Well done to all who took strike action today

Over 2 million workers went on strike today, according to the BBC. And if they say 2 million, then it must have been far more.

Prime Minister David Cameron got it completely wrong, trying to dismiss the day of action as a “damp squib”. Damp it may have been, said Caroline Penn on Twitter, but she didn’t see a squib all day!

Turnout in Brighton was fantastic, with the biggest demonstration and rally I can ever recall. There was great turnout by Labour and Green councillors, and in spite of Warren Morgan dismissing Caroline Lucas as a “no show”, she made a great rallying speech that was incredibly well received. Her appearance on the news was uncompromisingly positive on behalf of those on strike.

But the credit must go to the Unions who organised the day ever so well. Particular congratulations to the GMB who stood out from the crowd, and what a crowd it was. The GMB’s flags were fantastic, and the highlight for me was the wonderful Scottish piper.

The only disappointment was the failure of the leadership of the Labour Party nationally to support the strike. Yes, the position they took up to and until yesterday was not unreasonable, saying that they opposed the need for a strike and that both sides should seek a resolution.

But today, of all days, the Labour Leadership should have come out unconditionally in support of the strike, condemning the government for failing to engage meaningfully to prevent the strike. What a boost that would have given the day of action, and it would have signalled that Labour opposes the Tory and Lib Dem austerity measures that are putting so many people on the dole.

Until Labour nationally offers some leadership, the party locally will continue to see Caroline Lucas hoover up further support.

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Westbourne by-election: the wooden spoon candidate enters the race

And then there were 6: Graham Cox (Conservative), Louisa Greenbaum (Green), Nigel Jenner (Labour), Paul Perrin (UKIP), Gareth Jones (Lib Dems), and now Pip Tindall (TUSC).

Ms Tindall, a former Green candidate in East Brighton, has been selected to contest the Westbourne by-election on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. When I say “contest” I really mean “crawl in last” since TUSC has the unenviable record of coming last in most elections locally.

But TUSC’s entry into this by-election race will have some small impact, for TUSC is to Labour and the Greens what UKIP is to the Tories, an annoying side show that will take a handful of votes from the more credible parties.

So why has Ms Tindall abandoned the party she stood for just 7 months ago? She said: “The Green Party says it’s opposed to cuts, but that’s just so much hot air if it won’t fight them when it gets the chance. I was horrified when I heard the Greens in Brighton intended to hand down the cost of the banking crisis to those least able to afford it – the public service users of Brighton and Hove.”

I am sure that the Greens are trembling in their boots as this Don Quixote charges an imaginary windmill. I can make a prediction about the by-election result: TUSC will come last, then the Lib Dems, then UKIP. Who will win? Not sure yet, it is a genuine 3 way marginal.

Tomorrow’s public sector workers strike will provide a morale boost for both Labour and the Greens. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will also ensure that anyone in doubt about going out on strike will have had and doubts removed. Good luck to one and all who are joining tomorrow’s action.

Westbourne by-election: comments that open up the sluices at both ends

Apologies for my silence. I’ve not been well. Three days with, as Monty Python said in regard to some Australian table wine, the sluices were opened up at both ends! That’s already too much detail for my three regular readers (Grizzly, Doris and Biker Dave. So Cool Soosie seems to have abandoned me).

I have just reviewed a few dozen comments on this blog and the overwhelming majority seem to be attacking the Green candidate, Louisa Greenbaum. It is quite obvious that Labour and Tory activists seem to think that Louisa is the front runner. And they are probably right.

Caroline Penn is one whose comments are normally positive about her candidate, Nigel Jenner, and lists his qualities. She makes a reasonable attack on the Tories for the closure of Hove Police Station.

Another Labour supporter, Gloria Van de Lay (who has teased me mercilessly in DM’s) describes Nigel as “locally resident” living, as he does, just outside the ward. She also sees the Tory record on policing as a weakness of the Tory campaign. I wouldn’t write Graham Cox’s chances off. He is an extremely strong candidate, is well known in the area, and is one of the most single-minded individuals I have ever met, judging from his record as the Top Cop in Hove some years back.

Having listed Louisa’s various interests from her Facebook page, Gloria announces that, on balance, she advocates a vote for Nigel. Fancy that. She is also beastly to the Lib Dem candidate, Gareth Jones. For me to defend a Lib Dem, well that how OTT she has been. I agree with Simon Williams, the former Green councillor, who suggests she lies down in a darkened room for a while.

Steampunk claims most of the Green councillors are over 70 but look younger due to healthy green lifestyles. He says that Alex Phillips is the youngest at 43. A brave man to take on Lady Everton. Careful crossing the road, Punk. You don’t want to be run over by a Big Lemon.

My Pal Paul (Perrin), the UKIP candidate, bemoans another party employee running for office. I understand Louisa works just 10 hours a week for the Greens. But why should it matter anyway? He also notes that Louisa was the Green’s ‘first’ candidate last time. A strong point in her favour, I would imagine, given that three of the other candidates stood elsewhere as recently as May. Her track record strengthens her position.

Paul also says that I have “really lost it” – I got his age wrong (he seems to have taken offence at giving his age as 14 and three quarters!) and guessing that my “beloved Louisa” was in her 30’s when she is, in fact, a male in her 50’s. Actually, she is 41. Paul says that I am “squandering whatever good will (I) have had in the past…”. Well, thank goodness for that. As long as Doris, Biker Dave and Grizzly still love me, I’m happy.

Linda F (a Young Tory, me thinks, under 50 anyway) joins the ranks of the Green bashers, mentioning the schools attended by Louisa (Leeds Girls’ High School) and a couple other Greens, as well as putting the boot into Nigel Jenner for attending Brighton College. I heard a rumour that the Tory Party leader, Dave Cameron, his mate Boy George, and several others in his Cabinet went to Eton, while his fag (not a derogatory term but indicates a junior boy who does the bidding of a prefect at a private school) Nick Clegg went to the inferior Westminster School.

My spiritual friend, Ghost, identifies some of Louisa’s advantages in this by-election, second on the ballot, the only woman, and an established profile in the ward.

Pete Gillman, like Caroline Penn, makes a characteristically positive intervention by focusing on issues, although he might be being a bit melodramatic by suggesting the Greens wanted “easy access to hard drugs and legalised brothels if they had their way.”

Mike Weatherley has gone out to show a united front with Graham Cox, promoting him on Twitter and canvassing for him. But the cause of unity is not helped by Valerie Paynter, the biggest fan of The People’s Mike in Hove. She challenges Graham: “You say you agree with Mike Weatherley ‘on most issues’. I wonder, could you tell us, on what named issues you disagree?”. Not helpful Ms Paynter, well not for the Tory cause.

My Pal Paul says this by-election will make no difference unless, of course, he is elected. I think he may beat the Lib Dems into 4th place, but not more. But RobS (who graces us with his presence, says that “the election of a Green is the one result that DOES make a difference to the running of the council. True it doesn’t change overall control, of course, but when a minority administration is running a council, an extra voice and an extra presence for committees etc. can improve the quality of council management and decision making.”

Apologies for the length of this post, but needed to catch up with you all. In your comments, please keep them fair and reasonable.

Westbourne by-election: Greens select male, 50’s as its candidate. But, wait, what is this cunning plan ….?

There we have it, following the trend started by UKIP (Paul Perrin, male, 14 and three quarters), Labour (Nigel Jenner, male, 50’s), the Conservatives (Supercop Graham Cox, male, 50’s), and the Lib Dems (Gareth Jones, male, seems mid 50’s), the Greens have followed suit by selecting a candidate who is male, 50’s.

But wouldn’t you believe it, the pesky Green candidate is masquerading as a female, in her 30’s, going by the name Louisa Greenbaum. And slyly, she actually lives in the ward, stood there in May in the local elections, is not just now discovering an interest in education but has two children in a local school where (it is rumoured) she is a governor. Now it is clear that I am showing my bias, putting a green gloss on this candidate because of the hostility I have for Labour that has been evident since I was in the womb.

I hear that Louisa has been the front-runner in the selection, possibly the sole candidate from the outset. Without wanting to provoke the displeasure of my Labour friends, it is clear that on so many levels, Louisa is different from the Identi-kit candidates of the other parties. Last week, immediately after the resignation of the Bishop, I suggested that Labour’s Caroline Penn (female, 30’s) would have made a strong candidate. But on this and many other things, Labour did not listen to me. But never mind. I do look forward to an exciting election campaign, and I genuinely wish all five candidates well. But on the basis of candidates selected, the Greens, followed by the Tories, have made the best start.

Westbourne by-election: in defence of males in their 50’s standing for election

The Lib Dems have selected Gareth Jones as their candidate for the Westbourne by-election and in doing so they have broken the mould. Well, yes, their candidate is male but half the age of My Pal Paul (40’s male), Supercop (50’s male) and Nigel Jenner (50’s male).

It has been suggested that I have something against males in their 50’s standing for election. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of my best friends are males in their 59’s, and all I was doing was to draw attention to a trend that was developing in the selections for Westbourne.

There are some fine public servants who are male in their 50’s and I believe it is right that young and old alike, male and female, gay and straight, all should be in elected positions locally.

But in a by-election, where there is greater focus on individual candidates, the similarities and differences between candidates is brought into clear focus.

So young Gareth is breaking the mould and, given his relative youth, so too is Paul Perrin (the Adrian Mole of Brighton politics).

Tonight the Greens are selecting their candidate. The Greens are themselves a mature bunch, but no doubt they are young at heart, as is Nigel Jenner and certainly is Supercop.

Gloria Van de Lay draws attention to the incredible ages of the Greens: “Green leader of the council – male, white, over 50 – (if not, apologies Bill, you must have had a hard life); Green Cabinet – 70% male – all white, some must be at least 50 – unless see above re hard life. Some of the women are at least that, but that doesn’t seem to matter – after all, the Blessed Caroline is 51! Green MEP – male, white, over 50.”

I’m sure we will hear in the next hour or so who the Greens have selected. Watch this space.

Westbourne by-election: Labour selects an identi-kit candidate to match his UKIP & Tory opponents – a male in his 50’s

There is an earth shattering headline in a press release put out by the Labour Party when announcing its candidate for the Westbourne by-election. It screamed: “Labour Backs Nigel for Westbourne!”

It’s just as well that the Nigel it is referring to is Nigel Jenner who happens to be the Labour candidate. Gone is the description of him being the Labour and Co-operative candidate. One wonders whether, if he is elected on 22nd December, whether he will be a member of the Labour Group or the Labour and Co-operative Group.

Nigel, 54, is “a born and bred Brightonian and keen Albion fan” and “has worked for Brighton & Hove City Council in the past and hopes to utilise his skills and knowledge, especially in children’s services, to represent Westbourne residents effectively.” What is he saying, are there particular problems of child neglect in Westbourne that need addressing, something the Council is ignoring since he left? We should be told. At least Supercop is clear that Sussex Police have mislaid a police station somewhere in the Holland Road area.

But more on Nigel. He is “currently self-employed, working with city community and voluntary groups to help local young people, such as Brighton & Hove Albion’s Football in the Community scheme. Passionate about young people and education, Nigel is appalled by the savage Tory-led Government cuts to young people’s services in Brighton & Hove, which have contributed to an increase in Youth Unemployment by 127% in Hove alone, over the last year.”

The press release continues that Nigel “is particularly concerned with Hove’s ‘school places crisis’ and will be campaigning for a new school for Hove. Nigel is also opposed to increased parking charges for Westbourne residents and local businesses, as well as Green plans to allow 750 homes to be built on green-field land in Hove’s urban fringe, when there are brown-field options available to build the same amount of housing, across the city.”

There is a lot that Nigel opposes. One wonders where he thinks new housing should go, if not on a so-called green-field land in Hove’s urban fringe. Does he not want homes for the children of Westbourne residents?

Nigel concludes that “Westbourne and the residents of Brighton & Hove deserve better.” I hope he includes the good folk of Goldsmid Ward to which he tried to plight his troth in May but he was spurned at the altar. Yet seven months later, without a backward glance to Goldsmid, he is ready to leap, on the rebound, into a new relationship with Westbourne. Love can be so fickle.

Just two final points. With UKIP’s Paul Perrin (male, 50’s), the Tory’s Supercop Graham Cox (male, 50’s) and now Labour’s Nigel Jenner (male, 50’s) I think I’m beginning to notice a trend. Can’t quite see it yet, erm, are they all Gemini’s? No, that’s not it. No, I give up. Perhaps the Greens will put someone up who is, perhaps, male and in their 50’s. Or could they select one of those other things, you know, the sort of person the Church of England won’t allow to be Bishops.

Finally, Labour should proof read its press releases. It is something I am told by my loyal readers (Grizzly, Doris and Biker Dave) that I should do with this blog. If Labour is worrying why nobody has emailed to pledge support it might be that it has misspelt its email address thus: laboruactive@gmail.com. Or they might not be getting pledges of support because men in their 50’s are not the most inspiring candidates in this race, Perrin, Cox and Jenner apart.

Supercop Graham Cox joins the Westbourne by-election campaign as the Tory Party candidate

And then there were two, Paul Perrin and Graham Cox, candidates in the Westbourne by-election. Yes, this evening the Conservatives chose Graham Cox as its candidate in the by-election. Graham is the former head of Sussex CID and was Divisional Commander in Hove where he gained the reputation for being Supercop. His first tweet (on @CoxGraham) following his selection was “Keep a proper police station in Hove. Vote Graham Cox in the Westbourne by-election”.

Mr Cox, chair of the Hove Conservative Association, is a clever choice. He is well known in Hove, and will no doubt play a law and order ticket in the by-election. But he has a couple of problems. Rumour has it that he and Mike Weatherley are not the greatest friends, each representing the two sides in the Hove Conservatives. The other problem he has is that he is a middle aged man. Should Labour and/or the Greens put up a younger woman, they will enjoy an immediate advantage over the Tories.

Mr Cox also has a problem, known as the Conservative Coalition government. His tweet calling for “a proper police station in Hove” brings the immediate response of “Who is imposing these cuts on Hove and on Sussex Police? He may try to blame the former Labour Government, but there is a growing consensus that the Coalition is going too far and too fast. Mr Cox needs to come out and oppose what his own government is doing.

Having said that, the little contact I have had with Graham has always been positive and I can say I genuinely like him. He will work like a Trojan, he will pound the beat, sorry, the streets of the Ward, and he will work and work and work right up to 9pm on Thursday 22nd December. Clever choice which brings this back to being a genuine 3-way marginal.