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”.

Desperation from class conscious David Cameron: Appeal to Lib Dems is “vacuous spin” that fools nobody

How must you feel if you are an honest, long standing Liberal Democrat?  David Cameron has urged the Liberal Democrats to focus on the similarities between their two parties, that there was a “lot less disagreement than there used to be” between his party and the Lib Dems and that he doesn’t think that “we should invent differences where there aren’t differences”.

If this is part of a co-ordinated plan nobody has told Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s chief of staff Danny Alexander who told the BBC that, “This kind of vacuous spin is fooling nobody. David Cameron seems to be confused about what a fairer Britain means.  For the Liberal Democrats it means cutting taxes for the lowest-paid, for him it means cutting them for millionaires.  ….. the Conservatives cannot be trusted where fairness is concerned.”

If this has not been co-ordinated, it is a sign of desperation from the Tory leader. His poll numbers remain soft and his lead is eroding while, in today’s Observer, it is reported that Labour’s vote is hardening.

There was a great article by John Harris in the Guardian on 8th December  that said “It was all looking so good for the Tories: an assured leader taunting a government in tatters. But recently, criticisms of David Cameron’s background and his party’s inconsistency have hit home.  Now the prospect of a Conservative landslide seems to have disappeared”.

The real Achilles Heel for the Tories is class. They are embarrassed by Cameron’s background, of the double-barreled surnames, the nom-doms.  Ipsos MORI’s Ben Page says that Cameron’s background is an issue, that ordinary people believe that he cannot be “in touch” with them and that he cannot know about their lives.

In Brighton Pavilion class will be an issue. Chuck Vere, in spite of my attempts to educate her on Brighton bus routes, will be seen as a London-based Tory, not in touch with issues facing ordinary people in Brighton. Caroline Lucas, while addressing the distance that some perceive she has from ordinary community issues locally, is torn between Brussels and Brighton, a factor that singularly undermines her electability locally.  Nancy Platts wins hands down on these issues, but remains seriously disadvantaged by being the Labour candidate. Any one of these impressive women would make an excellent MP, but each has to overcome these burdens if they are to cross the winning line in front of the other two.