Labour’s prospects in Brighton Kemptown 2015

My dear readers (Grizzly, Warren, councillor Christopher and Doris), I apologise for my radio silence. Internet connectivity at my French country retreat leaves much to be desired. I have been catching up with the news and have discovered Brighton and Hove has a Green Council. What a turn up. I am grateful to those readers who expressed concern about my well being. GrapevineBandH asks: “Where are those enjoyable blogs lately? Are you unwell friend?” Momma Grizzly wrote: “Why so quiet on the blog, Baps? I’m missing out on B&H’s political goss!” while Alex Craven responded “No, please spare us of all that crypto-Green nonsense.” Bless.

My thoughts have turned to the next general election. The three Brighton and Hove membersof parliament will all be defending their seats. The two Conservative MP’s have interesting challenges.

But first of all a word about Norman Baker (Lib Dem, Lewes). Norman, you may recall, signed a pledge before the general election that he wold NOT vote for an increase in university tuition fees. So at the first opportunity to stand by this pledge, Stormin’ Norman does the exact opposite and votes FOR an increase in tuition fees. Norman can expect to be beaten at the next general election as the Lib Dems are wiped out across the country (as they were in the locals in Brighton and Hove). It will be a shame if the Lib Dem for Eastbourne, Stephen Lloyd was to lose. He is a man of integrity, who voted against an increase in tuition fees, and deserves to be re-elected.

As a result of Norman’s inability to keep his word, the Lib Dems lost out in the Lewes District council elections, and one of the beneficiaries was the Tory Party in those seats in Simon Kirby’s Brighton Kemptown constituency. If Labour and the Greens wish to challenge Simon Kirby in 2015, both will need to build support in Lewes District.

Those parts of Brighton Kemptown that fall within the boundary of the City Council, there are now 6 Labour councillors (up one), 5 Tories (down one) with the Greens static on three. Labour’s failure to win in Queens Park is a set back for Labour. The campaign run by Labour in Queens Park shows that a short term campaign focused largely around one very energetic candidate is not enough. The Greens had been building support over several years and that party was able to sustain support even with two councillors standing down. For Labour to recover in this area they need a good strategist (not the candidate!) and local residents buildig, building, building support. The East Brighton Three (Morgan, Mitchell and Turton) understand this – just follow @warrenmorgan on Twitter to gain a good understanding of what it takes.

In 2015 it is Labour that has the better chance of challenging the Conservatives in Brighton Kemptown. Labour would be wrong to follow the line it began promoting last year about an “invisible member of parliament”. Simon Kirby may not have the highest profile in Queens Park, but he is here, there and everywhere in Rottingdean Coastal and that part of his constituency that falls in Lewes district.

If the Greens want to challenge then it has a long way to go. Three Green councillors does not provide the platform needed but, should the Greens begin building in Lewes District (which it should do given the availability of former Lib Dem votes that are more likely to go Green than Labour), then the Greens could begin looking towards 2020 …

In future posts I will review prospects in the Brighton Pavilion and Hove constituencies.

Vote for policies or personalities? Vote tactically

There is an excellent website that I commend, http://voteforpolicies.org.uk. By completing the survey based on policies alone, you are advised which party most reflects your views.  Have a go.  You might just be surprised.

Almost 100,000 people have completed the survey and the results are fascinating.  In third place, with 17.12%, is Labour, in second place on 17.99% are the Lib Dems, but the party whose policies enjoy the widest support, on 28.25%, is the Green Party. (The Tories are on 16.28%).

It would be great if people did vote on the basis of policies, but that won’t happen.  In most constituencies most voters will remain true to the main two parties. It often takes a leap of faith for lifelong supporters to transfer their support from their traditional party.

In Brighton Pavilion, those arguing against a Green vote point to Labour’s 5,000 margin of victory in the last general election. Amongst those who argue this is Alexander Craven who regularly comments on this blog: “You shouldn’t neglect the basic fact that Labour had a 5,000 majority in Brighton Pavilion in 2005. And also that most people always vote in terms of the wider national debate.  Let’s be frank. A lot of people here do not see what one Green MP in Parliament could achieve; most people disagree with their policies too.”

On the last point he is right, but as the VoteForPolicies website suggests, there is significantly more support for Green policies than those of Labour.  Having said that, and where I disagree with the Greens, I still hope Labour will be the largest party in the new parliament.

Could a single Green MP make a difference?  You just have to look at Dr Richard Taylor, the Independent MP for Wyre Forrest, who has had a higher profile than any number of anonymous and arguably more influential given his expertise in matters relating to health. And best of all, he is not inhibited by a party whip.  All these apply in equal, if not more, measure to Caroline Lucas.

As for the national debate, this election cannot be seen in the same way as previous ones.  There is a mood to move away from traditional voting trends, for better (Greens and some Independents) and for worse (BNP and UKIP).

It would be great if we could simply vote for policies, but it is most  important that the Tories don’t form a majority Government as this would see a fundamental shift of resources from ordinary (dare I say ‘hard working families’?) to the richest 2%.  So I repeat my call for tactical voting as follows: Eastbourne – Lib Dem, Crawley – Labour, Brighton Pavilion – Green, Brighton Kemptown – Labour, Hastings & Rye – Labour, and Hove – Labour