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.

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.