Congratulations to the Greens for making history in Brighton and Hove

I must first of all start by congratulating the Greens on a result that exceeded just about everyone’s expectations. It exceeded mine. I thought the Greens would end up with 21 or 22 seats. I didn’t expect the two amazing results in Withdene where Sue Shanks topped the poll, nor Christopher Hawtree’s sensational efforts in Central Hove. I suspect that Green High Command had some doubts, but one man did not share them – Chris Hawtree himself.

The Greens have emerged from this election with 23 councillors (including 6 in Hove, up from 1), the Tories are down to 18 and Labour have remained static with 13. The Lib Dems have been wiped out as predicted, hoped for and encouraged by this Blogger. Labour now has just one councillor in Brighton Pavilion where the Greens are now winning in Tory strongholds.

Before touching on other results, can I mention those sitting councillors who have lost their seats. Politics can be cruel, and election losses for sitting politicians offers no hiding place. Focus is on those who have been victorious, but this evening we should pause to thank the following for their service to the City, often at a cost that ordinary citizens, even party activists, don’t see and can’t always appreciate: Paul Elgood, David Watkins, Jan Young, Melanie Davis, Ayas Fallon-Khan, Pat Hawkes, Christine Simpson, Maria Caulfield, Trevor Alford, Kevin Allen, Juliet McCaffery, Steve Harmer-Strange, Ted Kemble.

I got one result hopelessly wrong – Moulsecoomb and Bevendean – where I felt that Maria Caulfield would win and, on her coat tails, Ayas Fallon-Khan (moving from Goldsmid) and Cath Slater (well known locally) would cause an upset in Labour’s back yard. I was wrong. And so I eat Humble Pie (though I do prefer Sugar Puffs). And congratulations to Labour’s team in M&B, Leigh Farrow, Mo Marsh and mayor-elect, Anne Meadows. This result, along with the return of the Legend that is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll, the anticipated gains by Penny Gilbey in North Portslade and Alan Robins in South Portslade, and the unexpected election of Anne Pissaridou in Wish, were the few positives on a day when it seemed the Greens were conquering everything before it.

A bitter-sweet result, and one predicted in this blog, was Jeane Lepper successfully defending her seat in Hollingdean and Stanmer. A combination of the Lepper name and Jeane’s own reputation as a hard-working and effective caseworker saw her survive. One of the few errors the Greens made this year was to underestimate Jeane Lepper.

A quick word on the one Green who was not successful in H&S, Luke Walter. Luke must be incredibly disappointed tonight, but he should be proud of his achievements. He probably worked harder than any candidate in H&S, but electoral politics can be unfair, especially when your surname begins with a W or a Y (ask Jan Young). Luke has the advantage of age on his side, and his time will come before long. (I will be blogging on the fortunes of all the young candidates in the near future. None of them, other than sitting councillor, Alex Phillips, who I heard described as the “Baby of the Chamber” today, was elected.

But the day belonged to the Greens who, I understand, were in celebratory mood when they retired to the Cricketers Pub for an orange juice after the count. Never before in the United Kingdom have the Greens become the largest group on a Council, and this is the largest group of Greens ever elected (what do you think of that, Norwich?). So congratulations to all newly and re-elected Greens throughout Brighton AND HOVE. I will blog more on the Greens remarkable achievements and the challenges that lie ahead in the next few days. But for now, enjoy the night, encourage Bill Randall to go wild and have another lemonade, return to your constituencies and prepare for ….. I’m not sure. A coalition? A minority administration? Definitely Christopher Hawtree to be Lead Councillor for Libraries! Congratulations, All.

Wishing for an incendiary campaign in Wish ward

Possibly one of the most intestine contests this May, and one that has, until the last 24 hours, been largely ignored, is the contest in Wish ward. The characters involved are fascinating and the ingredients are there for quite an incendiary campaign.

Defending the seat aree two sitting Conservative councillors, Ted Kemble and Garry Peltzer Dunn. Nice guys they may be, they are unlikely to ignite the election campaign. They had comfortable majorities at the last election, but with the re-emergence of former Conservative councillors, Mark Barnard and Jenny Barnard-Langston, who are standing as independents, sufficient Tory votes may leak to them to make this a marginal seat.

Standing for the Lib Dems is former Brunswick councillor Bob Bailey and Daniel Russell. For a number of reasons, not least the Clegg Effect, they can expect to heavily beaten. It is interesting to note that Mark and Jenny have decided not stand as Lib Dems. If my memory serves me correctly, they defected from the Tories to the Lib Dems some years back. They sure know how to back a lost cause.

Labour, which came a spectacle second after the Tories last time out, are fielding two women candidates, Anne Pissaridou and Christine Robinson, which may help the cause. They would need to make up around 700 votes which is not impossible given the changed fortunes of the the Tories and Labour.

Veteran campaigner and someone well known in the area, at least by this correspondent, is Sue Baumgardt who is the “Green Party First Choice Candidate”. Anton Simanowitz is the Green Party’s “Second Choice Candidate”.

Bringing up the rear, but very likely to beat the Lib Dems, is RichardĀ Allden of the UK Independence Party.

At one point the Tories would have considered another Hove ward, Goldsmid, as a safe seat. But an excellent campaign by Melanie Davies won a seat for Labour, and then Alex Phillips was able to take a seat for the Greens in the Goldsmid by-election in 2009. The same could happen in Wish. Labour will eat into the Tory majorities, and a strong showing by Sue Baumgardt could make this a three way marginal. One Tory should be re-elected but I wouldn’t want to call the second seat. Much depends on what resources both Labour and the Greens commit to Wish. Judging by how stretched Labour is elsewhere, and the concentration by the Greens elsewhere, the Tories could just hold on.