The Greens are yet to reach their peak – next stop Hove and Portslade

I thought that the Greens would do well in Thursday’s elections, and they did. But I had doubts where that Party goes next. I felt that there were certain limitations to their reach. I was sure that the Geens would extend their reach to the maximum at this election, and then the challenge would be to hold that position at the next general election (no difficulty there) but defending their council seats might be a challenge. I have changed my mind because of the results on Thursday.

In Brighon Pavilion, the Greens are now challenging in the Tory heartlands. The Normans, Anne and Ken, will not stand again in Withdene and the Greens, having won one seat and having come close in a second, will have high hopes of winning all 3 seats in May 2015. In Hollingdean and Stanmer, Jeane Lepper, now the sole Labour councillor in Brighton Pavilion, will not stand again, leaving the way open for Luke Walter to join Sven Rufus and Christina Summers on the Council.

And there is the final frontier, Pacham. The Theobald Machine held firm once more, but with a local council election being held on the same day as a probable general election, everything is up for grabs. And will any of the current three councillors stand again? Brian Pidgeon will retire, and Carol and Geoffrey Theobald must be considering when it will be the right time to call time.

Three years and 363 days out I am making this prediction – the Greens will win EVERY seat in Brighton Pavilion in 2015.

I will comment on Brighton Kemptown at a later date, but I think that, for the Greens, Hove and Portslade is where their future lies. After Thursday, the Greens have 6 seats, Labour have 6, and the Tories 8 seats. The Greens have consolidated its first and only seat in Goldsmid where Alex Phillips led a strong campaign to win a seat off the Tories and to defeat Melanie Davis who was a strong candidate and respected councillor.

But it is Christopher Hawtree’s breakthrough in Central Hove that changes everything. That single gain shows what is possible, and the Greens must already have begun to eye Westbourne, Wish, and the other seat in Central Hove. The Portslades, North and South, have similar demographics to Hollingdean and Stanmer, and both will become vulnerable should (as is likely) both Bob Carden and Les Hamilton stand down in 2015.

And then there is Hangleton and Knoll, a large ward which, again, like Hollingdean and Stanmer, is an area where the Greens could thrive. Dawn Barnett and Brian Fitch are no longer spring chickens, and won’t go on and on and on. Does Brian have another campaign in him (probably) but will he want to be a councillor, should he be re-elected in 2015, will be approaching 80 at the end of that term in office.

So why all this speculation about 2015? If the Greens begin building in Hove, establishing a local organisation in each of these wards (don’t fall for Labour’s mistake and run everything from a High Command), and get a dynamic parliamentary candidate in place sooner rather than later, who can support, motivate, encourage, nurture the party in Hove, then there will be a further Caroline Effect, although it could come to be known as the Alex Effect …..

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 ….!

North Portslade: The birth of a new Labour dynasty and further evidence of Tory splits?

My friend, Christopher Hawtree, has asked me to comment on North Portslade. Last time out, it would be reasonable to assume that the Alphabet Factor had had a large influence on the outcome of the elections. The result was split with Bob Carden (from another Labour dynasty) and Trevor Alford (Conservative) being elected. But, in fact Alford was third on the ballot paper and Carden in the bottom half! This time they are the top two on the ballot paper.

Bob Carden topped the poll in 2007 with Trevor Alford second, Tory Theo Brake-Child third and Labour’s Nicole Murphy fourth. North Portslade must be one of Labour’s top targets. Anything but a comfortable win and the election of two Labour councillors would be a disaster for the Party.

Bob Carden’s running mate this time is Penny Gilbey. If Penny was to be elected, and I am confident that she will, it would be the start of yet another Labour dynasty. Her father, George Humphrey, was the former leader of the Labour Group on Brighton Borough Council in the early 1980s.

Standing in this election as an Independent is Theo Child. Could this be the same person as Theo Brake-Child, the former Tory candidate. Is this yet another example of the split in the Tory rank, similar to the split in Hangleton and Knoll where Jo Heard is also standing as an Independent?

The second Tory candidate is Kerry Underhill. Her dad, a butcher, runs a shop on London Road, just outside the Open Market. Is her candidature an indication that the faction led by her dad’s near business neighbour, Mary Mears, has gained control in North Portslade?

“Deep and wide, deep and wide, the split is running deep and wide ….”.

Portslade – the Carden and Hamilton dynasties prevented total humiliation for Labour

North Portslade and South Portslade both saw one Labour and one Conservative elected in May 2007.  In North Portslade, long-standing Labour councillor Bob Carden topped the poll with 1,142 votes with Tory Trevor Alford second on 1,082.  The Tories were third with Labour’s second candidate fourth.

It was a similar story in South Portslade where Labour’s Les Hamilton polled 1,119 votes. The Tories had Steve Harmer-Strange elected with 1,061 votes.  The Tories filled third place and Labour fourth.

It was clearly the Carden name and his personal vote that saved Bob, as it was with Les Hamilton (but not with Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll).  Cardens go back to the 1920s in Brighton, with Herbert Carden being responsible for the City’s huge land holding, more than 10,000 acres and more than a dozen farms.  Carden Avenue is named after Herbert.

As for Les Hamilton, he used to hold the seat with his dad, also called Les Hamilton.  It sometimes feels as though there have been Les Hamiltons going back a thousand generations in Hove politics.

While Bob and Les have done well, dynastic politics can have the great weakness of poor party organisation and renewal. Labour paid the price for this in 2007.

If Labour is serious about becoming, once again, a serious force in local politics, it must win all four seats in May 2011 in the two Porslade wards.  In both wards the Lib Dems and the Greens came absolutely nowhere.  So it is an easy recommendation that anti-Tory tactical voters should vote Labour.