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 …..

Congratulations to the Greens for making history in Brighton and Hove

I must first of all start by congratulating the Greens on a result that exceeded just about everyone’s expectations. It exceeded mine. I thought the Greens would end up with 21 or 22 seats. I didn’t expect the two amazing results in Withdene where Sue Shanks topped the poll, nor Christopher Hawtree’s sensational efforts in Central Hove. I suspect that Green High Command had some doubts, but one man did not share them – Chris Hawtree himself.

The Greens have emerged from this election with 23 councillors (including 6 in Hove, up from 1), the Tories are down to 18 and Labour have remained static with 13. The Lib Dems have been wiped out as predicted, hoped for and encouraged by this Blogger. Labour now has just one councillor in Brighton Pavilion where the Greens are now winning in Tory strongholds.

Before touching on other results, can I mention those sitting councillors who have lost their seats. Politics can be cruel, and election losses for sitting politicians offers no hiding place. Focus is on those who have been victorious, but this evening we should pause to thank the following for their service to the City, often at a cost that ordinary citizens, even party activists, don’t see and can’t always appreciate: Paul Elgood, David Watkins, Jan Young, Melanie Davis, Ayas Fallon-Khan, Pat Hawkes, Christine Simpson, Maria Caulfield, Trevor Alford, Kevin Allen, Juliet McCaffery, Steve Harmer-Strange, Ted Kemble.

I got one result hopelessly wrong – Moulsecoomb and Bevendean – where I felt that Maria Caulfield would win and, on her coat tails, Ayas Fallon-Khan (moving from Goldsmid) and Cath Slater (well known locally) would cause an upset in Labour’s back yard. I was wrong. And so I eat Humble Pie (though I do prefer Sugar Puffs). And congratulations to Labour’s team in M&B, Leigh Farrow, Mo Marsh and mayor-elect, Anne Meadows. This result, along with the return of the Legend that is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll, the anticipated gains by Penny Gilbey in North Portslade and Alan Robins in South Portslade, and the unexpected election of Anne Pissaridou in Wish, were the few positives on a day when it seemed the Greens were conquering everything before it.

A bitter-sweet result, and one predicted in this blog, was Jeane Lepper successfully defending her seat in Hollingdean and Stanmer. A combination of the Lepper name and Jeane’s own reputation as a hard-working and effective caseworker saw her survive. One of the few errors the Greens made this year was to underestimate Jeane Lepper.

A quick word on the one Green who was not successful in H&S, Luke Walter. Luke must be incredibly disappointed tonight, but he should be proud of his achievements. He probably worked harder than any candidate in H&S, but electoral politics can be unfair, especially when your surname begins with a W or a Y (ask Jan Young). Luke has the advantage of age on his side, and his time will come before long. (I will be blogging on the fortunes of all the young candidates in the near future. None of them, other than sitting councillor, Alex Phillips, who I heard described as the “Baby of the Chamber” today, was elected.

But the day belonged to the Greens who, I understand, were in celebratory mood when they retired to the Cricketers Pub for an orange juice after the count. Never before in the United Kingdom have the Greens become the largest group on a Council, and this is the largest group of Greens ever elected (what do you think of that, Norwich?). So congratulations to all newly and re-elected Greens throughout Brighton AND HOVE. I will blog more on the Greens remarkable achievements and the challenges that lie ahead in the next few days. But for now, enjoy the night, encourage Bill Randall to go wild and have another lemonade, return to your constituencies and prepare for ….. I’m not sure. A coalition? A minority administration? Definitely Christopher Hawtree to be Lead Councillor for Libraries! Congratulations, All.

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 ….!

Bits and pieces from the local election campaign

Luke Walter has observed UKIP delivering leaflets in Hollingdean and Stanmer. He says that he suspects that they will take a few votes from the Conservatives and Labour on the estates. I suspect he is probably right, with a few more from the Tories than from Labour. I can’t see UKIP taking any votes from the Greens.

This raises an interesting question: who will the independent candidates harm most? And will the Lib Dems influence the outcome at all?

I think that the most significant independent this election is Jo Heard who will split the Tory vote in Hangleton and Knoll, as well as taking a few votes from Labour. Michael Ireland is likely to lose out amongst the Tories, while Alum Jones, due to alphabet voting, will suffer, but not by much. Jo’s candidature is not likely to be decisive. A stunning result would be if she was elected along with the Terrible Twins, Dawn Barnett and Brian Fitch. Not impossible but unlikely. I doubt an independent will win this May. The most likely result remains the election of Banett, Tony Janio and Brian Fitch.

Ben Codfish (what a clever play on words) asks whether we should rule out a Blue / Red Coalition. Gasps of indignation can be heard in this far corner of Hove as Warren Morgan splutters over a late night bowl of Sugar Puffs. “Never! Never! Never!” goes the cry in his best Ian Paisley voice.

If people vote according to their age, Steph Holder makes the following observation regarding this demographic: “The 2001 Census noted that 42% of people in Brighton and Hove are aged 20-44 – above the England and Wales average of 35% and the 34.6% average for the South East. 21% are aged 60+. A bit of quick research shows that about 70% of Tory councillors fall into the 60+ category – so the Party is very, very far from being representative of local people. Labour seems to be similar. Greens seem to most closely reflect the population, demographically speaking.”

Linda says that we shouldn’t knock the more mature councillor. “With age comes wisdom and I think a council with a wide age range and views is sometimes healthier. Remember, the outlying areas of B&H have a much older (perhaps more Tory?) electorate. We also have many residential & warden assisted homes in Hove.. Not everyone here is a right-on, cool, cycling, Green, Liberal.”

I think there is an issue here – which has allowed the Tories too easy a ride in the outlying areas. Christopher Hawtree identified this several weeks ago, as did Luke Walter. The Green tide is spreading far and wide, even in Withdean and Patcham. Earlier today Christopher wrote: “Nobody should regard the “suburbs” as a block vote.” I do agree, but I still don’t think the Greens will come within 1,000 votes of the Tories in Rottingdean Coastal.

Meanwhile, in Goldsmid ward (a ward that warrants close attention, along with Central Hove) I sense a gap is opening up between the Greens and Labour. I have previously predicted that Melanie Davis would top the poll for Labour and that the Greens would have Alex Phillips and another of it’s candidates elected, probably Ruth Buckley (not to be confused with the Estate Agent, Rob Buckwell). Given the strength of the Green campaign, and the popularity of Alex Phillips, I would not be surprised if Alex Phillips topped the poll with Melanie Davis and Ruth scrapping it out for second and third places.

I really don’t have a feel for Central Hove – too close, perhaps. The Tories are strong here, Celia Barlow is a very well known name, and Rebecca Taylor is running a great campaign as a Lib Dem candidate. (Please note, this praise of a Lib Dem is personal and should in no way be regarded as a softening of my totally unreasonable attitude to the Lib Dems. I do rate Rebecca Taylor).

There are just over 2 weeks to go before polling day. Do let me know how it’s going in your neck of the woods.

Councillors, young and Older, and candidates, young and younger

A number of councillors are standing down from Brighton and Hove City Council. All bar two are Green councillors. That’s not to say that other councillors won’t be around after May 5th. Councillor Pat Drake stands down after several decades as a County and more recently City Councillor. She is much respected, and generous, yet deserved, tributes were paid to her at the last Council meeting (just about the only civil exchange of the evening).

Councillor Averil Older stands down from her Central Hove seat. Unlike some councillors, she has remained a very normal human being, someone who is easy to talk to and to get along with. I wish both Pat and Averil happy retirements.

The Green councillors who are standing down are not retiring. Several are young and, understandably, are having to concentrate on their careers. All are very talented and the City will be all the poorer for the decision of Rachel Fryer, Paul Steedman, Vicky Wakefield-Jarret and Georgia Wrighton to stand down. I hope, like Councillor Pete West, that they will consider standing again at some point in the future.

There are other councillors who are standing but may not survive the decision of the electorate. I predict that up to six Labour councillors are at risk of losing their seats. Up to four Tories may lose their seats along with one Lib Dem and one Independent.

Hoping to win seats on the City Council are several young and very young candidates. For the Tories, Momma Grizzly (Rachael Bates, aged 22) is standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer, and the Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell, also 22) is standing in Goldsmid. For Labour, Harris Fitch (20) is standing in Rottingdean Coastal, and Clare Calder (18) is standing in St Peters and North Laine. The disappointing reality for these Young Turks, is that none have a realistic chance of being elected.

Of these four, the Estate Agent has the best chance of winning a seat although I suspect that in Goldsmid Labour’s Melanie Davis, Green Alex Phillips and another Green will be elected. Alex is currently the Baby of the Chamber having been elected less than two years ago at the age of 24. Alex has what it takes to make it big in politics, probably in Europe and in due course joining Caroline Lucas in Westminster.

Second time candidate at 25, Tom French (who fought a very strong campaign in the St Peters and North Laine by-election last year) has an outside chance of winning Queens Park for Labour, but needs to see off a strong Green presence in that ward.

The young candidate most likely to be elected is Luke Walter (22) who is standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer, although having a surname starting with ‘W’ he may be the Green to lose out should H&S return Jeane Lepper and two Greens (Sven Rufus and Christina Summers).

But the emergence of young candidates is encouraging although it is very regretable when young councillors find it necessary to stand down in order to pursue their careers.

The final word goes to Hanover and Elm Grove councillor, Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett, who has captured a tone that I would like to see between Labour and Green activists. In a tweet earlier today she wrote: “@ClareCalder I’m supporting Greens, but wanted to say i think it’s great you’re standing – I hope it’s a positive experience for you.”. I echo the sentiment, I hope that it is a positive experience for Luke, Rachael, Rob, Harris, and Clare.

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 …….

Goldsmid – a three-way marginal that the Greens really must win to become the largest group on Brighton & Hove City Council

In Hove, the most interesting seat is surely Goldsmid and all three parties in Brighton and Hove (given its sole councillor and standing at 8% in recent opinion polls, I don’t think we need to regard the Lib Dems as a viable party locally) believe they can win the three seats in Goldsmid.

Currently, all three parties have one councillor, Ayas Fallon-Khan (Conservative), Melanie Davis (Labour) and Alex Phillips (Green).  Councillor Fallon-Khan has been deselected by the Tories and will be standing in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean where (to the shame of Labour) he has a better chance than not of being elected partly due to his own personal strengths and because of the work undertaken by the sitting ward councillor Maria Caulfield.  Fallon-Khan’s deselection will significantly reduce the Tory’s chance of holding a seat and I predict that they will go away empty handed in May.  A challenge for residents in Goldsmid is to identify the Tory candidates for the ward.  It appears to be a well-guarded secret, and long may that last.

Melanie Davis has worked consistently since elected last time out, but she will struggle with the dire state of the Labour Party in Hove, and in the east wards of Hove in particular.  A quick look at Brighton Labour Party’s website shows out of date it is, some sections have been ‘under construction’ for many months, and has no reference to May’s local elections nor a list of candidates.  (The latter omission may be wise since Labour is struggling to find candidates in several seats in Hove).  The website is symbolic of a locally party on its knees.  While there is activity elsewhere in Brighton (Queen’s Park, East Brighton, Regency and, em, well, err, somewhere else, I’m sure), Labour in Brighton and Hove is a poor shadow of its former self. 

Back to Labour in Goldsmid, it at least has its own website.  But a website is a two-edged sword.  In reporting Labour’s track record in Goldsmid, there are only 6 entries since September 2008, and some are attacks on the City Council and the Tory councillor.  It also provides links to its most recent leaflets, the most recent two having been published in Spring and Summer 2010 (oh, dear, not much ambition there).

On the plus side, Labour in Goldsmid has selected three candidates (important if you want to win an election!). They are Lis Telcs (who was soundly beaten in the Goldsmid by-election a couple of years ago by the Green’s Alex Phillips), Nigel Jenner (about whom I know absolutely nothing – he must be a footballer, then) and councillor Melanie Davis.  Melanie should survive but I can’t see Labour doing any better than that.  Her defeat would signify a crushing defeat for Labour in Brighton and Hove, something that can’t be ruled out.

Alex Phillips is one of the sitting councillor in Goldsmid having won the 2009 by-election giving the Greens their first ever councillor in Hove and critical momentum for Caroline Lucas’ successful campaign for Parliament in 2010.  Alex, who works part time for Keith Taylor (who replaced Caroline Lucas as MEP in the south east) has nurtured the ward since her election and should be re-elected without too much difficulty.  She will be joined in the election by science teacher Rob Jarrett and ‘young mum’ Ruth Buckley.  Rob has been around forever, popping up here and there on different campaigns over the years.  Ruth Buckley is relatively new to electoral politics, but part of a generation, particularly women, inspired by Caroline Lucas.  The Lucas effect stretches beyond Brighton Pavilion and could result in a Green clean-sweep in Goldsmid.

However, if the Greens fail to make progress in Hove and in Goldsmid in particular, their hope of becoming the largest party on the City Council will be dashed.

Doorstep Brighton 3: Is the Tory vote collapsing in Rottingdean Coastal?

Almost a good item in today’s Argus for three Labour candidates in three key marginal seats.  Pictured handing over a petition on school sports to Sally Gunnell are candidates councillor Jeane Lepper (Hollingdean and Stanmer), Tom French (Queen’s Park) and councillor Melanie Davis (Goldsmid).  Melanie gets a good quote but Jeane and Tom are not mentioned.  That’s why it was almost a good story.

Feisty Rachel Bates, the Sarah Palin of Brighton and Hove politics, says that I am wrong to suggest that she is merely a paper candidate. She writes: “It is true that I work for Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and Portslade, but this certainly does not mean that I will be in any way neglecting Hollingdean & Stanmer. I have been putting all of my effort in to becoming a councillor in that ward.  I am extremely dedicated to fighting for what I believe is right for the people of Hollingdean & Stanmer. Myself and my fellow Conservative candidates are 100% dedicated to the ward. I have been actively campaigning there long before I was selected as a candidate.  The campaign has been going fantastically, and I certainly do believe that the Conservative message is hitting home in H&S. I for one believe that it is not a lost cause for the Conservatives and look forward to seeing three Conservative councillors in H&S on 5th May.”

Come on, Rachel, get serious.  There is as much chance of a Tory winning H&S as there is of the Tories losing Rottingdean Coastal.  And while on the subject of Rottingdean Central, Christopher Hawtree says that the Tory vote in Ovingdean “has collapsed” with an influx of residents from the Five Ways area of Brighton.  Even if 200 households have moved, and each has 2 voters, and even if all of them vote Green, and if each one has replaced a Tory, the the Tory majority is likely to drop from 2,200 to a mere 2,000.  There’s everything to play for in Rottingdean Central!

Luke Walter seems to have taken exception to me describing himself as the Labour candidate in Hollingdean and Stanmer.  Apologies, he is one of the Green candidates.

But the big news, and probably the most significant of the week so far, is the decision of councillor David Watkins in Brunswick and Adelaide to leave the Lib Dem group and to sit as an independent.  Councillor Paul Elgood, leader of the Lib Dem group on the Council, should experience little opposition from within his group since he is now the only member of his Lib Dem group. Having lost 50% of their members in one go, will the other 50% be lost at th elections? One can but live in hope.

Goldsmid Ward – the most interesting seat in Brighton and Hove

Goldsmid is the most fascinating seat in Brighton and Hove, currently a three-way marginal.  In 2007 two Conservatives councillors and one Labour councillor were elected. The now discredited Paul Lainchbury topped the poll with 1,330 votes, fellow Tory Ayas Fallon-Khan second (1,238), while Labour’s Melanie Davis prevented a Tory clean-sweep with 1,231 votes.  The unsuccessful Tory polled 1,189 votes. 

The Greens came a close third, making this the most fiercely contested seat last time.  However, the ordinary state of affairs was blown apart following the resignation of Lainchbury, with the sensational by-election victory by the Green’s Alex Phillips last year, securing the Greens first seat in Hove.

The Greens have momentum in Goldsmid.  Melanie Davis has not set the world on fire, and a question has to be asked whether she will stand again.  The Greens are targeting the seat in 2011.  With more Lib Dem votes likely to go to the Greens, it is likely that the Greens will have a better chance of beating the Tories than Labour.

For this reason, I am encouraging anti-Tory votes to vote tactically for the Greens, although a vote for Melanie Davis (if she stands) and two Greens (particulary Alex Phillips) is not being discouraged.

Goldsmid Ward By-election

The Conservatives in Brighton and Hove have been discredited by the antics of former councillor, Paul Lainchbury. Having behaved like an absentee Tory grandee, rarely putting in an appearance in his Goldsmid ward, let alone at Council meetings, he has finally resigned.

Had he gone in March or April the council tax payers would have been spared the unnecessary cost of a by-election since it could have been held at the same time as the European elections. This farce has damaged the reputation of Tory leader, Mary Mears, whose defence of Mr Lainchbury became laughingly hollow as she clings on to power.

The by-election will now take place on June 23.

At the last elections, the Tories won two seats and Labour one. But with Labour in freefall, its candidate, Liz Telcs, doesn’t have a hope in hell of winning, in spite of the excellent work in the ward by Labour councillor Melanie Davis.

The Greens are on the up with renewed energy and direction provided by Bill Randall who has replaced the pleasant but ineffectual and uninspiring Keith Taylor as its leader locally.

If the Green candidate, Alexandra Phillips, is elected then the Greens would replace Labour as the official opposition. God knows, Brighton and Hove needs an effective alternative.