67 days to go, or is it 25? With tactical voting it will be Kemptown Labour, Pavilion Green and Hove …?

Conventional wisdom has it that Gordon Brown will go to the country on May 6th. But Labour friends have hinted that, given the narrowing of the polls (Sunday Times has it down to 2 points although that is probably a rogue poll), Brown might pop in to see the Queen tomorrow in order to have the election on March 25th!

David Cameron’s speech today amounted to little more than raising the bogey of “5 more years of Gordon Brown”, which might prove counter-productive given that Labour now leads the Tories on who people trust to care for the economy. George Osbourne just doesn’t instil confidence.

The “Vote for Change” slogan is rather empty.  Change to what?  Faced with  little of substance (other than not being Brown) when coming to cast their vote, electors will go with the devil it knows (that is other than Brighton Pavilion which increasingly looks like Caroline Lucas of the Greens).

The Greens organisation is really coming together, and the blitz of the constituency this week, well beyond the Muesli Belt, is demonstrating that the Greens, by concentrating on Brighton Pavilion, will almost certainly see the election of the first ever Green MP.

With the closing of the polls, and the concentration of the Greens on Brighton Pavilion, Brighton Kemptown will return Simon Burgess as a Labour MP if other non-Tory supporters vote tactically. As for Hove ….?  My heart goes with Celia Barlow.  What I would welcome is the Greens advocating tactical votes for Labour in Brighton Kemptown and in Hove.  Should they do that, then Labour supporters would be more inclined to vote tactically in Brighton Pavilion.  I just wish that Nancy Platts (I am a big fan) was the Labour candidate in Brighton Kemptown.  With her energy, integrity and enthusiasm, she would win comfortably.

Green councillors may be hard working bureaucrats but they still lack the ability to campaign on local issues

Luke Walter, as always, puts up a spirited defence of Green councillors in a comment on my earlier post, 83 days to go, and Caroline Lucas continues to be let down by local Green Councillors.  He writes: “I would actually say that the Green councillors around St. Peter’s and North Laine, particularly Keith Taylor, is busy pounding doors almost every weekend, the rest of the time he’s pursing case work. Yes, perhaps they have missed one issue, but you have to remember, the local party is pretty stretched in regards to the campaign.”  He goes on: “I would say Green councillors work hard, one way or another, as the vast majority of councillors do.”

Allie Cannell also comments: “The Green Party makes it very clear that all green councillors have to do a lot of work as part of their role and are not allowed to just sit in the role, as some councillors do…..  They all meet up reguarily with the local party and have to report back on what they’ve been doing to make sure they are complying by these standards the green party demands!!!!”

I have no doubt that Green councillors and Keith Taylor in particular work hard as ward councillor (although I am not in a position to have any first hand knowledge of this).  What my observation is, and has always been, is that the Green councillors, particularly in a ward such as St Peters and North Laine, are poor campaigners.  They appear to have slipped into the habit of Labour councillors of being hard working, dedicated … bureaucrats!  To bring about change, it isn’t enough to be a hard working councillor, you have to campaign. 

On 3rd February, this blog referred to an earlier exchange with local thespian, Ralph Brown regarding the Open Market.  I had said that local Greens had much to learn about local campaigning.  Ralph accused me of being a Tory!  (I have hardly recovered from this slur but am making good progress, as I am sure Charlotte Vere will be pleased to note!).  Ralph said that Keith Taylor had been working on the regeneration of Brighton’s Open Market “for many years”, and that I should, in effect, ‘watch this space’.  I continue to watch and wait, and I all I observe is  further decline in the Open Market.  What Keith and many Green councillors lack is a grounding in grass routes campaigning, and so will lack that cutting edge required to win the Council in May 2011, and will undermine Caroline Lucas’ campaign in May 2010.

I have called on Labour and Lib Dem supporters to vote tactically for Caroline Lucas in May, and I would love to see a Green council elected in May 2011.  I am not a Green Party member, but I hope that supporters and members of that party will see my criticism of local Green councillors as constructive.  Unless the Greens learn to campaign, unless they broaden their support base beyond the Muesli Belt, and until they can understand and articulate issues from the perspective of ordinary people, they will remain a party with mere aspirations for office and may well lose the historic opportunity to demonstrate a new politics by forming an administration in Brighton and Hove.

Tactical Voting in Brighton Pavilion (for Lucas) and Brighton Kemptown (for the lesser of two feeble campaigns)

Caroline Lucas is consolidating her position in Brighton Pavilion. She has, as already stated in this blog, the Big Mo – Momentum.  Nancy Platts continues to run a high profile and energetic campaign, impressing all by her personal and political style.  Nevertheless, Caroline Lucas has the tide flowing with her, and the election remains hers to lose, although the Tory candidate, Charlotte Vere is getting herself known – and liked – and could yet pip Caroline at the post.  Therefore, with greater certainty, this blog continues to urge all Labour and Lib Dem supporters, who do not want to see a Tory MP in Brighton Pavilion, and who want to ensure that the Conservatives do not have a Commons majority, to vote for Caroline Lucas on May 6th.

The situation in Brighton Kemptown is becoming a fascinating campaign, not because any candidate is making a strike for victory, but because none are!  Simon Burgess, a decent man, not cut out for electoral politics, appears to have lost heart, demoralised from his defeat in the local elections almost 2 years ago.  Apart from the occasional foray into the media, he is largely a shadow of a candidate.  His website tends to focus on his activities in St James Street (largely irrelevant to the wider constituency albeit consisting of the most vocal of his patch – and the most fickle), and his activities within the Labour Party as Vice Chair of the National Policy Forum (certainly a turn off for the voters if ever there was one).  There are 89 days to go and he is yet to make his mark.

Ben Duncan on the other hand, has a much higher profile, seems to be everywhere, and is about to boost his campaign with the launch of a new campaign website.  His decision to take down his long standing blog has caused a number of the Blogerati to speculate that he has been ‘reigned in’.  If that is the case, that decision is foolish.  He is a lively, interesting, active candidate.  There are two things that cause this blog to hesitate suggesting tactical voting for him: first, he will struggle to connect beyond the Muesli Belt and, even more than Simon, tends to focus on the Queens Park area; and second, the Greens are probably not robbust enough to run two campaigns in neighbouring constituencies.  Their focus is on Brighton Pavilion where they almost certainly will pick up their first Westminster seat.  But in doing so they show a lack of ambition.  Or is it that nobody is allowed to challenge the great Caroline Lucas’ place in the spotlight ….?

As it stands, Simon Kirby is strolling into Parliament.  I don’t know which campaign is the less feeble campaign, that of Simon Burgess or Ben Duncan.  Which one is more ‘deserving’ of tactical votes? Perhaps you could post your views.