Ten days to go and the campaign has gone oh so quiet

I’ve been silent for much of the last week, listening and observing. I have spent a bit of time in the majority of wards, for one reason or another, and spoken to several candidates in each party. What has emerged is a depressing picture – and election campaign that has failed to catch the imagination of the City, including party activists and members.

With very few exceptions (East Brighton, Queens Park, and seats in west Hove) Labour is in the doldrums. Some candidates and councillors are out and about, but in some seats it has been hard to get any party members to do any door knocking. In one town centre ward, just the three candidates have done in any door knocking and even then one of the three has limited his activity to the minimum.

It is largely candidates and councillors doing 95% of the work for Labour. So disorganised are they in some seats that members have complained about not being given posters for their windows, while others have decided not to out them up at all.

Members in Queens Park are full of praise for the tireless efforts of Tom French (no surprise there) and to a limited extent his running mates. In East Brighton, Warren Morgan (no doubt fortified by regular supplies of Sugar Puffs), Craig Turton (masquerading as the Sugar Monster) and Gill Mitchell, are going about their business with quiet determination (I said QUIET DETERMINATION, Warren). Labour posters are in clear evidence in East Brighton, but other than Hollingdean and Stanmer, and Hangleton and Knoll, this election is resembling a poster-free zone.

Tim Ridgeway recently counted the posters he could see from the number 26 bus (Chuck, the 26 goes from Churchill Square to the Hollingbury Industrial Estate) and he counted less than 10 posters in all. This included the Green heartland of St Peters and North Laine where Labour posters are numbering the same as Green posters. (I’m not predicting a shock result here but my sources have been impressed by the one woman campaign being run by young Clare Calder who is said to be out on the doorstep most days).

The Greens are faring a bit better, with activists turning out and members from beyond Brighton coming in at weekends to help. Momentum has been maintained in their key target seats. Much effort is going into defending the seats in Queens Park and challenging for gains in Brunswick and Adelaide and in Goldsmid where Green posters are clearly in evidence and Labour posters largely absent.

In Hanover and Elm Grove, where Labour is focussing much of its efforts, moving resources from elsewhere in the city, the small advances being made by Labour in what was once its safest seat, will come nowhere near displacing the Buddha (Bill Randall) and his two Green running mates.

Hollingdean and Stanmer continues to be a hot-bed of activism. Momma Grizzly is out most weekends but most of her efforts are focused on Coldean. Jeane Lepper has been here, there and everywhere, like a Catherine Wheel of bonfire night, and always a complimentary word for her Green opponents (well, perhaps not). But it is the Greens that are most evident and winning the poster war. In particular, Luke Walter is campaigning full time. Ironically he could be the loser in this Alphabet Election as he is bottom of the ballot paper and might be pipped to the post by Jeane Lepper.

In Regency, when James Asser isn’t stuck on trains, he and Dan Wilson, along with the Determined Anne Freeman, are working their socks off, but so too are the Kitcat Two. Dan and James may well reduce the Green majority but they have too much to make up.

Finally, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean looks as though it may produce a split result, but the Tories remain narrow favourites to take all three seats but Anne Meadows might yet hold on to her seat.

I still don’t have a feel for the campaigns in Central Hove, Wish and Westbourne wards. Has everyone given up and gone home? And what of Christopher Hawtree? It is very quiet on the Hawtree Front and our readers are missing your daily overview. Just 10 days to go and it will all be almost over …..

Doorstep Brighton 12: Being Grizzly in Coldean, a Lib Dem in Hove, and Ice Cold is Alex

In Hollingdean and Stanmer,” lots of friendly Conservatives” have been out in Coldean, cross city support for Rachael ‘Momma Grizzly’ Bates and her anonymous fellow candidates.  What defines “lots” in this context? And was this endangered species spotted by any of my spies? Rachel reports on Twitter that there had been “a fantastic response on the doorstep in Coldean”. Does that translate to ‘unharmed’?

Momma Grizzly is faced with somewhat of a problem: loyalty to her employer, Hove MP Mike Weatherley or the residents of the Brighton ward she seeks to represent on the City Council. Campaigning Mike, who on and off describes himself as the MP for Portslade, wants to the Royal Mail to drop ‘Brighton’ from the postal address for Portslade.  A nice populist move, Mike, but what should Grizzly do: follow the Weatherley “we don’t like you and we don’t care” approach and offend her H&S voters, or recognising that Portslade (and Hove actually) are now part of Greater Brighton.

In Goldsmid, Alex Phillips and her Green colleagues have had a ‘bike action’ day around The Drive and Cromwell Road.  A hardy bunch are Goldsmid Greens, out “come rain or shine”. This commitment is a challenge to Rob Buckwell and the other Goldsmid Estate Agents who cannot think beyond council tax cuts.

Rebecca Taylor is a brave one, a candidate who has ‘come out’ as a Lib Dem. Rebecca Taylor says on Twitter that she is “running for a seat on Brighton and Hove Council In May 2011 (representing Hove)”. The whole of Hove? I think she means Central Hove. She has little chance of success if her Twitter account (@rtaylorhove) is anything to go by – she has just 9 followers!  Beccy, forget the Lib Dems, if you are serious about becoming a councillor, join the Greens.

And finally, in Regency, Jason Bull writes: “I received a handwritten Christmas card from the LibDem candidates. Nothing from them since. Nothing from Labour. Can’t find out the names of the Conservative candidates. A female representative of the Green Party buzzed my flat intercom and asked if she could come in. I am a gay man and I was engaged in a sexual encounter at the time. I said ‘no.’ She persisted. I said, very firmly ‘no’, turned off my intercom and got back down to business.” How very dare you, Jason.