No Green/Red coalition in Brighton and Hove, and the Tories eye up 2015

The only consolation, if that is the right word, for some Labour and Tory activists following their joint defeat on Thursday is an element of glee that the Greens will be forced to make cuts. What a bizarre and sad reaction. What does it say about a politician that they can take any pleasure from seeing cuts being made? Take Momma Grizzly, Rachael Bates, she has said on Twitter: “Can’t wait to see the Greens having to make the cuts they said they’d never make.”

Such a reaction can be put down to one of two things, a bad reaction to defeat, or a deeply rooted ideological commitment to cuts and small government. Grizzly is an interesting Tory Party activist, the kind on the ascendancy within the Tory Party. And the group of young Tories who stood for election last Thursday (Robert Nemeth, Rachael Bates, and to a lesser extent Rob Buckley, Michael Ireland, Kerry Underhill, Rob McFarlane and Georgina Dore) are from that wing of the party that is ideologically committed to ‘small government/big society’, activists who are social libertarian and economically hardline (in the George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg mould).

It is likely that this ‘Magnificent Seven’ (irony is not my most attractive characteristic) will stand again in 2015, but in safer Tory seats. 2015 will see another lage turnover of Tory councillors – the Normans will stand down in Withdene (where Rob Nemeth somehow managed to lose the seat for the Tories), so too may the Theobalds along with Brian Pidgeon in Pacham, and several of the Hove Tories will call it a day. Expect the Seven to secure nominations in these seats and, if elected, see the Tory group move sharply to the right. Several of the Seven are closely associated with Hove MP, Mike Weatherley. Grizzly tells me that all seven are in fine fettle.

Meanwhile, Labour is repoted to have rejected a coalition with the Greens on the Council. Gill Mitchell, leader of the Labour group, offered qualified support. She said: “With the Greens having 23 seats they are clearly able to form a minority administration to run the council. Labour successfully ran the council with the same number of seats between 2003 and 2007 and the Conservatives governed with 26 seats for the past four years. So it is right that the Greens, as clear winners, are given the opportunity to implement their manifesto in the same way. We will support the Greens where they bring forward sensible proposals in the best interests of the city as well as being an effective and challenging opposition when we think they are getting things wrong.”

One of Labour’s unsuccessful candidates, James Asser (who stood in Regency Ward) said: “It’s the right decision and everyone I’ve spoken to agrees.” (James is one reason why Labour can have some optimism for the future – very personable and engaging).

Warren Morgan has commented that no coalition has been offered, that the Greens don’t need one. “They won more seats than Tories & the right to implement own manifesto.”

As for the Greens, many are nursing sore heads this morning after celebrating long and hard on Friday evening at the Sussex Cricketer and again last night at 112 Church Road. For my part, I could be seen strutting my stuff at Abandoned until the wee small hours ….

The Greens are yet to reach their peak – next stop Hove and Portslade

I thought that the Greens would do well in Thursday’s elections, and they did. But I had doubts where that Party goes next. I felt that there were certain limitations to their reach. I was sure that the Geens would extend their reach to the maximum at this election, and then the challenge would be to hold that position at the next general election (no difficulty there) but defending their council seats might be a challenge. I have changed my mind because of the results on Thursday.

In Brighon Pavilion, the Greens are now challenging in the Tory heartlands. The Normans, Anne and Ken, will not stand again in Withdene and the Greens, having won one seat and having come close in a second, will have high hopes of winning all 3 seats in May 2015. In Hollingdean and Stanmer, Jeane Lepper, now the sole Labour councillor in Brighton Pavilion, will not stand again, leaving the way open for Luke Walter to join Sven Rufus and Christina Summers on the Council.

And there is the final frontier, Pacham. The Theobald Machine held firm once more, but with a local council election being held on the same day as a probable general election, everything is up for grabs. And will any of the current three councillors stand again? Brian Pidgeon will retire, and Carol and Geoffrey Theobald must be considering when it will be the right time to call time.

Three years and 363 days out I am making this prediction – the Greens will win EVERY seat in Brighton Pavilion in 2015.

I will comment on Brighton Kemptown at a later date, but I think that, for the Greens, Hove and Portslade is where their future lies. After Thursday, the Greens have 6 seats, Labour have 6, and the Tories 8 seats. The Greens have consolidated its first and only seat in Goldsmid where Alex Phillips led a strong campaign to win a seat off the Tories and to defeat Melanie Davis who was a strong candidate and respected councillor.

But it is Christopher Hawtree’s breakthrough in Central Hove that changes everything. That single gain shows what is possible, and the Greens must already have begun to eye Westbourne, Wish, and the other seat in Central Hove. The Portslades, North and South, have similar demographics to Hollingdean and Stanmer, and both will become vulnerable should (as is likely) both Bob Carden and Les Hamilton stand down in 2015.

And then there is Hangleton and Knoll, a large ward which, again, like Hollingdean and Stanmer, is an area where the Greens could thrive. Dawn Barnett and Brian Fitch are no longer spring chickens, and won’t go on and on and on. Does Brian have another campaign in him (probably) but will he want to be a councillor, should he be re-elected in 2015, will be approaching 80 at the end of that term in office.

So why all this speculation about 2015? If the Greens begin building in Hove, establishing a local organisation in each of these wards (don’t fall for Labour’s mistake and run everything from a High Command), and get a dynamic parliamentary candidate in place sooner rather than later, who can support, motivate, encourage, nurture the party in Hove, then there will be a further Caroline Effect, although it could come to be known as the Alex Effect …..

Reasons to be Cheerful … for 39 candidates in Thursday’s elections

‘Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3’ by Ian Dury and the Blockheads was released in July 1979, shortly after Margaret Thatcher had been elected Prime Minister. Cut, cut, and more cuts was the order of the day. On that occasions the Tories were able to make cuts to their hearts content. They didn’t have to rely on those disgraceful, turncoats, the Lib Dems, to help them. (I have gone for more than a week without a cheap comment about the Lib Dems – is this a record?).

But there are a number of people, 39 to be precise, who have reasons to be cheerful – those who I am confident will be elected (whatever the weather and their positions on the ballot papers). Some campaigns are too close to call, and in some wards I am only predicting one or two winners. The figures in brackets are the number of seatsup for election.

Brunswick & Adelaide (2) – too close to call

Central Hove (2) – too close to call

East Brighton (3) – a Labour 1, 2, 3: Gill Mitchell, Warren Morgan, Craig Turton

Goldsmid (3) – Melanie Davis, Alex Phillips (Labour, Green)

Hangleton & Knoll (3) – Dawn Barnett, Brian Fitch (Tory, Labour)

Hanover & Elm Grove (3) – a Green 1, 2, 3: Matt Follett, Bill Randall, Liz Wakefield

Hollingdean & Stanmer (3) – Jeane Lepper, Sven Rufus, Christina Summers (Labour, Green, Green)

Hove Park (2) – a Tory 1, 2: Jayne Bennett, Vanessa Brown

Moulsecoomb & Bevendean (3) – Maria Caulfield, Ayas Fallon-Khan (Tory, Tory)

North Portslade (2) – Bob Carden (Labour)

Patcham (3) – a Tory 1, 2, 3: Brian Pidgeon, Carol Theobald, Geoffrey Theobald

Preston Park (3) – Amy Kennedy (Green)

Queen’s Park (3) – Ben Duncan (Green)

Regency (2) – a Green 1, 2: Ania Kitcat, Jason Kitcat

Rottingdean Coastal (3) – a Tory 1, 2, 3: Lynda Hyde, Mary Mears, David Smith

South Portslade (2) – Les Hamilton (Labour)

St Peter’s & North Laine (3) – a Green 1, 2, 3: Ian Davey, Lizzie Deane, Pete West

Westbourne (2) – a Tory 1, 2: Denise Cobb, Brian Oxley

Wish (2) – too close to call

Withdean (3) – a Tory 1, 2, 3: Robert Nemeth, Ann Norman, Ken Norman,

Woodingdean (2) – a Tory 1, 2: Dee Simpson, Geoff Wells

In summary, the above predictions will see elected 8 Labour councillors, 13 Green, and 18 Tories. That leaves 15 seats that are too close to call. Privately, just between me and you, my four regular readers, I predict 8 of these will go Green, 3 to the Tories, and 4 Labour. A hung council made up of 21 Greens, 21 Tories, and 12 Labour councillors. A nightmare scenario for many ….!

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.

Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder

Noel Coward once sent Winston Churchill tickets for the first night  of his latest play together with a message, “Dear Mr Churchill, here are two tickets for the first night of my play, a ticket for you and a ticket for a friend (if you have one)”.  Churchill returned the tickets with the following message: “Dear Mr Coward, unfortunately I can’t make the first night of the play but would like to attend the second night (if you have one)”.  I am reminded of this by a comment from the Beast of Regency, Dan Wilson, who poses the tedious questions “Where DOES Caroline Lucas actually live?  It’s a question Bappy won’t answer because it will annoy his Green mates. But we should be told!”

‘Bappy’ is one of the names I am called.  As for Dan’s question, to be honest I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care as long as she is around and about in Brighton Pavilion regularly, which she is, that she is available to her constituents, which she is, and that she represents them in parliament, which she does.  As for my ‘Green mates’, you assume I have mates in the first place, and secondly that they are Greens.  As it happens, unlike Churchill, I do have a friend.  Actually more than one, but as far as I am aware just one is a Green (and a Green councillor as it happens).  As a former Labour activists, many of my friends are current or former Labour Party members.

But more important than my impoverished social life is the local election campaign.  Here are some more updates from Doorstep Brighton:

Christopher Hawtree, more than a mere mortal, is so confident that he will unseat Mary Mears in Rottingdean Coastal that he is now targeting Fortress Withdean. He writes: “After going to Preston Park station this morning, I had a stroll around North Withdean. An interesting area, and all the more so when Ken and Ann Norman went by in a wagon, with two hairy dogs, and wound down the window in some puzzlement. They said that they are “friendly”, which I do not doubt, and seemed to wonder what I made of their territory; I do not think that they themselves are territory: they are unlikely to challenge one to a duel, but it does look as if Withdean is hotting up.” I am sure that Ken and Ann are quacking in their boots, not to mention the imminent derailing of the sparkling political career of Robert Nemeth.

‘Steampunk’ has reacted against Dan Wilson’s critique of Green councillors who he dismisses as “gap year … Greenos who chuck it in after one term”.  Steampunk writes: “Nothing wrong with young people devoting 4 years to serve their community before returning to families, careers and education. And I would venture that Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder compared to elected members of other parties who can afford to just fade into the background”.  I put that quote in so not to upset my Green friend.  I am sure that Labour, Tory and even Lib Dem activists might wish to respond to Steampunk on that observation. I know councillors in all parties that work incredibly hard, well beyond the European Directive on Working Hours.  They are decent, hard-working individuals who should get better paid, if you ask me.

As the battle for East Brighton hots up, I paraded my ignorance of the area by referring to two areas that are in Rottingdean Coastal and not in East Brighton.  Labour councillor Warren Morgan, who I was talking to at an event before Christmas, responded: “I’m happy for the East Brighton Tories to do well in Roedean and The Cliff – neither is in East Brighton ward…”. Peter Booth, one of the three Tory candidates, is united with Dan Wilson: “Roedean and The Cliff are of course in Rottingdean Coastal. We have been active in Whitehawk Way and Whitehawk Road today as our Facebook site East Brighton Conservatives will reveal! Our stay will not be brief!….and of course there is only one Mary Mears! (Thank you for considering us in her league!)”.  Actually, I don’t!

After my dig at the anonymous Goldsmid Conservatives, ‘Clive’ has directed me to their Facebook page. And there they are, the Tories’ Goldsmid council candidates – Adam Love, Debra Livingstone-Wade and Rob Buckwell.  You will not be surprised to hear them say that they “are working hard for the residents and community in Goldsmid ward.  Their priorities to improve the lives of people living in Goldsmid are: 1. Keeping council tax low; 2. Cleaner, safer neighbourhoods; 3. More school places for local children”.  If you are sad like me, with no friends, or “if you have a problem you’d like them to look into, or would like to get involved in the Goldsmid Conservatives, they’d love to hear from you.”  I’ll be on the phone to them first thing!

Regarding the irrepressible Ayas Fallon-Khan, Clive says that it “strikes me that the departure of Mr Fallon-Khan (touted on here as a deselection, not sure on what evidence) might indicate that they are not expecting to win this ward.”  Both are possible.  The Tories may well be divided and Ayas was deselected, AND the Tories have given up leaving the ward to these three estate-agent look-a-likes.

In Brunswick and Adelaide, ‘Andy’ thinks that “the Lib-Dems have increased their chances of holding their seat by ditching (David) Watkins. Watkins was good at turning up for dull council meetings, but not much else. He was never seen out canvassing or at local meetings.”  I don’t agree.  He will have some loyalty votes and some people won’t like what Paul Elgood has done to him.  This could cost Elgood a hundred or so votes and that could cost him the election.  What is more likely is that the Lib Dems, at just 8% in the polls, will be destroyed.  Steampunk says that he has “heard from two separate sources that Watkins is indeed intending to stand as an independent in May, if only to spite his ex-colleagues in the Lib Dems who have betrayed him.”

I also heard this week from the much loved, much missed, much lamented Chuck Vere regarding Rachael Bates.  Chuck writes of Momma Grizzly: “I hope she wins (in Hollingdean and Stanmer) – she has the balls to fight for residents & won’t waste time making empty promises whilst delivering nothing”.

And finally, a welcome to a new blog, from Sussex Socialist Resistance, that describes itself as the ‘Fourth International in Britain’.  Hang on, I thought that mantle was with the Socialist Workers Party, or is it the People’s Front for the Liberation of Judea? Perhaps it was the Judean Peoples Front for … I give up.  Just ask Monty Python.