Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats having a bust-up in a telephone box

What on earth is happening to the local Liberal Democrats?  They have deselect David Watkins, one of just two councillors they have on the City Council.  It is not that the Lib Dems are top of the popularity stakes just now and can afford to dispense with the service of David who is well liked and respected in Brunswick and Adelaide.

The other Lib Dem councillor, Paul Elgood, seems to be doing everything possible to attack Labour.  Could it be that he is looking to jump ship in order to join the Tories while David is looking towards Labour?  In the Argus on Tuesday, Elgood praises the Coalition Government for plans to improve post offices.  Funny, he makes no mention of proposed cuts across the public sector.  In his blog he praises Mark Collins, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Central Hove ward in next May’s city elections, who “has re-affirmed our commitment to oppose any increase in the tuition fees”.  This leaves me a bit confused.  Does Cllr Elgood not know that his Leader, Nick Clegg, is justifying an increase in tuition fees as “progressive”?  Is he not aware that public anger is focused well and truly at the Lib Dems for betraying the commitment to vote against any increase in tuition fees?

Roll on May 2011.  It will be “farewell, Liberal Democrats in Brighton and Hove” (and in many places across the country).

Is Marina Pepper about to join the campaign in Brighton Pavilion?

I have heard from several sources that the Lib Dems are on the verge of appointing Marina Pepper as their candidate in Brighton Pavilion.  Ms Pepper would certainly add colour, if not depth, to the campaign.  She has identified herself in the past as a white witch, was (according to Wikipedia) Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for March 1987, and has ‘walked out’ with the likes of Matthew Freud and Daniel Craig!

Welcome to the Brighton Politics Celebrity Spotter (Jo Brooks will be proud!).

Politically, and in more recent years, she has been a serious politician, councillor and energetic environmental campaigner. 

She served in 2006 as Chairman of Lewes District Council, where she represented the East Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs. She lost her seat on May 3, 2007 when she was defeated by he Tories.

She has also served as the mayor of Telscombe and in the 2005 general election she stood (unsuccessfully) in Brighton Kemptown as a Liberal Democrat. She has been quoted by BBC News as saying, somewhat facetiously, “I’m not sure Page Three girls can become MPs”.

The truth is that it has nothing to do with her being a former model.  She won’t get elected in Brighton Pavilion because the Lib Dems don’t have any chance of finishing higher than fourth in the constituency.

If she is considering standing I would appeal to her not to, and for her to appeal to all Lib Dems in Brighton Pavilion to vote tactically for Caroline Lucas.

Desperation from class conscious David Cameron: Appeal to Lib Dems is “vacuous spin” that fools nobody

How must you feel if you are an honest, long standing Liberal Democrat?  David Cameron has urged the Liberal Democrats to focus on the similarities between their two parties, that there was a “lot less disagreement than there used to be” between his party and the Lib Dems and that he doesn’t think that “we should invent differences where there aren’t differences”.

If this is part of a co-ordinated plan nobody has told Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s chief of staff Danny Alexander who told the BBC that, “This kind of vacuous spin is fooling nobody. David Cameron seems to be confused about what a fairer Britain means.  For the Liberal Democrats it means cutting taxes for the lowest-paid, for him it means cutting them for millionaires.  ….. the Conservatives cannot be trusted where fairness is concerned.”

If this has not been co-ordinated, it is a sign of desperation from the Tory leader. His poll numbers remain soft and his lead is eroding while, in today’s Observer, it is reported that Labour’s vote is hardening.

There was a great article by John Harris in the Guardian on 8th December  that said “It was all looking so good for the Tories: an assured leader taunting a government in tatters. But recently, criticisms of David Cameron’s background and his party’s inconsistency have hit home.  Now the prospect of a Conservative landslide seems to have disappeared”.

The real Achilles Heel for the Tories is class. They are embarrassed by Cameron’s background, of the double-barreled surnames, the nom-doms.  Ipsos MORI’s Ben Page says that Cameron’s background is an issue, that ordinary people believe that he cannot be “in touch” with them and that he cannot know about their lives.

In Brighton Pavilion class will be an issue. Chuck Vere, in spite of my attempts to educate her on Brighton bus routes, will be seen as a London-based Tory, not in touch with issues facing ordinary people in Brighton. Caroline Lucas, while addressing the distance that some perceive she has from ordinary community issues locally, is torn between Brussels and Brighton, a factor that singularly undermines her electability locally.  Nancy Platts wins hands down on these issues, but remains seriously disadvantaged by being the Labour candidate. Any one of these impressive women would make an excellent MP, but each has to overcome these burdens if they are to cross the winning line in front of the other two.

The Lib Dems are an irrelevance in Brighton and Hove

I was asked the other day why I never mention the Lib Dems in this blog.  I do, actually, having called for tactical voting for the Lib Dems in Lewes (for Norman Baker MP) and in Eastbourne, to name just two areas.  It is true that I completely ignore them in Brighton and Hove because, putting it quite simply, the Lib Dems are a joke in the City.

Recently, all parties on the Council were asked to be part of a campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer. Women representatives of all parties took part, along with the Mayor, Cllr Anne Norman.  That is all except the Lib Dems who were represented by a male councillor because they don’t have any women on the Council.

Boasting just two councillors (and neither are much to boast about), the ‘third Party’ has yet to select parliamentry candidates in any of the three Brighton and Hove seats.  I may be wrong on this, but if they have it shows just how ineffective and invisible they have been.

In Brighton itself, the Lib Dems have not a single councillor and look unlikely to gain any for the foreseeable future. The Lib Dems have ceased to be a national party and should accept that in areas such as Brighton and Hove they are an irrelevance.  I hope that they don’t field a candidate in any of the Brighton and Hove seats, and urge their supporters to vote either Labour or Green. It will help to ensure that non-Conservatives are elected, ideally from all three seats.

Vote for Alex Phillips in Goldsmid by-election on 23rd July

The Goldsmid by-election is just under four weeks away. This by-election could well change the control of the City Council if the Tories lose the seat. The ‘left’ vote could be split between Labour and the Greens, thereby allowing the Tories to retain the seat and thus the Council itself. The outcome of this by-election, therefore, is of critical importance to the whole of Brighton and Hove.

This week I have spent time with councillors from all three major Brighton parties (I do not include the Liberal Democrats in this).

The Conservatives seemed resigned to defeat. The behaviour of its former councillor and a lack of decisiveness by Mary Mears in dealing with him has undermined the credibility of their campaign, although they retain hope for a split in the non-Conservative vote..

Labour continues to delude itself that it is offering a credible alternative. It is running a lacklustre campaign. There is little enthusiasm for its candidate, Liz Telcs, and there is no evidence of a united party, with those backing Telcs being seen as divisive and sectarian.

The Greens, on the other hand, are displaying the enthusiasm that characterised Labour in Brighton in the 1980s, a party knowing it is on the threshold of an historic breakthrough. Its candidate, Alex Phillips, is very engaging, energetic, and enjoys the enthusiastic support of her local party.

How I wish Labour could regain its lost soul and sense of purpose. Until it does, and it won’t be in time for the Goldsmid by-election (and probably not in time for the general election next year), the recommendation of this blog is for all Labour and Lib Dem’s to vote for Alex Phillips on the 23rd July.