Chaun Wilson wins the East Brighton by-election for Labour

Congratulations to Chaun Wilson on her victory in today’s East Brighton by-election. Several weeks ago, on 21st September, I described Chaun simply as ‘The Winner’. I wrote: “East Brighton is Labour’s strongest stronghold, thanks to the work of sitting councillors Gill Mitchell and Warren Morgan, and that of the recently resigned Craig Turton. The chances of Labour losing this seat is about as great as someone finding Nick Clegg’s backbone.”

I was wrong. She didn’t just win. It was a landslide:

Carlie Goldsmith (Green Party) 456
Joe Miller (Conservative) 531
Chaun Wilson (Labour) 1,596

Turnout was 26%.

The result will be more than pleasing for Labour as it rebuilds towards 2015. A defeat would have been a disaster. The challenge for Labour is to seek to regain some of the ground lost in 2011 to the Greens and, as important, to make inroads in Tory seats, particularly areas like Hangleton and Knoll. The size of their landslide will give them heart and is a sign that Labour is returning to its former strength in Brighton.

The Greens had hoped for a second place finish so the result will have been disappointing but not particularly relevant as East Brighton does not feature large in their plans. Not much should be read into the Greens third place. Had it been a by-election in a seat in Brighton Pavilion it would have been more worrying, a set back for their hopes of strengthening their position on the Council in 2015. (I will be writing more soon about the prospects for Caroline Lucas in 2015 – my belief that her prospects for re-election will not be dependant on the success or otherwise of the Green Council. Even with the boundary changes, Ms Lucas will win).

The Conservatives put up a brave fight in spite of the hopelessness of their cause in East Brighton. Joe Miller was an ‘interesting’ choice but not one that was likely to cause an upset. He is a nice enough young man but it takes an extraordinary young person to be elected. And Joe Miller is no Alex Phillips.

So in East Brighton, normal service is resumed. Welcome to councillor Chaun Wilson, and I look forward to seeing her in action in the Council Chamber.

45 Responses

  1. No mention of UKIP’s Sabiha Choudhury – getting a healthy 148 having never run in the ward before, and resources meaning no campaign for the postal voters who made up 40% of the total…

    Almost three times the LibDems vote.

    If we had the resources of the Greens or Conservatives we could well have been ahead of them too…

    • Only the rose-tinted Mr Perrin could consider 148 votes to be “Healthy”. Thankfully, the only person who really seems to believe his propaganda is Mr Perrin himself.

      • Propaganda? And 5% ‘only me’? One leaflet to every house (unfortunately after postal votes had gone which made up over 40% of the result) compared to Greens 2 leaflets, two letters, a card a newspaper and 80+ activist door knocking? Yes, that is a healthy start for UKIPin East Brighton.. .

  2. Very chastening result for the Greens.

    • I must confess to being totally shocked by the result. I think there should be a recount – I was certain of a Green victory.

      The smart money in these political matters is on The Wit and Wisdom of Cllr. Christopher Hawtree, who is never wrong. Indeed, true to form, Cllr. Hawtree declared that the Greens were causing the other parties to “sweat”, and that things were different “on the ground” to the Labour victory that pundits were suggesting.

      I dare not question the faulty prescience or accuracy of his statements, so shall be forced to adopt a ‘faith’ position rather than my usual rational one, purely as a means to explain the errors away … so here goes.

      Clearly when Cllr. Hawtree suggested that the other parties were sweating he was *only* referring to UKIP, the Lib Dems and err … The Trade Unionist and Social Coalition. Phew – sorted that one out.

      The second is slightly harder – the suggestion that messages “on the ground” were very different from what the rest of the city thought – but I’ll give it a go. I feel like King Croesus, contemplating an invasion and chatting to my soothsayer only to be told, “If you cross the Halys River, you will destroy a great empire.” I, like Croesus, thoroughly got the wrong end of the stick. A Green victory it most certainly was not. The destruction of a great empire? Well … time will tell. Perhaps I can also forgive wily Soothsayer-In-Chief Hawtree, as in my excitement I failed to question *what* he had heard from residents “on the ground”.

      Presumably, “Sod off … we’d sooner vote for a vacuous 18-year-old wearing a Tory rosette than vote Green”.

  3. Although Labour was clearly a very strong favorite to win there is always a difficulty in being there to be shot at, particularly in a by-election when other parties can focus all their efforts on one seat. If it had been taken for granted it could have been lost, and so Labour mounted a robust campaign, with a strong candidate. They have clearly demonstrated their ability to fight such campaigns. To read the on-line comments of Green Party councillors and supporters you would have thought they were flooding the area with posters and victory was in sight. They certainly had a very credible candidate. What they really thought we may never know, unless they choose to share their thoughts here. So to come third is a blow, not a disaster, but certainly a set back. To have fallen behind the Tories – nationally unpopular, and with a relatively poor candidate, must give some pause for thought.

    • I agree with Dr Faust, pause for thought – in view of so many interesting talks, greater grasp of the territory, issues coming to the fore, so many off them found by Carlie Goldsmith. I enjoyed my time there – and the seafront rides to and fro.

      Remain convinced that the adjacent “Rottingdean” Coastal is interesting…

      As is the subject of postal votes.

      • Labour returns to strength in its roots…E Brighton contains a large part of the town’s
        council estates that have returned to ‘normal’ voting patterns. This is what is what is so heartening fo the left. So no further need to worrry about Moulscoomb-or even Hangleton & Knoll in 2015- leaving an ability to claim back the intelligentsia’s vote in SPNL, Preston Park and elsewhere.
        The Green momentum has gone into reverse thanks to the likes of Summersgate. Only a very credible local candidate prevented a worse rout.

        As for Rottingdean Coastal the most interesting thing about it Chris, is that the Tory vote can still be weighed

      • The Green led council have shown nothing but contempt for city residents people outside Lucases ‘pavilion’ wards. You have no chance in Hove/Rottingdean Coastal. You have made central Brighton virtually inaccessible meaning we now get even less in return for our council taxes.

        Brighton is too spread out, too hilly, and includes too many poor and aged to be your ‘model green city’. You have bonsai’d yourselves by putting down your roots in the wong place.

      • The Green led council have shown nothing but contempt for city residents people outside Lucases ‘pavilion’ wards. You have no chance in Hove/Rottingdean Coastal. You have made central Brighton virtually inaccessible meaning we now get even less in return for our council taxes.

        Brighton is too spread out, too hilly, and includes too many poor and aged to be your ‘model green city’. You have bonsai’d yourselves by putting down your roots in the wong place.

    • Yes. The Greens had never seriously campaigned in East Brighton before, and doorknocked the whole ward, leafletting it four or five times. They clearly anticipated a much better result. I have never taken the Labour vote for granted in East Brighton and as BPB predicted, the years of building a solid base over consecutive local and General Election campaigns was enough to deliver a win. The unpopularity of both the Green administration and the Conservative government – along with our excellent candidate – was enough to deliver a majority that only featured in my most optimistic predictions.
      This is only the second council by-election Labour has contested as a citywide campaign unit. In Westbourne we arrested the Green advance, in East Brighton we reversed it. We are just getting warmed up.

      • Sorry, meant to post that in reply to Dr Faust

      • In the 2003 local election when I stood for the LibDems in Westbourne, I split the vote. Labour’s vote was cut in half. In that ward, I suspect the Greens are the new LibDems and the non-Tory vote would be split between Greens and Labour. The old LibDem voters are probably Green now, I’m guessing.

  4. No, Ms Zombie, you should look more closely at the Rottingdean Coastal figures.

    • Chris, I am still male-having never contemplated a sex change! I use the pseudonym ‘zombie’ because I was active in Bton politics over 40 yrs ago-so it is like returning from the dead to comment on what is happening now. As for Rotingdean am I not right in saying the Tory vote is still twice each of that of Green/Lab and that only a ‘popular front’ single anti-tory candidate could in any way get near their vote?
      Since that is unlikely, Rottingdean looks pretty cast-iron to me unless some overriding local issue like Saltdean Lido appears in 2015.

      • Add together the Green and Labour vote in Rottingdean Coastal, and you come close to the Tory one, and that is a changing area. Rottingdean resident Lynda Hyde gets more votes than the other two.

  5. East Brighton is one of the most deprived areas not just in Brighton but in the UK, actually in Europe, considering the UK has the greatest inequality.

    Some people are really suffering. They are cutting back on food, turning off heating, living in fear of what is to come.

    Chaun Wilson was the unambiguous winner of this election of those who bothered to vote. She “won” with just 15% of the electorate. But the real winner was “none of the above” at 74%. Those who didn’t vote. For people involved with politics, should anybody draw comfort from that?

    Gill Mitchell won in 2011 with 20% of the electorate and Warren Morgan 18%. That is not an endorsement. They are not respected councilors as far as the electorate is concerned.

    I live in East Brighton. I am a member of the Greens and campaigned in this election. I’ve seen all the leaflets of all the parties. ALL of the parties lied on their leaflets. And for every lie, more people distrust politics, even less people vote.

    As a Green I am disappointed at the result but also strangely happy that we can’t just waltz into a ward and think we can win without building support over time.

    I really wish that instead of all the work that goes into electioneering by all the parties, we put that energy instead into genuinely helping people who are suffering. Currently none of us are doing that in East Brighton.

    • UKIP didn’t lie in any electiion material.

      How do you square your support for the Green party with any support for the poor? Green taxes put up the price of food, energy, even waste disposal.

      These taxes are fines – they are *designed* to discourage use – handing over extra money does not make a single lake/river cleaner, or change the make up of the atmosphere – they are there to punish and they do.

      The poor are made to consume less by making them poorer so they can’t even afford what they currently consume.

      It is simply evil – and the (non-)voters don’t beleive that will change because politicians are the people that actively and deliberately created and support the situation that they have been reduced to.

      How much are those cycle lanes costing again?

      • Sorry I didn’t see the UKIP leaflet, so I take your word for it.

        1) We’ve implemented the living wage in Brighton.
        2) We support measures to reduce inequality unlike the record of the main three parties. Carlie Goldsmith is brilliant on issues of inequality. Many of us have read the Spirit Level and subscribe to its findings. Heard of it?

        Green taxes? Surely you’re not referring to council tax? And any increases in council tax is due to the Lib Dem/Tory funding cuts to councils and their removal of national support for council tax benefit.

        The four principle causes of rapidly escalating food prices are:

        1) Crop failure – due to climate change
        2) speculation on food commodities
        3) Ever more land turned over to bio-fuels to replace petrol (40% in USA.)
        4) Increasing global population eating meat

        The Green Party has polices on all these factors that would reduce food prices.

        Taxes causing increases in food prices – you are deluding yourself.

      • Oh I remember now, I did see the UKIP leaflet. You blamed everything on the EU didn’t you. What the leaflet was saying was untrue, but yes it would be a bit harsh to call it lying, rather it was simply deluded.

      • Robert – The Spirit Level is a seductive book, and not without merit, but in the interests of balance I would suggest a reading of ‘The Spirit Level Delusion’ a forensic dismissal of many of its key findings.

      • Yes I have read parts (admittedly not all) of the book and discussed it but disagree it is a forensic dismissal of The Spirit Level, as you put it, apart from a couple of minor points, which Wilkinson & Pickett have accepted, I think.

        I also listened to an interesting discussion on the Radio 4 programme More or Less about statistics, where the economist Tim Harford had some interesting criticisms of The Spirit Level but certainly nothing which would dismiss the overall results of the studies. And it seems that there is often contrasting results from economic studies and epidemiological studies as has been discussed by Sir Michael Marmot in another Radio 4 programme Analysis.

        Further, call this ad hominem if you like but I don’t trust the author Chris Snowdon, a person who has done so much to criticise public research that shows the harm of cigarettes. Snowdon was forced to confess that The Adam Smith Institute does receive funds from the tobacco industry, despite originally claiming he doesn’t receive any payments.

        And if I recall correctly, there has been studies that show corporate funding of science leads to distorted scientific results.

    • I found it extremely interesting to go around Whitehawk, which is a more varied place than the one of its popular portrayal. I have been thinking a great deal about it.

      • Comrade Hawtree speaks of Whitehawk as if it were as remote and exotic as somewhere like Mongolia. Had he never heard of Roger’s No.1 omnibus before?

        But putting aside our surprise at the extent of Green Hovite parochialism, we all really want to hear his tales of adventures out east on his interesting day out. We particularly await his deconstruction of what he sees as the previously mistaken portrayals of this community as an undifferentiated mass. And surely all this thought on his part will produce a new notion of the imbrication of East Brighton with the world with which he is more familiar and in which he is more comfortable.

        Oh go on Christopher, do share it all with us. Stop teasing.

        And what of these reports of your close encounter with the Grim Reaper whilst you were out and about on election duty? There seems to be so much to tell. Get it off your chest – you’ll feel much better afterwards.

    • Kudos!

      Political leafletting is absolutely counterproductive. They just ENRAGE people. That 3-minute doorstep moment is just as bad too. So insincere. Politics is rotten to its selfish core.

      • How did this comment of mine end up here? It was a reply to Robert’s 10:27am, October 19th post. Apologies if it was posted wrongly by me.

        Robert, if you are not a serving Green councillor now, you should be one. You talk informed good sense.

    • Robert,

      “1) We’ve implemented the living wage in Brighton.”
      No, you have implemented a living wage for a few lowest paid council workers – artificially and unnecessarily increasing the wage bill that council tax payers have to foot (those that actually do pay from their own pockets). Then again, weren’t there some jobs that were not worth living wage so were cut? And it doesn’t apply to the very lowest paid (apprentices) anyway.

      “2) We support measures to reduce inequality unlike the record of the main three parties.”
      You seek equality by dragging down and impoverishing everyone (except yourselves of course) – USSR style.

      “The four principle causes of rapidly escalating food prices are:
      1) Crop failure – due to climate change”
      Bonkers – there is plenty of capacity to grow all that is needed and more – there has been since prehistoric times when the atmosphere was massively different to what what happen to have today.

      “2) speculation on food commodities”
      Partially created by demand for your green ‘bio fuel’ which your green laws have made mandatory.

      “3) Ever more land turned over to bio-fuels to replace petrol (40% in USA.)”
      See 2 – The Greens in the EU has a big hand in brining in mandatory BioFuel use in the EU – well done (slow hand clap).

      “4) Increasing global population eating meat”
      See 1

      “The Green Party has polices on all these factors that would reduce food prices.”

      Green party policy is to restrict trade (even locally!), and so limit competition – it is low barriers to market entry, free trade and competition that keeps prices down – your polices – on everything – create entry barriers, push up prices and make it harder for people to live. And it is always the poor who are hit first.

      • Paul! Re point on crop failures. It is a massively serious current issue and 2012 crop failures in America, here, in the East European zone are going to bring catastrophic food inflation costs to the whole world over the coming months. It is recognised by the world food authorities, even if not by you.

        The new buying power coming from the sub-continent and from China means pressure on food availability too. The amount of vegetation and land required to ‘grow’ meat is massive (not huge, MASSIVE) and beyond sustainability with the newly increased demand for it from the newly rich nations.

        Eating meat increasingly reduces other-food availability because the land is used to feed animals directly or to grow food for them and not humans in ever increasing amounts.

      • Valerie – don’t mistake price and quantity for the same thing.

        There is plenty – no one need starve – but policy can make it too expensive for some to afford – Green policy compounds this problem by making everything less efficient and more expensive.

      • Paul, you did not read me properly. There are worldwide, weather-related 2012 crop failures which have reduced quantity and if it happens again in 2013, the world is for the high jump.

        To get more bang for the buck, eating what is grown rather than what is produced is going to have to be an imposed norm. That mean backpedalling on the bio-fuels, reducing meat production and increasing fruit/vegetable-based dietary habits.

      • Bigging up food shortages is good for GM, AGW alarmists, farmers, the green vegetarian mafia etc.

        Does any one really believe some one is going to starve becuse we’ve eaten the last bag of flour on earth? (Rather than tons of the stuff being in the wrong place? Probably due to incompetent central planning).

        I hear supermarkets are stocking less than perfect (by EU rules) produce now so they can maintain their ultra high prices on the EU arpnoved stuff..stupid EU rules on perfection – designed to limit supply and keep prices up – free chese from the EU cheese mountain anyone?

      • Your comments are irresponsible now Paul. Low yields are a serious global problem and stocks are LOW. If wild weather extremes are repeated in 2013 there is not going to be the grain stores or any other kind of surplus left to take up the shortfall.

        Get a grip!

      • Reserves go up and down – that is what they are for. They are there to be used in lean time, not preseved at 100% at all costs.

        If anyone *really* believed that UK was going to be short of food next year every acre of public land would be under the plow and private farmland would be committed to high density food crops – I don’t see any such plans… (even if the EU didn’t block such plans as illegal state aid or some such…)

    • Thanks for this excellent and thoughtful comment. I thought the low turnout was the big story of this by-election, and I found all the hysterical tit-for-tat bickering between Greens and Labour on Twitter fairly nauseating.

      Of course, the stupid electoral system always gets in the way of proper political discussion, at election times especially.

      Having spent the day marching against the cuts alongside many members of both Green and Labour parties, I really wish we could find enough common ground locally to actually resist the cuts that are already hurrying people in East Brighton and all over our city.

  6. Ms Gunn is unduly severe.

    I have been to Whitehawk before, not least over matters library. The point of my comment was to emphasise that it is a diverse area, and I think that it could provide more housing – and it sorely lacks shops (and pubs). I like to go around all parts of Hove and Brighton: I think the smart money should be on Saltdean: by the sea, swift bus to Brighton, more open society than hidebound Rottingdean.

    Ms Gunn is right about the 1 and the 1a. Every five minutes or so there is one, and within another few minutes, it arrives in Kemp Town – and beyond.

    • Thank you comrade for your prompt response. But clearly you are going to withhold the full details of your big day out.

      But surely you must have formulated by now some initial thoughts about the calamity suffered by the party you represent and the humiliation of its so-called local candidate?

      Do you really think moving Whitehawk to Saltdean a good idea? Could you just sketch out the logisitcs of this novel proposal?

    • Could you perhaps elaborate on your use of the word ‘diverse’ in describing Whitehawk? Diverse in what way?

      • Diverse in the type of residents, i live on the edge of Whitehawk just of Wilson Avenue in a road of owner occupied properties. I have a well paid job and a very smart home i am certainly NO benefit scrounger, i advise you to visit the area before posting your ill informed comments!

  7. “Brighton is too spread out, too hilly, and includes too many poor and aged to be your ‘model green city’. You have bonsai’d yourselves by putting down your roots in the wong place” – Paul Perrin post….

    oooh! Discuss!

    This is a good essay/dissertation subject for discussion somewhere political, surely?

  8. Apathy rules OK? is one theme picked up from the general discussion.E Brighton’s 26% turnout is poor but in line with lowest general election turnouts in places like Manchester Central.-so not really that bad. Some respondents take an anti-politics stance at this apathy. What, apart from politics offers any way of dealing with socio-economic issues in the public domain? Anarchy, Fascism and Communism clearly have not and will not solve all problems and will leave society worse of than before.

    What is true is that turnout depends on activity year round and a general belief that those representing voters are acting in their interests. If politicians of established parties persistently fail in this regard they open the door to new forces, not all of them democratic. Fortunately that isn’t the case here – Labour is on the way back!

  9. Marvelous comment by Zombie. Maybe the name is significant! Fact is people only vote socialist to receive free and unearned money. Should labour be the way back, head for the life boats. For those with short memories: The chief shyster, Mr Blair and party, together with the labour party appointed Shyster bankers, very nearly managed to bankrupt UK between them. Which bit of that do the socialists not understand.

    • The problem is neo-liberalism, not socialism. If you really think Blair is/was a socialist then you must be politically illiterate.

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