Announcing the outstanding candidate, with youth and good looks, for Hove 2015

From the reaction to yesterday’s post, it appears that the campaign in Hove in 2015 is already capturing the imagination. There is speculation about the Labour candidate, the advantage of women candidates, and the merits of experience over youth.

Councillor Christopher Hawtree agrees that Hove is an interesting prospect: “The subject of the Hove constituency is certainly more galvanising than a gathering of the Strategic Partnership. A point not made by the blogger is that, very winnable, Hove could attract the attention of candidates from elsewhere. Meanwhile, in studying it, I think I have found the key factor in a close-run Election, but am hardly going to say so here.”

Clive agrees that Mike Weatherley could be vulnerable: “1800 majority and 37% of the vote does not equal hard to shift, unless Argentina invade the Falklands again. It is very easy to exaggarate the effect of an individual MP’s efforts at social work.” Perhaps so, Clive, but Mike has already impressed with his careful nurturing of the constituency and he has a populist appeal.

So what can councillor Chris have discovered? He is right that Hove, as a winnable seat could attract candidates from beyond the city. If Labour or the Greens did so, it would be a mistake. There is much speculation that Labour is looking to Simon Burgess.

Luke Walter (who rumour has it may have Green leanings), writes of the likely Labour candidate: “For once, I agree with Zombie, a female candidate would stand a much better chance for Labour. However, given that the Kemptown seat is an all-woman shortlist (AWS) and Hove isn’t, Burgess only has one option (unless he can persuade the NEC to keep Pavilion open to all, though, I doubt he wants to stand there). Therefore, Hove it will be for Mr. Burgess unless the local party opts for someone else. Given Warren Morgan’s own friendship with Burgess and the East Brighton grip over Labour’s constituency parties in the city, I imagine the local Labour selection for Hove will be without a credible challenge to Burgess.”

But some feel that a different brand of candidate should be chosen. I suggested female and young in the case of the Greens. Likewise, Zombie proposes female and young for Labour: “A Green candidate in place now (probably Alex Phillips) could start to build a challenge. This could become momentum given a fair wind from B & H council’s activities or the kiss of death. Labour can help the Greens by selecting someone mediocre from outside the area, or can select someone with potential like the Benn girl who stood in Shoreham in 2010 or perhaps Clare Calder. Leaving selection late will help the Green challenger. In any event the Green Alex Phillips lookalike will need to show she is best placed to challenge Weatherly well beforehand for the Lab vote to evaporate.”

Zombie urges Labour not to waste time: “Labour would do well to select their Alex Phillips now and establish their own campaigning radical credentials. They might then squash the Green Alex as the clear non-Tory alternative.”

Finally, it appears that I am getting under Clive’s skin. He writes: “I do find the blogger’s repetitive promotion of a select few annoying, because it seems to be based on so little in the way of substance.” But Clive, I am totally devoid of substance! But give me some credit – I say it as I see it, and I am not often wrong. I predicted Alex Phillips’ Goldsmid by-election victory when others did not, I called Brighton Pavilion correctly, and I was within a seat for both Labour and the Greens this May. I also said that my friend Warren Morgan would romp home and that Brian Fitch would regain his seat. You are right, Clive, I concentrate on the select few.

But I do agree with Clive on his final point: “There is a wider, national malaise in our politics too, in the elevation of (relative) youth and (relative) good looks above substance.”

So to add to this national malaise, there is just one person who has the youth and good looks necessary to beat Mike Weatherley. Yes, it is your ever so humble Blogger.

90 days to go until the General Election – Tactical Voting Campaign needed more than ever

If, as expected, the general election takes place on 6th May, there are just 90 days to go until polling day.  It has been said that a general election is decided by less than 100,000 voters, those ‘swing’ voters in key marginals whose votes decide which party gets a majority.  In some constituencies, like Arundel, a monkey with a blue rosette would gain a majority – and in the past it seems that this has happened!

But tactical voting can change that.  Perviously this blog has called for tactical voting in eight of the sixteen Sussex seats.  There is a danger that all sixteen seats could go Conservative, but with tactical voting Sussex could yet return eight non-Conservatives.

The key seats are: Lewes (Tactical vote for the Lib Dem Norman Baker); Eastbourne (again Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd); Hastings and Rye (Labour Michael Foster); Hove (Labour’s Celia Barlow); Brighton Kemptown (tight call between Labour’s Simon Burgess and the Green’s Ben Duncan); Brighton Pavilion (the Green’s Caroline Lucas); Crawley (Labour’s Laura Moffatt); and Worthing East and Shoreham (Labour’s Emily Benn).

This blog previously called for tactical voting in Worthing East and Shoreham for the Lib Dems, but such is the disorganisation and incompetence of that party in West Sussex that it has yet to select a candidate!  The website for the Worthing Lib Dems is one of the most inadequate websites I have ever seen.  The campaigns tag takes you to an empty page! It demonstrates that the Lib Dems cannot be taken seriously as the third party of British politics and should really stand aside in key seats such as Brighton Pavilion and Worthing East and Shoreham.  Therefore, this blog is changing its recommendation and is calling for tactical voting for Labour’s Emily Benn, granddaughter of Tony Benn and niece of Hilary Benn.  Alas, she does not share their politics.

By contrast, the website of the Lib Dem candidate in Worthing West and Arun, Hazel Thorpe, is lively and impressive.  Unfortunately, Hazel (who I personally admire) has little chance of success but nevertheless, this blog urges all Labour and Green supporters to vote tactically for Hazel Thorpe.

My next blog will review the two Brighton seats.

A tactical vote in Worthing East and Shoreham is a Lib Dem vote

Worthing East and Shoreham is an interesting seat.  The sitting Tory MP, Tim Loughton, has a good public image and is a hard-working constituency MP.  Labour and the Lib Dems were neck and neck last time, with Labour coming out marginally in front in second place.

However, with the national decline in the Labour vote, their inability to make any breakthrough in Worthing itself (surely an area where Labour could thrive), and the effectiveness of the Lib Dems in pavement politics, the recommendation of this blog is for tactical votes for the Liberal Democrats.

The Lib Dems need to get their acttogether, however, and get a decent candidate in place quickly.  Labour have had young Emily Benn, probably to be the youngest at the general election, in place for the past year. Her youth will probably count against her. The grand-daughter of Tony Benn and neice of Hilary Benn, she comes from a more Blairite tradition, reflecting the politics of her mother, Nita Clarke (who worked for Tony Blair)  more than those of  Tony or Hilary. For example, she supported the war in Iraq, and this will surely count against her.

The 2005 result:

Conservative: 19,548 (43.9%)
Labour: 11,365 (25.5%)
Liberal Democrat: 10,844 (24.3%)
UKIP: 2,109 (4.7%)
Other: 677 (1.5%)
Majority: 8,183 (18.4%)

Tactical Voting in Sussex

Following on from my call for tactical voting in Brighton Pavilion at the next General Election, here are my recommendations for tactical voting elsewhere in Sussex:

Crawley: Labour (Laura Moffatt – sitting MP, well-regarded locally, hard working, good record on expenses!)

Lewes: Lib Dem (Norman Baker – Stormin’ Norman, the sitting MP and persecutor of Mandleson. The most exceptional opposition MP)

Eastbourne: Lib Dem (Stephen Lloyd – a typically hard working Lib Dem, taking up grass routes issues and making a good name for himself))

Hastings & Rye: Labour (Michael Foster -sitting MP who has earned good reputation locally and can expect strong personal vote)

Brighton Kemp Town: Labour (Simon Burgess – hoping to replace Des Turner. Respected former leader of the City Council. A decent man)

Brighton Pavilion: Green (Carolline Lucas – Leader of the Green Party, MEP for the South East. Likely to become the Greens first ever MP)

Hove: Labour (Celia Barlow – sitting MP, surprise winner in 2005. Works hard but has expensive taste in bathroom furniture ….)

Shoreham and Worthing East: Lib Dem (no candidate selected yet, which is a weakness, but in Emily Benn Labour doesn’t have a particularly strong candidate)

There you have it. 4 recommendations for Labour, 3 for the Lib Dems, and 1 for the Greens. If the supporters of each of the non-recommended parties voted for the recommendations above, then 8 non-Conservatives could be returned from Sussex.

I will comment more on each constituency in the weeks to come. Please let me have your comments and views on the various campaigns – their strengths and weaknesses.