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.

George Dore and le Toothbrush, and the continuing decline of the Lib Dems

Intrigue surrounds George Dore’s move from Moulsecoomb and Bevendean to Preston Park, and that of her beloved, le Toothbrush (Mike Mafarlane) from Queens Park to Regency Ward. Dan Wilson asks: “Why change wards now? Totally bizarre.” Dan’s twin brother, Warren Morgan, observes: “Tories seem to be abandoning Kemptown wards as fast as they are selected. Does not bode well for Mr Kirby.”

The Tory Tipster thinks that the problem lies in the heart of the Kemptown Conservative Association: “And another one bites the dust!!! First Mike Mac then George Dore – something is very wrong in Brighton Kemptown when their most talented candidates are jumping ship! I take on board your comments about Maria Caulfield but at the risk of sounding ungentlemanly, she is now very much past her best and now looks rather tired and sagging. Thank goodness the Hove Association has the good sense to have so many bright young candidates on the ballot paper!”

Linda F asks “Why would Ms Dore finish lower in Preston Park than M&B, if she appeals more to the PP middle class voter? I think she is just the right candidate for the aspirational younger families living in PP. She just needs to make sure her voters come out on the day. This switch is an interesting development anyway.” Well, Linda, Preston Park is a Green / Labour marginal and disillusioned Lib Dems are hardly going to move rightwards but will split their votes between the Greens and Labour. The share of the votes of the left parties will definitely increase in Preston Park. The question that I cannot answer is who will benefit most from the collapse of the Lib Dem vote.

But the Ghost of Nobby Clarke thinks that the Tories should not be written off in Preston Park: “Don’t underestimate the very impressive George Dore in Preston Park. She might just surprise a few people. After all some of us still remember excellent former Tory councillors there such as Doreen Radford and Vic Marchant.”

But what is emerging tonight is how low the Lib Dems have sunk. I wrote yesterday that “It appears that (the Lib Dem) decline continues with some pace. For the first time in living memory, the Yellow Ones are unable to field a full list of candidates. In an area like Brighton and Hove it shows that this party is now a bit part player, not to be taken too seriously (have I ever?) and should be regarded along side other marginal groups such as the Socialist Party and UKIP.” Not for a moment did I suspect that the LibDems could only field 8 (yes that was EIGHT) candidates across Brighton and Hove. According to the Lib Dem website, otherwise known as The Life and Times of Paul Elgood, the Lib Dems are fielding candidates in Regency, Brunswick and Adelaide, Central Hove and South Portslade wards.

I have been criticised in the past for being too harsh on the Lib Dems and that my prediction of their imminent demise was premature. I had never anticipated that they would field just 8 (yes, I repeat, just EIGHT) candidates! With the deadline for nominations closing at 12 noon tomorrow (Monday 4th April), there is still time for the Lib Dems to find a further 46 candidates. But they could, at this late stage, be no more than paper candidates, unwilling and unable to mount a city-wide campaign.

Finally, I was thumbing through some back editions of the Midhurst and Petworth Observer, as one does on a lazy Sunday afternoon. In the edition for Friday, 5 June 2009, I came across the election result for the Billingshurst division of West Sussex County Council. Trailing in third place, behind David Duke of UKIP and the Conservative Amanda Jupp who won the seat, was Larissa Rowe standing for Liberal Democrats. Could this be the same Larissa Rowe who is standing for the Lib Dems in Regency (where le Toothbrush is standing for the Tories)? And could this be an omen that will see the Lib Dems beaten into 5th place by UKIP in a seat that, until recently, returned a Lib Dem councillor? Watch this space for a positive response from UKIP’s own Mr Cumugeon (Paul Perrin).

A round up from Doorstep Brighton – Sunday 3rd April 2011

In reverse order from the anticipated election results, I’ll start with the Lib Dems. It appears that their decline continues with some pace. For the first time in living memory, the Yellow Ones are unable to field a full list of candidates. In an area like Brighton and Hove it shows that this party is now a bit part player, not to be taken too seriously (have I ever?) and should be regarded along side other marginal groups such as the Socialist Party and UKIP.

Rebecca Taylor, one of the Lib Dem candidates in Central Hove where the Lib Dems have managed to find 2 candidates, has written regarding my round up of young candidates: “Reading your post on twitter I felt I’d like to comment – you’ve forgtten a couple of us young uns! Though 30 might not be so young, me and Mark Collins are working hard to win in Central Hove. I’m proud of Mark as at 22 it’s fantastic to see him so committed to working for his city. Like you I’m equally encouraged by all the young candidates emerging. I’ve met Clare (Calder) and Tom (French) and wish them and all of us the very best in the elections.”

As I have suggested before, Rebecca is too gifted an activist and person to remain in the Wastelands (the Lib Dems). But as for including herself as a ‘young’ candidate, she’s got to be joking. She is now closer to qualifying for a Freedom Pass (a bus pass at 60) than her birth. (That all assumes that her party in Coalition doesn’t abolish them in the next few years).

The Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell) corrects me regarding his age. He is not 22 as I suggested but a “positively ancient 27”. I personally can’t imagine what it will be like to be 27. He writes: “It’s all to play for here in Goldsmid, and we are campaigning hard to win in this 3-way marginal. Watch this space…”. Well, Rob, I watched the space for about an hour last night and nothing happened. I suspect the same will be true in May.

Warren Morgan thinks Maria Caulfield is at risk in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean: “A YouGov poll this week of areas holding local elections predicted the Tories will lose 1000 seats on May 5th. If Maria Caulfield’s isn’t one of them I will be very surprised.”

Brighton Boy says that “If warren morgan is looking for councillors who might lose their seats in may the canvass returns for east brighton suggest he may like to look closer to home!”

Peter Booth is a Tory candidate in East Brighton who is standing against Warren Morgan. He insists on referring to Councillor Morgan as “Mr Morgan”. Fear not, Peter, in the early hours of 6th May you may legitimately call Councillor Morgan by the title “The Winner” as you pay tribute, in your speech accepting defea, to his fine victory in East Brighton.

But in his analysis, MISTER Booth says that Warren Morgan “has not a clue what he is talking about! The East Brighton Conservative candidates are working hard to unseat him and his cohorts, and are very pleased to have been supported by Simon Kirby our MP for Brighton Kemptown. I am also delighted to inform him that the 2 Conservative Associations in our city have never worked closer with each other! The Conservative team across the city is now firmly in place, and we are all working hard and up for the final 32 days of campaigning to keep Brighton & Hove Blue.”

I like the dreaded vote of confidence Mr Booth gives to the two Conservative Associations. As for the Conservative Team being firmly in place, it was firmly in place in mid March when the candidates were announced, before George Dore joined the Toothbrush (Mike Macfarlane) in crossing from Kemptown to Brighton Pavilion.

Allie Cannell, one of the most astute activists around, suggests that something interesting is happening in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean “I had a great time doing a bit of door knocking in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean the other night. Those people who have put an outside bet on the Greens getting a seat there might be in for a nice suprise.” I certainly wasn’t one of them, but Christopher Hawtree agrees with Allie: “Moulescoomb could prove very interesting for the Green.” Chris is “more sure than ever that Westbourne could be a swing state. Greens gain Westbourne? Watch that space.”

Finally, Paul Perrin, my favourite Cumugeon, returns to the young candidates and asks: “Do you still think it is a good idea to have all these children (many of whom have only ever drawn on public funds, provided by wealth-generating taxpayers for their sustenance) aiming to run the council?” I have just one question for Paul, do you do stand up routines at open mike events?

More later on the intriguing story of Janet and John (George and the Toothbrush).

George Dore to appeal to a better class of voter in Preston Park

Excellent news on the George Dore front. The people of Brighton have not lost her services after all. Less than three weeks after being confirmed as the Tory candidate in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, and after talking so eloquently on a You Tube video with Maria Caulfield about how she wanted to serve the people of M&B, she mysteriously disappeared from the list of candidates.

But fear not. She has not returned to rural Oxfordshire and her chippie dad. No, her toothbrush is still next to that of Mike Macfarlane, until recently the Tory candidate in Queens Park. Mike abandoned the Kemptown Conservative Association and is now the Tory candidate in Regency.

As for George, she has now been unveiled as the Tory candidate in Preston Park. I’m sure it is nothing to do with Preston Park having a much nicer class of constituents. True, the good citizens of Preston Park are statistically more likely than their Moulsecoomb and Bevendean counterparts to send their children to Brighton College, where the good lady is a teacher.

Ironically, Miss Georgina Dore had a better chance of being elected in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean than she does in Preston Park where she is likely to finish seventh behind both Labour and the Greens.

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.

The Friends of George Dore promise great things from the Tory’s best kept secret

My post yesterday ‘Matt Lucas to stand in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean’ about Georgina ‘George’ Dore’s candidature has attracted a fierce response from George’s supporters.

Mike Macfarlane perhaps is not the most objective correspondent, he is, after all “the guy lucky enough to keep his toothbrush next to George’s.” I think that this implies that he and George are stepping out together. He says that “this cheap pun isn’t funny. Why would any normal person want to satirize such a beautiful and talented young lady in this way?”. In my defence I have never claimed to be a “normal person”.

Mike clearly loves George, which is very touching: “The premise of some of the comments here seems to be that you can’t possibly be clever and have a normal background. I assure readers that George is one of the smartest, articulate and most lovely people you will ever meet with an obvious weight of intellect that soon explains her Oxford education.”

Linda F says: “I admire Georgina (absolutely no resemblance to Matt Lucas- why did you think there was a similarity?) for having gone to Oxford from a local Comprehensive. She must have exceptional ability to have gained a place and I’m sure it was a hard process…good for her.” Linda suggests I have a chip on my shoulder. “I realise you are a ‘left of centre’ blog, but the ‘chippiness’ of the Left against aspiration really does let you down.”

George, herself, has commented: “I went to a school called King Alfred’s Sports and Community College in Wantage and my father was a Chippie building bridges and lock gates on the Thames for over forty years before his retirement. … I can’t help but feel that by perpetuating the myth that attending Oxford is synonymous with being privately educated and /or privileged compounds the access issues that face pupils from state school backgrounds.”

The Tory Tipster (I know who you are but will respect your anonymity) writes of George: “This bright young lady is the Conservatives best kept secret both locally and nationally. Expect great things from her!”.

‘Clive’ thinks I have done something worthwhile: “The blogger has shone a light where you would rather it had not been shone, that’s all.”

I have apologised if I have caused any offence to George. None was intended. This blog (apart from being left of centre) is usually light-hearted in tone. My army of regular readers (Dan Wilson, Christopher Hawtree, Paul Perrin and Momma Grizzly) will know that I have tipped the Tories in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean to do well in May. However, when standing for election you do open yourself up to some scrutiny. And if one hopes to represent M&B one must expect some comment regarding Oxford and Brighton College. I am yet to meet George, but look forward to doing so.

Finally, NG praises my blog: “Your comments about George Dore are really quite childish aren’t they? Please try a bit harder to get out of the playground.” Ouch. Childish, perhaps, but I hope that at least George will acknowledge that this blog has boosted her profile and name recognition. A couple of days ago most activists would have struggled to name her as the third Tory candidate in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. Now for the 1,000 or so daily readers of this blog (Dan Wilson, Christopher Hawtree, Paul Perrin and Momma Grizzly probably make around 250 unique visits each!) she is no longer the Tory’s best kept secret. We know know who she is, will remember her name, and above all we know she is the girl lucky enough to keep her toothbrush next to Mike Macfarlane’s.

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 ….

A vampire, a bishop, and a ‘Labour/Green’ activist all standing for the Tories in Hove!

More on the new Tory website, and an answer to the mystery about the disappearance of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. Momma Grizzly writes: “Just a quick note on Moulsecoomb & Bevendean: it’s covered by the Kemp Town Conservatives rather than the Federation of Brighton Pavilion and Hove & Portslade Conservatives, hence the absence on this site.”

But where better place to start in this next part of my review of the new Tory website than North Portslade and Tevor Alford? Arable writes: “On becoming a councillor, Initially, I spent 3 years on the following committees: Audit Committee; Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee; and Overview & Scrutiny Commission. Since May 2010, I have served on the planning committee and am also the cabinet member for Central Services, an exciting and challenging role.”. And in his spare time he’s pretty good at head-banging along to the likes of Megadeth and Slayer!

The Patcham Mafia (Pidgeon, Theobald G, and Theobald C) have biographies that speak volumes for their years and years and years service to Brighton and Hove, equalled only by the 14 generations of Les Hamiltons in Portslade and the soon-to-be four generations of Fitch’s.

Andrew Hancox, the Tory candidate in Regency, seems to have lost his bearings somewhat: “During this time I have experienced many of the challenges that living in Central Hove presents”. Mr Hancox, you are standing in Re-gen-cy, not Central Hove. It is the other Andrew, Wealls, standing in Central Hove. Re-gen-cy is in Brigh-ton. (It doesn’t really matter since Regency is due to return a Green Kitcat double act. I say this purely to elicit a reaction from my mate Dan Wilson).

Where do I begin with the Tory candidates in South Portslade? The sitting Tory councillor is Steve Harmer-Strange who is joined by Stephen Harbor-Wade! I am not making this up, honest. Any further comment from me would detract from the beauty of the situation.

In Preston Park and in St Peters and North Laine the Tories are fielding paper candidates, an indication that they have written off certain seat as unwinnable. And to think, that the old Preston ward would have gone Tory even if they put up a monkey with a blue rosette up for election. That was the case until Jeane Lepper (I believe it was her) beat a Tory candidate called Nicholas Gibbon! She sure made a monkey out of him …..!

Phlebotomist Denise Cobb is hoping to defend her seat in Westbourne. So busy is Denise she has little time for leisure activities other than “exercise, dance, swimming, cooking, being creative and travelling.” Standing with the Vampire is Bishop Brian, a devout member of the Church of England. Brian Oxley has managed to remain a decent guy in spite of working for Tory MPs for almost 20 years, and is a Tory for whom I have the utmost respect.

In Wish ward the Tories a fielding Garry Peltzer-Dunn. From his statement you would think he was standing for Labour or the Greens: “I have been made increasingly aware by residents that they feel that the City Council is failing to provide even basic services in a proper manner. It is essential that we return to basics and deliver the services residents want in the manner they require.” Garry, it is your party that has been running the show for the past 4 years. It is the Tories that you are saying are failing “to provide even basic services in a proper manner.”

Finally, for today, Withdean. The Barbie and Ken of Brighton politics, the Normans, are joined on the Tory ticket by Robert Nemeth, the third of Mike Weatherley’s staff seeking election. I have previously said that he is one to watch. In fact, all three of Mike’s staff (Robert, Michael Ireland and Momma Grizzly herself, Rachael Bates) have large political futures ahead of them. At some point I will do a review of young politicians locally. These are interesting times, and we have some interesting young activists who should be watched and followed.

The student vote will swing Hollingdean and Stanmer for the Greens and consolidate their position elsewhere

It seems that the consensus is that the student vote will make a difference primarily in Hollingdean and Stanmer, and has already made a difference in St Peters and North Laine, and in Hanover and Elm Grove, with Regency also benefiting from the student vote.  All this is possibly stating the obvious as these seats have high concentration of students, and all are in Brighton Pavilion where the Green’s organisation has galvanised the student vote.  In Moulscoomb and Bevendean, where Labour and the Greens have little organisation on the ground, the student vote is less influential, allowing the Tories to take seats in this tradional Labour seat.

DAP thinks that students will make the LibDem destruction even more felt everywhere, coming in poor lasts.  He thinks that the “Tories will also be hit (in M&B for example) not because Tory students will change their mind and vote left, but beacuse previously non voting students/first timers will be more inclined to vote Green/Labour because of recent tuition fee rises/high youth umemployment/low graduate employment (as will the parents of future students)”.  Perhaps, but I think that Moulsecoomb and Bevendean will be won, not by issues impacting on students, but on the record of Maria Caulfield as lead councillor for housing. 

My dear Baron Pepperpot agrees with my take on Hollingbury and Stanmer: “The Greens in Hollingdean & Stanmer are heavily targeting the student vote. I understand they are readily campaigning at the campus, and will be there on the day. The Greens campaign in this ward has been in full flow for sometime, and is showing signs of a very carefully thought out strategy. An added advantage too is student hostility towards the coalition and the Lib Dems in particular.If someone wanted to bet me that 3 Greens will be returned from Hollingdean & Stanmer, they wouldn’t see much of a return on their stake!”

As you know, Baron, I think the Joker in the Pack is Jeane Lepper who I believe will hang on because of her many years careful stewardship of the ward. I still say two Greens and Jeane Lepper for Labour.

Brighton’s own Mr Pickwick, Christopher Hawtree, thinks that the student vote will be influential everywher: “It is not only the student vote that makes Moulescoomb an interesting area for the Greens. Look at the rest of it.” I don’t think so, it requires strong organisation on the ground, and Labour doesn’t have it, and the Greens are targeting their efforts in selected wards.

The activist with probably the best knowledge of the student vote, and someone who has received little public credit for the success of Caroline Lucas’ campaign is Allie Cannell.  He writes: “I think the best reference I have ever got was from Charlotte Vere after the general election when she said in an e-mail to the University of Sussex Conservative Assosiation something along the lines of: ‘We could have won it if the Labour vote had softened but in the end the Greens’ student mobilisation campaign was just too successful’.  I learnt a lot coordinating the campus campaign at the general election last year and it was really really successful (if only i could tell you what the sampling data said), this year we started campaigning earlier on campus and we know how to do it. I’m confident we will get a good Green vote from the students again.”  I am sure you are right.

Regarding the student vote at Brighton University, and those in Kemptown, Allie writes: “We have made some connections with Brighton students, but as you say there hasn’t been a strong campaign there as we have to target. It will be interesting to see how those students vote this time though.  There are a lot of students that live in SPNL, and H&EG too, what a supprise that they’re Green wards.”

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke tends to discount the influence of the student vote: “The Students have always been a questionable influence in the old Stanmer ward and the now H&S ward, will they place Sven “Long Hair Kung-Fu Man” Rufus back on the council,do they know how too tactical vote? or do they let Rachel “momma grizzly” Bates through the middle, she is after all an ex Sussex Uni student and that may count for something with her old campus pals, we could see Ian Fyvie out with his loud hailer!”  Now having Ian Fyvie on the Council would be something, but somehow I think he will just miss out, by a thousand votes or so!

HP thinks it is studentification’ that could be a factor.  Not on students, I think, but on those living in town centre wards who complain about car parking and noisy neighbours, blaiming it all on students. HP writes: “Of course, another way the students might swing the vote is in relation to the party that promises the most effective action to limit the spread of student houses at the cost of family housing. The outgoing Labour Govt was in the process of addressing just that issue, but then the Tories came in and buckled to the demands of their landlord mates and watered down the new rules. However, a locally implementable mechanism exists to stop family houses becoming student lets and I for one would be happy to vote for a party that has the courage to impose it (unless that party is the Tories, obviously I’d never vote for them). We then need more purpose built student accommodation in the right places with sustainable links to the campuses.”

But is any of this speculation meaningful? Dan Wilson thinks not: “Student turnout at local elections is typically very low indeed”  but Mr Pickwick senses something different now: “It seems to me a motivated student vote this time. Many were inspired by first Green MP. That was also apparent in the Lizzie Deane camapign. And that was a summertime when most political types assumed that it would be a snoozy electorate.”

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 …?