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.

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29 Responses

  1. Pointless post.

    Nigel was selected not because of his age or gender but because of his SKILL.

  2. ….in losing a local election?

  3. I am surprised at you BPB – I would have thought someone of your hairline would have approved of Nigel trying to protect the fringe 🙂
    Seriously though Nigel is an excellent and hard working candidate with a strong track record and good local links – would you have the Party refuse his selection based on his age or gender?

  4. BPB I can assure you that Nigel is the Labour and Co-operative candidate for Westbourne and that he will be part of the Labour and Co-operative group when he is elected.

    • Thanks, Lis, I can’t tell you how much of a relief that will be to two of my loyal readers (Doris and Biker Dave). BPB

      • You raised the question and now you’re being snarky when someone provides you with the answer. Nice.

  5. A cynical and childish post betraying the blogger’s inability to concoct an unbiased piece where Labour in Brighton & Hove is concerned. We can be sure that even if the Greens do put up a 50-ish male candidate he will turn out to be blessed with qualities previously unnassociated with that age and gender.

    “What is he saying, are there particular problems of child neglect in Westbourne that need addressing, something the Council is ignoring since he left?”

    If the blogger purports to be even dimly aware of how life is carried on about him he will be aware that services for children and young people in Westbourne and all over the city and country are faced with unsustainable cuts in funding whose effects are already being felt. Many of the services facing diminution or closure were set up by Labour in the first place in order to address the inequalities which have blighted the lives of millions unlucky enough to be born in the lower levels of the income scale. Would you prefer Nigel ignored these problems? What is it about his concern for them (borne of a career spent on the front lines of service provision) that offends you so?

    “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.”

    Aren’t you?

    “One wonders where he thinks new housing should go, if not on a so-called green-field land in Hove’s urban fringe”

    Read your own preceding paragraph – there are countless brownfield sites suitable for such development. It takes a Labour candidate in a Green-controlled authority to point out that the green urban fringe should be protected. Go figure.

    “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.”

    *I* hope your party’s candidate has never stood for any other seat. You write as if you didn’t know that at local and national level Labour maintains a panel of pre-approved candidates who are offered the opportunity to put themselves up for selection as elections occur.

    Leaving aside the punishment awaiting the perpetrator of the mis-spelt email, when I sent you Nigel’s biography (at your request) I joked that I looked forward to your ‘thoughtful and nuanced piece’. I was only half-joking and perhaps should have expected this spiteful and, ultimately, irrelevant hack job. Instead of attempting to inform your readers you’ve simply gone through a biography looking for opportunities to score cheap (and boy, they’re not even original or well-constructed) points to exorcise your evident personal disappointments with Labour as a whole.

    I’ll repeat what I wrote under another of your posts last night – Nigel Jenner is the right candidate for Labour and the right councillor for Westbourne – he is a serious politician fit for some of the most serious times in any of our lives. To attempt to lower the electoral contest to a petulant barrage of jibes demeans both you and the canon of political journalism to which you so plainly aspire and whose lowest levels you so plainly fail to reach.

    • Hi Tim

      I take it from your comment that you have found one or two nuances of my “cynical and childish post” displeasing. I think you are being a tad over sensitive. I gave your boy (ok, man, 50’s) quite an airing, with about half the post consisting of direct quotes from his press release, which is far more than I gave to Paul Perrin (male, 50’s) or Supercop (male, 50’s).

      You say that when you sent me Nigel’s biography you joked that you looked forward to a ‘thoughtful and nuanced piece’. You say: “I was only half-joking and perhaps should have expected this spiteful and, ultimately, irrelevant hack job.” Flattery will get you everywhere!

      You accuse me of “looking for opportunities to score cheap (and boy, they’re not even original or well-constructed) points”. Cheap, probably, not original, perhaps, nor well-constructed. I aim for consistency.

      You are correct to say that I have “personal disappointments with Labour as a whole”, as do many from the wider Labour family. But I am not taking that out on Nigel. My post is just a bit of knock-about banter which hopefully lightens the mood. On a serious note, I respect anyone putting themselves forward for election, but banter goes with the territory. I accept Nigel is a serious politician and I wish him well. If he can turn around Labour’s sagging fortunes in Brighton and Hove, I will be pleased.

      Finally, I hope it is ok to use your final paragraph (“To attempt to lower the electoral contest to a petulant barrage of jibes demeans both you and the canon of political journalism to which you so plainly aspire and whose lowest levels you so plainly fail to reach”) in the ‘What they say about this blog’. It is truly an inspired reflection.

      • Well done – a response even more specious than the original post. This whole self-deprecating schtick is getting a bit old-hat, don’t you think? Politics may provide opportunities for banter but it also has the power to transform ordinary peoples’ lives for the better or destroy them utterly – as we are witnessing across our country right now. That’s why Labour generally and Nigel Jenner in particular take it utterly seriously.

        While there is certainly a problem with under-representation of various groups in local politics I appear to have missed your posts taking the Greens to task over the composition of their cabinet (all white, 70% male), their choice of leader (male, white, over 50), their local MEP (white, male, 50s). I have also missed your posts congratulating Labour on their choice of Group Leader (female) and the good number of young LGBT/BAME candidates we fielded in May.

        In fact, on overall gender balance the Greens come out worst of the bunch, with just 8 female councillors out of 23 – beaten both by Labour (6 out of 13) and the Conservatives (9 out of 17 and tonight’s winners, Bob). Again, I must have missed your posts excoriating the Greens for this woeful imbalance.

        The fact of the matter is that it is extremely difficult for younger people to get involved in local politics here. The size and complexity of a councillor’s role in a city like Brighton requires (to do it justice) a commitment to full time involvement or close to it (or more than full time, were all to follow the example of Warren Morgan). For a younger person, or those with young familes, the councillor’s allowance is simply not enough to allow that commitment (unless they’re lucky enough to have independent funds, or a political job which allows them the time and money to take it on – working for an MEP, for instance). Perhaps your limited rhetorical talents would be better utilised campaigning for councillors to be paid a full time wage for a full time job – somewhere in the mid-range of the local government scales maybe: it’s only in such a scenario that we’ll see truly representative candidates coming forward accross the board.

        Unfortunately I fear we’ll be waiting a long time to see you take that task on board. Your blog self-describes as having ‘left of centre comments on politics at a local, national and international level, with a particular interest in Brighton and Hove’, when in fact it simply provides you with a megaphone to take out your unhapiness with the Labour Party. More fool us, the politically-active and interested, for having given you our attention and therefore your undeserved prominence.

      • “campaigning for councillors to be paid a full time wage for a full time job”

        You shouldn’t even dare think it. In conniving to make the work of a politician a ‘profession’, you are encouraging them to become more detached from real life, and closed from all influences other than self-preservation and preservation of the status quo that got them there in the first place.

        If you consider the staff supporting councillors to be incompetent or inadequate then that is an issue to be addressed. I don’t expect a councillor to waste their time jumping trough hoops that we are already paying people to jump through.

  6. A very disappointing post BPB. Cheap and petty. Your historic and on-going issues with Labour are just getting in the way and preventing a reasonable discussion. Your comments about child neglect are particularly misplaced. Are we to conclude some anxiety about a possible Labour success?

  7. You need to check your fact before suggesting I am in my 50’s… Or maybe you were taught maths under a Labour government?

    And it is poor form for Labour to take my campaign slogan “You deserve better” – a message on leaflets which we have been delivering in Westbourne since Monday.

    • Oh Cripes,that means at 48 I better hurry up and put myself forward when the next by- election comes, pretty quickly I suspect given the invisibility of some of our newly elected Green Councillors.

      Meanwhile I and all the Labour team will be working flat out to secure Nigel the success he, and our City, deserves.

      • That still makes you a baby boomer, so probably too old for BPB – I wonder if the Greens are selecting a nubile candidate?

        We youngsters can’t let the old folk get all the attention.

  8. Me thinks they protest too much. As a person who fits the bill to stand as a candidate should anyone be daft enough to select me I’m not the slightest bit offended.First class blog.

    As to there being plentyof brown-field sites in B&H. I think not. And anyway they are already identified for housing. Be quite sure under the Government’s new planning guidance THV will be developed. End of. So the City can either do it willingly and get the best deal it can, or be stubborn and loose anyway.

    Labour are suffering from collective amnesia. Under a previous Labour administration (he of the blessed pony tail) they were all for going for growth and leading by example to please his Tory Blurness.

  9. Where is Warren?..did hear he was on Holiday in Ibiza where he’s been bin lid sliding, throwing tennis balls at people, singing/lip singing songs badly(Divine),Skinny Dipping & Dancing in the rain wearing something crazy!

    • Nigel certainly has the handicap of being local born and bred in a city where being an incomer is quite normal amongst the intelligentsia. He would be wise to play that down and boost any out of city credentials such as where he went to University.

      Choosing one of the the top policemen in the South-East of England is a high risk, high profile strategy..Tories are obviously going for broke..qa 3 way vote in a low turnout could mean 500 is enough to win…so stir up your own but do it quitely to win?

      • Hmm – so according to “zombie”, where the candidate went to university is important is it? I wasn’t aware that a university education was a requirement for standing as a candidate in a local election That’s me buggered then – I went to a polytechnic – doh! and I’m 56 – doh! But wait, I’m not a bloke! Hurrah – roll on the next by-election, I might consider standing.

        By the way some germane (learnt that word at the poly) factoids:

        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

        Personally, I would rather be represented by someone like Nigel Jenner, who doesn’t need a satnav to get to Hove or a streetmap to find his way around Westbourne (where he was born).

        Just sayin’.

  10. Nigel Jenner sent addressed mail shots out about two weeks ago in … Goldsmid. I know that no-one saw this vacancy coming, but the timing of that is a bit unfortunate. That said, I hope no-one holds his age or gender against him, and the notion that his experience isn’t relevant or important is very mistaken.

    The Tories’ choice is indeed high risk, as Zombie says – as is their decision to highlight the closure of the Hove police station, given that the decision was taken on their watch, both locally and nationally.

    Last May, my information was that a sale had actually been agreed on the police station building, even while the estate agents (and everyone else, to be fair) we busy ‘campaigning’ (i.e. sending out badly written press releases) against it. Anyone else care to shed any light on this?

  11. The Lib Dem candidate:

    http://www.liberalbrighton.org/information.php?id=374

    I like the retro use of ‘Mr.’ – and with a full stop. He stood in Regency in May, I believe.

    Am I right in thinking that none of the candidates so far announced live in the ward? If that’s the case, the Greens could do themselves no harm at all by selecting a locally resident woman.

  12. Come on BPB, you can do better than this. Bemoaning white males in their 50s just because they seek to represent parties other than the Greens is incredibly immature. Presumably Bill Randall and Keith Taylor are ok because they’re Greens? What also of the delectable white 50s (privately educated at a top girls’ school) Caroline Lucas?

    • Are you sure BPB hasn’t got a point? Maybe the baby boomers have had it their own way long enough and done enough damage?

      While Generation X were out there creating the wealth, the boomers were busy finding ways to waste it…

      No?

      • No, personally speaking as a Baby Boomer, I have worked hard all my life, as did my late parents. They had no wealth to leave to me and i have very little to pass on to my kids. Signed – a confirmed Europhile.

      • I love Europe too – its different countries, cultures, people, currencies^H^H^H^H^H – its the EU I despise.

  13. I am under 50, female and live in the ward I stood in, unlike either Mr Hawtree or Cllr Andrew Wealls. I would hope people voted for me (or didn’t) because of my politics. It is patronising in the extreme to suggest that I or anyone else, receives votes purely because of age or gender.

    Nigel Jenner is an excellent candidate. We have had many offers of help through out the city and not just because he’s Labour. People know if elected, he will be a great, hard working and dedicated councillor.

    Nigel lived in Westbourne for years. Goldsmid is no distance away and has a similar demographic. Through his job and community work he is far more in touch with local people then many of his political rivals.

    While I’m on the subject of my own, unsuccessful campaign, perhaps I can recycle some leaflets and gift them to Graham Cox. I was thinking in particular of “Save Hove Police station”. He seems to have forgotten it was the last Conservative Council which put it under threat. Will he also be campaigning against the £50m cut in Sussex Police’s budget and the loss of 500 officers?

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