of course, the motivation for these messages would have vanished if we had AV, but even without I would hope that in 2015 Labour will be saying “Vote Labour because our government will be better [in the following ways] then the Tories”, and the other parties likewise, rather than in desperation assuming voters vote negatively.

      • I completely agree that parties should stop telling the electorate to vote for them in order to keep their opponents out, most people are sick of negative campaigning.

        However, I must take issue with you saying that there is little difference in political substance between Labour and the Green Party. I would argue that Labour and the Tories are much closer politcally: both agree on neoliberal economic policies, both are generally pro-war and both usually support authoritarian measures when it comes to law and order.

  5. Enough with the same old Labour versus Green election claims tittle-tattle. The important question is: who’s going to be the first to challenge the superinjunction protecting the BPB’s identity?

  6. Faust and Zombie are typical of the kind of Labour arrogance which will see them fall foul of their own ‘Manifest Destiny.’ That is to say, they won’t do anything for four years and wait for everyone else to crash and burn – some chance!

    I sincerely hope the local Labour Party isn’t the sum of Zombie’s and Faust’s narrow-minded opinion of voters attitudes towards the Greens.

    I think Craig Turton was correct in saying that Labour only has one election left in it before they’ll be out of Brighton and Hove politics for a generation.

    • I don’t think thats fair, but it does sum up the green activists I have met. Bitter and angry! Why!? You are winning look the council the MP just relax a bit.

      Labour has fight. I just think at the moment its too soon for us to show you our “fight”. It is there, it is brewing and we have got plans.

      I you Greens need to stop focusing on Labour now and start hitting OUR true enemies.

      • Rest assured Harris, we are not focusing on Labour nor “OUR true enemies”. We have a city of over a quarter of a million residents to answer to so we’re a tad too busy to worry about Labour’s fighting plans however strongly they may be brewing. The joys of democracy mean you are free to tell us about them…and we are free to ignore you.

  7. Harris,

    I admire your energy and passion, I really do. But, I think you have some cheek to call us out on not taking the fight to the Tories – red, yellow and blue ones.

    There’s plenty of folks in Labour I have time and patience for, however, few of these reside in Brighton or Hove.

    • And the Green Tories!

      • The perfect oxymoron

      • Christina – actually there is a perfectly good case to be made for a capitalist market economy being the best way to deliver technological advances which will tackle environmental concerns – far more chance of a market economy delivering fuel efficient engines than the state control that the Green Party seems to advocate, (at the moment at least). Perhaps the real oxymoron is a Green Party Green!

      • actually probably the best chance of tackling environmental concerns is for their to be a regulated market economy to achieve such things – if left to thatherite economics we get the ridiculous situation of electric cars being ready for use for yeaars but not being made available unlike in more social democratic circumstances like california where regulation brings down emissions by providing a context in which the market can operate clearly and fairly

        part of the reason for green party popularity is their actual policies – see voteforpolicies.com – which are not the unbridled capitalism of thatcher or blair nor the centralised economic planning of the soviet union
        the green party is essentially a radical social democratic party with progressive communitarian and co-operative instincts – that’s probably why so many labour members have joined it! I’d love for Dr Faust and others to join us and make their suggestions for change from within – they’d receive a warm welcome from me.

      • Matt – It is relatively easy to have popular policies if you are in oppostion. To me, ‘radical social democratic with progressive commuitarian and co-operative instincts’ is very much a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes – but at least we now have a chance to see if there really is any substance.

  8. A post about how drastically the constituencies might change followed by a post with the assumption Pavilion stays the same, life seems futile with all-up elections. My take on it all the same:

    The problem for Labour is that our vote is being squeezed 3 ways.
    -Left of Labour are going Green (most already have I sense, except some tactical voters).
    -Liberal, anti-war, single issue voters have already gone Green and Lib Dem (depending on the issue)
    -Traditional Tory-Lab switcher vote got a hit and could well get another hit if things go well for the tories.

    The only voters labour can get back are any tactical votes towards the Greens (which did exist at the GE a fair bit).

    The Greens can only get so many votes in Pavilion, there are only so many potential greens. I think their vote could go up and their majority with it, but that would be their peak.

    The biggest thing I think we will notice is a drop in turnout. The greens will lose their wow factor with 4 years in power, Caroline Lucas will make some enemies (all MPs do, however good). A brand new set of students cannot be any more politicised than the current lot.

    In conclusion on current polling:

    Green win with increased vote share. Reach Peak
    Lab second slightly smaller vote share.
    Tories third same vote share.
    Lib Dems vote halves all going Green.

    Turnout decreases, everywhere less politicised.

  9. Yes, but a Green blogger masquerading as an impartial blog would say that, wouldn’t you?

    The picture isn’t so rosy for the Greens.

    You know, the Greens are now losing members as their flakey leadership crumbles under the pressure of power, their mistreatment of the travelling communities has certainly caused a stir in their ranks.

    I recruited a Green member today!

    What’s this about Caroline’s travel perks?

  10. In Pavilion, the Green vote jumped and was close to 45-50% across the constituency. I think BPB is correct in saying that many potential Green votes tactically backed Labour at the GE. In Hollingdean, I was certainly hearing this on the doorstep.

    Craven is wrong, Green membership is going up, there are no signs from either the local or national party that Green membership is decreasing. Sadly, just another petty little lie.

    • It’s not a lie. I said you were losing members in Brighton, which you are, but was not suggesting that there is a net fall in your membership.

      I shall nevertheless look forward to recruiting the next disillusioned Green to Labour, after you inevitably cock up again on some other sensitive issue.

  11. It is likely that the Greens will get a lot of votes fom those who voted LibDem in Pavilion last year.

  12. Who cares they are all the same…Caroline said she would not evict travellers one week and Bill randall evicts them almost two weeks later. Greens say they will get rid of the cabinet system at the council and once in, they have all gone quiet

    It is the lib dem disease…say one thing in opposition, do another thing in power

  13. I would have to agree with those who caution against calling the next election.

    There are so many variables, both nationally with the economy and performance of Labour as a credible government, as well as locally with how the Council works out for the Greens. Obviously, I’m hopeful and confident in the abilities of my colleagues to success at their new roles, but nobody should take the result for granted!

    If I take any message out of this discussion, is that people need to take some time to support their local parties get through their respective transitions – and focus squarely on representing the voters both in opposition (and in power) in a manner that speaks honestly to their values. There is still far too much inter-party lambasting going on.

  14. Yes the Greens will pick up votes from the Greens, and some from Labour. However there is a limit, to how far the Greens can go as the party is too left for a lot of centrist and right-leaning voters.

    Furthermore, if the country comes out of recession successfully by 2015 there’ll be a big boost to the Tories; this will be boosted if the Greens continue to make fools of themselves by pretending Brighton and Hove can avoid cuts and making them (or, even worse, not making cuts and hiking up council tax).

    Also, the other two parties will not allow themselves to be out-foxed again. If they have any sense they’ll start building up a sizable war chest in preparation for the elections as well as a proper student strategy.

    Looking at the other two constituencies, though, a stronger Green party there really benefits the Tories as the Greens take many more votes from Labour and LibDems from the Tories. I imagine in 2015 Labour will – rightly – say that voting Green will get Blue. The long-term question remains whether the Greens are able to consolidate the anti-Tory vote…

    • Look at the figures. Look at the LibDem vote in Hove last year. And then take in the underlying trend. The latter is crucial. And you get a measure of that, and more, by going out, along the pavements.

      You don’t get that by writing a screen–driven column in the Guardian.

      • Only if the whole LibDem vote transfers to the Greens wholesale – with a good following wind – will the Greens actually stand any kind of chance in Hove.

        Of course, party politicians tend to experience “along the pavements” exactly the response that reflects their views. I’m sure Yes to Fairer Votes thought they’d easily win in Brighton, for instance. Optimism is one thing; delusion is another.

      • You do not understand how canvassing works. And so I am hardly going to tell you here, am I?

      • Lovely ad hominen argument from someone who knows nothing about me and my experiences.

  15. I think this is very much a honeymoon period for the Greens. They might do very well, or now they are under scrutiny the gleam of a new, untried administration might begin to tarnish. We’ll see.

    Caroline Lucas is the only Green MP and that is why so much attention is heaped on her. She holds no power, is not a minister making crucial decisions. She does like to be in the media and she is very articulate. However, her policies also are not under scrutiny. Without her as the Green’s figurehead, I don’t think their party would have done so well down here in the local elections.

    As for Greens being ‘co-operative, radical, social democrats’, it depends which end of the telescope one views them from!

    • Linda, let me make one thing clear: it is not the case that Caroline Lucas LIKES to be in the media. She IS in the media because she’s the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales. That, and the fact that she is the first Green in Westminster, inevitably means more media exposure (at long last!) but it’s not something she, nor her Westminster or constituency offices chase after. It just happens. Of course she was a significant part of our successful campaign, but so what? The principles and policies she was elected on last year are the same as those we were elected on locally this year. I really don’t see the problem here. We have no illusions about the difficulties and responsibilities that we face as an administration and we simply intend to get on with it as we are doing already. Media and opposition will sit back and enjoy themselves now of course, and there’ll be no end of daily criticism and fault-finding but that’s a price we have to pay in order to have the privileged opportunity to try and do what we, as imperfect people, believe we ought, by conviction, to do. The public are within their rights to judge us hopefully with a good measure of wisdom. We have been given 4 years, so give us the 4 years to try and do what we can. And please don’t bother with telescopes – come and see us close up.

      • Christina – have only just picked myself up off the floor after your comments about Caroline and her offices not seeking out the media spotlight – breathtaking!

      • Dear Doctor, there are those who just enjoy just being in the media for self-serving purposes, others, like Dr Lucas, who do it because her party needs to oxygen of publicity. She works hard at it and is good at it, but I’m not sure if she actually enjoys it. It takes its toll and being the single MP and Party Leader, it must be a gruelling unrtaking for her, so let’s give her a bit more respect.

      • BPB – it was Christina’s comment that Caroline or her office don’t ‘chase’ media opportunities that was so unbelievable and disingenuous. I know she works hard, I hope she enjoys it, but she chose this life. For a party that received half the vote of the BNP, and who are not seeking out media opportunities, they are given a ridiculously generous amount of media exposure.

      • My Dear Doctor, I imagine that Dr Lucas gets the level of coverage she does because she offers something new, positive, progressive. Compare her performances on Question Time to that of Griffin of the BNP. She is extremely bright unlike Griffin. And compare her to the majority of spokespeople from the main parties: she speaks fluently about the issue under discussion rather than follow an uninspiring party line and making sycophantic comments about the party leader. And compare her to, say Ed Miliband …. The comparison is embarrassingly one sided!

      • BPB – I particularly enjoy Caroline on Question Time. All the nonsensical certainties of a cross between Tony Benn and David Starkey. Great entertainment!

  16. I see in the argus the greens are not getting rid of those directors now…another broken promise…..may change my name to “very grumpy old man ” soon

    • Probably cost them too much to break super directors’ contracts. At least Greens are being pragmatic and not wasting our money on legal challenges.

      • May well be true Linda, but that was known before the election and so the promise made at the election was just posturing.

      • Patience Dr Faust, patience. We’ve only been in administration for one week for goodness’ sake!

    • Maybe you would be less grumpy if you didn’t believe everything you read in the papers!

      • Good grief – if your mood is dependent upon the Argus reporting then your future looks extremely bleak grumpy! Why the heck do you believe what they write anyway? Truth is not going to be served to you on a plate matey – you need to go out of your way to work it out!

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