Westbourne by-election: update after the first weekend of campaigning

I think I have just seen the first flower of spring, one usually hears in late February. Today’s version is who has seen the first poster of the Westbourne by-election. Both Greens and Labour make the claim, but I am yet to see evidence in the form of a photo on Twitter or one emailed to brightonpoliticsblogger@googlemail.com.

But the troops have been out, both Labour and the Greens, and did I see a Grizzly?

Caroline Penn reported Labour posters up in Westbourne at lunchtime today, but the first report of a poster going up came at 14:29 yesterday (Saturday) from Green councillor Christopher Hawtree, who wrote: “Former Peace Messenger Brian Fitch looked daggers when he saw me giving a resident a poster which went straight up at noon.”

Any advances of 12 noon on 19th November?

The Tories recognise that the “by-election looks like a three way marginal… Bring it on and keep it blue!” says The Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell) on Twitter. Is this an indication that he might be the Tory Party candidate?

Both Labour and the Greens have been out on the knocker and delivering leaflets. The Greens, according to Luke Walter, have put a Greenleaf through every door in the Ward. Tim Sewell reports that there has been a good “doorknocking and delivery session” with Caroline Penn, Warren Morgan, Lis Telcs and “many others in Westbourne. Will be hard one to call.”

I assume he means that it is a genuine 3-way marginal. Labour’s Spiritual Leader in Brighton, Lord Steve Bassam, does not think the same. On Twitter he wrote: “Feel a bit guilty as I think I ought to go canvassing in local council by-election. We all need to get out there it’s a R Tory/Labour fight.” I don’t think so, and nor do I imagine that Lord Bassam thinks so either. The Greens are the ones to beat but I admire the old campaigner’s instinct in talking down the Greens so to consolidate the anti-Tory vote with Labour.

Steampunk draws attention to an omission in my posts and comments by others: “Is Paul Elgood planning a come-back? I was going to say, nobody’s commented on the Lib Dems’ chances yet.” I have no knowledge about Mr Elgood but I think that the Lib Dems’ chances of winning are as likely as two of my regular readers, Biker Dave and Doris, eloping to Gretna Green.

Harris Fitch is full of bravado, the same bravado that led him to predict a win in Rottingdean Coastal in May: “It won’t be a futile course, we shot off the starting line months ago. We have so many keen members there compared to the Greens that we probably could man the election campaign with locals. Of course outside help is always welcomed though!” That is a remarkable claim, that Labour “shot off the starting line months ago”. I doubt it, but if that is the case (and I have seen no evidence of it in Westbourne Ward) it should make it a more even fight.

One welcome entry to the fight is the report from The Pepperpot Post that the shy and retiring Paul Perrin will be standing for UKIP.

Dr Faust has said that the issue of school places will be a key issue in the by-election. All parties will claim that they are the one who are most keen on a new school. The reality is that this by-election will not ultimately influence such provision.

Daniel Yates agrees that education is an important, but not the sole, issue: “the Labour and Co-operative vision for first class education with true community engagement really does appeal across a very wide political spectrum. Of course, there are also many other issues where this is true and we wont be sucked into believing that everyone is Westbourne is going to vote purely on schools.” If that is the case, how come education is in such a poor state after 13 years of a Labour government. Education is one reason why voters in Brighton and Hove have lost faith in Labour.

Keep reports flooding in. Either email me on DM @BrightonPolitic.

12 Responses

  1. Sorry, I must have failed to explain myself!

    Over the summer about 4 of us were going out on Friday afternoons from about 12-5pm getting new members and knocking on keen supporters doors.

    Result = 30 new people offering their support.

    Bravado or not I have the names and numbers in front of me 😉

  2. Sadly it wasn’t me that reported a good day’s canvassing as I have been in floor sanding hell all weekend. The knockers of Westbourne (where I live, incidentally) will be introduced to me and my 2yr old campaigning partner through the week, however (that’s how keen we are in labour around here – we even bring our own babies to kiss!) and my local knowledge tells me that the ward will be far from the walkover the Greens and their cheerleaders would have us believe.

    • No Green thinks it will be a walkover, Labour is being acknowledged as a threat. But I sense Labour would have the residents believe it’s a straight fight between them and the Tories.

    • A good days canvassing for the Labour team on Saturday and I always seem to learn something new.
      I met Caroline Penn for the first time who was charming. Great to get back in the saddle so quickly. Wish I was standing as a candidate but not the best time for me. I know that we have a number of very worthy potential candidates though. I wonder what the turn out will be so close to Xmas and if perhaps there could be another surprise by election, on the same day ? Labour can swing it.

      • How can there be a surprise by-election on the same day?

        That is a subject for more gonkish spirits than me. Though I like to be an honorary gonk…

        Obviously enough, I am not going to say too much here, other than to repeat that Phil Spector has a handle on it – and that the one-eyed crocodile has already played a part. That might sound the stuff of David Lynch, but do remember Central. I shall explain afterwards. And this is my last word, here, on Westbourne, where the Tories treat me as “a clown”. Ho, hum, I think they made a mistake…

      • I don’t know if you have read what you have typed out before you typed it…

  3. Is the claim made by Labour in their weekend leaflet, that the Greens voted against a new school in Hove, true?

  4. That’s correct, Jerzy. Our proposal was to endeavour to gain funding for an academy school set up and run along co-operative lines. It’s called ‘putting childrens’ futures before dogma’ – something the Greens, had they more experience of public service, would recognise and endorse, one presumes.

    • “our proposal was an endeavour to gain funding” – it was an empty publicity stunt, Labour group cannot summon an academy into existence. Green group are working on long term plans that don’t involve selling out local education provision.

      • The Labour Group, most notably Cllr. Morgan, have done considerable work on the concept of leveraging Academy funds to found schools run along mutual and co-operative lines. This is a matter of public record.

        Just what are the ‘long term plans’ the administration are working on? I’m a parent of a pre-school child in Hove and I’d like to know, because I certainly don’t want his first experiences of education to take place in a Portakabin – the solution the Greens seem to feel will be good enough for the likes of him.

        We don’t need long term plans: we need plans to solve a clear and present crisis in education in Hove, which will come to a head in 2 years when the first intake at the Connaught Centre need primary places.

        From where I’m standing the Greens’ refusal to even contemplate a progressive way to take funding which is on the table right now looks like the empty ideological stunt. When they promised in their manifesto to ‘to campaign for a new secondary and a new primary school for the city’ it was no secret that the DoE’s funding priorities had changed – so where’s the campaign and where are the plans?

        Or was it just an ‘aspiration’?

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