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.

45 Responses

  1. The Green candidate will win the Westbourne by-election with a comfortable majority in the region of 800 votes. I think the Conservative candidate will finish second.

    • I’d like to hope you are right. Graham Cox is a one-trick pony – a copper. I was told the candidate would be selected by a couple of old ladies in that ward which might explain his selection. Not the most crime-riddled ward in the city is it! Reflects a nasty-party law ‘n order agenda – old hat. Trevor Alford would have been a better choice if his hat was in the ring, that is……

    • You are bonkers. The canvass yesterday had so many strong labour promises from the people the greens need to get onboard! The families and public sector workers.

      The greens did have there nice little stall which clearly did not expect one of the key elements… wind. As when a bit of the stuff started up there literature went flying down Portland road! Comedy value in seeing the hawtree chasing after it was immense 😉

      • Well, that was doing something rather than standing around in a Labour posse for ages outside the Westbourne. One theory is that they were waiting for it to open. As it happens, a resident was happy to take one of the Greenleafs as I retrieved it and made a joke with croaky, cold voice. Typical Labour: had I not retrieved the Greenleafs, we would have been accused of spreading rubbish – perhaps that is how they regard its orthodox delivery. Harris Fitch appears to take the Cllr Janio mode of dscourse; by contrast, an interesting talk with a Labour person at the pub on Friday evening. Seems that Labour is intrigued by Phil Spector’s advice. I do know something about campaigns: Patcham, Central, seeing off Fanshawe/Bassam plot to impose a Mr Big. Labour might laugh at that burst of wind power but I think it providential.

      • Harris, Labour discovered at the last election that doorstep promises count for nothing. No party can assume they have someones support.

        My old dad, who has always been Labour, once said to me that the Greens had visited him. I asked him for his response and he said that he had offered them his vote. When I asked why he responded “You tell em anythin dunt yer!”

      • You really must get over this janio business! its rather dull and people are starting to talk

      • Why, Mr. Fitch! Why the abuse and aggressive tone of this post ??? I’m baffled. Election angst? Dear, dear….so sooooon? Stop spinning….might help you feel better.

      • Yea im freaking, please help me!!!

        How am I and some Tory councillor related… PLEASE.

      • Oh dear….ummm. How ARE you related to a Tory Cllr….. I say, should someone call Mill View and ask if a Labour Party activist can be admitted for some sort of help?

      • You know, Fitch, CH has a point about you and Janio. I can quite see his point.

      • They didnt accept me last time I applied. Said I was too cool.

      • Maybe they reckon their quota of bolshies is at max capacity.

      • Come on, children, these exchanges are even below the standards I strive for, which in themselves are not particularly erudite. Please focus on the campaign or constructive comments on the candidates. Thanks. BPB

    • Isnt this the “political banter” that we all so love. hehehe

      • Guessing the majority in an election is just a bit of fun. I am not a member of any political party. I am a floating voter who has voted for candidates from many political parties in my 46 years. I am often swayed by the personality of the candidate rather than their political party, Your rather aggressive personality is unlikely to persuade myself, or other undecided voters, to vote for the Party of which you are a member.

    • Voters love me. I am a normal person. Well thank god sir, that I am not the candidate eh!

  2. The biggest fan of The People’s Mike? I know of one card-carrying member of the Green Party who feels she will be obliged to vote for him at the next General Election…..because he is indeed well named by you as The People’s Mike. More ‘representative’ than the usual dogma-spouting politico – though he can bore for Britain with the worst of them when he remembers he is a Tory.

  3. What the f*** is Ms Valerie Paynter going on about? Answers on a post card please…

    • Sorry, Gloria…..if you only understand tribal flag waving, and your own joie de vivre (if I can describe it as that) just skip past anything you see with my name on it.

  4. Jason: if the winning candidate polls as many as 800 votes in total I will be pleasantly surprised. This one will be tight.

    • On second thoughts you might be right. I thing a Green majority of 80 is probably more likely. I forgot to factor in the very low turnout likely on 22 December when many people will be engaged in festive preparations.

  5. Why does the Labour Group get through so many £35k council political assistants? I see another one is being advertised.

    Will Nigel hedge his bets and put an application in? It is better paid!

  6. Err… Strengthening a minority administration “can improve the quality of council management and decision making” – are greens coming out against PR, against coalitions, against cooperation?

    Well of course they are! Like the LibDems they support whatever gives them more power to implement what they think best for the people – even if they, themselves, deserve even better… Mr Kitcat wants (among other things) a councillors creche so the whole Kitcat clan can be looked after at public expense – even the Kinnock’s would be impressed. “Nothing is too good for the workers” even if they can’t afford it for themselves because they are paying for their leaders perks.

    Only one party really believes in ‘power to the people’ (you guessed it UKIP). Should the Greens get around to implementing local community councils with budgets – I’ll look forward to seeing each of them return those budgets directly to the council taxpayer who were hammered in the first place to raise them… 3.5% immediately returned (less wasted overhead of collecting, distributing and other ‘make work’ overheads).

    Or will this be another Green U-turn to add to the list?

    • You know that the people who read this blog are already set in their ways right? You may as well go door knocking or something, you might just MIGHT find another lad/ladett who believes in the words of king farrage! Good luck.

    • Neighbourhood councils will be a reality – forum was held this week to thrash out the practicalities (good write-up here: http://heglat.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/home-rule-for-hanover/). Green administration is also working on bringing back the committee system, at the expense of giving up cabinet control, because it is the right and democratic thing to do. Biggest ever public consultation on the budget is also underway.

      • There is a grave danger that these neighbourhood councils will not provide worthwhile results. Neighbourhood Forums were once-upon-a-time trumpetted as a way of devolving down and getting resident involvement, giving them a voice.

        Take the West Hove Forum as a test case example…..rehashed material in front of people who got it elsewhere first. And the smell of money coming from anywhere gets the Talk Shop Faithful hyperventilating in pursuit of finance for yet another bit of tat for the now frantically junked up Stoneham Park. Plays well at AGM and in meeting Minutes…I guess.

        Normal (non party political) residents will not get involved with Neighbourhood Councils and that’s a prediction.

  7. The residents of Westbourne won’t need long to work out that having a Green Cllr for themselves in a Green Administration might just be likely to stack the deck in their ward’s favour…..than if they waste their votes on the alternatives.

    And I, for one, hope the one-trick Tory loses, and not least because I want to see what Denise Cobb can do in her own right, now she is released from Brian Oxley’s shadow. Being the sole Tory in Westbourne would be good for her. I like Denise. She is good on Planning and asks good probing questions there. I think she has more to offer. And it would not get a look-in if the copper replaced BO

    • Poet’s Corner Saturday…two rosetted Tories out and about door knocking. They are intent on making a fight of it, with the help the Argus. No Green posters in the street the candidate lives in though-strangely! Overall Green and Labour posters were few but about even.
      It may have escaped a few people’s notice that the Argus has a ‘referendum’ on B& H’s council tax rise. Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells and his local friends can be relied upon to vote for a freeze whereas even those who’d rather pay more for maintained services are unlikely to trumpet it. A negative result for the Council therefore can be broadcast before the election and hurt the Greens.

      Louisa Greenbaum’s candidature has had a very positive press so I still see her in pole position though both Jenner’s public health improvers and Cox’s blue pippins want to make it an open race.

      My daughter is on strike on Wednesday, something probation officers don’t normally do. This an opportunity for Tories to bang the drum of irresponsibility and for Labour and Greens to stress the need to defend public services. In a progressive town that ought to play well.

      The fat lady hasn’t yet sung, the die isn’t yet cast. This is what makes politics fascinating. At 65 I am far too old to be interested really considering all the negative comments on this blog about over 50 males- but I am!

      • The Argus is far less influential than you think. It’s circulation is in decline and given the nature of it’s comment section I would pay no attention to any polls they conduct.
        The winner in local elections is the national state of play and party campaigns within the ward.

  8. Sorry to disillusion you, BPG, but if Boy George is Gideon Osborne then he didn’t go to Eton but St Paul’s School. Hence his nickname, ‘Oik’, in the Bullingdon Club at Oxford.

  9. I’ve spoken to several friends who are fed up with the fact the Greens are too dogmatic about keeping local authority control, that they won’t allow Free Schools and Academies to be set up here, even though they’re sorely needed.

    The Greens are happy to take central government subsidies for their ‘green’ interests -solar panels etc, yet are too rigid about control to enable more much needed schools to be built here. Especially in Westbourne area where there are lots of school age children. It’s like a Politburo at B&H Council right now.

  10. Linda: are you quite certain that this council, or any council, could actually prevent a free school being set up? I believe you’ll find that they couldn’t. The whole scheme has been designed to bypass local authorities.

    The fact is that this do-it-yourself approach is a failing gimmick. Most people don’t have the time or the inclination to run their own school – end of story.

    As for the council being a ‘politburo’, how about easing off the rhetoric a wee bit, or you’ll run out of metaphors before polling day!

    I didn’t see Mary Mears et al pushing policies that they didn’t believe in, and you by the same token you can’t credibly blame the Greens for opposing free schools and academies, which they have always said they would, and supporting solar panel subsidies and so on (ditto).

    That said, I think the Greens may have over-promised on primary schools in the past. Hardly the first or the last opposition group to do something like this, but this could come back to haunt them in this election.

  11. In terms of a new primary school in Hove there is a clear distinction between the parties. The Green Party will add Portakabins to existing schools based on their refusal to contemplate an academy of any type. This is simply not good enough for our children. The Labour Party has a distinctive solution, which in fact the Green Party should be grabbing at, as it fits their ethos even better than Labour’s.

    This is a not for profit, cooperative, community run academy, which would allow access to the funds to build proper schools, not Portakabins. If the national political climate changes then such an academy could return to being part of the local authority.

    This does rather expose the Green Party as being more statist than Labour. I would have thought that such a community based solution was something they would welcome. Instead they are running down the support they offer to schools, whilst at the same time saying they must remain within the LA fold. The development of the Schools Partnerships is just a fig leaf to cover the fact that there will be very little support for local schools from the LA, but allows the Green Party to appear to still be in charge, when in fact they have all but given up.

    Parents are not fundamentalists about the political structures around their children’s education. They want good schools where the children and thrive. I’d be interested to see how many parents would say yes to Portakabins in order to maintain the mythical purity of their political leaders.

    • I notice that no one has disputed Val Paynter’s figures of £13m for a new school and £9m to build a new one. So where are the funds to build and then this new academy going to come from? And how exactly will co-operative principles be applied its running?

      It sounds like an appealing idea, but I’d like to know if these are genuine, well thought out plans or a back-of-envelope scheme designed as an easy vote catcher. A weblink to detailed plans would be good.

      Parents (and interested non-parents,come to that) may not be fundamentalists about political structures but they are bound to take an interest how schools are run, and so they should. To suggest that supporting academies is somehow an apolitical stance is completely disingenuous.

      • As far as I can tell, Labour are proposing to convert an existing school into an academy (but they haven’t said which one), nobody is offering funding for a new school. Can’t see how this helps with school places?

    • The Labour schools policy certainly went down well on the doorstep when I was helping canvas last Saturday. Lots of parents with young kids were very concerned about the lack of school spaces in the Ward and what was (not) being done to remedy it. The ‘Portacabin Policy’ is not the future.

      I just wish I could spare more time for canvassing, we have a very good chance of win this by-election.

  12. A quick Google will give plenty of info – but try this for starters http://www.co-operative.coop/membership/local-communities/co-operative-schools/

  13. or even better Labour and Co-op people have been campaigning on this for two years http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=199338171955&v=wall

  14. Here is the Conservative version which gives parents and governers more power to sack underachieving teachers and have a say over the curriculum. The local authority will have no involvement at all, except on location of school.

    Hopefully this method will improve discipline and standards. The Labour/Co Op method still involves the local authority with its statist overtones. http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Where_we_stand/Schools.aspx

  15. Faust, daniel: thanks for the links. Interesting, though short on detail and still nothing on how precisely this would be funded in B&H.

    Still no one has disputed the figures given by Val Paynter. So, portakabins for all, whoever wins the election.

    Linda: if local authorities are such dreadful beasts that they can’t be trusted to run schools, why are the Tories even bothering to run a candidate in this election? ‘Statist’ overtones could more accurately be described as ‘democratic’ overtones, since local authorities are elected, while headteachers and governors are not.

    As I said in response to one of your previous posts, the academy system favours the over-concentration of unsupervised power in one, unelected officer. In any organisation, that is never a good idea – surely?

    • Well I trust parents, governers and teachers to run my childrens’ school more than I do a local authority. Free schools from centrist dogma.

      • What’s ‘centrist dogma’? Something to with Clement Freud and Pedigree Chum?

        Seriously, I just can’t fathom your objection to LA supervision. Headteachers make the day-to-day decisions, but they are answerable to governors and to a democractically-elected authority. Sounds fair enough to me.

  16. Another link that could be of interest:

    • Thank you Mr Clive for that interweb link. The LL Greenbaum used the same in one of her “tweets” (I believe they are called) to draw attention to one person on a Q & A board of the site. In other words, it wasn’t what I would call an unbiased view. I would rather see an OFSTED report or a proper feedback from parents.

      Now here’s a link from the Sainted Caroline’s website in which she promises new schools for Brighton:


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