Labour to win May’s local elections or a 3-way split or even a Tory victory. 2 exciting months to go!

I did ask, and you responded, but I honestly did not expect anyone to suggest that Labour would win May’s local elections.  But then I did not allow for Warren Morgan who predicts Labour winning 26 seats, just one short of a majority (with the Mayor’s casting vote).  He says he did a “3 minute, a literally back of the envelope job (and I’m not saying who I think will win what and where). Unsurprisingly I think Labour will do much better than BPB does:

Conservatives 19
Labour 26
Greens 9”

He says that there is a “margin of error of 2/3 or maybe 4 seats either way for all 3 main parties. And maybe 1 for the Lib Dems.  I think incumbency will help – all 13 Labour cllrs are seeking re-election in the same wards, at least 5 Greens are standing down or moving wards, and at least 3 Tories are standing down or moving wards. Half the Green group stood down at the last two elections and they did well, but that was against a Labour council and govt.” 

I can’t see this happening.  It requires a highly motivated party, a strong mood in favour of Labour and against all others.  It ain’t going to happen.

Jason Bull predicts something quite different: “My prediction is Conservative 24, Green 16, Labour 14. This includes the Greens taking both Brunswick & Adelaide seats, Labour, Conservative and Greens getting 1 each in Goldsmid. I predict that the Greens will pick up just 1 seat in Hollingbury & Stanmer with Labour holding 2 of the seats. I think Labour will take all 3 seats from the Greens in Queens Park. I believe Mr & Mrs Kitcat will win by massive majorities in Regency, which will cease to be a marginal ward and become a rock solid Green ward. These are not the results I would wish for but I think they may be close the actual result.”

I think you are well off the mark, Jason.  Jason and Ania will romp to victory in Regency (sorry Dan and James, this won’t be your year although you would both make good councillors). Regency was once safe Tory, then it became a marginal Labour seat, then safe Labour, a Labour/Lib Dem marginal, and now safe Green.  I just hope the Estate Agents don’t target it.

I don’t see a three way split in Goldsmid.  Possibly 2 Labour and 1 Green, or two Green and one Labour.  With the stagnation in the housing market, the Estate Agents won’t make it this time.

Allie Cannell would be “very surprised if the Greens lost all of the seats in Queens Park (definately one of the most interesting wards). Although councillors standing down can be a disadvantage it can also be an advantage. It means there are more people committed to working very hard for the campaign.  The current Green councillors there are great at elections. Paul Steadman was target constituency coordinator (or something like that) for the general election. And they are all still working hard to make sure that Greens get re-elected, the new candidates have access to loads of experience. Personally I’m pretty hopeful that we’ll keep all three seats. Worst case scenario would be losing 1 or 2.”  He predicts that the Greens will get between 16 and 18 seats.

MJ has the most intriguing prediction: “The council will be split evenly three ways almost exactly. Tories, Labour, Green on 16-18 each, 2 Lib Dems, and 3 Saltdean Lido in Rottingdean.”  No way, MJ! No Lib Dems, no Saltdean Lido types, and no way 16 – 18 Labour.

A prediction that might be quite close to the final result comes from the Ghost of Nobby Clarke, but then he has an advantage being in a different realm (a bit being at a full council meeting but with the Angelic Host rather than a rowdy public gallery). He predicts the Conservatives 21, Labour 14, Greens 19.  I might be persuaded that this could be the result, but I think the Greens will be slightly up form this, Labour down and the Tories there or there abouts. 

But the Ghost explains: “people will turn out to vote Labour and some tories will stay at home or vote UKIP if they have that choice, but can you get the people on the ground to get out your vote like The Green Machine?  Barlow will possibly pinch a seat and you may grab a couple elsewhere maybe Portslade or Queens Park but expect to drop some along the way with Turton edged out and the Goldsmid seat taken by the machine and Simpson possibly losing Hollingdean and Stanmer.  Those were the day’s ‘Backwell, Simpson,Sweeting’.”  Wow, Ghost, you go back to a by-gone age.  Celia Barlow winning Central Hove could be a headline grabbing result. I really doubt that Craig Turton will be unseated.  The East Brighton Labour team is particularly strong and working hard.  (Even today Warren Morgan reported over 50% Labour support in a Tory area of the ward).  Christine Simpson, and to a lesser degree, Pat Hawkes, are vulnerable in Hollingdean and Stanmer.

Baron Pepperpot has a word of caution: “It is, after all, prediction. And how many of us can honestly say we are totally objective. I think we are all looking forward to the drama, (although for those of us who are not standing, perhaps without the added nervous edge).  I think there is much water to go under the bridge nationally, even in the next two months. For me there are two main questions that need to be asked to determine how the vote will go at the time. One is national, one is local: How much more unpopular can the coalition become? (Mr Elgood may be taking note of this nervously). Do people see the Greens as a serious coalition leader in Brighton? (Now they are getting close to real power).”

The Baron concludes: “Two exciting months to go chaps!”  Indeed, Baron. I look forward  to the publication of the manifestos.

The crucial votes of Paul Elgood and David Watkins in today’s Brighton and Hove Budget vote

‘Clive’ is right. He said that my comment yesterday, in respect of the Labour/Green Alternative Budget, that the Lib Dems were “floundering somewhere in the middle” is “just lazy. It a) ignores the political reality of the last ten years, pre May 2010 anyway, and b) ignores the important point that Paul Elgood’s vote is pretty crucial on this budget and the amendments, as is that of the former Lib Dem, David Watkins.” Fair points, all. Their votes are important, and yes, it was a sloppy comment by me. Usually I try to provide a better analysis, particularly in regard to the Lib Dems, as well as Labour, Greens and the Tories. (I trust I will be given some blogging licence when it comes to UKIP and the Estate Agents in the Tory Party!).

Today’s budget vote is fascinating. Of the 54 councillors, the Tories are down to 25 councillors following the untimely death of Hangleton and Knoll councillor David Smart, there are 13 Labour councillors, 13 Greens, one Lib Dem and one Independent (following David Watkins resignation of the Lib Dem whip), with one seat vacant.

Assuming that all 53 councillors are present, Labour and the Greens voting together would outvote the Tories if Elgood and Watkins abstain. If either votes with the Tories, and the other abstains, the Tory budget will be carried one the casting vote of the Tory mayor, Geoff Wells. What is most likely, though, is that one or both will vote with Labour and the Greens. I agree with Clive that it is most likely that Paul Elgood will vote for the Alternative Budget. To vote against would be political suicide. Paul has an uphill battle to retain his Brunswick and Adelaide seat. He hardly wants to be defeated AND become known as Hove’s Nick Clegg!

I understand that you can watch the Budget debate on the internet now that the public gallery has been cleared. Did you see me in the Public Gallery? …… I was the one with the red bow tie, glasses, scraggly hair wearing no more than a sheet and a smile!

Doorstep Brighton 13: Ghosts, Spectres and the Grudges of Christopher Hawtree

Christopher Hawtree has raised the spectre of the ‘Simon Fanshawe Problem’, as he describes it. He asks what happens if there is a hung Council after the local elections. Would Simon become the King, or Queen, Maker?

‘Steampunk’ asks whether the “trepidation of Fanshawe’s ‘domineering approach’ imply that, given a close result in May, there will need to be some rough and tumble between the sheets (besides behind smoke filled doors) to determine who comes out on top? How much slack does Mr Big need exactly? I can’t speak for Simon Fanshawe but I can’t imagine Bill Randall will be thrilled at this prospect.”

If this was to happen there are many elder statesmen and women locally who could be an honest broker if talks were collapsing, although I think that Mary Mears and Bill Randall could work it out together. It wouldn’t be pretty, but they both have the best interest of Brighton at heart in spite of their obvious political differences.

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke suggests that Celia Barlow might be standing in Central Hove. Chris Hawtree says that this “must surely stem from her being seen by the Brighton Political Satellite’s cameras as she waited on Church Road to go into the selection meeting the other Saturday.”

Chris Hawtree suggests that “the LibDems are so desperate that Paul Elgood is trying to lead Argus readers into thinking that Brian Stone is already a Councillor. Beneath the letter in which he tries to get in on the great border/North Dakota debate, he puts ‘Couns Paul Elgood and Brian Stone’.” He says that the campaign in Brunswick and Adelaide is “getting dirty”, but ‘Andy’ says that “if politics is getting dirty it is only because Hawtree makes it so. His grudges are legendary – Sue John, Ken Bodfish, Mary Mears and most famously his duel with the clown David Smith.” Not so, says Hawtree: “I do not have grudges. Life is too short to waste on such things. Banter is another matter. Sue John and Ken Bodfish came to dinner, and it was a jolly time.”

Luke Walter says that the Green slate was completed in January, “probably the first and only party in the city to do so”. I have been quite critical of Labour for not having candidates in all seats in place months ago. I reserve the same judgement for the Greens. This election has been known about for ever. Candidates should have been identified months and months ago. Immediately after the general election the Greens should have selected all it’s candidates as well as having a recruitment drive on an unprecedented proportion. I realise everyone must have ben exhausted after getting Caroline elected, but a superhuman effort continues to be required if the Greens are to make the breakthrough elsewhere.

Warren Morgan says that “most Labour candidates in our target seats have been in place for over six months – many were selected before the General Election. What’s the point of the Greens selecting candidates but keeping them under wraps? Surely the whole point is for them to be out there campaigning and making themselves known? If I don’t know the Green candidates running in my ward, the public are hardly likely to have registered them.” Luke responds, jokingly, that the Greens “just like to keep the opposition in suspense.”

As for the Greens and the 2015 general election (assuming the Coalition lasts that long), I think that the Green candidates for Brighton Kemptown and for Hove should be selected by the autumn. There are one or two individual who would make outstanding candidates. I will return to this theme after May.

Rob Buckwell, leader of the Estate Agents Tendency of the Tory Party, and candidate in Goldsmid, says that I am “right to point out that bringing council tax down is important to us. However, you are wrong to say that I “cannot think beyond council tax cuts”. We have many other important issues which we are campaigning on. If you are lucky enough to live in Goldsmid, you will have received or soon receive our leaflet outling some of these. Of course, if you don’t…”

Showing more imagination in Goldsmid is councillor Alex Phillips who with St Peters and North Laine Green councillor Ian Davey organised a very effective demonstration on Saturday in The Drive against the ludicrous decision of the Tories to remove the cycle lane. If you haven’t watched the video, do so by clicking this link.

A word of apology to Ms Phillips. The title in a post yesterday referred to ‘Ice Cold is Alex’, a feeble play on words referring to that great movie ‘Ice Cold in Alex’, trying to reflect it was very cold on Saturday morning.  A resident of Goldsmid ward questioned me about this. I apologise to councillor Phillips who is anything but cold. She is one of the most able politicians locally, hard-working and who the Greens should consider for to be a candidate in a national election in the not too distant future. Perhaps I will return to this theme after May….

Doorstep Brighton 11: Bullish Tories, Modest Greens and Declining Labour

Candidates of all parties are reporting that they are confident of victory in May.  If that is the case there will be 216 councillors elected in May!  Take Adam Campbell, one of the Conservative candidates for Brunswick and Adelaide ward reports that the “doorstep reaction so far has been extremely positive. The electorate would seem to be in the mood for change and to have councillors who work for a living rather than turning their councillorship into the business to pay the bills.  I and my co candidate Richard Latham look forward to what I am sure will be a hard contested election.”

East Brighton Conservative candidate, Peter Booth, is equally bullish: “So Mr (or maybe Ms) BPB, our campaign in East Brighton is ‘ill-fated’. Ill-fated usually translates to doomed! However much you may think that – we do not. I would rather describe our campaign as daring, plucky, hopeful and above all positive! We will not indulge in negative personal campaigning against other candidates (the current spat between labour and greens in Queens Park is unedifying and does nothing to boost the image of politicians with the electorate).
Our campaign is based around ‘a lot of small changes make a big difference’ and above all that is what we seek to be – local councillors dealing with local issues and of course actively participating in debate about the future of our City!  Yes – it may be David against Goliath in EB. Yes we are the underdogs – and YES we are fighting to win!”  (If nothing else, Peter, you run me close for the use of exclamation marks!!!!)

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke also comments on the campaign in East Brighton: “So East Brighton has seen some tory activity then..Booth to pip Turton to the post maybe..Greens become the oppositon and Labour ask for a coalition…be warned Stan Fitch and Dennis Hobden are here and not happy!”  On Hollingdean and Stanmer, he predicts that the Tories might edge a seat: “the tories are fighting hard in this ward making an unusal 3 way fight and to quote Caroline “Servalan” Lucas “we always look to the left of the spectrum for votes” you’ll squeeze each other not the tories if they get out their vote they’ll nick a seat…probably Rachael Bates.”  (Momma Grizzly is going to love that!).

The ‘Ghost of Nobby Clarke’ has predicted that Sven Rufus will get the most votes for the Greens in Hollingdean and Stanmer.  Sven himself responded: “As flattering as it is that people think I will get a larger share of the vote than other Green candidates, for whatever reason, I don’t think that is necessarily the case. The time we have spent out on the doorstep is showing very positive feedback for us here, and it’s got to be said that the degree to which Luke Walter and Christina Summers have got stuck in here, meeting loads of people, representing residents, asking questions at council, leading delegations at council, starting and running campaigns about resident concerns, tackling casework – well, it has left me feeling wholly inadequate as a candidate to be honest. It’s all bets off what order the three of us poll in. Comparisons between our performance as candidates and those of the existing councillors is also interesting and encouraging for us. Not getting complacent, but the canvassing response combined with the fact that we saw such strong support for the Greens here during the general election campaign is giving us confidence for a good result. Of course, the electorate will decide, and we will be content with whatever the outcome, knowing that we have done a good job and been honest with people throughout the campaign.”

Warren Morgan has confirmed something that I have been hinting at – that Labour is in such disaray that it hasn’t yet selected all its candiudates: “Our full candidate list will be out in the next couple of weeks once the last two selections are complete, obviously quite a few have been known for some time and have been campaigning for many months.”  This admission is shocking.  I cannot imagine Labour entering any previous local election campaign without its candidates being selected months, if not a year, ahead.  It demonstrates that the decline of Labour in Brighton and Hove continues, and strtengthens my belief that Labour will reach its lowest point on the Council for several generations.

And finally …. ‘HP’ believes that Goldsmid is a barometer seat and that the Tories are pulling out all the stops to get its team of Estate Agents elected: “It seems to me that a lot is being spent on securing Goldsmid for the Tories, but Goldsmid alone wont keep them in power. On the face of it, the most politically astute part of the budget appears to be the cut in residents parking permit prices – this is the one I read about and thought it was a clever move. But stop a a minute and think about where those residents schemes are. Most are in Brighton wards the tories could never hope to win, a few are in Hove wards they couldn’t possibly contrive to lose. Only in Goldsmid might it really impact on the way people vote and the outcome in that ward. Likewise, the criminal madness that is the plan to dig up the Hove cycle lanes. Though in Central Hove, I imagine the Tories think they will capture some votes from nearby Goldsmid (though God knows why anyone would think voting to remove cycle lanes that were put in 2 years ago – under their administration! – will win any votes). It seems a lot of effort is going into Goldsmid, and while Goldsmid is a useful barometer, it ceases to be useful if the voting there is skewed. likewise, its seats are useful, but I suspect the tories will be losing more seats elsewhere than the 2 they might make up (at best) in Goldsmid.”

Doorstep Brighton 10: General round up and more on the Mary Mears Budget

I have been overwhelmed by the reaction that this blog is having of late, not least the volume of comments, emails and direct messages received.  Apologies to those who I have been unable to respond to or include in subsequent posts.  A feature of the responses that amuses/interests me is the number of Tories who are reacting including comments from Adam Campbell (Brunswick and Adelaide, Maria Caulfield (Moulsecoomb and Bevendean), Peter Booth (East Brighton), Momma Grizzly (Rachael Bates, Hollingdean and Stanmer) and Rob Buckwell (Estate Agents, Seven Dials, sorry Goldsmid Ward).  But they are equalled by Labour and Green activists, and the occasional sad Lib Dem.  I am aware my posts are getting longer and longer.  It is, in fact, your fault, Dear Readers.  I will try to make them briefer, but it may take longer to comment and respond to you, let alone post something original of my own.

Regarding the Mary Mears budget, Serenus Zeitblom makes a very interesting observation regarding the text of the letter to the Times sent by 88 Liberal Democrat council group leaders last week. “It’s arguing that local government cuts should not be front-loaded but spread more evenly over the next four years. In effect, that’s exactly what Mary Mears and co appear to have done, drawing on reserves to cover funding for next year while keeping the big cuts in reserve. (The Lib Dem letter looks rather Micawberish to me, founded on a pious hope that future cuts will be softened because something will turn up).  Strange – we all know that the Liberal Democrats are irrelevant in Brighton and Hove, but here are Brighton Tories implementing Liberal Democrat policies in apparent defiance of Eric Pickles.  If Mary Mears brings this one off it may be testimony as much to her bare-faced cheek as to her strategic sense!”

Andy Richards (do read his blog People’s Republic of Hove – stuck a bit in the 1980’s but nevertheless providing an important Unison/Left perspective)  takes issue with Rachael Bates: “What a joke. The council tax cut is being financed by a central government grant. I’m presuming that Rachael knows where the government’s money comes from? We’re paying for our own tax cut!”  And in reply to a comment from Rob Buckwell who had said he hoped that opposition councillors would not block the cut in Council Tax, Andy writes: “I am sure you DO hope the opposition parties block it. If it goes through, people will be able to reflect at leisure about what a meaningless gimmick it is. If the opposition blocks it, this will provide you with some short-term ammo for the election campaign. The Tories don’t actually believe that this measure brings any real benefit any more than anyone else does.”  You are absolutely correct, Andy.  It is why I believe Mary Mears to be a cunning political operator.

I recently asked whether I should lay off those absolutely dreadful Lib Dems, you know who I mean: the Party that betrayed the electorate over student tuition fees, the ones that have enabled the Tories to form a government, the ones who deserve to be at 8% in the opinion polls, the ones destined to be wiped out in Brighton and Hove come May’s local elections.  It has been suggested I might, on occasions, show my bias against that party. Michael Taggart writes: “They were amusing when they wore long beards, chewed dung and danced around Stone Henge in their shoes made of lettuce. And that was just the women. The nasty Lib Dems of 2011 are just annoying. I think it’s time to send them to Room 101 where they can be afforded space to come up with a big plan for a return to relevance.” ‘DAP’ concurs: “They deserves all they get; belonging to a party who have lied and mislead their voters (especially Students on tuition fees) and who are now carrying the Tory cuts through Parliament (however recognition here to Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd who voted against the Tuition fee rise)… A disgrace to what used to be thought of as a principled party… and as your analysis shows; i wouldnt be surprised (in fact; slightly pleased) to see no LibDems in the Council come May.”

DAP also makes a compelling statement regarding LGBT candidates being named by political parties: “Im glad parties have candidates who are openly LGBT. Im not naive enough to think that LGBT people in Brighton & Hove will vote for the candidates with the same sexuality as them (and i dont think thats why the Greens/any other party announce it), but openly showing than LGBT people can hold office and achieve great things is an inspiration to the younger LGBT community. Having more ‘out’ LGBT role models can be nothing but a bad thing.”  I agree.

Following my identity being ‘outed’ as Roy Pennington, Dan Wilson isn’t convinced. He asks: “People from all parties are asking me who you are Bappy. I have no shame in asking a simple question: Do you reside in the city of Brighton and Hove?”.  Perhaps the Ghost of Nobby Clarke is closing in: “Hove resident I think…councillor maybe.”  Maybe Hove, maybe a councillor.  But there again, maybe not.  Who knows.  In fact, who cares?  But a straight answer to Desperate Dan: Yes, I live in Brighton … or Hove.

A Hove councillor (who will remain nameless) recently told me that her campaign for re-election was going well (I predicted she would hold her seat in a marginal fight) but said that she wondered what my ward predictions are based on.  A bit of knowledge, an understanding of electoral politics, a bit of feedback, a lot of guess work.  My track record isn’t too bad.  For example, I predicted the result in the Goldsmid by-election well before polling day.

More tomorrow ….

Greens announce that 83.4% of its candidates are NOT gay

In a shock statement by the Green Party, it announced that 45 of its 54 candidates in May’s local elections are not from the LGBT community.  Actually, what the Greens announced was that nine of its candidates are gay.  That’s just 16.6% of its candidates, a lower ratio than the LGBT population in Brighton as a whole.

Political parties should be careful about making proud statements without thinking through the unexpected consequences.  On this occasion, the Green Party is making much of a modest boast.

Having said that, the Greens do have a strong track record on LGBT issues, on issues around domestic violence and community safety.  But then, so does the Labour Party which (from my knowledge of various candidates) might just be fielding more LGBT candidates than the Greens (although I am not about to out them).

I look forward to a time when Brighton and Hove has matured to the point where it no longer is necessary to mention the sexual orientation of candidates.

However, here is what Phelim Mac Cafferty, Chair of National LGBT Greens and Green candidate in Brunswick and Adelaide, had to say: “I’m delighted that the Green Party has selected nine LGBT candidates to fight for the Green Party at the council elections.  It speaks volumes about Green values that we are standing so many LGBT council candidates for the elections in the LGBT ‘capital’ of the United Kingdom.  The Green Party in Brighton and Hove has a proud history of standing up for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people.”

For the record, the LGBT Green candiates are Anthea Ballam, Central Hove; Dave Walsh, North Portslade; Stephen Watson, South Portslade; Martin Ashby, Hangleton and Knoll; Stuart Hay, Rottingdean Coastal; Geoffrey Bowden and Steph Powell, Queens Park; Mike Jones, Preston Park; and Phelim McCafferty, Brunswick and Adelaide.

Doorstep Brighton 8: Bits and Pieces, Dan Wilson at home with Caroline Lucas, and the ‘outing’ of the Brighton Politics Blogger

Bits and pieces from around Brighton and Hove.  Firstly, Preston Park ward where Scrapper Duncan writes of the Green candidates: “I hope Preston backs the Green Party by electing three councillors this May. The candidates are: Amy Kennedy (contrary to recently propagated rumours that she wasn’t going to stand), Leo Littman (lecturer) and Mike Jones (an NHS health adviser). I’ve been friends with Leo for several years. He is a very capable fellow and a real Brightonian – one of the precious few!”.  I am the guilty party who “propogated rumours” regarding the future candidature of Amy Kennedy.  I am delighted that Amy will be defending her seat.  Mark Sheppard reminds us “the Labour candidates for Preston Park are Kevin Allen, Juliet McCaffery and Tim Lunnon”.

 ‘Clive’ comments on the priorities of Labour activists: “With a divided opposition more interested in discussing Caroline Lucas’s house than a post-Tory future in B&H, she (he refers to Mary Mears) could well end up back in charge regardless. Truly depressing”.  I agree about the obsession about Caroline Lucas amongst Labour activists, Dan Wilson in particular.  Get over it, Dan, she won, Labour lost.  Constant nonsense about her abode, when time and again assurances are given that SHE LIVES IN BRIGHTON, does you no credit and makes several people I have spoken to get turned off by Labour and convinces them more and more to vote for Caroline next time.

Some suggest that Dan’s obsession with Caroline goes deeper.  I love Nikki’s comment: “Jeez. Could Dan Wilson be more creepy? Is he trying to stalk Caroline Lucas? Sigh.  Yes, Caroline lives in Brighton. Yes, it’s in Pavilion. And yes, Dan, getting your panties in a bunch over someone’s private address *is* weird and rather unsettling behaviour. Try to get a grip & focus on trying to justify Labour’s sick-making actions over the past decade instead.”  For the record, I don’t believe Dan is stalking her, but get over her victory.

Sven Rufus poses a challenge to Dan Wilson, and comments on the possibility of a Labour / Green pact post May: “The really disappointing thing about Dan Wilson continually banging on about Caroline’s address is that I have already explained to him in detail the answer to his question, possibly even twice. That he keeps raising it despite that is strange – either he has short term memory problems, or struggles to assimiate basic concepts, or he is being deliberately provocative.  It is this sort of nonsense from Dan which makes it very hard for so many Greens to feel comfortable with the prospect of co-operation with the Labour Party. On the one hand he calls for ‘grown up politics, attacking the tories not each other’ – then he turns round and belies all those good words with juvenile and irrelevant attacks. If he wants to have a pop at Caroline/Greens for what we are doing in the political sphere, then we can talk, but while he debases debate like this, his actions suggest that the Labour Party is still feeling bitter about being beaten, and a bit lost – not yet ready to move on to the ‘grown up’ politics bit.  Let us know when you’re ready Dan.”

Steampunk has a great analysis on the Lib Dems approach to canvassing when commenting on Paul Elgood in Brunswick and Adelaide: “Oh dear, I can’t believe that Elgood told you that people don’t open the door to canvassers in bad weather! And you believed him. As you say, it’s a miserable time to be a Liberal Democrat. I personally can’t imagine anything more soul destroying than being an LD right now trying to tempt voters down over intercoms. What the hell do you say to them? – Hi, my names Mark, and I’m your local Liberal Democrat candidate – [click. silence.]  or – Hi, can I just quickly say before I begin that I’m really sorry about Nick Clegg and the whole coalition thing and… – Are you from the Liberal Democrats? – Yes, that’s right, please can I talk to you for 30 seconds? – [click. silence.]  or  – Hi, pizza delivery! – But I didn’t order a pizza? – Well, I’ve got a pizza for you, let me bring it up, we can have a quick chat, I won’t stay long… (NB this could prove expensive, but I suppose the advantage of only targetting two wards is that you get to concentrate your resources?)”.  Nice one, Punky.

In Goldsmid, Rachael Bates confirms that “none of the Goldsmid Conservative candidates are Estate Agents”.  So why do they dress like estate agents?

And finally, several people believe that they have ‘outed’ me by revealing my true identity.  ‘The truth’ (sounds a bit like ‘Honest Second-hand Car Dealer’) writes: “I see that Roy Pennington has been exposed as BPB.  He of course holds huge grudges towards Mears, Fitch, Bodfish, Burgess, Lepper, Theobald, Taylor and every Lib Dem on the planet (without exception). He fell out with them all, big time.  That makes this blog the sad musings of a nasty old man.”  Nice try, one and all.  I’m afraid if I begin denying one suggestion after another, in a mere 250,000 guesses you will have cornered.  And as for Lib Dems, “grudges towards …. every Lib Dem on the planet (without exception)”?  Such a silly exageration.  I knew a lovely Lib Dem (a Liberal back then) in 1981.  We got on great.  No grudge there.  But as for the rest of them ….

Doorstep Brighton 7: On Selections, De-Selections, Undecided Voters, and Trouncing the Lib Dems

In a recent post I confessed a lack of knowledge regarding the candidates in Preston Park Ward and the future of the three sitting councillors.  Dr Faust advises me that both Kevin Allen and Juliet McCaffrey are certainly standing again for Labour but he is not sure about the third candidate.  Mark Sheppard and James Asser both fill in the gap by advising that the third Labour candidate is Tim Lunnon.

Similarly, I am grateful to Luke Walter who reassures me that Amy Kennedy will be standing for re-election.  He says that the other candidates will be announced formally very shortly.

It does surprise me that in such a key seat as Preston Park the Greens did not select ages ago and announce their candidates last year.  It s not as if this election was announced at the eleventh hour.

On David Watkins deselection, Mark Collins, a leading Hove Lib Dem, writes that “Paul Elgood (and Brian Stone, for that matter) had nothing to do with David’s deselection. Candidates for the Lib Dems (as in other parties) are selected by an approval panel made up of ordinary members, Exec members and at least one person from Regional level. David’s approval was rejected by that panel. It was subsequently appealed to Region, who again rejected the appeal. Neither of these processes had anything to do with Cllr Elgood or Brian Stone. It was an unfortunate episode, because I liked David immensely, but the Ward requires someone who will go out and work with and for the community, not solely speak on its behalf. David’s deselection was purely of his own making, and that is the saddest part of the affair.”

Still in Brunswick and Adelaide, Michael Taggart reports that he bumped into Phelim MacCafferty, one of the Green candidates in the ward.  He describes Phelim as “a very nice young man”  Michael says that Phelim is confident of trouncing Paul Elgood and says the ‘doorstep’ has been pro Green.”

In the interest of balance (I must be having a weak moment) Mark Collins says that in the Lib Dem campaign in Central Hove “things are going steadily, but well. Last week and this week have been tough, the weather hasn’t really helped with encouraging people to open their doors. But those I met yesterday and the week before were positive and engaged. Most voters consider themselves undecided as the election is ‘miles away’.”

I don’t know Mark, or how experienced he is at electoral campaigning (I do sound patronising on occasions), but the hall marks are all there for a disastrous result. People may not be opening the door “because of the weather”, but to think that those voters who describe themselves as ‘undecided’ are very, very unlikely to vote for you.  They are either being polite, embarrassed, or don’t want you to know that they are (most likely) Tories.  Very, very few will genuinely be undecided.  When canvassing, I was always told by my olders and betters that you only describe someone as ‘undecided’ if they say they will be voting for you but you remain undecided that they will actually do so.

From Mark’s own account, we can assume that the Lib Dems are dead and buried in Central Hove.

A Doorstep Brighton report has come in from Woodingdean.  ‘David Weeble’ writes: “Unfortunately the election here in Woodingdean will result in neither excitement nor anyone (elected from the) Left”.  David may well be right, but Woodingdean (and its predecessor Warren Ward) has had a history of returning Labour councillors.  The most recent Labour councillor elected in Woodingdean was the hard-working and well-respected Joan Moorhouse.

James Asser reports on “another productive Saturday for the Regency Labour team” and that he is “very pleased with the amount of Labour support”.  At least Labour in Regency measures it support in terms of Labour supporters, unlike the Lib Dems in Central Hove who do so by measuring those who are undecided!

Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder

Noel Coward once sent Winston Churchill tickets for the first night  of his latest play together with a message, “Dear Mr Churchill, here are two tickets for the first night of my play, a ticket for you and a ticket for a friend (if you have one)”.  Churchill returned the tickets with the following message: “Dear Mr Coward, unfortunately I can’t make the first night of the play but would like to attend the second night (if you have one)”.  I am reminded of this by a comment from the Beast of Regency, Dan Wilson, who poses the tedious questions “Where DOES Caroline Lucas actually live?  It’s a question Bappy won’t answer because it will annoy his Green mates. But we should be told!”

‘Bappy’ is one of the names I am called.  As for Dan’s question, to be honest I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care as long as she is around and about in Brighton Pavilion regularly, which she is, that she is available to her constituents, which she is, and that she represents them in parliament, which she does.  As for my ‘Green mates’, you assume I have mates in the first place, and secondly that they are Greens.  As it happens, unlike Churchill, I do have a friend.  Actually more than one, but as far as I am aware just one is a Green (and a Green councillor as it happens).  As a former Labour activists, many of my friends are current or former Labour Party members.

But more important than my impoverished social life is the local election campaign.  Here are some more updates from Doorstep Brighton:

Christopher Hawtree, more than a mere mortal, is so confident that he will unseat Mary Mears in Rottingdean Coastal that he is now targeting Fortress Withdean. He writes: “After going to Preston Park station this morning, I had a stroll around North Withdean. An interesting area, and all the more so when Ken and Ann Norman went by in a wagon, with two hairy dogs, and wound down the window in some puzzlement. They said that they are “friendly”, which I do not doubt, and seemed to wonder what I made of their territory; I do not think that they themselves are territory: they are unlikely to challenge one to a duel, but it does look as if Withdean is hotting up.” I am sure that Ken and Ann are quacking in their boots, not to mention the imminent derailing of the sparkling political career of Robert Nemeth.

‘Steampunk’ has reacted against Dan Wilson’s critique of Green councillors who he dismisses as “gap year … Greenos who chuck it in after one term”.  Steampunk writes: “Nothing wrong with young people devoting 4 years to serve their community before returning to families, careers and education. And I would venture that Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder compared to elected members of other parties who can afford to just fade into the background”.  I put that quote in so not to upset my Green friend.  I am sure that Labour, Tory and even Lib Dem activists might wish to respond to Steampunk on that observation. I know councillors in all parties that work incredibly hard, well beyond the European Directive on Working Hours.  They are decent, hard-working individuals who should get better paid, if you ask me.

As the battle for East Brighton hots up, I paraded my ignorance of the area by referring to two areas that are in Rottingdean Coastal and not in East Brighton.  Labour councillor Warren Morgan, who I was talking to at an event before Christmas, responded: “I’m happy for the East Brighton Tories to do well in Roedean and The Cliff – neither is in East Brighton ward…”. Peter Booth, one of the three Tory candidates, is united with Dan Wilson: “Roedean and The Cliff are of course in Rottingdean Coastal. We have been active in Whitehawk Way and Whitehawk Road today as our Facebook site East Brighton Conservatives will reveal! Our stay will not be brief!….and of course there is only one Mary Mears! (Thank you for considering us in her league!)”.  Actually, I don’t!

After my dig at the anonymous Goldsmid Conservatives, ‘Clive’ has directed me to their Facebook page. And there they are, the Tories’ Goldsmid council candidates – Adam Love, Debra Livingstone-Wade and Rob Buckwell.  You will not be surprised to hear them say that they “are working hard for the residents and community in Goldsmid ward.  Their priorities to improve the lives of people living in Goldsmid are: 1. Keeping council tax low; 2. Cleaner, safer neighbourhoods; 3. More school places for local children”.  If you are sad like me, with no friends, or “if you have a problem you’d like them to look into, or would like to get involved in the Goldsmid Conservatives, they’d love to hear from you.”  I’ll be on the phone to them first thing!

Regarding the irrepressible Ayas Fallon-Khan, Clive says that it “strikes me that the departure of Mr Fallon-Khan (touted on here as a deselection, not sure on what evidence) might indicate that they are not expecting to win this ward.”  Both are possible.  The Tories may well be divided and Ayas was deselected, AND the Tories have given up leaving the ward to these three estate-agent look-a-likes.

In Brunswick and Adelaide, ‘Andy’ thinks that “the Lib-Dems have increased their chances of holding their seat by ditching (David) Watkins. Watkins was good at turning up for dull council meetings, but not much else. He was never seen out canvassing or at local meetings.”  I don’t agree.  He will have some loyalty votes and some people won’t like what Paul Elgood has done to him.  This could cost Elgood a hundred or so votes and that could cost him the election.  What is more likely is that the Lib Dems, at just 8% in the polls, will be destroyed.  Steampunk says that he has “heard from two separate sources that Watkins is indeed intending to stand as an independent in May, if only to spite his ex-colleagues in the Lib Dems who have betrayed him.”

I also heard this week from the much loved, much missed, much lamented Chuck Vere regarding Rachael Bates.  Chuck writes of Momma Grizzly: “I hope she wins (in Hollingdean and Stanmer) – she has the balls to fight for residents & won’t waste time making empty promises whilst delivering nothing”.

And finally, a welcome to a new blog, from Sussex Socialist Resistance, that describes itself as the ‘Fourth International in Britain’.  Hang on, I thought that mantle was with the Socialist Workers Party, or is it the People’s Front for the Liberation of Judea? Perhaps it was the Judean Peoples Front for … I give up.  Just ask Monty Python.

Falling Lib Dem support in Brunswick and Adelaide and Brian Fitch to save the number 5 bus to Hangleton

Love him or loathe him, few are neutral about Paul Elgood.  Michael Taggart clearly regards councillor Elgood as one of his nearest and dearest when he writes “Paul Elgood is probably the shallowest, most vacuous person I have ever had the misfortune to work with. I shall not miss him when he is forced to find something else to do after the May elections.”  You need to get out more, Michael. 

Clive provides some comfort for Paul Elgood (who, for the record, is not the shallowest, most vacuous person I have ever met).  Clive quotes the Lib Dem vote from recent general elections in Hove and Portslade:

2001: Harold da Souza (Lib Dem) 3823 (9.1%)
2005: Paul Elgood (Lib Dem) 8002 (17.9%)
2010: Paul Elgood (Lib Dem) 11240 (22.6%)

He says that Paul Elgood must have been doing something right. Clive is wrong when trying to draw some conclusion about Paul Elgood’s standing in Brunswich and Adelaide by referencing votes in a general election. Once again I turn to Michael Taggart of the Paul Elgood Fan Club who writes:  “In 2007, Mr Elgood won a measly 942 of over 4,000 votes. David Watkins, now standing against him, had only 200 fewer and two Green candidates had between 400 and 500 votes. That was 4 years ago – before the march of the Greens and before the slump in popularity nationally of the Lib Dems in opinion polls. Add to this that Mr Elgood’s popularity is seemingly on the wane – in 2003, he polled 1,222 votes with no-one else except Mr Watkins polling even half that number – and he certainly has a fight on his hands.”

My view is that a strong campaign by Ollie Sykes and Phelim MacCafferty of the Greens (which is likely), the Lib Dem vote being split between Elgood and David Watkins, and the hopeless state of Labour in the ward, the Greens are in with a realistic chance of winning both seats.

(Regarding being ‘shallow and vacuous’, Clive asks whether Michael Taggart has ever met any of B&H’s current Tory leadership.  Cheap shot, Clive.  Cheap shots are my preserve.)
But more exciting than even a Green win in Brunswick and Adelaide, is Christopher Hawtree’s news that Brian Fitch is returning to Hangleton and asks whether there will be a campaign to save the number 5 bus.  There is a rich vein fpor campaigning here, me thinks.  Does anyone want to launch a campaign to save the number 50 bus to Hollingdean.  It isn’t under threat but, boy, what a great campaigning platform.  (I mentioned the number 50 without reference to Chuck Vere.  A first for me).