Doorstep Brighton 5: Secret Tories, Public Tories and the neo-deity Christopher Hawtree

 I am grateful to ‘steampunk’ for his appraisal of the Labour candidates in Goldsmid: “Nigel Jenner previously managed the council youth service, and while I haven’t worked with him personally  – on paper that’s a respectable credential. I suspect Labour will give Liz Telcs higher billing though.” 

On the Greens, Steampunk says: “Alex Phillips is one of the most energetic personalities in the Green Party today, and her exuberance could just give her team enough momentum to take a second seat in the ward. Ruth Buckley would bring a refreshing down-to-earth perspective to the council by virtue of not being a career politician and I would like to see her elected.”

As for the prospects of the parties, Steampunk says: “The Greens certainly have a better chance than Labour of taking the remaining Tory seat, but even so I think it is a tall order and more likely the status quo will prevail, one apiece in Goldsmid to Greens, Conservatives and Labour.”

Is Chris Hawtree a minor deity? He seems to be omnipresent and clearly works in mysterious ways!  He has been campaigning in Hollingdean, Patcham, Goldsmid, Brunswick and Adelaide, Portslade South, even Rottingdean Coastal where he is on the verge of unseating Mary Mears! But as always he offers very interesting and valuable insights.  In Goldsmid he writes:  “I sense rising support for the Greens in Goldsmid tho’ there is recognition that Melanie Davis has been diligent. Liz Telcs came across poorly in the by election.” Labour councillor Craig Turton reports that Labour’s team in Goldsmid, Lis Telcs, Melanie Davis and Nigel Jenner, have been knocking on doors and speaking to Goldsmid residents “months before the Greens even selected their candidates” and he promises a new Labour (he stresses not New Labour) website soon.

As for the Tories in Goldsmid, ‘Clive’ says the Tories have selected three candidate and that they are easily ‘googleable’. I tried but without joy.  Perhaps Clive can tell us more about Huey, Dewey and Louie. He does say that “they all look like estate agents, and will no doubt run their usual under-the-radar campaign, hoping that the core vote is enough to defeat a divided opposition.” 

Mr Hawtree points out that in Brunswick and Adelaide Labour voters are realising that the best way to get at the Coalition is to vote tactically for the Greens, not least because, as he says, “Labour has given up on Brunswick, there could be more such votes”.

An unknown factor in Brunswick and Adelaide is the candidacy of David Watkins.  The former Lib Dem is yet to announce whether he intends to stand.  Watkins has no organisation behind him, and he stands little if any chance of winning. If he does stand, he will draw some support from the Lib Dems, most crucially from Paul Elgood.  Even 100 votes leaking away from Elgood could see a Green clean sweep.

Chris Hawtree says that there is not much sign of Tories canvasing anywhere.  But don’t be deceived, the Tories never have the same street presence as Labour, the Greens or the party once known as the Lib Dems. 

In Patcham, the first mention of this ward in Doorstep Brighton, the Greens have been out canvassing.  The Greens did surprisingly well in Patcham at the general election but it would take a shift of Egyptian proportions to see the back of Geoffrey and Carol Theobald.

Can I extend a warm, if brief, welcome to the Conservative candidates in East Brighton, Kelvin Poplett, Chris Sandland and Peter Booth.  They have established an impressive website www.eastbrighton2011.com and seem well organised. No doubt they will do well in Roedean Bottom and on The Cliff, but along Whitehawk Way … ?  They may have the common touch but they ain’t Mary Mears.

Finally, Dan Wilson reprimands me for failing to report on the Labour campaign in Wish ward: “There’s been some great campaigning by Labour in Wish ward these past weeks” he writes. I stand corrected but I’m not sure of how he addresses me – ‘Bappy’.  I can cope with BPB and ‘Baps’ (credit here to the lovely Chuck Vere and a moniker adopted for me by Momma Grizzly, Rachael Bates), but Bappy, sounds like ‘Nappy’, but then some people think I’m full of …….

Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats having a bust-up in a telephone box

What on earth is happening to the local Liberal Democrats?  They have deselect David Watkins, one of just two councillors they have on the City Council.  It is not that the Lib Dems are top of the popularity stakes just now and can afford to dispense with the service of David who is well liked and respected in Brunswick and Adelaide.

The other Lib Dem councillor, Paul Elgood, seems to be doing everything possible to attack Labour.  Could it be that he is looking to jump ship in order to join the Tories while David is looking towards Labour?  In the Argus on Tuesday, Elgood praises the Coalition Government for plans to improve post offices.  Funny, he makes no mention of proposed cuts across the public sector.  In his blog he praises Mark Collins, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Central Hove ward in next May’s city elections, who “has re-affirmed our commitment to oppose any increase in the tuition fees”.  This leaves me a bit confused.  Does Cllr Elgood not know that his Leader, Nick Clegg, is justifying an increase in tuition fees as “progressive”?  Is he not aware that public anger is focused well and truly at the Lib Dems for betraying the commitment to vote against any increase in tuition fees?

Roll on May 2011.  It will be “farewell, Liberal Democrats in Brighton and Hove” (and in many places across the country).