Will Labour have any councillors in Kemptown after May 5th?

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke asks “What odds that the Labour Party have NO councillors in Brighton Kemptown after May 5th? (including East Saltdean, Telscombe Cliffs and Peacehaven). 30 Town councillors, 9 district councillors and 14 City councillors are up for grabs (the two conservative held County council seats are not up for election this year).”

No way, says the attractive Craig Turton: “Unlikely I’d say based on canvass returns and door step reactions. Certainly in EB there has been a level of voter enthusiasm for Labour which I can’t recall before in 2003 or 2007, eg; being asked for posters to display unprompted. QP colleagues tell a similar story.”

Sugar Puff addict, Warren Morgan, agrees with Craig: “No, no blue/red coalition (said in my calmest voice). Yes, there will be Labour councillors in Brighton Kemptown after May 6th, between 7 and 9 I predict. Hanover…I can’t remember seeing Labour posters on Elm Grove last April, but they are there now.”

Of course there will be Labour councillors left in Kemptown after the elections. The aforesaid Morgan and Turton, along with Gill Mitchell, will all be re-elected with thumping majorities in East Brighton. (I have this image of Warren and Craig, together with two of the Tory candidates for the area, Peter Booth and Kelvin Poplett, not a hair on their head between them, tucking into bowls of Sugar Puffs – how surreal is that?).

Labour is making a mark on the campaign in Queens Park, but the record of the Green councillors over the last four years should see them through, even though two of the sitting councillors are standing down. Expect Ben Duncan, who scraped in last time, to top the poll this time. It is possible that Queens Park might produce a split result, with one Labour candidate being elected. My money, though, remains with a Green 1, 2, 3.

Warren points to Labour posters in Elm Grove which is, I believe, still in Brighton Pavilion. Correct me if I am wrong.

And then there is Moulsecoomb and Bevendean (or Moulsecomb, as Labour continues to spell it on their website). This ward is currently split, with Labour councillors Mo Marsh and Anne Meadows, and the Tory councillor, Maria Caulfield. My judgement might go AWOL when confronted by Marsh, Meadows and Caulfield (don’t get me started on Jeane Lepper …), but I think the lovely Ayas Fallon-Khan and Maria will prevail. In a change from previous predictions, Cath Slater and Anne Meadows will be neck and neck, and I think Anne might just inch it.

So, in reply to the Ghost, yes, there will be Labour councillors in Kemptown on May 6th. I predict that there will be four of them.

You think Moulsecoomb and Bevendean could go Tory, or Labour, even Green, in May’s local elections

Last night’s prediction that the Conservatives may win all three seats in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean has prompted an interesting response. No surprise that Peter Booth, Tory candidate in East Brighton agrees with my prediction: “Completely agree with your assessment in Moulsecoomb & Bevendean. Maria is a hard-working and popular Councillor and is joined in this campaign by Ayas Fallon-Khan who has gained a solid reputation on Council – and predict all 3 Conservatives will win through.”  Baron Pepperpot (flattery will get you nowhere with me!) couldn’t disagree more: “three Tories in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean? At a time when the cuts will start to bite?”

Allie Cannell makes a prediction that I don’t see as likely: “I’m predicting the Greens will get a seat in M&S. There are over 2,000 students just living in University residences there.   Thats not even counting all the students living in private accomodation.”  The problem with that view is that students are not that likely to turn out in large volumes in a Kemptown seat, even for Green candidates in a local election.  If I am wrong, then all bets are off regarding the final make-up of the Council.  3 Green candidates in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean would suggest major gains by the Greens across the city.  Allie is not alone, Christopher Hawtree is predicting that “the Greens could do well in Moulescoomb.”

Kelvin Poplett, another East Brighton Conservative, says: “Surprisingly- I wholeheartedly agree with Peter Booth. From our time spent knocking on the doors in traditional Labour areas, we are finding Conservatives everywhere. Through sheer hard work we may just surprise you.”  You would surprise me if you found enough Tory votes to unseat Mitchell, Turton and Morgan. Peter Booth says that the Tories in East Brighton “are David against Goliath – Yes we oppose your particular favourite (and that favouritism does shine through in your blog) but do not under-estimate the campaign of East Brighton Conservatives – who are all in this campaign – fighting for every vote until 10pm on 5th May, and who may just surprise you and your friend Mr Morgan. There are no no-go areas in East Brighton for EB Conservatives!”  I have no favourites (other than Green Amy but she never writes, never calls – thanks to Dan Wilson for that line).

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke asks: “Is Mr Morgan rattled I wonder!, This ward has never been worked by the tories has it Peter?”.  Actually, that’s not true and it did go Tory in the early 1990s when it was Marine Ward.

My “favourite” Warren Morgan, draws attention to the fall-out in 2007 from the stock transfer issue that so damaged Labour: “Woodingdean looks pretty safe for the Tories based on the 2007 results, but interestingly the ward was split three ways at the GE count with the Lib Dem matching Simons Burgess and Kirby.  The traditionally strong Labour vote in Woodingdean (we did win a seat there in the 90s) was artificially depressed there in 2007 by the stock transfer vote fallout, as it was in Portslade, Moulsecoomb and Queens Park. Geoff is busy being mayor and Dee is busy with Cabinet duties which may explain DAPs comment above. We’ve selected some keen, new candidates both there and in Rottingdean Coastal, all hopeful of putting up a good campaign and earning safer seats next time (as BPB said in an earlier post). And complacency is a stealthy enemy in politics, as some of my colleagues found out last time.  Don’t forget in Moulsecoomb & Bevendean that the Respect candidate Dave Bangs scored over 300 votes last time (equivalent to a constituency wide Respect/Socialist vote at a GE) capitalising on the stock transfer issue, and with what he portrayed as the endorsement of two retiring councillors. And yes, the students will be a factor, particularly if they vote tactically for Labour rather than the Greens who are not in contention in M&B.”

Clive points to another issue that damaged Labour in 2007: “Another elephant that is no longer in the room is the King Alfred. Last time, this surely helped the Tories in Westbourne, Central Hove and (to a lesser extent) Goldsmid.”  He also points out the state of the parties in national polls: “the national opinion polls in April 2007 – just before the last local elections – were, taking a rough average of all taken: Conservative 37, Labour 31, LD 19. Therefore it’s hard not to conceive of Labour enjoying some kind of general uplift given that they are now polling around ten points ahead of that.”  The counter argument to that, Clive, at least in Brighton Pavilion, is the Caroline Effect and how that constituency should be seen apart from the national position.

The good Baron agrees with my assessment for Queens Park where he lives, that “it’s too close to call, but I’m not sure you’re right about which Labour candidate would be returned in the event of a split vote.”

Finally, a couple of comments have been left on this blog earlier today which are not in the spirit of debate and friendly provocation.  I haven’t approved one as it may contain a libel or two, and I have removed another offending reference in another.  Please keep to the spirit of the blog.  I really don’t want to have to moderate comments left.

Doorstep Brighton 16: The Nasty Party is alive and well and living in East Brighton

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Doorstep Brighton 5: Secret Tories, Public Tories and the neo-deity Christopher Hawtree

 I am grateful to ‘steampunk’ for his appraisal of the Labour candidates in Goldsmid: “Nigel Jenner previously managed the council youth service, and while I haven’t worked with him personally  – on paper that’s a respectable credential. I suspect Labour will give Liz Telcs higher billing though.” 

On the Greens, Steampunk says: “Alex Phillips is one of the most energetic personalities in the Green Party today, and her exuberance could just give her team enough momentum to take a second seat in the ward. Ruth Buckley would bring a refreshing down-to-earth perspective to the council by virtue of not being a career politician and I would like to see her elected.”

As for the prospects of the parties, Steampunk says: “The Greens certainly have a better chance than Labour of taking the remaining Tory seat, but even so I think it is a tall order and more likely the status quo will prevail, one apiece in Goldsmid to Greens, Conservatives and Labour.”

Is Chris Hawtree a minor deity? He seems to be omnipresent and clearly works in mysterious ways!  He has been campaigning in Hollingdean, Patcham, Goldsmid, Brunswick and Adelaide, Portslade South, even Rottingdean Coastal where he is on the verge of unseating Mary Mears! But as always he offers very interesting and valuable insights.  In Goldsmid he writes:  “I sense rising support for the Greens in Goldsmid tho’ there is recognition that Melanie Davis has been diligent. Liz Telcs came across poorly in the by election.” Labour councillor Craig Turton reports that Labour’s team in Goldsmid, Lis Telcs, Melanie Davis and Nigel Jenner, have been knocking on doors and speaking to Goldsmid residents “months before the Greens even selected their candidates” and he promises a new Labour (he stresses not New Labour) website soon.

As for the Tories in Goldsmid, ‘Clive’ says the Tories have selected three candidate and that they are easily ‘googleable’. I tried but without joy.  Perhaps Clive can tell us more about Huey, Dewey and Louie. He does say that “they all look like estate agents, and will no doubt run their usual under-the-radar campaign, hoping that the core vote is enough to defeat a divided opposition.” 

Mr Hawtree points out that in Brunswick and Adelaide Labour voters are realising that the best way to get at the Coalition is to vote tactically for the Greens, not least because, as he says, “Labour has given up on Brunswick, there could be more such votes”.

An unknown factor in Brunswick and Adelaide is the candidacy of David Watkins.  The former Lib Dem is yet to announce whether he intends to stand.  Watkins has no organisation behind him, and he stands little if any chance of winning. If he does stand, he will draw some support from the Lib Dems, most crucially from Paul Elgood.  Even 100 votes leaking away from Elgood could see a Green clean sweep.

Chris Hawtree says that there is not much sign of Tories canvasing anywhere.  But don’t be deceived, the Tories never have the same street presence as Labour, the Greens or the party once known as the Lib Dems. 

In Patcham, the first mention of this ward in Doorstep Brighton, the Greens have been out canvassing.  The Greens did surprisingly well in Patcham at the general election but it would take a shift of Egyptian proportions to see the back of Geoffrey and Carol Theobald.

Can I extend a warm, if brief, welcome to the Conservative candidates in East Brighton, Kelvin Poplett, Chris Sandland and Peter Booth.  They have established an impressive website www.eastbrighton2011.com and seem well organised. No doubt they will do well in Roedean Bottom and on The Cliff, but along Whitehawk Way … ?  They may have the common touch but they ain’t Mary Mears.

Finally, Dan Wilson reprimands me for failing to report on the Labour campaign in Wish ward: “There’s been some great campaigning by Labour in Wish ward these past weeks” he writes. I stand corrected but I’m not sure of how he addresses me – ‘Bappy’.  I can cope with BPB and ‘Baps’ (credit here to the lovely Chuck Vere and a moniker adopted for me by Momma Grizzly, Rachael Bates), but Bappy, sounds like ‘Nappy’, but then some people think I’m full of …….