Doorstep Brighton 9: A Round Up of Campaigning for May’s Local Elections

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke has an interesting take on Hollingdean and Stanmer which will bring joy to the heart of Momma Grizzly (Rachael Bates).  The Ghost believes that the Green’s Sven Rufus will do well enough in Hollingdean and Stanmer to take enough votes away from the Labour candidates (Jeane Lepper, Pat Hawkes and Christine Simpson) to allow one Tory through the middle.  If this was to be the case, then it would be Christine Simpson who would lose out (little known and disadvantaged by the order on the ballot paper) and Momma Grizzly would emerge victorious given that she would be the Tory at the top of the ballot paper (the other Tories being Robert Labs and Patrick Loewe).  However, I really don’t think that scenario will be played out.  If there is to be a split result, it will be Sven Rufus and Jeane Lepper elected, and choose one other from several.

Dan Wilson is convinced that the electorate won’t be fooled by the 1% cut in Council Tax.  They are, he says, smarter than Mary Mears or I give them credit for.  However, he thinks that the cost of parking permits may be more successful: “I think if you want to compare the Mearcon to a masterplan, looking at her move on resident parking is more persuasive. That’s clever, attractive to many and also brassy in its cynicism. Straw poll today and last evening is that a 1% decrease is of little interest. Plenty of people, however, are concerned about libraries, BrightStart and all manner of things.”  Christopher Hawtree agrees with Dan: “I have never heard anybody voice a particular objection to the Council tax.”  I think you are both probably right, but the 1% cut will have the effect of galvanizing Tory activists who seem excited by this measure.  I guess they need to be excited about something as the Big Society doesn’t quite seem to have motivated the troops.

Steampunk accuses me of attempting to “stir things ups amongst the opposition” which he says “are a distraction just now.”  Regarding the cuts he says “As you well know, the Conservative led council are implementing an ‘intelligent decomissioning’ process (conveniently timetabled to start after the election!) to decide which services to stop providing entirely and which ones to outsource to the lowest bidder. The budget proposal explains that these upcoming cuts won’t take full effect until the next financial year 2012/13 so the 250 jobs about to go are just the tip of the iceberg. The ‘intelligent’ part is the device by which every council service comes to be commissioned, either from the public sector, profit-motivated private sector or the voluntary sector (crippled by grant cuts despite warm words about the ‘big society’, and the empty invitation just a smoke screen for privatisation) – meaning that future job cuts will be dissembled.”  I agree with much of what Punky has said.  As for stirring things up in the opposition, that is not my intention, but I see little evidence of Labour being willing and able to work with the Greens.

Clive applauds Steampunks analysis, but has no kind work for your humble Blogger: “Remarkable that the BPB regards all this with chuckling indulgence, while still finding space to heap more abuse on Paul Elgood. If he isn’t Roy Pennington he might be Reg Prentice.”  Well, Clive, sometimes you have to laugh or else you’d cry.  I don’t mean to belittle what is happening to local government, the voluntary sector, the NHS, education, etc. etc.  Reg Prentice? Ouch!  As for Paul Elgood, can’t a boy/girl just have a little bit of fun.  What do others think?  Should I lay off Paul Elgood and the Lib Dems?  Your choice.  I could either ignore them completely for the relevance they are, or should I continue to make reference to their slow, well deserved demise?

On the Reg Prentice front, I have attracted support from an East Brighton Tory candidate, Peter Booth, who is determined to ruin my street credibility!  He writes that he fully agrees with my view that it will be great when it is no longer necessary to mention the sexual orientation of candidates. He writes: “The combined ‘left’ just do not see that this is not an issue anymore (well not in our party). Try NOT to live in the past. After all there are more openly gay Conservative MP’s than all other parties put together. For the record and before the criticisms start – 100% of the Conservative candidates standing in East Brighton are openly gay.”

Simon Williams, a very fine former Green councillor in Brighton and Hove, and someone for whom I have great respect, offers a very sensible response to my comment regarding the announcement by the Greens of their LGBT candidates: You need to remember they are talking to people in those groups probably more than to the wider ‘world’. Were we to enter some kind of prejudice free paradise where minority groups could feel safe and valued (we haven’t quite yet in the case of LGBT people despite many legal advances), it would still be important for progressive political parties to engage with and showcase their commitment to them. Announcing candidates who identify from these communities is a big part of that. Rather than see it as a defensive reaction against prejudice, progressive commentators should take pride in the fact that all the local main parties are courting these groups – it’s what makes local democratic politics tick. You suggest that LGBT population is more than 16% in Brighton & Hove. There’s no verifiable demographic measurement, obviously, but if you challenged me to a wager, I think 16%, as a finger in the air take, is about right.”  As expected, a thoughtful, insightful comment from Simon.  I would not wish to take issue with what he has said.
And finally, the innocent Christopher Hawtree is in a state of shock after being received by a naked lady.  I’m not sure who was the most excited by this encounter.  Certainly not excited by their encounter with this blog are those who are Googling ‘sex photo’ or ‘explicit sex photo’ and are being directed to the rather revealing picture of me posing in the shadows of Big Ben, wearing just a sheet and a rather alluring smile ….  Reg Prentice would certainly not approve!

There is no support for designating St James Street as the Gay Village of Brighton

I am surprised that my post earlier today, saying that the St James Street area should not become the Gay Village of Brighton,  has received almost no reaction. Apart from a comment of support from Tory candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Chuck Vere, there has been nothing!

There are two possible reasons for this: a) everyone has been too busy with X-factor; b) this is the case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.  It is the done thing to say that the area is the Gay Village but in reality there isn’t the groundswell of opinion in favour of it.

So let’s drop the idea once and for all, for the reasons outlined in my earlier post.

Why St James Street should not become the Gay Village of Brighton

One of the great things about Brighton and Hove is the comfortable way different communities can live alongside each other. There is little strife between communities, and this is something that we should cherished and protect.

St James Street has long been identified as an area with a high concentration of facilities for lesbian women and gay men, and many from the LGBT communities choose to live in the area adjacent to the Kemptown seafront.

Recently there have been calls to have the area designated as they Gay Village of Brighton. A community at ease with itself and with others does not require such a designation. It would set a precedent that many have resisted over many years. I recall the National Front trying to label the Palmeira Square area as the “Jewish neighbourhood” in Hove. While no direct comparison would be appropriate, it does allow others with divisive and dangerous tendencies to scapegoat and target its residents.

And by designating an area for one particular section of our community, there is the unintended consequence of excluding others who have long had it as their home or those who wish to make it their home.

I want to see the whole of Brighton and Hove being the area where lesbian women and gay men feel at home, where they may feel safe and secure, and where they and their neighbours can enjoy the distinct qualities of the diverse communities who enrich this City.

Charlotte Vere’s selection is threat to Caroline Lucas

Sometimes I get it wrong, sometimes I get it wrong BIG time. I got it wrong big time over the Tory selection in Brighton Pavilion.

First of all, congratulations to Charlotte Vere on her selection. And I aologise for labelling her and others as ‘lame donkeys’. It was a cheap shot and unworthy.

Within hours of her selection I received a very gracious message from Charlotte. So again, congratulations and apologies.

Her selection is excellent news for Brighton Pavilion. It guarantees a woman Member of Parliament for the first time in its history.

The election campaign itself will be fascinating with three extremely able women candidates in Nancy Platts (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green), and now Charlotte Vere.

The contrast between the campaigns to be run in the 2 Brighton seats could not be greater. In Brighton Kemptown the three main parties are likely to field men who will aim (and are already trying) to out do each other in pursuit of the gay male vote.

Green issues, amongst various social issues, are likely to dominate the Brighton Pavilion campaign.

But class issues, cuts in jobs and services, and poverty are likely to feature prominently as well.

The selection of Charlotte Vere will, ironically, weaken Caroline Lucas’ campaign (to the advantage of Nancy Platts) given Charlotte’ credentials as an environmental campaigner and her close relationship with Zac Goldsmith.

Right of centre environmentalists can stay true to form by voting for a green Tory. The green vote is in danger of being fatally diluted.