New Tory website claims that all its candidates are gay (not really)

The Brighton and Hove Conservatives have launched their new website, full of details about their candidates. The site is simple to navigate but a bit clunky when trying to see the different candidates in each ward. You can’t see all in one go and it takes two clicks to navigate from, for example, one Estate Agent in Goldsmid ward to another. But that said, it is a helpful site for those wanting to know who is standing where (and for a blogger wishing to have some sport).

The Tories have a number of bright young things standing in highly winnable seats, not least Michael Ireland who works for Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, as his parliamentary researcher. Keep an eye on Michael, he is destined to go far. In my dealings with him I have found him to be incredibly personable and very bright. He has a big future ahead of him. His one misjudgement is to be a Conservative! Michael is standing in Hangleton and Knoll, hoping to succeed the late David Smart who passed away just before Christmas.

Standing with him in H&K is Dawn Barnett, certain to be re-elected, and Tony Janio, Hove’s own Bruce Willis. Bruce writes “My main fear is that a return of another Labour/Green Administration will bring an end to the improvements we have seen.” His ‘main fear’? Surely a more worrying fear is a nuclear accident along the Channel, a global financial meltdown, or Eric Pickles becoming prime minister. And for the record, “another Labour/Green Administration …”? I have looked back but don’t think we have ever had one ….. yet.

No details are given for the candidates in Hanover and Elm Grove. A sign that the Tories can field paper candidates throughout the city but are unable to put up a fight everywhere?

In Hollingdean and Stanmer we have Momma Grizzly herself, Rachael Bates, another of Mike Weatherley’s bright young things. She provides more information than just about any candidate, including “I enjoy going to rock and metal nights. I frequently go to the Pav Tav (usually for Guerilla Rocks) and to Belushi’s Below for Abandoned.” I have commented before that this is alien territory for this confused blogger, but I am waiting for Grizzly to offer to take me out her town to sample Guerilla Rocks which I assume is some sort of rhythm and beat combo.

Fellow candidate Rob Labs is “a preacher and co-founder of a faith group, the light house parish of the redeemed Christian Church of God, based in Brighton. I am passionate about strong family values.” I guess we won’t be seeing Rob at Pride, with or without a ticket, this year.

More tomorrow

Labour to win May’s local elections or a 3-way split or even a Tory victory. 2 exciting months to go!

I did ask, and you responded, but I honestly did not expect anyone to suggest that Labour would win May’s local elections.  But then I did not allow for Warren Morgan who predicts Labour winning 26 seats, just one short of a majority (with the Mayor’s casting vote).  He says he did a “3 minute, a literally back of the envelope job (and I’m not saying who I think will win what and where). Unsurprisingly I think Labour will do much better than BPB does:

Conservatives 19
Labour 26
Greens 9”

He says that there is a “margin of error of 2/3 or maybe 4 seats either way for all 3 main parties. And maybe 1 for the Lib Dems.  I think incumbency will help – all 13 Labour cllrs are seeking re-election in the same wards, at least 5 Greens are standing down or moving wards, and at least 3 Tories are standing down or moving wards. Half the Green group stood down at the last two elections and they did well, but that was against a Labour council and govt.” 

I can’t see this happening.  It requires a highly motivated party, a strong mood in favour of Labour and against all others.  It ain’t going to happen.

Jason Bull predicts something quite different: “My prediction is Conservative 24, Green 16, Labour 14. This includes the Greens taking both Brunswick & Adelaide seats, Labour, Conservative and Greens getting 1 each in Goldsmid. I predict that the Greens will pick up just 1 seat in Hollingbury & Stanmer with Labour holding 2 of the seats. I think Labour will take all 3 seats from the Greens in Queens Park. I believe Mr & Mrs Kitcat will win by massive majorities in Regency, which will cease to be a marginal ward and become a rock solid Green ward. These are not the results I would wish for but I think they may be close the actual result.”

I think you are well off the mark, Jason.  Jason and Ania will romp to victory in Regency (sorry Dan and James, this won’t be your year although you would both make good councillors). Regency was once safe Tory, then it became a marginal Labour seat, then safe Labour, a Labour/Lib Dem marginal, and now safe Green.  I just hope the Estate Agents don’t target it.

I don’t see a three way split in Goldsmid.  Possibly 2 Labour and 1 Green, or two Green and one Labour.  With the stagnation in the housing market, the Estate Agents won’t make it this time.

Allie Cannell would be “very surprised if the Greens lost all of the seats in Queens Park (definately one of the most interesting wards). Although councillors standing down can be a disadvantage it can also be an advantage. It means there are more people committed to working very hard for the campaign.  The current Green councillors there are great at elections. Paul Steadman was target constituency coordinator (or something like that) for the general election. And they are all still working hard to make sure that Greens get re-elected, the new candidates have access to loads of experience. Personally I’m pretty hopeful that we’ll keep all three seats. Worst case scenario would be losing 1 or 2.”  He predicts that the Greens will get between 16 and 18 seats.

MJ has the most intriguing prediction: “The council will be split evenly three ways almost exactly. Tories, Labour, Green on 16-18 each, 2 Lib Dems, and 3 Saltdean Lido in Rottingdean.”  No way, MJ! No Lib Dems, no Saltdean Lido types, and no way 16 – 18 Labour.

A prediction that might be quite close to the final result comes from the Ghost of Nobby Clarke, but then he has an advantage being in a different realm (a bit being at a full council meeting but with the Angelic Host rather than a rowdy public gallery). He predicts the Conservatives 21, Labour 14, Greens 19.  I might be persuaded that this could be the result, but I think the Greens will be slightly up form this, Labour down and the Tories there or there abouts. 

But the Ghost explains: “people will turn out to vote Labour and some tories will stay at home or vote UKIP if they have that choice, but can you get the people on the ground to get out your vote like The Green Machine?  Barlow will possibly pinch a seat and you may grab a couple elsewhere maybe Portslade or Queens Park but expect to drop some along the way with Turton edged out and the Goldsmid seat taken by the machine and Simpson possibly losing Hollingdean and Stanmer.  Those were the day’s ‘Backwell, Simpson,Sweeting’.”  Wow, Ghost, you go back to a by-gone age.  Celia Barlow winning Central Hove could be a headline grabbing result. I really doubt that Craig Turton will be unseated.  The East Brighton Labour team is particularly strong and working hard.  (Even today Warren Morgan reported over 50% Labour support in a Tory area of the ward).  Christine Simpson, and to a lesser degree, Pat Hawkes, are vulnerable in Hollingdean and Stanmer.

Baron Pepperpot has a word of caution: “It is, after all, prediction. And how many of us can honestly say we are totally objective. I think we are all looking forward to the drama, (although for those of us who are not standing, perhaps without the added nervous edge).  I think there is much water to go under the bridge nationally, even in the next two months. For me there are two main questions that need to be asked to determine how the vote will go at the time. One is national, one is local: How much more unpopular can the coalition become? (Mr Elgood may be taking note of this nervously). Do people see the Greens as a serious coalition leader in Brighton? (Now they are getting close to real power).”

The Baron concludes: “Two exciting months to go chaps!”  Indeed, Baron. I look forward  to the publication of the manifestos.

An immediate, knee-jerk reaction to the Brighton and Hove City Council Budget Meeting

And so there we have it: the Brighton and Hove City Council budget for 2011/12. Here is my immediate and largely unconsidered knee-jerk reaction (nothing new there).

The amendments put forward by Labour and the Greens have been passed. That’s some good news at this time of harrowing cuts elsewhere. There are two ways of looking at this. One, put forward by @sandyd68 on Twitter, is that it is soft cuts as opposed to hard.  (Those supporting this view were calling, until the final vote, for Labour and Green councillors not to vote in favour of the amended budget.) The other, put forward by some Tories, is that if the Tory budget had remained unamended, elsewhere in the country people would be jumping for joy.

The reality is that the substantive budget put forward by the Tories was a clever election budget. There are 3 key matters that the Tories will now latch onto in the election campaign. One is the reversal of the Council Tax cut. It provides them with a useful headline and a rallying point for Grizzlies and the Estate Agent Tendency in Goldsmid. Two, the defeat of the parking permit cut will be used by the Tories in town centre wards, now the stronghold of the Greens. Fortunately, the Greens are too strong in these areas for this to make a difference. Three, the cutting of grass verges – £100k cut from that budget. Tories in the leafy suburbs will make hay while the grass grows. It could cost some votes in one or two areas of Hollingdean and Stanmer, but then that is largely a fight between Labour and the Greens. It could, however, make a difference in Labour / Tory contests in areas such as Hangleton and Knoll (now that Dawn Barnett and Brian Fitch have found common cause on the top deck of the No 5 bus).

For the Greens, the victory regarding the cycle lanes in The Drive and Grand Avenue is a two-edged sword. It preserves two cycle lanes (although not the greatest in the world) but denies the Greens a fantastic campaign issue for their campaigns in Central Hove and Goldsmid.

For Labour, they have the comfort of being part of something that wasn’t defeated by the Tories. However, they ame across as the minor partner in this budget coalition. On the whole, the Green councillors made stronger and more impassioned speeches. Some of the Tory speeches were ill-tempered and amounted to name-calling. It would have been better had more Tories made speeches that were positive about their budget rather than speak about Labour’s 2007 budget. Who the heck cares if it was Simon Burgess or Gill Mitchell who presented Labour’s last budget (it was Simon, for the record). Garry Peltzer Dunne is a very amiable chap to spend time with, but his speech was something else, not sure what, but something else!

The final twist of the evening came with Labour abstaining on the final vote on the budget (thereby ensuring it was carried).  The Greens voted against.  The Greens will be seen as carrying through its principles with Labour allowing the Tory budget through.  The Tories, of course, voted for the amended budget since it was largely theirs.  On balance, it was a good night for the Tories, Greens and, to a lesser extent, Labour. For the Lib Dem Group of One, opposing the Tory budget at least avoided political suicide.

The final word to @sandyd68 on Twitter.  “Labour sell out. Left wing coalition, my arse!”

The crucial votes of Paul Elgood and David Watkins in today’s Brighton and Hove Budget vote

‘Clive’ is right. He said that my comment yesterday, in respect of the Labour/Green Alternative Budget, that the Lib Dems were “floundering somewhere in the middle” is “just lazy. It a) ignores the political reality of the last ten years, pre May 2010 anyway, and b) ignores the important point that Paul Elgood’s vote is pretty crucial on this budget and the amendments, as is that of the former Lib Dem, David Watkins.” Fair points, all. Their votes are important, and yes, it was a sloppy comment by me. Usually I try to provide a better analysis, particularly in regard to the Lib Dems, as well as Labour, Greens and the Tories. (I trust I will be given some blogging licence when it comes to UKIP and the Estate Agents in the Tory Party!).

Today’s budget vote is fascinating. Of the 54 councillors, the Tories are down to 25 councillors following the untimely death of Hangleton and Knoll councillor David Smart, there are 13 Labour councillors, 13 Greens, one Lib Dem and one Independent (following David Watkins resignation of the Lib Dem whip), with one seat vacant.

Assuming that all 53 councillors are present, Labour and the Greens voting together would outvote the Tories if Elgood and Watkins abstain. If either votes with the Tories, and the other abstains, the Tory budget will be carried one the casting vote of the Tory mayor, Geoff Wells. What is most likely, though, is that one or both will vote with Labour and the Greens. I agree with Clive that it is most likely that Paul Elgood will vote for the Alternative Budget. To vote against would be political suicide. Paul has an uphill battle to retain his Brunswick and Adelaide seat. He hardly wants to be defeated AND become known as Hove’s Nick Clegg!

I understand that you can watch the Budget debate on the internet now that the public gallery has been cleared. Did you see me in the Public Gallery? …… I was the one with the red bow tie, glasses, scraggly hair wearing no more than a sheet and a smile!