Has Mary Mears been replaced by Geoffrey Theobald this evening as Tory leader on BHCC?

Rumours tonight that Geoffrey Theobald has succeeded Mary Mears as the Leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council. For several months I have speculated about the divisions within the Tory ranks. With the loss of several Mears supporters last Thursday, the balance of power has swung to the Old Guard within the Tories.

The divisions run deep – witness the decision of Jo Heard to run (unsuccessfully) in Hangleton and Knoll. Ayas Fallon-Khan was deselected in Goldsmid and replaced by the Estate Agent and other young Tories.

The young Tories are modernisers. This is what Adam Love told me: “You’re right that young Conservatives in Brighton & Hove do have a shared bond, but you clearly don’t understand what it is or why it’s distinctive. All the young Conservative candidates, me included, are committed modernisers. We appreciate that the Conservatives need to articulate a clear positive vision for our city’s future that speaks to all of its residents (especially 30-40 somethings with kids, at least in Goldsmid), not just the traditional Conservative-base.

“We know that far too many of the electorate believe we’re all the old Tories and don’t understand their aspirations or deliver their vision for modern city which places quality of life and the local environment at its heart. Our challenge is to shape our party and our policies so all sections of the city believe we share their interests and will stand-up for them.”

How Geoffrey Theobald views this is another matter. If the rumours are correct, I will be sorry to see Mary returning to the back benches. Mary remains one of the most formidable political operators in Brighton and Hove. It appears that the split between the Tories in Brighton Kemptown has lost out to the Federation of Conservaives in Brighton Pavilion and Hove.

Funny, that, because Hove and Portslade must now be the next target for the Green tide that is spreading out across the City.

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.

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 ….!

Will Labour have any councillors in Kemptown after May 5th?

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke asks “What odds that the Labour Party have NO councillors in Brighton Kemptown after May 5th? (including East Saltdean, Telscombe Cliffs and Peacehaven). 30 Town councillors, 9 district councillors and 14 City councillors are up for grabs (the two conservative held County council seats are not up for election this year).”

No way, says the attractive Craig Turton: “Unlikely I’d say based on canvass returns and door step reactions. Certainly in EB there has been a level of voter enthusiasm for Labour which I can’t recall before in 2003 or 2007, eg; being asked for posters to display unprompted. QP colleagues tell a similar story.”

Sugar Puff addict, Warren Morgan, agrees with Craig: “No, no blue/red coalition (said in my calmest voice). Yes, there will be Labour councillors in Brighton Kemptown after May 6th, between 7 and 9 I predict. Hanover…I can’t remember seeing Labour posters on Elm Grove last April, but they are there now.”

Of course there will be Labour councillors left in Kemptown after the elections. The aforesaid Morgan and Turton, along with Gill Mitchell, will all be re-elected with thumping majorities in East Brighton. (I have this image of Warren and Craig, together with two of the Tory candidates for the area, Peter Booth and Kelvin Poplett, not a hair on their head between them, tucking into bowls of Sugar Puffs – how surreal is that?).

Labour is making a mark on the campaign in Queens Park, but the record of the Green councillors over the last four years should see them through, even though two of the sitting councillors are standing down. Expect Ben Duncan, who scraped in last time, to top the poll this time. It is possible that Queens Park might produce a split result, with one Labour candidate being elected. My money, though, remains with a Green 1, 2, 3.

Warren points to Labour posters in Elm Grove which is, I believe, still in Brighton Pavilion. Correct me if I am wrong.

And then there is Moulsecoomb and Bevendean (or Moulsecomb, as Labour continues to spell it on their website). This ward is currently split, with Labour councillors Mo Marsh and Anne Meadows, and the Tory councillor, Maria Caulfield. My judgement might go AWOL when confronted by Marsh, Meadows and Caulfield (don’t get me started on Jeane Lepper …), but I think the lovely Ayas Fallon-Khan and Maria will prevail. In a change from previous predictions, Cath Slater and Anne Meadows will be neck and neck, and I think Anne might just inch it.

So, in reply to the Ghost, yes, there will be Labour councillors in Kemptown on May 6th. I predict that there will be four of them.

George Dore stands down in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean

I am grateful to Luke Walter for alerting me to the decision of Georgina ‘George’ Dore to stand down as Conserative candidate in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. The teacher from Brighton College via Oxford was the subject of some discussion on this blog a week or so ago.

Her candidature was confirmed by the Conservatives on 15th March and videos of her and fellow Conservative, Maria Caulfield, appeared on You Tube. The reason for her standing down is not clear. Speculation includes that the exposure proved too much for her, that she received hostility on the doorstep, and (most likely) the negative publicity she attracted to Brighton College resulted in pressure on her to go.

Mike Macfarlane, “the guy lucky enough to keep his toothbrush next to George’s” remains the Conservative candidate in Regency.

Replacing George is Cath Slater who has lived in Brighton for 13 years. Cath is 36 and has two teenage daughters. She works in school catering. The Tory website reports that “she has worked in a community association for 10 years, has been involved in a youth forum, and helping with domestic violence issues. Cath enjoys helping people with their problems, and hopes to do so working as a councillor.”

This is probably a very opportune turn of events for the Tories. Cath is more likely to go down better in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean that Geore, no matter how humble her origins were. The video of her and Maria were stilted, and probably didn’t show Maria in the best possible light. Maria is a huge asset for the Tories and had she been the Tory candidate in Brighton Pavilion, rather than Chuck Vere, the Tories would have come closer, even winning the election. A Conservative team in M&B with Maria, Cath and Ayas Fallon-Khan, is very likely to do very well in May.

As for George, I don’t think we have heard the last of her. She will probably emerge at a general election in a more traditional Conservative seat and before long she will be seen on the green benches at Westminster. Standing somewhere other than Moulsecoomb and Bevendean will be less embarrassing for the brass at Brighton College.

Welcoming a Labour, Tory and Green love in (while everyone hates the Lib Dems)

Earlier this evening there was a lovely exchange on Twitter. Green Ben Duncan wrote: “Just got canvassed by Labour candidate Tom French – very nice young man. I’ll be voting for me instead though!”. Emma Daniel liked this, writing: “@KemptownBen That’s a really nice tweet! I like it when you guys play nicely!”. Robocop Ben replied: “Well thanks. Me too! We all aspire to be councillors, we have that weirdness in common, whatever our chosen parties!”

Conduct of candidates and councillors has been a theme on this blog in recent days after Craig Turton urged me to focus on issues rather than personalities before rather spoiling it by making some rather personal digs at Maria Caulfield, Mary Mears and Ayas Fallon-Khan.

This being Sunday, Craig has come to confession: “Yep BPB, I admit one could take my references to certain opposition councillors as slightly hypocritical when calling on you to look at issues rather than personalities (GOTCHA in Sun-speak) but my references aren’t nasty, just light hearted (unlike recent Tory vitriol). Politics aside, I get on with Ayas very well but also Maria and they’re both big enough to take a ribbing.”

And before I knew it, a mutual love-in had begun with Jason Kitcat writing: “I agree with Craig, there has been a steady decline in the standards of behaviour on the council. It’s frankly embarrassing to see some of the personal attacks, point scoring and name calling that goes on in some tax-payer funded public council meetings. Governance committee has been particularly bad as well as full council.”

So will everyone sign up to the Reverand Father BPB’s Charter: “Love Your Election Opponent as Much as You Love Yourself”? I won’t hold my breath …. (PS. The Lib Dems are exempt from this Charter!)

Meanwhile, the speculation over Labour’s candidate in St Peters and North Laine is over with Dan Wilson reporting that the “very brilliant Clare Calder will be on Labour’s slate in SPNL”. Fellow Labour candidate in SPNL, Pete Gillman, writes: “Excellent news today regarding the announcement of Clare our new candidate who is a superb addition to the team.”

Clare does make an interesting addition to the body politic. At 18, she is the youngest ever candidate to stand for election for Brighton and Hove City Council, and she makes Momma Grizzly, at 22, look rather aged. Perhaps Grandmomma Grizzly should be her new name! The Calder name is well known in St Peters given that her mother, former Argus columnist Jean Calder, is a former councillor in the area. (My apologies to Clare for having misspelt her name in earlier posts).

So is everyone is happy and are there group hugs in SPNL? Well, no. Geoffrey Bowden, Green candidate in Queens Park sounds a discordant note: “Who cares who Labour is putting up in St Peter’s North Laine at this late stage in the campaign? The Green Party’s sitting councillors and the very large local party team have been campaigning for months and are practically through the third canvas of the ward. Nothing is being taken for granted, but the returns indicate that the majorities for all three Green candidates will be as large as last year’s bi-election win for Lizzie Dean.”

Possibly, but stranger things have happened…

The Personal and the Political, how this blog falls miserably short of maintaining standards

Craig Turton quotes Tony Benn in saying that politics should be more about issues than personalities. He writes: “This blog (good though it is and the blogger would be flattered by the number of councillors who do read it) is in danger of becoming a soap opera. Perhaps time for more consideration of the ‘isshhoos’ as Mr Benn would have said.”

Craig, as in most things, is right. But as defenders of the gutter press say that they are just giving readers what they want, so too does this gutter blogger. When I wrote about policy and ‘isshhoos’, I had just two readers. Since embracing the cult of personality, readership has soared to five (Momma Grizzly, Mr Pickwick, an Estate Agent, Captain Morgan, and now Comrade Craig).

But Craig is not immune, himself, from making the odd reference to personality. Having urged me to focus on issues, he then reports on last night’s Council Meeting: The Nasty Party were back in force at the Council meeting with pretty nasty and unnecessary personal barbed attacks on opposition councillors, re-writing of history and misrepresentation from the Dear Leader, Fallon-Khan and Mini-Mears Maria.” Glad you have kept away from personalities, Craig.

(This is a bit personal, even a bit nasty, Craig. I am sure you mean it with affection. For all correspondents, the nature of this blog is left of centre, and any ‘name calling’ is done in a spirit of affection and good humour. Most of those who become the focus of my gentle gaze have assured me that they enjoy the attention and the increased name recognition even, I understand, the Estate Agent. Do get in touch if I am wrong and I will put it right).

Craig asks if I was in the public gallery at the meeting. I couldn’t stay as the meeting clashed with my monthly meeting at the Lodge. (Before anyone says differently, it isn’t a secret society, it is just a society with secrets!).

‘Clive’ agrees with Craig Turton. He writes: “Reading this blog, I feel as if I’m watching Eastenders after not doing so for several years. I’m not sure who the characters are, and I’m not sure whether I’m that interested.” he then goes on to criticise councillors for “petulant grandstanding”, adding “most of it from the administration.” He accuses them of being “bad losers, knowing they were on the way out.”

On the subject of Eastenders, says that he himself could “certainly pass for Phil Mitchell”. This could open up a rich vein of amusement for this blogger, keen to avoid the issues and obsessed by the cult of personality. Now who on earth could be the Peggy Mitchell, the Matriarch of the City Council ….?

Matt Lucas standing for the Tories in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean – Exclusive

Do you remember the TV quiz programme Shooting Stars with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer? And the Matt Lucas character dressed in a huge baby romper suit playing the drums and keeping the scores: “What’s the scores on the doors, George Dawes?” was the cry at the end of each round.

Well, standing in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean is George Dore. Sorry not THE George Dawes but Georgina Dore who likes to be known as George. You must watch the election campaign clips on YouTube of her and Maria Caulfield. Never in the field of human politics have two candidates felt so uncomfortable for so long in front of so few cameras. But fair play to them. They have produced four videos explaining why they want to be councillors and what improvements they hope to bring to the area.

Matt Lucas is a school teacher, having been brought up in rural Oxfordshire, she stresses her humble origins before rather ruining it by saying she went to Oxford University. it was a “hard process” she says. Matt says she is committed to education since it “opens doors”. After all she is a teacher working in the City. Hang on a moment? If she is a teacher working in the city she can’t stand for the Council unless she ….. doesn’t work in a state school. A Google search reveals she works at that school favoured and much chosen for their children by parents in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ….. Brighton College.

Her write up on the Brighton College website reads: “Miss Georgina Dore MA (Oxon) joined Brighton College in September 2009. She previously taught for three years at Uppingham School. She is a boarding house tutor and also teaches Politics. Her special interests include British Decolonisation. She shares in the teaching of the Oxbridge programme as well.”

(While on the Brighton College website, have a look at the biography of the wild-eyed Mr Christopher Canning MA (Oxon) “Joined Brighton College in September 2010. His specialist interests include Anti-Semitism. He also teaches Politics.” I swear, it says his interests includes anti-semitism. I’m sure he doesn’t mean how it reads. It reminds me of the US politician who reassured his constituents that he was “anti-racist, anti-fascist, and anti-Semitic”. And that reminds me of the woman, again in the USA who said “I’m not a Republican or Democrat. I’m …. what do you call it? ….. I’m bi-sexual.”)

Back to Maria Caulfield and Matt Lucas, they are the Tory candidates in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. I’ve mentioned that already, haven’t I? But hang on, there are three seats in M&B. Are the Tories fielding just two candidates? Of course not. Ayas Fallon-Khan is the candidate that Maria and Matt dare not speak his name. Why does he not appear in any of the videos?

I actually I have a lot of time and respect for both Maria and Ayas. Both are hard-working councillors. Neither are traditional Tories. As for George Lucas … didn’t he produce Star Wars? I’m really confused now ….

What impact will students have on May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove?

The question has been raised about the impact the student vote may have on the results of this May’s local elections. 

DAP has written: “The students are always a factor, the SUs usually campaign to get students to register/vote in elections… Look locally and nationally, the students have been very much more active these last 12 months than in recent history… London demos/riots… Brightons demos… Brighton and Sussex uni occupations.  Moulsecoomb and Benevendean Greens could indeed get an umpf from the students (Moulsecoomb & Falmer halls fall into M&B as well as the private accomodation), but Labour could also.  This will make it hard for Labour to return their 3rd councillor in the area… Tories and LDs will not get anywhere.  Hollingdean and Stanmer has alot of the Sussex students… they’re renouned for being very left and active. I believe they have a strong Green Party Society too… Greens indeed could benefit from this.”

This is the first local election that I can recall when the Greens have a relatively strong organisation at Sussex University.  That, coupled with the active campaigning by Rufus, Summers and Walter in Hollingdean and Stanmer, is one reason why I believe that the Greens will do well in H&S.  Their surge here will be off-set by the Lepper personal vote, hence my prediction of 2 Green councillors and one Labour councillor being returned in H&S.

The new student blocks in Falmer (on the University of Brighton side of the A27) will be a factor for the first time, although I don’t believe that Labour or the Greens have particularly focused on students here.  The Labour Party in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean is dead on its feet, the Greens remain too thin on the ground to be able to effectively target M&B, while the Tories are stropng and confident elsewhere in the ward. Both Maria Caulfield and Ayas Fallon-Khan are likely winners for the Tories.

Elsewhere, there are pockets of students, but not in sufficient concentration to be a factor in themselves. Or have I got this wrong …?

You think Moulsecoomb and Bevendean could go Tory, or Labour, even Green, in May’s local elections

Last night’s prediction that the Conservatives may win all three seats in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean has prompted an interesting response. No surprise that Peter Booth, Tory candidate in East Brighton agrees with my prediction: “Completely agree with your assessment in Moulsecoomb & Bevendean. Maria is a hard-working and popular Councillor and is joined in this campaign by Ayas Fallon-Khan who has gained a solid reputation on Council – and predict all 3 Conservatives will win through.”  Baron Pepperpot (flattery will get you nowhere with me!) couldn’t disagree more: “three Tories in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean? At a time when the cuts will start to bite?”

Allie Cannell makes a prediction that I don’t see as likely: “I’m predicting the Greens will get a seat in M&S. There are over 2,000 students just living in University residences there.   Thats not even counting all the students living in private accomodation.”  The problem with that view is that students are not that likely to turn out in large volumes in a Kemptown seat, even for Green candidates in a local election.  If I am wrong, then all bets are off regarding the final make-up of the Council.  3 Green candidates in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean would suggest major gains by the Greens across the city.  Allie is not alone, Christopher Hawtree is predicting that “the Greens could do well in Moulescoomb.”

Kelvin Poplett, another East Brighton Conservative, says: “Surprisingly- I wholeheartedly agree with Peter Booth. From our time spent knocking on the doors in traditional Labour areas, we are finding Conservatives everywhere. Through sheer hard work we may just surprise you.”  You would surprise me if you found enough Tory votes to unseat Mitchell, Turton and Morgan. Peter Booth says that the Tories in East Brighton “are David against Goliath – Yes we oppose your particular favourite (and that favouritism does shine through in your blog) but do not under-estimate the campaign of East Brighton Conservatives – who are all in this campaign – fighting for every vote until 10pm on 5th May, and who may just surprise you and your friend Mr Morgan. There are no no-go areas in East Brighton for EB Conservatives!”  I have no favourites (other than Green Amy but she never writes, never calls – thanks to Dan Wilson for that line).

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke asks: “Is Mr Morgan rattled I wonder!, This ward has never been worked by the tories has it Peter?”.  Actually, that’s not true and it did go Tory in the early 1990s when it was Marine Ward.

My “favourite” Warren Morgan, draws attention to the fall-out in 2007 from the stock transfer issue that so damaged Labour: “Woodingdean looks pretty safe for the Tories based on the 2007 results, but interestingly the ward was split three ways at the GE count with the Lib Dem matching Simons Burgess and Kirby.  The traditionally strong Labour vote in Woodingdean (we did win a seat there in the 90s) was artificially depressed there in 2007 by the stock transfer vote fallout, as it was in Portslade, Moulsecoomb and Queens Park. Geoff is busy being mayor and Dee is busy with Cabinet duties which may explain DAPs comment above. We’ve selected some keen, new candidates both there and in Rottingdean Coastal, all hopeful of putting up a good campaign and earning safer seats next time (as BPB said in an earlier post). And complacency is a stealthy enemy in politics, as some of my colleagues found out last time.  Don’t forget in Moulsecoomb & Bevendean that the Respect candidate Dave Bangs scored over 300 votes last time (equivalent to a constituency wide Respect/Socialist vote at a GE) capitalising on the stock transfer issue, and with what he portrayed as the endorsement of two retiring councillors. And yes, the students will be a factor, particularly if they vote tactically for Labour rather than the Greens who are not in contention in M&B.”

Clive points to another issue that damaged Labour in 2007: “Another elephant that is no longer in the room is the King Alfred. Last time, this surely helped the Tories in Westbourne, Central Hove and (to a lesser extent) Goldsmid.”  He also points out the state of the parties in national polls: “the national opinion polls in April 2007 – just before the last local elections – were, taking a rough average of all taken: Conservative 37, Labour 31, LD 19. Therefore it’s hard not to conceive of Labour enjoying some kind of general uplift given that they are now polling around ten points ahead of that.”  The counter argument to that, Clive, at least in Brighton Pavilion, is the Caroline Effect and how that constituency should be seen apart from the national position.

The good Baron agrees with my assessment for Queens Park where he lives, that “it’s too close to call, but I’m not sure you’re right about which Labour candidate would be returned in the event of a split vote.”

Finally, a couple of comments have been left on this blog earlier today which are not in the spirit of debate and friendly provocation.  I haven’t approved one as it may contain a libel or two, and I have removed another offending reference in another.  Please keep to the spirit of the blog.  I really don’t want to have to moderate comments left.