Wishing for an incendiary campaign in Wish ward

Possibly one of the most intestine contests this May, and one that has, until the last 24 hours, been largely ignored, is the contest in Wish ward. The characters involved are fascinating and the ingredients are there for quite an incendiary campaign.

Defending the seat aree two sitting Conservative councillors, Ted Kemble and Garry Peltzer Dunn. Nice guys they may be, they are unlikely to ignite the election campaign. They had comfortable majorities at the last election, but with the re-emergence of former Conservative councillors, Mark Barnard and Jenny Barnard-Langston, who are standing as independents, sufficient Tory votes may leak to them to make this a marginal seat.

Standing for the Lib Dems is former Brunswick councillor Bob Bailey and Daniel Russell. For a number of reasons, not least the Clegg Effect, they can expect to heavily beaten. It is interesting to note that Mark and Jenny have decided not stand as Lib Dems. If my memory serves me correctly, they defected from the Tories to the Lib Dems some years back. They sure know how to back a lost cause.

Labour, which came a spectacle second after the Tories last time out, are fielding two women candidates, Anne Pissaridou and Christine Robinson, which may help the cause. They would need to make up around 700 votes which is not impossible given the changed fortunes of the the Tories and Labour.

Veteran campaigner and someone well known in the area, at least by this correspondent, is Sue Baumgardt who is the “Green Party First Choice Candidate”. Anton Simanowitz is the Green Party’s “Second Choice Candidate”.

Bringing up the rear, but very likely to beat the Lib Dems, is Richard Allden of the UK Independence Party.

At one point the Tories would have considered another Hove ward, Goldsmid, as a safe seat. But an excellent campaign by Melanie Davies won a seat for Labour, and then Alex Phillips was able to take a seat for the Greens in the Goldsmid by-election in 2009. The same could happen in Wish. Labour will eat into the Tory majorities, and a strong showing by Sue Baumgardt could make this a three way marginal. One Tory should be re-elected but I wouldn’t want to call the second seat. Much depends on what resources both Labour and the Greens commit to Wish. Judging by how stretched Labour is elsewhere, and the concentration by the Greens elsewhere, the Tories could just hold on.

A vampire, a bishop, and a ‘Labour/Green’ activist all standing for the Tories in Hove!

More on the new Tory website, and an answer to the mystery about the disappearance of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. Momma Grizzly writes: “Just a quick note on Moulsecoomb & Bevendean: it’s covered by the Kemp Town Conservatives rather than the Federation of Brighton Pavilion and Hove & Portslade Conservatives, hence the absence on this site.”

But where better place to start in this next part of my review of the new Tory website than North Portslade and Tevor Alford? Arable writes: “On becoming a councillor, Initially, I spent 3 years on the following committees: Audit Committee; Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee; and Overview & Scrutiny Commission. Since May 2010, I have served on the planning committee and am also the cabinet member for Central Services, an exciting and challenging role.”. And in his spare time he’s pretty good at head-banging along to the likes of Megadeth and Slayer!

The Patcham Mafia (Pidgeon, Theobald G, and Theobald C) have biographies that speak volumes for their years and years and years service to Brighton and Hove, equalled only by the 14 generations of Les Hamiltons in Portslade and the soon-to-be four generations of Fitch’s.

Andrew Hancox, the Tory candidate in Regency, seems to have lost his bearings somewhat: “During this time I have experienced many of the challenges that living in Central Hove presents”. Mr Hancox, you are standing in Re-gen-cy, not Central Hove. It is the other Andrew, Wealls, standing in Central Hove. Re-gen-cy is in Brigh-ton. (It doesn’t really matter since Regency is due to return a Green Kitcat double act. I say this purely to elicit a reaction from my mate Dan Wilson).

Where do I begin with the Tory candidates in South Portslade? The sitting Tory councillor is Steve Harmer-Strange who is joined by Stephen Harbor-Wade! I am not making this up, honest. Any further comment from me would detract from the beauty of the situation.

In Preston Park and in St Peters and North Laine the Tories are fielding paper candidates, an indication that they have written off certain seat as unwinnable. And to think, that the old Preston ward would have gone Tory even if they put up a monkey with a blue rosette up for election. That was the case until Jeane Lepper (I believe it was her) beat a Tory candidate called Nicholas Gibbon! She sure made a monkey out of him …..!

Phlebotomist Denise Cobb is hoping to defend her seat in Westbourne. So busy is Denise she has little time for leisure activities other than “exercise, dance, swimming, cooking, being creative and travelling.” Standing with the Vampire is Bishop Brian, a devout member of the Church of England. Brian Oxley has managed to remain a decent guy in spite of working for Tory MPs for almost 20 years, and is a Tory for whom I have the utmost respect.

In Wish ward the Tories a fielding Garry Peltzer-Dunn. From his statement you would think he was standing for Labour or the Greens: “I have been made increasingly aware by residents that they feel that the City Council is failing to provide even basic services in a proper manner. It is essential that we return to basics and deliver the services residents want in the manner they require.” Garry, it is your party that has been running the show for the past 4 years. It is the Tories that you are saying are failing “to provide even basic services in a proper manner.”

Finally, for today, Withdean. The Barbie and Ken of Brighton politics, the Normans, are joined on the Tory ticket by Robert Nemeth, the third of Mike Weatherley’s staff seeking election. I have previously said that he is one to watch. In fact, all three of Mike’s staff (Robert, Michael Ireland and Momma Grizzly herself, Rachael Bates) have large political futures ahead of them. At some point I will do a review of young politicians locally. These are interesting times, and we have some interesting young activists who should be watched and followed.

Robert Nemeth and the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club

There are a large number of young candidates standing in May’s local elections, Rachael Bates (Momma Grizzly to her admirers and keen Sarah Palin fan), Tom French (who impressed all in last year’s St Peter’s and North Laine by-election, and Robert Nemeth. 

Several of my “spies” (as Dan Wilson calls you) have been talking about Robert Nemeth.  Robert, for those who aren’t familiar with him, was the  unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the Regency by-election in 2007 and who had come 5th in Regency in May 2007.

Robert was described by the Argus last May as a “young hopeful” who had “come to the fore”.  Robert does put himself about and is predicted to have a bright future in politics.  But he is a central player in local Conservative Party affairs.  In 2009 he succeeded Daniel Hannan MEP as chairman of the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club which, according to Daniel Hannan, “raises oodles of money from all over Sussex for the three Brighton and Hove seats”.  (Labour and Green activists take note.  This is SERIOUS fundraising with a very right wing edge).

Robert, a property developer, writes a regular architecture column, Building Opinions, in Latest Homes magazine.  In this week’s column he writes about Hollingdean: “Hollingdean began as one of the laines (fields) of the parish of Preston and was developed from the 1890’s. It is well known for the council depot and the waste transfer station beside the railway bridge.  Most interesting of all was the municipal abattoir on the same site that operated from 1894 to 1986”.

One can only assume that Robert is not standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer if that is the best he can write about Hollingdean. He could have mentioned the vibrant community around Five Ways (part of which is in Hollingdean), the golf course (and the wonderful but hidden Old Golf House), and the wonderful mixed community and schools  from the Dip, up Stevens Road, to Lynchet Close and Brentwood Road.

Robert has an admirer in an unexpected corner – Christopher Hawtree.  Christopher writes: “The Tories should have opted for Robert Nemeth in Wish rather than continue with the nationally discredited Ted Kemble. The Jason Kitcat case resonates. Garry Peltzer Dunn and Robert Nemeth would have presented a far stronger Tory case in Wish”.

So there you have it.  The future of the Tories locally is invested in the person of Robert Nemeth, and the tens of thousands being raised through the  Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club.

Jason Kitcat should be applauded for his actions not suspended from office by a non-elected panel

The decision on the “standards committee” of Brighton and Hove City Council to suspend Councillor Jason Kitcat is shameful.  The panel found that Cllr Kitcat’s use of a video from a Council meeting was “political” and improper, particularly in regard to one “highly edited” clip of an exchange between Councillor  Geoffrey Theobald and the then mayor, Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn.

I for one am disgusted that a non-elected panel can suspend a councillor who has been democratically elected.  There is such limited media coverage of the debates of councillors on the City Council that any democrat would welcome wider coverage, no matter how “political” it is.  If Cllr Kitcat has ‘spun’ the item, then confront him politically.  Don’t hide behind an undemocratic panel.  This is politics, councillors are all adults. 

If Cllr Kitcat has done wrong, the way to deal with him is next May in the Council elections. I suspect that Cllr Kitcat will be re-elected with a massive majority in Regency Ward.  He is one of the finest and most hard-working councillors in Brighton and Hove.  His reputation is enhanced by his opponents actions.

I imagine Geoffrey Theobald, who can mix it with the best of them, must be terribly embarrassed that his colleague, Councillor Ted Kemble, made the original complaint.  Geoffrey doesn’t need the protection of this undemocratic panel to hide his policies.

What amazes me is that the Council is about to deliberate about what cuts they are to make, cuts on an unprecedented level.  The Coalition Government wants public input.  How can we participate if we don’t have information and the widest diversity of views.

Jason Kitcat should be applauded for what he has done.  He shouldn’t apologise.  He should be encouraged to carry on tweeting from Council meetings and posting videos, views and information on whatever media is available.

The person who can resolve this is Geoffrey Theobald who, I know, is sufficiently experienced in politics not to allow himself to be diminished by the complaint of Cllr Kemble and the ruling of the panel.  He should say that an apology is not wanted nor called for.