Drawing up the battle lines in Brighton, Hove, Lewes, Ditchling, St John (Without) ……….

The lunatic redrawing of constituency boundaries has provoked much comment. Mike Weatherley has, not surprisingly, welcomed the new arrangements. He would, wouldn’t he, as the new Brighton and Hove North constituency is more winnable against a Green campaign that the current Hove constituency. Gone from Brighton and Hove North are the new Green wards of Goldsmid, Brunswick & Adelaide, and the half Green ward of Central Hove, and the arrival of Regency into the Hove constituency has been avoided.

Caroline Lucas will be laughing all the way to her landslide victory in 2015 with a constituency that currently has all Green councillors less Andrew Wealls in Central Hove.

It has been suggested that, contrary to what I said yesterday – that the new boundaries have been designed to contain the Greens – the new boundaries have been proposed in order to minimise the number of both Labour and Lib Dem MP’s. In Brighton and Hove the prospect of seeing a Labour MP elected for the next 25 years is near zero.

And on the matter of Labour, Simon Burgess has announced, through a comment on this blog, that he will not be seeking election in 2015. Perhaps with the proposed boundary changes he felt that he would be on a hiding to nothing. He would be right, but I personally hope that he seeks election, once again, to the City Council.

So who might Labour field in Brighton and Hove? The Brighton Kemp Town with Lewes and all stations to Ditchling constituency could be a fight between Stormin’ Norman (a Lib Dem enabler of the Tories) and Simon Kirby (occasional rebel Tory). What a choice! Could Labour secure enough votes to slip through the middle in a three way contest? Not if their performance in Lewes in recent years is anything to go by. The Greens? Not in 2015 but if they secure support from disillusioned Labour and, more to the point, mightily pissed off Lib Dem supporters, they could put up a challenge in 2015 and lay the foundations for 2020.

In Brighton Pavilion and Hove, Labour is likely to field someone who dances to the tune of Tom Lehrer’s Masochism Tango. Caroline Lucas is likely to be returned with one of the largest majorities in the Commons. Labour might struggle to hold its deposit.

In Brighton and Hove North, with Simon Burgess out of consideration in spite of a dedicated Facebook page and talk, as recently as Sunday, that the party machinery was lining him up for the candidacy, the way is left open for Dr Peter Kyle, a favourite of the national leadership and deputy chief executive of the chief executive’s organisation, Acevo. Dr Kyle has begun commenting on this blog which says he is either very discerning or perhaps a bit desperate!

I suspect that the candidate most likely to mount the most effective campaign against Mike Weatherley will be a Green. It will be less likely that this will be a Green gain than before, but after the High Noon Showdown between Kirby and Baker, it will be the most interesting fight in Sussex. Having been one of the most interesting elections in the country, the Brighton Pavilion election result in 2015 will be the most predictable in the country.

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26 Responses

  1. A safe pair of hands, Bill Randall, for Pavilion. Then switch Lucas out to take Brighton & Hove North. The Greens could pick up both.

  2. “In Brighton and Hove the prospect of seeing a Labour MP elected for the next 25 years is near zero.”

    I think you might have over-reached yourself a bit there! Do you fancy laying some money on that?

    You are right that Brighton and Hove North is less of a prospect for the Greens, but that it precisely because the boundaries make Labour much more clearly the challenging party than they are in the current Hove and Portslade seat. Mike Weatherley could actually increase his share of the vote, but still lose, if Labour can manage to rally the anti-tory vote. They are in the best position to do so.

    Lewes and East Brighton: Norman may decide to jump to the new Uckfield seat – or not bother. Could be a good prospect for the Greens if they can widen their appeal to encompass ‘natural’ conservatives, who may have tumbled to the fact that the current tories aren’t interested in conserving very much – see their planning proposals.

    All of this assumes the new boundaries are set in stone, which they aren’t. I still wouldn’t rule out an early election on the old ones.

  3. OK, leaving aside the entirely independent Green cheerleading and the fact that on all the measurable evidence Labour is a strong second in all three current and proposed constituencies, with very big Labour votes in Portslade, Moulsecoomb and Whitehawk outweighing any Green vote in the two non-Pavilion seats.Brighton and Hove North has lost the majority of Hove’s Green voting areas. People will want to vote Cameron and Clegg out in 2015 by backing the party best placed to beat them, not by casting a wishful-thinking looking-ahead-to-2020 vote for the Greens.

    Simon Burgess decided some time ago not to run in Hove, not as a result of the proposed boundary changes. The deadline for selection passed well before the changes were known. You got that one wrong I’m afraid.

  4. In Hollingdean, Greens topped the ballot. In Withdean, we topped the ballot. In Patcham, Greens came second to the Tories and provided the first ever real challenge to the Tories in that ward.

    In Westbourne, we did very with no work whatsoever. In Wish, we gained 15% of the vote with no work.

    As a party, we’ve never really touched Hangleton, Hove Park or the Portslades.

    The Hove and Brighton North constituency will remain fluid and transient right through until 2015. Based on the evidence, still very much a three-way fight.

  5. When and if Simon does decide to throw his hat into the ring I am certain he will enjoy the support of the majority of Labour members citywide and will stand an excellent chance of election to Westminster – but that’s for him to decide. For you, BPB, to attempt to imply that his decision was recent, or in response to the boundary changes, somewhat stretches your credibility. I notice that your ‘spy’ has rated nary a mention since Sunday and your sockpuppet, Ghost of Nobby Clarke, seems to have gone a bit quiet too.

    These considerations lead to your prediction of a Labour-free B&H for 25 years being taken with the metric tonne of salt it deserves. The South Downs may keep a lot of inclement weather from our city but are proving mightily ineffective at protecting us from the depredations of the most right-wing government in living memory. A Green vote is, in the end, a lifestyle vote. The party is of and for the middle classes and has nothing to offer the vast majority in times of trouble. The next GE will be highly political and many who have been prepared to chance their arms with that lifestyle option in sunnier times will be thinking long and hard about which party, in a national context, has the the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people at its heart combined with the ability to form a government to further them.

    • “A Green vote is, in the end, a lifestyle vote. The party is of and for the middle classes and has nothing to offer the vast majority in times of trouble.”

      Unlike the Brighton Labour Party, who are all horny-handed sons of toil, especially that Simon Fanshawe.

      This is desperate stuff and, if it represents Labour’s strategy for winning back the lost millions (like me), demonstrates that perhaps the BPB was right after all about their prospects.

  6. The size of the Green vote in Hollingdean, Moulsecoomb, East Brighton and Queens Park puts an end to the argument of a Green vote being a lifestyle one. Like all parties, we attract votes from all sections of society.

    If Labour members are going to rubbish the 33% of people across Brighton and Hove who voted Green in May’s elections, then Labour has no respect to those voters or their convictions.

    • Don’t think you can talk for all of us really.

      Why do those wards represent people all across society and slam an idea that the Green vote is a lifestyle choice?

      Green vote is a temporary fad, until labour picks itself up again across the city. With regards to the new hove constituency – Labour are best bet to win and probably will…. if there is a capable candidate

      • “Green vote is a temporary fad, until Labour picks itself up again across the city.” It seems that this temporary fad has been going on since 1996 when Pete West became the first Green councillor. Since then Greens have increased the total number of seats at each successive local election. From 1 seat it went to 3. From 3 seats to 6. From 6 seats to 13 and finally, from 13 to 23 seats leading to a minority Green administration – the first in the UK. In between those local elections, there was the small matter of the general election result and with the country’s first Green Member of Parliament returned to the Palace of Westminster (yes that’s the one who’s just been voted MP of the Year).

        If all that is interpreted by desperate Labour activists clutching at straws as “a temporary fad” that will pass, then, as a committed Green, I am delighted that they continue with that view.

    • Luke – despite the ‘Caroline factor’ the ‘Big Mo’ and every other cliche that we see on here, the Green Party outpolled Labour by 1% in May, and yet you, BPB, and others think that is enough to rubbish their chances for 25yrs, call them ‘desperate’, and make tedious and self serving predictions of Green Party dominance. What respect are you showing for the 32% who voted Labour. The aim in 2015 is to get the Tories out. Endless abuse of Labour just makes their return more likely.

      • I didn’t call the Labour party ‘desperate’ – I said that describing a Green vote as a lifestyle vote’ was ‘desperate’. Which it is – not to mention highly patronising and for Labour, counter-productive.

        I also did so a few brief column inches after pointing out how ridiculous the BPB’s 25 year Labour wipeout prediction is. But without some serious self-examination from Labour, and a more pluralist, less clientist approach – well, maybe it isn’t so ridiculous.

        People stopped voting Labour because of the Iraq war, ID cards and general irritation that the party in government promoted neoliberal policies that deepened inequalities. In B&H, it is not going to be enough to wail ‘but the Tories are worse’ – and that’s a good thing.

      • But we weren’t talking up our chances of winning an absolute majority. Warren, and others, made repeated comments that Labour were on course to win back complete control of the council. We’ve got a record to prove that.

        Labour voters will be Labour voters. But, compared to Labour’s dominance of the city in the mid-90s and early-00s, it is no more. Yes, Labour may have polled 32% but they are now the third party in the city and within the space of two years have lost all three MPs and have remained stuck on 13 councillors.

        I admit that Labour made some good gains but largely in seats which have a strong Labour tradition and should not have been lost in 2007. I think many in Labour would probably admit that.

        The Greens know the challenges going forward. We’re not speaking with triumphant talk nor rubbing our hands with glee at the new proposals. In fact, we’ve reaffirmed our opposition to reducing the number of MPs and weakening the MP-constituent link by doing so.

        Some Labour members have credited the Greens with how far we’ve come in a relatively short space of time and are keen to know how it has been done. The truth is no secret. Much to the disgust of opposition parties, we don’t have any special potion we slip into the water supply, nor do we use any kind of hypnosis on the electorate.

        We can only be ourselves, present our vision and candidates to the city and see what the voters decide to do on the day.

  7. I do not know why people say that the new Hove is less winnable by the Greens. On the contrary, the Boundary Commissioners must have had a mischievous twinkle in their eyes when they got out the ruler, map and dividers. Their unspoken glances to one another suggested that they had it in mind to give the Greens a very good chance indeed. Meanwhile, the current Hove seat is a sort of limbo one.

  8. It is tragi-comic tthat the Libs have been shafted in having to support the boundary changes in return for the PR vote that was lost. The sole purpose is of the review is to reduce non-Tory MPs numbers.
    Norman Baker cannot stand in EB & Lewes without humiliation. Both Bton North and EB & Lewes are likely to be more comfortably Tory. Warren Morgan says the 2011 numbers show Lab as best placed oppostion- true but the election will be in 2015.

    If Caroline Lucas put party before self, she’d stand in B & H Nth and could give Mike W a run for his money, leaving another Green as shoe-in for Pavilion.

    All this supposes the Green council will not be unpopular through hordes of trsavellers everywhere by 2015

    EB & Lewes could be best for Lab based on past track recoprd

  9. somehow after comments such as: “As I’ve said time and time again, only Labour can win enough seats to oust the Tories, the Greens cannot hope to approach 20 let alone 28…” the Labour Group hasn’t done the wise thing and demoted Mr Morgan from the front bench.

    I’m not sure whether it’s more amusing to watch Mr Morgan carry on predicting things that will never happen or to be safe in the knowledge that whatever he says, the diametric opposite will happen.

    From his musings above, Mr Morgan has clearly been smoking something a bit stronger than an oxo cube over the summer…

  10. […] the Brighton Politics Blogger, have written about the proposals. Read their postings here, here and here. […]

  11. I have blogged about the changes http://jamesbcy.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/brighton-constituency-proposals/ and there is a spreadsheet with the projected proposed changes based on this years local election results at the bottom.
    James

  12. It could be that Baker and the Lib Dems see the Uckfield seat as more winnable.

    And yes Warren Morgan rarely gets his election predictions right (or much else).

  13. I have strolled around three Hove wards this evening and find the public mood very encouraging.

    It really does astonish me that the Tories call me a “clown”, and to my face. Well, that’s up to them but I think it oafish.

  14. Glad they are standing up to you.

  15. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/15/shocked-mps-electoral-register-shake-up

    It’s a well to remember that the Tories opposed democracy in the 19th cent. They still think that a little of it goes a long way, and that the plebs should be encouraged not to bother to vote if at all possible.

    All this while Cameron takes his curtain call in Tripoli.

  16. […] the Brighton Politics Blogger, have written about the proposals. Read their postings here, here and here. This entry was posted in Local, News. Bookmark the […]

  17. I don’t think Mike should be complacent over in hove – with a lib-dem meltdown, a complete collapse of all but the thinnest pretence of eu-scepticsm from the conservatives (many thought ‘once cameron is in, he’ll sort the EU out’) – there are many votes floating around.

    Meanwhile, labours vote will have included labour support for a sitting MP which won’t be the case nest time (admittedly most people who voted labour last time are clearly never, ever going to do anything but put there cross by any red rose they see).

    Then the relatively poor showing for the Greens (especially with the extra coverage of having Lucas running next door) – and the next candidate will have the handicap of having to explain away the horror our green council is rolling out.

    Only difference between LibLabCon – reduce the deficit over 5 years or 10 – everything else is middle of the road expensive, leftyness.

    EU members can’t do ‘change’ the EU forbids it.

    Next election this will be undeniable (lab didn’t do it, condem didn’t do it)… So its all to play for…

  18. Warren you’re welcome to Green Tea and Biccies when you come to Ditchling…However Dame Vera might not be so accomodating.

  19. […] the Brighton Politics Blogger, have written about the proposals. Read their postings here, here and […]

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