The division within the Greens over Christina Summers’ expulsion

The Argus’s Tim Ridgway is fast establishing himself as an outstanding local government correspondent, and the Argus is the better paper for his reporting.

Not that the Greens will be thinking so this morning as Tim reveals the list of those Green councillors who signed the letter resulting in Christina Summers being expelled from the Green Group on Brighton and Hove City Council.

According to Tim, those who signed the letter were: Liz Wakefield, Rob Jarrett, Leo Littman, Phelim MacCafferty, Lizzie Deane, Sue Shanks, Christopher Hawtree, Ben Duncan, Sven Rufus, Mike Jones, Stephanie Powell, Amy Kennedy, and Ruth Buckley.

Those who did not sign were: Matt Follett, Bill Randall, Geoffrey Bowden, Ian Davey, Ollie Sykes, Alex Phillips, Pete West, Jason Kitcat, and Ania Kitcat.

I am personally disappointed with some who signed and pleasantly surprised by one or two who did not.

When histories are written of political administrations, the moment that an under-fire group turns on its own members is the moment that defeat becomes likely. The Greens still have time to reflect on what got them elected in 2011 and return to the campaigning political operation that so inspired many voters.

(Note: the original posting had Tim Ridgway as a “loyal government correspondent” now corrected to “local government correspondent” and the names of Geoffrey Bowden and Bill Randall had become fused as Geoffrey Randall. What a thought!)

Stupid statements from Douglas Alexander must have had Brighton & Hove Labour activists in Liverpool squirming

A well attended fringe meeting this week at Labour’s Conference in Liverpool was one that looked at how Labour could see off the threat of the Green Party which was described as a “creeping threat”.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander demonstrated his shallowness when he described the Greens as a “one policy party”. How Labour activists from Brighton and Hove must have cringed at this. Any reasonably minded person will acknowledge that the Greens have a range of policies, something that marks the Greens from their predecessor, the Ecology Party. With ‘leaders’ such as Alexander, no wonder Labour is struggling to gain credibility.

He said that campaigners should ask the Greens “what have you actually achieved for your party”. Well Shallow Doug, they have won their first seat at Westminster, and they have gained control of their first Council. This compares to you … having been … the election organiser …. in …. 2010 ….? Remind me of the result.

But of course the Greens in Brighton and Hove have begun to implement their manifesto, and nobody who has worked closely with the likes of Bill Randall, Amy Kennedy, Geoffrey Bowden, Ben Duncan, and others will have been very impressed. Council officers have been pleasantly surprised at the leadership being shown by their focus and work rate.

Ben Page, of the polling agency, Ipsos MORI, described Green voters as typically middle aged and middle class, and more likely to have voted Labour in the past. Steady on, Ben. Middle aged? He then contradicted himself by saying that the Greens “are picking up protest votes because the Liberal Democrats are now fatally compromised by their role in the coalition.” In Brighton and Hove it is clear that there has been a move from Labour to the Greens, but it has been more than a protest vote. For some it will be a protest, for others it was tactical – the Greens being best placed to beat the Tories in Brighton Pavilion. But for many, it allowed them to vote with their conscience, for a party that stands for what the Labour used to stand for, and a party without the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter how much Labour activists deny this, it remains a significant factor in the Greens’ rise.

But the Boy Douglas is right when he describes the Greens as a “creeping threat”. I prefer the description coined by Luke Walter (who I have previously described as the best councillor Brighton and Hove doesn’t have … yet). Luke described it as a “Green tide” that started in town centre wards where the Greens had their early success but as they settled down and had families, moved to outlying wards such as Hollingdean and Stanmer and Withdene, where they Greens picked up 3 of the 6 seats available.

The most sensible comment came from Brighton Labour activist, Tim Lunnon, who is a decent, thoughtful man. He said “What I don’t know about losing to the Greens has not been discovered yet.”

What Labour needs to learn is how to beat the Greens, and they won’t get closer to beating the Greens while they have ‘leaders’ like the Boy Wonder Alexander coming out with inane stupidity such as the Greens being a “one policy party”.

Praying for peace and harmony between Jason and Grant, and Dawn and the Travellers

What a love-in. Jason and Grant. A marriage made in heaven. Grant tweets support for Jason, and Jason writes in almost affection terms of Grant. Actually, I imagine that they would both say it would be a civil partnership created in hell. For today, the Cabinet Member for Finance and Central Services on Brighton and Hove City Council, Jason Kitcat, called in on the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Grant Shapps.

They chatted fondly of ‘Videogate’ when Jason was hauled through the Standards Committee for posting extracts from a council meeting on You Tube. Grant recalled Tweeting a message of support.

Not all the meeting went according to plan. Grant declined to make more money available to Brighton and Hove, as well as letting on that he felt councillors and MP’s should not be paid anything! There is a short report on Jason’s visit to the Department for Communities & Local Government on his blog.

Perhaps Jason would have been more successful had he heeded the advice from Pal Perrin and attended prayers before Council meetings. Paul writes: “I think a moment of contemplation, reflection (or ‘prayers’) before meetings should be compulsory. An opportunity for our representatives to remind themselves that they are servants not leaders (whether or not they are religious) – if they want to lead they need to persuade the public and then follow them!” If it is of any comfort to Bill Randall, I pray for him every night! I am sure he will gain strength for that.

For good measure, Paul, who is on a one man crusade to hold the Green administration to account, asks: “So how is this absurd meat free mondays thing going?”. The other day I chanced upon the Greens answer to Delia Smith, councillor Amy Kennedy, but no mention was made of meat free Mondays. In the best tradition of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I have become vegetarian on Mondays. I only cook Lamb.

There has been. Some comment on Dawn Barnett and her intervention on travellers. You will recall that Dawn visited a travellers camp in her ward and gave them written directions to Green wards. Zombie writes: “I am surpised Dawn Barnett has been allowed to get away with all she has done, relatively unchallenged. She has incited tresspass elesewhere in Brighton. She has tried to straightjacket councillors into attending prayers on a like it or not basis (most Lab councillors didn’t attend prayers in the 70s with no fuss made).” I think I should start praying for Zombie, as well.

Zombie continues: “Some Labour councillor (Brian Fitch where are you?) could have stood up for local residents less stridently and in a less inflamatory way.Someone could have stood up for freedom of expression and thought. Labour has been inept and cowardly and has allowed Dawn Barnett and Tories like Mike Weatherly and Geoffrey Theobald to do all the running in making political hay, while the Greens pile on error after error. The Greens will learn or be overwhelmed. Labour will deserve to disappear from political life in B & H if it cannot speak a lot louder than it has been of late.”

While disagreeing with what Dawn Barnett did, I do admire the sheer cheek of what she has done, and other councillors could be well advised to show some imagination in their campaigning.

Jason Kitcat is condemned as a Dopeydrawers for his comments on Ania Kitcat

Some silly stories have done the rounds in the days since the Greens became the largest party on Brighton and Hove City Council and more will no doubt follow after they formally take over on Thursday. The Argus ran a sensationalist headline about traveller sites. Reference has been made about congestion charges (which, sadly, was not in the Greens’ manifesto and they are not, so I understand, intending to introduce such a charge).

This blog, though I hope not this Blogger, is guilty of scare stories, as this comment from Dr Faust shows: “The Green Party is committed to running services ‘internally’ whenever possible. Voluntary organisations and charities should be worried about that.”

But Green Dad is more measured: “I don’t think any charities or voluntary organisations need to worry about the Greens’ decision to review the Tory budget. The whole point of this is to avoid cuts to such organisations, who I believe have been invited to contribute to the review, as have Labour.”

I would imagine that the Greens, under the leadership of Bill Randall, are determined not to score any own goals, particularly in these first few weeks and months. Inevitably, mistakes will be made, but that is true for all parties. In fact, the Greens have made a misjudgement in their choice of Cabinet members, as pointed out by a new correspondent, Rosa’s Lovely Daughter: “I’d like your opinion. Unlike you I voted Green in the end, but I’m beginning to wonder whether I did the right thing. I like the fact they’ve got a female leader and a good one, but what do you think about this new cabinet? Ten cabinet places, with seven places for men and only three for women. And there’s only one woman in the three person leadership team. Amy Kennedy may be very competent as a deputy, but in a setup like this she looks like a token female. And why isn’t Alex Phillips there? She’s the one who won Goldsmid.”

Well Rosa’s Lovely Daughter (what on earth am I meant to call you, I can’t call you Daughter, nor Lovely, and you aren’t Rosa! Perhaps BPB will just call you RLD), my view is that Amy’s appointment is more that token, certainly there on merit. Alex Phillips’ omission is surprising, though not because she was the first Green councillor in Hove. That was an achievement in itself, but her omission is surprising since she is extremely bright and able. The gender balance is a disappointment and one that I would hope the Greens will reflect on.

RLD has a lovely take on Jason Kitcat: “He’s in the cabinet, but his wife Anya isn’t.. It wasn’t because she is a new councillor – new blokes were included. I’m told he appeared with her at the count clutching her hand like a Stepford husband. Anya got more votes than Jason did, but when the Argus asked him why he said it was because she is better looking. News for you Jason – we voted for Anya because we thought she’d be an excellent councillor…..sexist dopydrawers.”

I have no idea what a dopydrawer is, but I am sure that councillor Christopher Hawtree will enlighten me.

Reasons to be Cheerful … for 39 candidates in Thursday’s elections

‘Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3’ by Ian Dury and the Blockheads was released in July 1979, shortly after Margaret Thatcher had been elected Prime Minister. Cut, cut, and more cuts was the order of the day. On that occasions the Tories were able to make cuts to their hearts content. They didn’t have to rely on those disgraceful, turncoats, the Lib Dems, to help them. (I have gone for more than a week without a cheap comment about the Lib Dems – is this a record?).

But there are a number of people, 39 to be precise, who have reasons to be cheerful – those who I am confident will be elected (whatever the weather and their positions on the ballot papers). Some campaigns are too close to call, and in some wards I am only predicting one or two winners. The figures in brackets are the number of seatsup for election.

Brunswick & Adelaide (2) – too close to call

Central Hove (2) – too close to call

East Brighton (3) – a Labour 1, 2, 3: Gill Mitchell, Warren Morgan, Craig Turton

Goldsmid (3) – Melanie Davis, Alex Phillips (Labour, Green)

Hangleton & Knoll (3) – Dawn Barnett, Brian Fitch (Tory, Labour)

Hanover & Elm Grove (3) – a Green 1, 2, 3: Matt Follett, Bill Randall, Liz Wakefield

Hollingdean & Stanmer (3) – Jeane Lepper, Sven Rufus, Christina Summers (Labour, Green, Green)

Hove Park (2) – a Tory 1, 2: Jayne Bennett, Vanessa Brown

Moulsecoomb & Bevendean (3) – Maria Caulfield, Ayas Fallon-Khan (Tory, Tory)

North Portslade (2) – Bob Carden (Labour)

Patcham (3) – a Tory 1, 2, 3: Brian Pidgeon, Carol Theobald, Geoffrey Theobald

Preston Park (3) – Amy Kennedy (Green)

Queen’s Park (3) – Ben Duncan (Green)

Regency (2) – a Green 1, 2: Ania Kitcat, Jason Kitcat

Rottingdean Coastal (3) – a Tory 1, 2, 3: Lynda Hyde, Mary Mears, David Smith

South Portslade (2) – Les Hamilton (Labour)

St Peter’s & North Laine (3) – a Green 1, 2, 3: Ian Davey, Lizzie Deane, Pete West

Westbourne (2) – a Tory 1, 2: Denise Cobb, Brian Oxley

Wish (2) – too close to call

Withdean (3) – a Tory 1, 2, 3: Robert Nemeth, Ann Norman, Ken Norman,

Woodingdean (2) – a Tory 1, 2: Dee Simpson, Geoff Wells

In summary, the above predictions will see elected 8 Labour councillors, 13 Green, and 18 Tories. That leaves 15 seats that are too close to call. Privately, just between me and you, my four regular readers, I predict 8 of these will go Green, 3 to the Tories, and 4 Labour. A hung council made up of 21 Greens, 21 Tories, and 12 Labour councillors. A nightmare scenario for many ….!

What prospects are there for a Green/Labour coalition?

Mary Mears is saying to anyone who is willing to listen that she wishes Labour and the Greens well in their soon to be announced coalition. She hints that a deal has already been reached between Gill Mitchell (Leader of the Labour Group) and Bill Randall (Convenor of the Greens).

To be or not to be …. a coalition, that is, is one of the most intriguing questions in local politics. I am sure that councillor Mears might be just a tad disingenuous in her statements. “Vote Labour, get Green; vote Green, get Labour” she might as well be saying. She knows what a wind-up this is for Labour and Green activists alike. Naughty Mary.

But leaving Green and Labour activists to one side for a moment, the Lovely Dani has been pondering the prospects post May 5th: “I hope a Labour/Green coalition (or some kind of agreement) will be achievable too. I am intrigued to see how this pans out. A Green-led council in Brighton & Hove could be a rallying point for the anti-cuts movement across the country, if councillors are prepared to stick to their principles. Or it could be a disaster (see the tragic outcome of Green participation in a coalition government at national level in Ireland).”

But Dani, you have already named the elephant in the room that will have Warren Morgan spluttering over his Sugar Puffs – that there will be a Green-led council. Warren and his colleagues are adamant that Labour is on the cusp of a great victory, and that the Greens are in decline. What hope is there of a coalition should Labour fail in its recovery? Will they continue with the Big Sulk that has characterised its response to the last locals and the 2010 defeats?

Warren shows the hostility towards the Greens by rubbishing that Party’s commitment to the return of the Committee system within Brighton and Hove City Council: “I’m afraid this is another Green manifesto pledge which sounds good but which is alreadty in place and which they have no way of implementing independently.

Warren goes on: “Actually, holding a coalition council together under the committee system would in practice be harder, as the Greens would need to whip their councillors to vote with their administration in every committee and in council. Currently they allow their members a free vote on every issue. If an administration can’t carry its policies through committee and at council it will be at risk of division and of falling at every stage.”

Dani, with her characteristically optimistic outlook, responded: “It’s good to know this is an ambition the Labour group shares. I think a formal coalition between Greens and Labour will be difficult to hold together under any circumstances. That’s why I think a less rigid set of agreements on particular issues and open debate in committees might have a better chance of working in practice.

“With a leader & cabinet system, there’s going to have to be a divvying up of cabinet seats between two parties and a more sustained level of joint working.

Craig Turton responds to Dani’s comment that “a formal coalition between Greens and Labour will be difficult to hold together under any circumstances.” he writes: “Who knows? I was the only member of the Labour Group after the elections 4 years ago who proposed and voted for a coalition with the Greens. Would I do it again?” This is where the deepening divisions between Labour ane the Greens are revealed: “After 4 years of watching some of the Greens’ antics, I’m not so sure. Labour and Greens have far more in common than some in both Partys pretend in public. I have huge respect for some individual Greens, particularly Amy (Kennedy) and Bill (Randall) but holding a coalition together requires compromise, discipline, flexibility and honesty. Should the election reveal the Council is in No Overall Control, then both Labour and Greens need to reflect on these qualities which will be required in order to work together for the common purpose of serving the people of our City.”

These are wise words, but the Greens approach to whipping might be a critical factor in undermining a coalition, an approach explained by the Green’s Luke Walter “Warren knows full well that Green councillors come to a consensus decision, rather than being told how to vote by whips (and sometimes the Westminister Labour front bench or those sitting in Labour HQ).”

So what do I think? Given that I think that the Greens will end up with between 20 and 22 seats, and that Labour will end up with around 13 seats (win some, lose some), leaving around 21 Tories, some sort of compromise will be needed.

Some Greens are more than willing to work with Labour, but there are a few that might be too purist, perhaps not mature enough (in attitude not years) to understand that to achieve things in politics you sometimes have to compromise.

Within Labour, much depends on who will survive the cull of councillors. There are a couple who find it hard to remain civil even to colleagues in their own party, while others (as I have said previously) retain a pathological obsession with the Evil Princess and All Her Works, including her Green councillors. On the whole, it is Labour councillors who need to change most – accept that they will have been rejected in three elections in a row and that there is a new political order in town. That, in my mind, is the single greatest obstacle to a successful Green-led/Labour coalition.

Is it time to consider tactical voting for May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove?

Can Brighton and Hove afford another four years with a minority administration? It might come as something of a surprise to many that I think the Tories have not done too badly as the administration for the last few years. Much of what they have done I can applaud, other things not. I have found all the Tories with whom I have engaged open and friendly. They have been prepared to listen. On the other hand, they seem to have two obsessions – with the motor car and with a minuscule cut in the Coucil Tax.

It is the young Tory candidates (in particular Momma Grizzly and The Estate Agent) who believe that the insignificant Council Tax cut is likely to put fire in the bellies of ordinary folk in Hollingdean and Stanmer and in Goldsmid wards. There seems to be collective denial that the savage cuts being imposed by the Coalition government might provoke a more negative reaction for them. They are fortunate that much of the anger has been channelled into two related issues – university fees and Education Maintenance Allowance – and that most of the anger is focused on the spineless Nick Clegg and his Yellow Band of Traitors. (Do you really think that I, on occasions, allow my feelings for the Lib Dems to show – damn them all to hell?).

Central government cuts are yet to bite fully, but when they do, the Tories will experience their own special pain. The Lib Dems will experience pain all too soon as they line up on May 5th with a request to voters: “Please punish me, and please make it hurt …. a lot”. (I believe that there have been Tory MP’s, no one current, who have paid good money for such services).

So, from a tactical voting perspective, who should be supported? Labour has little chance of forming an administration in May. If they stand still they will have done very well. They will pick up the odd seat here and there, but are likely to lose the same number, if not more, seats.

I’m therefore advocating a mass tactical vote in favour of the LIB DEMS. I’m sorry, I’ll type that again. I’m advocating a mass tactical vote AGAINST the Lib Dems. I don’t know what came over me there.

The Greens, for several years, the party in the ascendency, should end up with at least 20 seats, but with some tactical voting they could edge up to the magic 27. I am not advocating votes for Greens in seats where they don’t have a monkey’s chance of winning. No, I would still encourage Labour votes in those wards.

Should the Greens fail to reach 27, I hope that a coalition between the Greens and Labour might be achievable. Being the junior partner in such a coalition administration might be exactly what Labour needs – a reminder that they have lost the confidence of the people of Brighton and Hove. Labour councillors and activists should begin building for 2015, showing humility and respect, not least for Caroline Lucas and what she represents. Labour hopefuls could do a lot worse that listening to and learning from her. (I now await the predictable tirade from Labour activists that follows whenever I make such observations).

Does this make me a Green? Absolutely not. I remain torn between both parties and I expect to be voting for at least one Labour candidate in May. But I am impressed by my dealings with several Green councillors and activists and, of course, by Caroline Lucas herself. But the Greens have huge challenges ahead, not least how to respond to cuts being imposed from central government. Their talent ranges from the inner serenity and wisdom of the Buddha himself (Bill Randall), the experience of Pete West, the talent and discipline of Green Amy (not to mention her tasteful range of Stassi tabards), and the youthful potential, passion and energy of Lady Everton (Alex Phillips).

The election campaign is fascinating, but so too will be what emerges after May 6th.

Greens and Labour should prioritise its candidates in key marginals to maximise representation

In this local elections, which is likely to be decided by the smallest majorities, it is not too late for the Greens and Labour to prioritise some of its candidates to increase the chances of having councillors elected. The Greens have prioritised candidates in the seats where they have little or no chance of being elected, but inexplicably in some marginals they have not. I have said before that this decision demonstrates a fundamental lack of judgement and political instinct.

Take Preston Park and Goldsmid wards. The Greens have one sitting councillor in each ward, and they have a reasonable chance of winning all three seats in both wards. Nevertheless, the result will be close and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that both Amy Kennedy and Alex Phillips could be defeated. Both are excellent councillors and their experience will be necessary for the Greens should they be the largest party on May 6th.

Alex Phillips, in particular, could be vulnerable as she is second from the bottom, eleventh of twelve, on the ballot paper. Her Green colleagues are second and fifth. It would be a major set back for the Greens in the City, and for the City itself, if councillor Phillips was to lose. While there are a large number of young and very young candidates standing for the first time in May, none other than Robert Nemeth has much hope of winning. As someone who is well past my ‘sell by’ date, I am all for a wide range of ages of councillors on the Council. Alex and Robert are likely to be the only two councillors below the age of 30. (A little aside regarding the lovely Luke Walter – should Jeane Lepper retain her seat, as I think she will, Luke will be the one most likely to lose out purely because he is bottom of the ballot paper).

That is one reason I hope that Alex Phillips will be re-elected. Another reason is she is more likely than most to be able to work with Labour, a quality that will be needed post May. The Greens should have prioritised (and still could) its candidates in Goldsmid, with Alex Phillips as the First Choice Green Candidate. It is foolish to jeopardise he prospects of one of your key assets. If you live in Goldsmid and are not a Green supporter, I would encourage that you loan one of your votes to Alex Phillips.

Similarly in Preston Park, Amy Kennedy should be the First Choice Green Candidate. It is less of an issue in Preston Park as the three Green candidates are grouped sixth, seventh and eight, with Stassi Amy at seventh. Like Alex, Amy is a formidable councillor, and a strong feminist. If she was to lose her seat it too would be a great loss to the Greens and the City.

There are few obvious Labour seats where prioritisation should take place, but that shouldn’t stop the party. In Goldsmid, sitting councillor Melanie Davies is the highest Labour candidate on the ballot paper, as is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll. Other areas where Labour is defending a seat, the sitting councillors is the highest Labour candidate on the ballot paper. That leaves longshot seats for Labour, such as Queens Park, Hanover and Elm Grove, and even St Peters and North Laine. Targeting, say, the top candidate on the ballot paper could see some interesting developments. Just a thought.

The divisions within the local political parties that provide such gold dust for this Blogger

Allie Cannell, one of the more astute political observers around, and the type of organiser that Labour would kill for, has asked one of the more sensible questions of late: “How do you have such good knowledge of all the campaigns in all the wards, BPB??? The political parties would pay a fortune to be as well informed about the opposition as you are.”

The simple response is that the political parties do have all the information themselves but a condition that effects many politicians is intrigue and division, and this leads to some handy tips coming my way.

On divisions, each of the four parties locally (and out of the kindness of my heart I still refer to the Lib Dems as a party rather than a joke with an appalling punch line), is divided to the core. Starting with the Lib Dems, they had two councillors and they managed to split right down the middle. That takes some doing. Imagine what it would be like if they had more activists to fill a phone box!

The Tories are split between the working class Kemptown Conservative Association and the ‘united’ Brighton Pavilion and Hove association. Could this be a bit of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. A uneasy truce exists within the local Tories, but just wait until the evening of 6th May when the knives will be out for Mary Mears, Dee Simpson and Maria Caulfield, especially if the Tories do badly. Payback time.

I heard that at a recent hustings organised by the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce, the Tories were represented by Mary and The Bishop, (Brian Oxley) – Kemptown and Hove together. Mary is said to have responded to every single question while the The Bishop sat serenly by, in silent prayer, without muttering a word!

There are hidden divisions with the Greens, but they are well covered. Originally, the fault line was between those supporting Caroline Lucas for the nomination to fight Brighton Pavilion and those who wanted a local candidate (in the form of Keith Taylor). Dynamic though he may be, Keith is no match for Caroline. I really can’t see that Keith could have pulled off a sensational victory for the Greens last May! Similar divisions persist. Who will be the top two on the Green list for the next European elections. This dispute is simmering. I couldn’t possibly comment on this contest other than to say that women candidates are doing better than male candidates of late, and there are several excellent women Green activists locally.

Labour, traditionally the local party most divided against itself, has few divisions of late, so I am told. Yes, the East Brighton Polituro has taken over from the defeated Queens Park Mafia. So shell-shocked has the party been following two successive and devastating defeats at the polls, that people are pulling together. Yet there was no proper analysis and no changes following previous defeats. But following the third devastating defeat, the reality of which is scheduled to hit home mid afternoon on 6th May, Labour must take a long and hard look at itself.

So why is all of this relevant to Allie’s fascinating question? Politicians of all parties ‘speak’ to me, some directly (you can find me most evenings in the Neptune masquerading as Chris Hawtree), others by Twitter Direct Messaging (@BrightonPolitic) or by emailing me at brightonpoliticsblogger@googlemail.com. My mobile number is 0765 3789 754 123 856 (ha ha ha, as the horse used to say in the John Smith Bitter advert).

I use only a fraction of what I am told. I struggle, believe it or not, to get much out of any Green activist other than Green Amy who sends me the occasional recipe for tasty cakes. The Greens are a disciplined bunch.

As I said above, the parties have all the information that I rely on since most (not all) of it comes from them. I remain just a humble scribe, with few friends and fewer prospects.

Greens electoral tactic may just take them over the winning line

The description that the Greens are using to describe themselves gives a fascinating insight into that party’s ambitions for Brighton and Hove City Council. It is employing a tried and tested method of ‘borrowing’ a vote for one of its candidates from the other parties. In certain wards it has described its candidates as “Green Party First Choice Candidate”, “Green Party Second Choice Candidate” and, where there are three seats up for election, “Green Party Third Choice Candidate”.

This tactic is being used in seats where the Greens have concluded that they can’t win outright. Where they believe they can win all the seats, they describe their candidates simply as being from “The Green Party”.

From this we can assume that the Greens are confident of winning St Peters and North Laine, Hanover and Elm Grove, Queens Park, and Regency. If the Greens were to hold all the seats in these wards they would return 11 councillors. In Preston Park and Goldsmid wards, the Greens are not prioritising any candidates. In Preston Park the Geens are grouped in the middle of the ballot paper with very popular sitting councillor, Amy Noelle Kennedy (Noelle? You’ve kept that quiet, Green Amy!) listed alphabetically just beneath one her fellow Green candidates.

More surprising is the Green’s decision not to prioritise their candidates in Goldsmid. Up against the Greens is another popular sitting councillor, Labour’s Melanie Davies. I have predicting a split result here with Melanie topping the poll with two Greens elected in second and third place. What concerns me is that sitting Green councillor, Alex Phillips, is one from the bottom of the ballot paper, and listed well below her fellow Green candidates who are near the top of the ballot paper. I think that the decision not to prioritise Green candidates in Goldsmid is a mistake and whoever was behind this decision shows a fundamental lack of political and campaigning judgement.

Having said that, I believe that Alex Phillips will be one of the two successful Geens. Her breakthrough in the Goldsmid by-election, when she became the first-ever Green to be elected in Hove, was key to giving the Big Mo to the Green campaign in Brighton Pavilion. Alex Phillips is currently the Baby of the Council Chamber, but she is cut from the same cloth as Caroline Lucas and will, in years to come, be as significant a politicians as her mentor.

Assuming three and two Greens are elected from Preston Park and Goldsmid respectively, that would take the Green total to 16.

Then there is Hollingdean and Stanmer. The Greens have not prioritised candidates in this ward, suggesting it is confident of winning all three seats. I have always said that I expect Jeane Lepper will hold her seat. If the Greens do win two seats here, it would take the Green total to 18.

The Green’s number 1 target is Brunswick and Adelaide. Once again, the Greens are not prioritising its candidates for the two seats up for election in this ward. Success here would take the Greens to 20. Just where the next 7 seats might come from is a matter of guess work. Central Hove could just provide a shock and Chris Hawtree, as the “Green Party First Choice Candidate”, could be elected.

The Greens could pick up the odd seat here and there. Allie Cannell and Chris Hawtree are confident about Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. Rottingdean Coastal and Patcham have been mentioned in dispatches. I don’t see it, but the Caroline Effects may yet prove to be the decisive factor on May 5th.

Finally, the romantic in me wishes George and le Toothbrush a long and happy life together. But their chances of success in May? No chance.