Goldsmid Result Changes Brighton & Hove Political Landscape

The obvious impact of the Green victory in Goldsmid Ward is the loss of overall control on Brighton and Hove City Council. For the Greens it provided their first ever Councillor in Hove and the first time the Party has won a seat off the Conservatives. Neil Harding provides a good summary of the impact of the result on the City Council.

In the longer term it provides huge momentum for the Greens in the twelve months before the General Election. For Labour it is a disaster. It reaffirms that Labour is a party in decline in Brighton and Hove, now firmly established as the third party in the City. They lack credibility, a party associated with defeat after defeat, heading for three losses in the City in the General Election. Ironically, it isn’t a disaster for the Conservatives who had a credible result even though they lost their seat in a by-election caused by the unacceptable actions of their former councillor, Paul Lainchbury. Unlike Labour, they were not humilated.

This was the worst result possible for Labour. Labour Group Leader, Gill Mitchell said last night “The Conservatives are fatally wounded and they will not be able to get anything through the council”. To describe the Tories as fatally wounded is pure nonsense and demonstrates the mindset of Labour, still seeing the battle lines as Labour v Conservatives.

There is anger at both parties, but most particularly against the party of government. Mary Mears, a most perceptive politician, has already identified the Greens as the main opponents to the Tories. She dismissed the result as a protest vote on national issues but was quick to attack Green policies, saying that they have not properly costed their programme. That is, indeed a challenge for the Greens.

But for today, the Greens, and Councillor Alex Phillips in particular, should enjoy the moment. If the Green Party is to make the next breakthrough at parliamentary level, the hard work begins tomorrow!

Goldsmid By-election is a Two Horse Race

Don’t count chickens before they hatch, is an old saying. It must be very tempting for Green councillors to speculate on what will happen in the event of a victory by Alex Phillips in the Goldsmid by-election on Thursday.

Victory is by no means certain for Ms Phillips but it is clearly a two horse race between her and the Conservatives. I would encourage you to visit Alex’s campaign website. Very impressive and very effective.

I tried to find Liz Telcs’ website so I did a Google search. The top result provided links to this blog! Then there were links to Ben Duncan’s blog, and then, last but not least, to the Argus archive!

Nothing from the good lady herself. If Labour was not so divided and demoralised, I’m sure that it could post even a basic website if they had any self belief.

Ben Duncan, in his entertaining blog, writes that in the event of an Alex Phillips victory: “I think we should invite Labour to adopt our local manifesto, and make sure as much of the council’s business as possible (and certainly the question of which minority party (ies) form the administration) is decided by council (and not the Tories single party cabinet) as possible”.

I’m glad that he is not calling for a formal coalition. Why on earth would the Greens get into bed with their arch rivals when they are hoping to beat Labour in Brighton Pavilion thus achieving their biggest success ever by having Caroline Lucas elected?

What should happen is the abolition of the Cabinet system at Brighton and Hove City Council which must be the least democratic of all the options available. The City should be run by all councillors, not a select few who do not enjoy the majority support in the City. The electorate have not given a mandate to any party and therefore the important decisions should be taken by full Council. It may well mean that councillors having to meet more often, but whoever said that democracy was easy?

Vote for Alex Phillips in Goldsmid by-election on 23rd July

The Goldsmid by-election is just under four weeks away. This by-election could well change the control of the City Council if the Tories lose the seat. The ‘left’ vote could be split between Labour and the Greens, thereby allowing the Tories to retain the seat and thus the Council itself. The outcome of this by-election, therefore, is of critical importance to the whole of Brighton and Hove.

This week I have spent time with councillors from all three major Brighton parties (I do not include the Liberal Democrats in this).

The Conservatives seemed resigned to defeat. The behaviour of its former councillor and a lack of decisiveness by Mary Mears in dealing with him has undermined the credibility of their campaign, although they retain hope for a split in the non-Conservative vote..

Labour continues to delude itself that it is offering a credible alternative. It is running a lacklustre campaign. There is little enthusiasm for its candidate, Liz Telcs, and there is no evidence of a united party, with those backing Telcs being seen as divisive and sectarian.

The Greens, on the other hand, are displaying the enthusiasm that characterised Labour in Brighton in the 1980s, a party knowing it is on the threshold of an historic breakthrough. Its candidate, Alex Phillips, is very engaging, energetic, and enjoys the enthusiastic support of her local party.

How I wish Labour could regain its lost soul and sense of purpose. Until it does, and it won’t be in time for the Goldsmid by-election (and probably not in time for the general election next year), the recommendation of this blog is for all Labour and Lib Dem’s to vote for Alex Phillips on the 23rd July.

Goldsmid Ward By-election

The Conservatives in Brighton and Hove have been discredited by the antics of former councillor, Paul Lainchbury. Having behaved like an absentee Tory grandee, rarely putting in an appearance in his Goldsmid ward, let alone at Council meetings, he has finally resigned.

Had he gone in March or April the council tax payers would have been spared the unnecessary cost of a by-election since it could have been held at the same time as the European elections. This farce has damaged the reputation of Tory leader, Mary Mears, whose defence of Mr Lainchbury became laughingly hollow as she clings on to power.

The by-election will now take place on June 23.

At the last elections, the Tories won two seats and Labour one. But with Labour in freefall, its candidate, Liz Telcs, doesn’t have a hope in hell of winning, in spite of the excellent work in the ward by Labour councillor Melanie Davis.

The Greens are on the up with renewed energy and direction provided by Bill Randall who has replaced the pleasant but ineffectual and uninspiring Keith Taylor as its leader locally.

If the Green candidate, Alexandra Phillips, is elected then the Greens would replace Labour as the official opposition. God knows, Brighton and Hove needs an effective alternative.