Mike Weatherley saves Hove Library

Previously on this blog I have mentioned a veteran Labour councillor who has made a successful political career from his tireless campaigning to save bus routes faced with the axe. As a councillor for Hanover ward in the 1980’s he regularly saved the bus that runs (ran?) up Southover Street, the number 38, I seem to recall. He will remain nameless, but I did speculate in the run up to May’s local elections as to whether he would campaign to save the number 5 to Hangleton where he was standing.

This is how it works. Draw attention to a popular service, like a bus route. Tell everyone that it is under threat. Launch a petition. Get publicity. Then, in due course, announce that the campaign has been successful. The bus route will stay running!

Now our mystery Labour veteran has a pupil, someone who is modelling himself on the campaigning style of Fitch the Elder. This is what the pupil, Mike, has done. Draw attention to a popular service, like Hove Library. Tell everyone it is under threat. Launch a petition. Get publicity. Then, in due course, announce that the campaign has been successful. The library will stay open!

He, whose name I dare not speak, is learning well. But perhaps it is time for him to admit that, like the number 38, there is no threat to Hove Library. At least Labour’s LOLA campaign (Leave Our Loos Alone) is focused on an proposed cut. Perhaps Brian Weatherley should become part of something real and join the LOLA campaign.

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The Brighton Politics Blogger’s Political Awards 2011

As the year draws to an end, it is time once again for the much sought after Brighton Politics Blogger’s Political Awards.

Team of the Year must go to the Green Party for becoming the first Green Administration in the UK. It was hard to see how that party could have followed up their achievement of having elected their first-ever Member of Parliament in 2010.

Campaigner of the Year goes to an Honorary Brightonian who was a leading campaigner in the ‘No’ campaign in the electoral reform referendum, Charlott Vere. She was hardly out of the news and made a barnstorming speech in Brighton during the referendum campaign. Chuck is much missed locally but will no doubt continue her inevitable journey into Parliament at the next election.

For his constant production of press releases, the His Master’s Voice Award goes to Michael Ireland, researcher for Hove MP, Mike Weatherley. Rarely a day goes by without another press release popping up in my inboThe most Inspired Campaign of the Year goes to the Labour Party for LOLA, the Leave Our Loos Alone campaign, to save public toilets from closure.

The Trend Setters Award goes to …. the Labour Party of the early 1990’s for starting the public toilet closure programme in Brighton.

The Hundred Year War Endurance Award goes to Steve Bassam and Jason Kitcat for their Twitter exchange on the Council Budget. It might not have gone on for a hundred years but sometimes it has felt that way to those of us who have read and reflected on each and every tweet!

The Individual Award for an Outstanding Election Result was closely fought. The panel of judges commended Sue Shanks for her victory in Withdene and Graham Cox for his Westbourne by-election result, but the award goes to Christopher Hawtree for his stunning individual performance in Central Hove.

The Dear Leader’s Award for Winding Up the Opposition (or on this occasion, winding up the Administration) goes to Tony Janio for wearing his Stars and Stripes tie at meetings of the Full Council.

And in spite of the judgement of the ridiculous ‘Standard’s Committee’, the Champagne Campaigning Moment goes to Dawn Barnett for her stunt in directing travellers in her ward to open spaces in Green-held wards.

The final award, the Who Got It Totally Wrong Award, goes to your Humble Blogger for getting the result of the Westbourne by-election totally wrong.

Congratulations to all award winners. Bask in the glory of your awards, and best wishes to all my readers (Momma Grizzly, Doris, and Biker Dave) for 2012.

Reflecting of the reasons for the Conservative victory in the Westbourne by-election

First of all, congratulations to Graham Cox on his victory. Here is the full result:
Graham Cox (Conservative) 1027
Nigel Jenner (Labour) 826
Louisa Greenbaum (Green) 645
Gareth Jone (LibDem) 45
Paul Perrin (UKIP) 36
Pip Tindall (TUSC) 26
Susan Collard (European Citizens) 13

It was definitely a good night for the Tories made all that better by Labour beating the Greens into second place. I think there are three factors that resulted in this good result:

Graham Cox: Graham, as I have said since his selection, was an inspired choice. His appeal transcends traditional party loyalties and we can expect to see him rising very quickly into a leadership position within the Tory ranks.
The Legacy of The Bishop: Graham’s predecessor, Brian Oxley, was well-respected and some support for Graham will have been derived from Brian. Graham will no doubt convert those loyalty votes for Brian to his own.
Mike Weatherley: In spite of rumoured tensions between Graham and Mike, the current standing and high profile of the MP for Hove will have benefited Graham.

Labour’s performance will have brought some quiet satisfaction. While they did not win the seat, Labour achieved its primary objective of beating the Greens. It was noticeable that the tone of most of Labour’s message at present in Brighton and Hove is anti-Green. Perhaps now it will turn it’s focus on the Tories who are, after all, enforcing the cuts on Brighton and Hove. The unrelenting attacks on the Greens is somewhat disingenuous.

For the Greens, third place behind Labour in second is the second worst result possible. (The worst result would to have been beaten by UKIP). In May the Greens did little work in the ward. In this by-election they worked it to win but did not improve their position or share of the vote.

As mentioned above, the Greens have been subjected to unrelenting attacks from the Argus and by three individual Labour members, Lord Bassam, Caroline Penn, and councillor Warren Morgan. While Jason Kitcat has diligently responded in a statesmanlike manner, the attacks are what the Greens must expect for the next three and a half years leading up to May 2015.

Labour’s LOLA campaign (Leave Our Loos Alone) shows some imagination. I would be interested to know who came up with this idea. More of that kind of propaganda will serve Labour well.

The Tories have cause to celebrate, Labour too. The Greens need to lick their wounds, reflect on where they have arrive in the political cycle, and devise a strategy for recovery. I will return to this theme in the new year.

But there was one big loser in this by-election whose performance betrayed his previous unblemished record, and that was the prediction of your Humble Blogger. As my three regular readers (Doris, Biker Dave and Grizzly) will know, my forecasts are usually spot on. But this time, failure. In mitigation, I did recognise the personal strengths of Graham Cox from the moment he was first selected and thought that his selection made a Tory victory a real possibility.

By way of contrition, I will share something later this evening about councillor Cox and me. This revelation will not doubt be the talk around Christmas trees of Brighton and Hove this Festive Season.

Westbourne by-election: it could all be down to the weather this evening

Folklore has it that the Tory vote comes out in the morning and early afternoon, with Labour and Green voters turning out after 4pm. If that is the case, the Tories must be pleased with the glorious weather so far today, and must be feeling some optimism.

I will be watching the weather closely in the early evening. If it rains then I think the Tory candidate, Graham Cox, should edge it.

The Greens had a real boost to their campaign yesterday evening when the Tories declared it a two horse race between them and the Greens. Voters undecided between Labour and the Greens might just, as a result of this leaflet, decide to go with the Greens. It won’t take many, perhaps just a couple of dozen, to go Green rather than Labour.

The postal vote turnout was pleasing from a Green perspective, with around half of those with postal votes not returning them. Given that the Greens have never really worked Westbourne until this by-election, the majority of postal voters will have been for the other parties. Having said that, the Greens did run a postal vote campaign and have been expressing quiet satisfaction that the Green postal voters have returned their ballots.

The Tories have pulled out all the stops to hold on to this seat and get their candidate, Graham Cox, elected. The Labour campaign has been one that characterises Labour in recent years, a small, dedicated band of activists doing what they can, but not setting the election on fire. The one high point was the arrival of Hillary Benn who brought much needed publicity for LOLA, Labour’s Leave Our Loos Alone campaign. No matter what might have been suggested, this isn’t an election winning issue, it is a good hook to hang some campaigning on, and could, in due course, capture the imagination, but LOLA won’t be enough for Labour’s Nigel Jenner.

Both Labour and the Tories have been keen to have a go at the Greens Louisa Greenbaum, suggesting that both parties believe she is the candidate to beat. Weather permitting, the superior Green organisation should see Louisa home. There may be glorious sunshine right now, but there are rain clouds on the horizon. That is no metaphor for the fortunes of the parties, just a meteorological observation!