Doorstep Brighton 10: General round up and more on the Mary Mears Budget

I have been overwhelmed by the reaction that this blog is having of late, not least the volume of comments, emails and direct messages received.  Apologies to those who I have been unable to respond to or include in subsequent posts.  A feature of the responses that amuses/interests me is the number of Tories who are reacting including comments from Adam Campbell (Brunswick and Adelaide, Maria Caulfield (Moulsecoomb and Bevendean), Peter Booth (East Brighton), Momma Grizzly (Rachael Bates, Hollingdean and Stanmer) and Rob Buckwell (Estate Agents, Seven Dials, sorry Goldsmid Ward).  But they are equalled by Labour and Green activists, and the occasional sad Lib Dem.  I am aware my posts are getting longer and longer.  It is, in fact, your fault, Dear Readers.  I will try to make them briefer, but it may take longer to comment and respond to you, let alone post something original of my own.

Regarding the Mary Mears budget, Serenus Zeitblom makes a very interesting observation regarding the text of the letter to the Times sent by 88 Liberal Democrat council group leaders last week. “It’s arguing that local government cuts should not be front-loaded but spread more evenly over the next four years. In effect, that’s exactly what Mary Mears and co appear to have done, drawing on reserves to cover funding for next year while keeping the big cuts in reserve. (The Lib Dem letter looks rather Micawberish to me, founded on a pious hope that future cuts will be softened because something will turn up).  Strange – we all know that the Liberal Democrats are irrelevant in Brighton and Hove, but here are Brighton Tories implementing Liberal Democrat policies in apparent defiance of Eric Pickles.  If Mary Mears brings this one off it may be testimony as much to her bare-faced cheek as to her strategic sense!”

Andy Richards (do read his blog People’s Republic of Hove – stuck a bit in the 1980’s but nevertheless providing an important Unison/Left perspective)  takes issue with Rachael Bates: “What a joke. The council tax cut is being financed by a central government grant. I’m presuming that Rachael knows where the government’s money comes from? We’re paying for our own tax cut!”  And in reply to a comment from Rob Buckwell who had said he hoped that opposition councillors would not block the cut in Council Tax, Andy writes: “I am sure you DO hope the opposition parties block it. If it goes through, people will be able to reflect at leisure about what a meaningless gimmick it is. If the opposition blocks it, this will provide you with some short-term ammo for the election campaign. The Tories don’t actually believe that this measure brings any real benefit any more than anyone else does.”  You are absolutely correct, Andy.  It is why I believe Mary Mears to be a cunning political operator.

I recently asked whether I should lay off those absolutely dreadful Lib Dems, you know who I mean: the Party that betrayed the electorate over student tuition fees, the ones that have enabled the Tories to form a government, the ones who deserve to be at 8% in the opinion polls, the ones destined to be wiped out in Brighton and Hove come May’s local elections.  It has been suggested I might, on occasions, show my bias against that party. Michael Taggart writes: “They were amusing when they wore long beards, chewed dung and danced around Stone Henge in their shoes made of lettuce. And that was just the women. The nasty Lib Dems of 2011 are just annoying. I think it’s time to send them to Room 101 where they can be afforded space to come up with a big plan for a return to relevance.” ‘DAP’ concurs: “They deserves all they get; belonging to a party who have lied and mislead their voters (especially Students on tuition fees) and who are now carrying the Tory cuts through Parliament (however recognition here to Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd who voted against the Tuition fee rise)… A disgrace to what used to be thought of as a principled party… and as your analysis shows; i wouldnt be surprised (in fact; slightly pleased) to see no LibDems in the Council come May.”

DAP also makes a compelling statement regarding LGBT candidates being named by political parties: “Im glad parties have candidates who are openly LGBT. Im not naive enough to think that LGBT people in Brighton & Hove will vote for the candidates with the same sexuality as them (and i dont think thats why the Greens/any other party announce it), but openly showing than LGBT people can hold office and achieve great things is an inspiration to the younger LGBT community. Having more ‘out’ LGBT role models can be nothing but a bad thing.”  I agree.

Following my identity being ‘outed’ as Roy Pennington, Dan Wilson isn’t convinced. He asks: “People from all parties are asking me who you are Bappy. I have no shame in asking a simple question: Do you reside in the city of Brighton and Hove?”.  Perhaps the Ghost of Nobby Clarke is closing in: “Hove resident I think…councillor maybe.”  Maybe Hove, maybe a councillor.  But there again, maybe not.  Who knows.  In fact, who cares?  But a straight answer to Desperate Dan: Yes, I live in Brighton … or Hove.

A Hove councillor (who will remain nameless) recently told me that her campaign for re-election was going well (I predicted she would hold her seat in a marginal fight) but said that she wondered what my ward predictions are based on.  A bit of knowledge, an understanding of electoral politics, a bit of feedback, a lot of guess work.  My track record isn’t too bad.  For example, I predicted the result in the Goldsmid by-election well before polling day.

More tomorrow ….

Advertisements

Doorstep Brighton 2: further reports for week ending 23rd January 2011

Following the first Doorstep Brighton update published yesterday, I have received further reports:

Regency: (I suspect this will be a fantastic campaign).  Both Jason Kitcat and Ania Kitcat have been out door knocking during the week and at the weekend.  They report the same pattern as both 2007, with Greens in first place and the Tories 2nd.  Jason assures me that “no chickens being counted here … will carry on the hard work right to the finish line”.

Hove: I am full of admiration for Lib Dem Mark Collins.  He is one of the few Lib Dems to have raised his head above the parapet.  He says that he doesn’t expect his reports to be taken into account, due to the huge anti-Lib Dem bias on this blog, most of which, he says, is thoroughly entertaining.  He assures me that he will fight my corner as always.  (For the record, this blog has not always had an anti-Lib Dem bias.  I called for tactical voting in favour of the Lib Dems in both Lewes and Eastbourne.  But that was before Nick Clegg and Norman Baker sold out). 

Mark says: “The Lib Dems were out in force in Hove this weekend, as we have been every weekend since at least September (since the General election for some of us). We were getting good returns on all fronts, which is not something any of us ever should learn to expect. We don’t take our votes for granted, and never have done. It is an incredibly tough time to be a Lib Dem. But I feel that is more down to the self flagellation from some of ourselves and the whisperings of the “chattering political classes” as witnessed here. An earlier poster stated correctly “the pavement is better than the barstool” for determining political preference. The reaction I have is predominantly positive. The only person who has bitten my head off on the doorstep was a long time Labour activist. Whilst that is never pleasant, it’s something a party of government has to get used to. We can’t please everyone, nor should we try to. I came into politics to make a difference to people’s lives and improve the community I was brought up in. Not sit in my armchair and shout down every decision I disliked. We’ll be fighting hard to make gains in May. In Brighton and Hove we have recruited more members, both pre and POST Coalition – who are engaged, active and keen to see us succeed. There is no point predicting results yet. The only thing to say is that there is all to play for in the short time until May. We’ll be campaigning to make sure it remains that way until 10pm May 5th!”

Hollingdean and Stanmer: News reaches me that the Tories are fielding Rachel Bates as candidate in H&S.  There can be just one conclusion to be made.  Rachel is personable, very able, hard working, dedicated …. and likely to be nothing more than a paper candidate, meaning that the Tories are concentrating their efforts elsewhere.  Why do I draw this conclusion?  Rachel works for Hove MP Mike Weatherley and is unlikely to do anything outside the Hove constituency, especially in a no-hope area for the Tories such as H&S.

More from H&S.  Luke Walter (Labour candidate) reports that being asked for a ‘Vote Green’ poster this weekend is not the record. A Coldean residents (the heartland of councillor Pat Hawkes) wanted a Green billboard the weekend before.  Christopher Hawtree outdoes even this.  “Somebody in Brunswick asked me for a Green poster in October…”.  Enough, now.

And finally, Clive sounds a warning: “I can see this feature turning into an endless succession of entries reading ‘Out canvassing all day!!! Gr8 response!!!!!’   Perhaps the BPB should offer a small prize for candour in posts, and maybe a slightly bigger prize for anyone who spots a Tory out in daylight.”    Gr8 idea!!!!!    The smaller prize will be a ticket to a lecture by Paul Perrin of UKIP on ‘Democracy and the European Union’.  The slightly bigger prize … 2 tickets.  Boom boom.  (Sorry, normal service will commence soon – BPB).  Once the volume of reporting commences, such ‘reports’ will be rejected and a ‘list of shame’ introduced.

General Election 2015: Vote Labour or Tory in Lewes. Anything is better than the Dishonourable Norman Baker

Role of Honour: Caroline Lucas (Green; Brighton Pavilion) and Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat; Eastbourne).

Role of Dishonour: Norman Baker (Liberal Democrat; Lewes).

And then you have your traditional Tories supporting cuts cuts cuts.  At least they are consistent and behaving true to form.

But Norman Baker has sold his principles to retain the trappings of office.  “I took what was probably the most difficult decision I ever had to take in my political career”, he moans.  He is referring, of course, to his vote in support of an increase in tuition fees.

During the general election campaign Norman signed a pledge that he would vote against any increase in tuition fees.

Norman said today that “the easiest option for me would have been to vote against”.  No, Norman, it would have been the principled option.  You gave us your word.  Your word is now worth nothing. 

This was not just one unfortunate comprise necessary in order to form the Coalition Agreement.  This was the one and only pledge that every single Lib Dem candidate, including Norman Baker, signed.  It was the very reason why many students voted Lib Dem.

There was a choice, and fellow Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd made that choice.  Norman has chosen his Ministerial career above his principles.  It is a shame that the recall of MP’s is not yet in place.  Nevermind.  His time will come.  My first recommendation for the next General Election is for voters in Lewes to vote either Labour or Conservative.  Vote Labour for an anti-Tory vote; vote  Conservative for a vote against a dishonourable Lib Dem.

What is the point of the Lib Dems?

So David Laws has gone – the shortest Cabinet career in living memory.  Lib Dem supporters are lamenting his passing and paying some rather ludicrous tributes to him.  The most ludicrous of all was that of Lord Paddy Ashdown who described him as “Mr Integrity”. 

Mr Laws took an “holier than though” stance during the height of the expenses scandal, only to be brought low himself because of his claims. And now he tries to say it was about protecting his anonymity.  Ben Summerskill of Stonewall, writing in today’s Observer, said that this isn’t about homophobia, more “second home-ophobia”.  He goes on “…. Laws moment in the spotlight wasn’t because of a welcome difference from other MPs, but  because of a tragic similarity”.

The problem with the Lib Dems is that they have often taken a ‘plague on both your houses’ approach, not least by Nick Clegg during the Leaders’ Debate.  But the Lib Dems under Clegg have moved rightward, and the natural coming together with the Conservatives was made all the more possible by the Lib Tories like Clegg and Laws.  Laws is a natural Tory but is said not to have joined them because of his disgust over Section 28.

It now begs the question, what is the point of the Lib Dems.  They have become little more than the recipients of Tory votes with a conscience.  But even that is lost because of the likes of Laws whose appointment gave comfort to more hard-line Tories who had a distaste for the Lib Dems.

This blog called for tactical voting in the general election, to keep the Tories out.  How wrong I was.  I had always thought I would vote Lib Dem in Lewes and Eastbourne had I lived there.  No longer.  Norman Baker and Stephen Lloyd have forfeited the right to anti-Tory votes.  My advice in the future will be to rather vote for a real Tory than one cloaked in false conscience.

The Lib Dems split the anti-Tory vote in Brighton Kemptown and Hove, allowing the Tories to win.  The sad and ineffective bunch of Lib Dem councillors in Hove (if two can be called a bunch) should just join the Tories.  Their supporters should join the party that most represents their views, Labour or the Greens.  There is no point in voting Lib Dem.  There’s no point in the Lib Dems existing.

Con Dem Nation will see the Lib Dems wiped out in Brighton and Hove

I have been cut off in Outer Patagonia for the last 12 days.  No news, no internet, nothing.  On the way back someone told me this ludicrous joke that Nick Clegg had done a deal with Cameron to creat a Con Dem Nation, that Uncle Vince Cable was in government proposing the sale of 49% of the Royal Mail, that Norman Baker had gon into government with the Tories, and that David Miliband was standing for the leadership of the Labour Party!

Actually, I hve found the last 12 days quite depressing.  But there is one silver lining on the cloud, and I have recognised a terrible mistake I made in the run up to the election.  It all has to do with the Lib Dems. 

This blog advocated tactical voting to kep the Tories out.  In Eastbourne and Lewes I said that a Lib Dem vote was important to keep David Cameron out of Downing Street.  I was wrong.

Next election my advice to voters in Eastbourne and Lewes will be ‘Vote Tory’. I would rather have the real thing than a poor yellow imitation that lends repectability to the Tories.

Clegg is the most rightwing Lib Dem leader in several gereations, cut from the same cloth as Cameron.  It is no surprise that they make such good bed fellows.  But Norman Baker, how could you ….. ?

As for the silver lining, the Lib Dems will see their support from left of centre voters collapse.  In Brighton and Hove this is good news for the Greens who can now be even more optimistic about picking up two seats from the Lib Dems in Brunswick next May.

A final plea for tactical votes in Sussex

It’s polling day.  For the past six months or so, I have been advocating tactical votes in Sussex to minimise the number of Conservatives elected.  Last year, with the Tories running in the polls at plus 40% and David Cameron thought it was a formality that he would become Prime Minister, I feared that 16 Tories might be returned from the 16 seats in Sussex.  There was an outside chance that with tactical voting we could see that number reduced to just 8.  The reality is that we might keep that number at 9, although Crawley is looking particularly vulnerable following the unforgivable decision of Laura Moffatt to stand down at the eleventh hour.

So, for a final time, here are my recommendations for tactical voting today:

Vote LABOUR in Brighton Kemptown, Hove, Hastings and Rye, and Crawley

Vote LIB DEM in Lewes and Eastbourne

Vote GREEN in Brighton Pavilion

The decision in Brighton Pavilion between Labour and the Greens took some serious reflection, but having advocated a Green vote as far back as January, I am more confident than ever that it is the right call for Brighton Pavilion.

There’s more to this election that just Brighton Pavilion. Tactical voting remains so important

I am in danger of presenting the general election as being about just one campaign – that in Brighton Pavilion.  In fact Roy Greenslade, a titan of the newspaper industry (and I do mean that sincerely) almost suggested that when he said on the Guardian’s Greenslade Blog, that this was “a lively blog where the left-of-centre author appears to be enthused by the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

In Hove, it is looking increasingly likely that there will be a Tory win, although Celia Barlow pulled off one of the most amazing results last time by holding the seat.  Greens are suggesting that it is a lost cause for Labour so anti-Tories can vote according to their preference.   Don’t vote Green in Hove, not in this election.  Wait until the Greens have developed their base beyond the solitary but high profile and impressive Alex Phillips.

In Brighton Kemptown Green Ben Duncan is putting up a bit of a show, but he will come nowhere near ousing the anti-Tory challenge of Simon Burgess.  Again, don’t vote Green this time around in Kemptown.  Vote tactically for Simon Burgess.

So in Brighton and Hove, I am advocating tactical voting for Labour in Brighton Kemptown and in Hove, and definitely a tactical vote and a principled vote for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion.

In Hastings in Rye I have always been impressed by the work ethic of Michael Foster who is defending the seat against the Tory, Amber Rudd.  Please give a tactical vote for Labour in Hastings.  Michael may not set the world on fire, but he has been an excellent MP.

In Lewes it has to be the Liberal Democrat, Stormin’ Norman Baker.  If Mandelson is to New Labour what Portillo was to the last Tory Government, then the re-election of Norman Baker will be the worst thing possible for Mandelson.

Finally, the election in Eastbourne is turning nasty where sitting Tory MP Nigel Watersons in real danger of losing to the Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd.  All Labour and Green supporters must vote Lib Dem in Eastbourne.  If Stephen wins, it won’t be the last we will hear of Waterson – he has already threatened to see Lloyd in Court over an election leaflet.  Who would have thought it, nasty politics in Eastbourne.