No hiding place for Lib Dems in Brighton and Hove

Mark Collins from the Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats has a letter in todays Argus saying that Brighton Lib Dems oppose higher tuition fees. He rightly points out that every Lib Dem MP signed the pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees.

“Being in government doesn’t change those views, and it does not change a pledge”, he writes.

He says that he will march proudly against the rise and for “the future of higher education” in the nationwide demo on November 10th.

But what he can’t get away with is that it is his MPs and his Party that is making it possible for the Coalition Government to make these cuts.

There is no way back for the Lib Dems in Brighton and Hove, not as long as they are betraying every principle that they once claimed to have had. And decent activists, like Mark Collins, do themselves no help whatsoever by pretending that there is a difference between activists and what their MPs are doing on their behalf. It is the activists who helped Norman Baker and Stephen Lloyd get elected in Lewes and Eastbourne.

If Mark wants to make a real difference, and wants to put real pressure on his coalition MPs is to resign from the Lib Dems and join Labour or the Greens.

What is the point of the Lib Dems?

So David Laws has gone – the shortest Cabinet career in living memory.  Lib Dem supporters are lamenting his passing and paying some rather ludicrous tributes to him.  The most ludicrous of all was that of Lord Paddy Ashdown who described him as “Mr Integrity”. 

Mr Laws took an “holier than though” stance during the height of the expenses scandal, only to be brought low himself because of his claims. And now he tries to say it was about protecting his anonymity.  Ben Summerskill of Stonewall, writing in today’s Observer, said that this isn’t about homophobia, more “second home-ophobia”.  He goes on “…. Laws moment in the spotlight wasn’t because of a welcome difference from other MPs, but  because of a tragic similarity”.

The problem with the Lib Dems is that they have often taken a ‘plague on both your houses’ approach, not least by Nick Clegg during the Leaders’ Debate.  But the Lib Dems under Clegg have moved rightward, and the natural coming together with the Conservatives was made all the more possible by the Lib Tories like Clegg and Laws.  Laws is a natural Tory but is said not to have joined them because of his disgust over Section 28.

It now begs the question, what is the point of the Lib Dems.  They have become little more than the recipients of Tory votes with a conscience.  But even that is lost because of the likes of Laws whose appointment gave comfort to more hard-line Tories who had a distaste for the Lib Dems.

This blog called for tactical voting in the general election, to keep the Tories out.  How wrong I was.  I had always thought I would vote Lib Dem in Lewes and Eastbourne had I lived there.  No longer.  Norman Baker and Stephen Lloyd have forfeited the right to anti-Tory votes.  My advice in the future will be to rather vote for a real Tory than one cloaked in false conscience.

The Lib Dems split the anti-Tory vote in Brighton Kemptown and Hove, allowing the Tories to win.  The sad and ineffective bunch of Lib Dem councillors in Hove (if two can be called a bunch) should just join the Tories.  Their supporters should join the party that most represents their views, Labour or the Greens.  There is no point in voting Lib Dem.  There’s no point in the Lib Dems existing.

Con Dem Nation will see the Lib Dems wiped out in Brighton and Hove

I have been cut off in Outer Patagonia for the last 12 days.  No news, no internet, nothing.  On the way back someone told me this ludicrous joke that Nick Clegg had done a deal with Cameron to creat a Con Dem Nation, that Uncle Vince Cable was in government proposing the sale of 49% of the Royal Mail, that Norman Baker had gon into government with the Tories, and that David Miliband was standing for the leadership of the Labour Party!

Actually, I hve found the last 12 days quite depressing.  But there is one silver lining on the cloud, and I have recognised a terrible mistake I made in the run up to the election.  It all has to do with the Lib Dems. 

This blog advocated tactical voting to kep the Tories out.  In Eastbourne and Lewes I said that a Lib Dem vote was important to keep David Cameron out of Downing Street.  I was wrong.

Next election my advice to voters in Eastbourne and Lewes will be ‘Vote Tory’. I would rather have the real thing than a poor yellow imitation that lends repectability to the Tories.

Clegg is the most rightwing Lib Dem leader in several gereations, cut from the same cloth as Cameron.  It is no surprise that they make such good bed fellows.  But Norman Baker, how could you ….. ?

As for the silver lining, the Lib Dems will see their support from left of centre voters collapse.  In Brighton and Hove this is good news for the Greens who can now be even more optimistic about picking up two seats from the Lib Dems in Brunswick next May.

Missed Opportunity on Politics Show by parties not fielding Caroline Lucas, Charlotte Vere or Nancy Platts

Politics Show with Ian Davey (Green; Hove), Simon Burgess (Labour; Brighton Kemptown), Henry Smith (Conservative; Crawley) and Norman Baker (Lib Dem; Lewes).  Davey hesitant and not that impressive, particularly on drugs and alcohol.  Simon Burgess quite assured.  Henry Smith smooth.  Norman Baker very competent.  Only men on the panel.  Big mistake by all 4 parties.  Good question from MothersInc.  Amusing observation that none of the panel are working mothers.

The SussexSquare (Geoffrey Bowden) asked question about Pride.  Debate around tolerance. Simon says “Norman is right”, not quite “I agree with Norman”!  Ian Davey got good plug in for Caroline Lucas at end of debate, but Caroline should have been there herself. A missed opportunity for Caroline, Nancy Platts and Charlotte Vere.

There’s more to this election that just Brighton Pavilion. Tactical voting remains so important

I am in danger of presenting the general election as being about just one campaign – that in Brighton Pavilion.  In fact Roy Greenslade, a titan of the newspaper industry (and I do mean that sincerely) almost suggested that when he said on the Guardian’s Greenslade Blog, that this was “a lively blog where the left-of-centre author appears to be enthused by the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

In Hove, it is looking increasingly likely that there will be a Tory win, although Celia Barlow pulled off one of the most amazing results last time by holding the seat.  Greens are suggesting that it is a lost cause for Labour so anti-Tories can vote according to their preference.   Don’t vote Green in Hove, not in this election.  Wait until the Greens have developed their base beyond the solitary but high profile and impressive Alex Phillips.

In Brighton Kemptown Green Ben Duncan is putting up a bit of a show, but he will come nowhere near ousing the anti-Tory challenge of Simon Burgess.  Again, don’t vote Green this time around in Kemptown.  Vote tactically for Simon Burgess.

So in Brighton and Hove, I am advocating tactical voting for Labour in Brighton Kemptown and in Hove, and definitely a tactical vote and a principled vote for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion.

In Hastings in Rye I have always been impressed by the work ethic of Michael Foster who is defending the seat against the Tory, Amber Rudd.  Please give a tactical vote for Labour in Hastings.  Michael may not set the world on fire, but he has been an excellent MP.

In Lewes it has to be the Liberal Democrat, Stormin’ Norman Baker.  If Mandelson is to New Labour what Portillo was to the last Tory Government, then the re-election of Norman Baker will be the worst thing possible for Mandelson.

Finally, the election in Eastbourne is turning nasty where sitting Tory MP Nigel Watersons in real danger of losing to the Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd.  All Labour and Green supporters must vote Lib Dem in Eastbourne.  If Stephen wins, it won’t be the last we will hear of Waterson – he has already threatened to see Lloyd in Court over an election leaflet.  Who would have thought it, nasty politics in Eastbourne.

Traditional Labour, Lib Dem and Green supporters must put longstanding lotyalties aside and vote tactically

There was an interesting report published last week by the Electoral Reform Society that suggests that of all the seats in Sussex, ten contests are effectively ‘dead’ and that in just six seats voters might make a difference.  The seats that are ‘still up for grabs’ are Eastbourne, Crawley, Brighton Pavilion, Brighton Kemptown, Hastings & Rye, and Hove.  Such are the Tory majorities in all other seats (with the exception of Lewes) that there is no hope of unseating the Tories.

In Lewes Stormin’ Norman Baker has made the seat the nearest that there is to a safe Lib Dem seat.

There is the possibility that five of the remaining seats could go Tory, meaning that there would be 14 Tory MPs returned from Sussex, one Lib Dem and one Green.  More than ever, there needs to be tactical voting in the other seats as follows: Eastbourne – Lib Dem, Crawley – Labour, Brighton Pavilion Green, Brighton Kemptown – Labour, Hastings & Rye – Labour, and Hove – Labour.

In an earlier post I warned that the growing ‘bad blood’ developing between Labour and the Green supporters could allow the Tory, Charlotte Vere, to slip through between them.  While I think that a Tory victory is increasingly less likely, tactical voting for the Greens would both guarantee a non-Tory and make a positive statement about the emergence of minor parties.  Traditional Labour supporters (like me) must put our longstanding loyalties to one side. So too should non-Tories in the other contests that are still to be decided.  One possibility could be that you find someone to ‘trade’ your vote with.  For example, a Lib Dem supporter in Brighton Pavilion could find a Green in Lewes and both agree to vote for the other’s candidate.

The election has a long way to go, but we could prevent a Tory victory by acting now.

David Cameron is right – we DO deserve better, but it is certainly not him

Gordon has kissed hands with the Queen and the campaign is up and running.  “Britain deserves better” says David Cameron.  That is true, but we aren’t going to get it from HIM.  Here is what I hope we will wake up to on May 7th.

I really don’t want to see a Conservative government elected.  The UKIP candidate in Hove recently accused me of not being open-minded.  Guilty as charged.  I have little if any confidence in the ability of George Osbourne to manage the economy.  The Conservative Party may pretend to have reformed itself, but it is instinctively a party that cuts public expenditure and public services.  It continues to claim to be a party of small government.

Be clear, a vote for the Conservatives will mean savage cuts and even greater support for big business than even Labour will deliver.

I hope Labour ends up with the most seats but not an overall majority, not because it deserves a further term, but because it is the lesser of two evils.  Labour will cut, but some of the excesses that can be expected from the Tories may be tempered, especially if Labour forms a minority government.. 

While hung parliaments are not a great thing generally, I hope that the new parliament will have more independents and minority parties upon whom Labour will need to depend to get its programme through.  This would mean that the Whips will have less influence.

Amongst the minor parties I hope and expect that the Greens will win their first seat, Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.  I also hope that there will be further successes for the Greens, but my lack of knowledge about campaigns elsewhere requires me to remain silent on those campaigns.

Locally, I hope Stormin’ Norman Baker holds Lewes (likely), Labour holds Hove and Brighton Kemptown (both unlikely), and Michael Foster holds Hastings and Rye (very possible).

I remain an admirer of Nancy Platts and would wish to see her in Parliament – perhaps she could beat the sitting Tory MP for Brighton Kemptown in the next general election …. in October.

35 days to go: Tories to win Hove, the Greens Brighton Pavilion, Lib Dems Lewes, and Brighton Kemptown too close to call

Just 35 days and it will almost be over. Yes, just 5 weeks and an hour or so and the polls will have closed.  The final ‘knockin up’ will have been completed and there will be nothing more to be done but to wait for the count.

At 10pm the BBC, ITV and Sky will give their prediction of the national result. My personal forecast is that there will be a hung parliament, and I am prepared to go out on a limb to say Labour will be the largest party.

The wheels are beginning to come off the Tory’s campaign, and George Osbourne contin ues to underwhelm. The Tory toff label will dog ‘David Dave’ Cameron.

Stormin’ Norman Baker will hold Lewes, the Tories will win Hove, the Greens Brighton Pavilion, but Brighton Kemptown is too close to call.  In that constituency both candidates (Labour and Tory) have been lacklustre and disappointing.

Brighton Pavilion remains the most exciting, inspiring contest, and I remain impressed by Caroline Lucas and Nancy Platts in particular.  Charlotte Vere, who contrary to many comments on this blog, has many positive personal qualities.  I have enjoyed meeting her but feel that she has been disadvantaged by not having a quality campaign manager to guide her. Her focus has been too much on her opponents and not enough on herself.  Not that I sad about that.  Caroline Lucas will be an excellent Member of Parliament.

Finally, I am grateful to Mike for providing this link to an article on the campaign in Brighton Pavilion that appeared in the Economist http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15821483

90 days to go until the General Election – Tactical Voting Campaign needed more than ever

If, as expected, the general election takes place on 6th May, there are just 90 days to go until polling day.  It has been said that a general election is decided by less than 100,000 voters, those ‘swing’ voters in key marginals whose votes decide which party gets a majority.  In some constituencies, like Arundel, a monkey with a blue rosette would gain a majority – and in the past it seems that this has happened!

But tactical voting can change that.  Perviously this blog has called for tactical voting in eight of the sixteen Sussex seats.  There is a danger that all sixteen seats could go Conservative, but with tactical voting Sussex could yet return eight non-Conservatives.

The key seats are: Lewes (Tactical vote for the Lib Dem Norman Baker); Eastbourne (again Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd); Hastings and Rye (Labour Michael Foster); Hove (Labour’s Celia Barlow); Brighton Kemptown (tight call between Labour’s Simon Burgess and the Green’s Ben Duncan); Brighton Pavilion (the Green’s Caroline Lucas); Crawley (Labour’s Laura Moffatt); and Worthing East and Shoreham (Labour’s Emily Benn).

This blog previously called for tactical voting in Worthing East and Shoreham for the Lib Dems, but such is the disorganisation and incompetence of that party in West Sussex that it has yet to select a candidate!  The website for the Worthing Lib Dems is one of the most inadequate websites I have ever seen.  The campaigns tag takes you to an empty page! It demonstrates that the Lib Dems cannot be taken seriously as the third party of British politics and should really stand aside in key seats such as Brighton Pavilion and Worthing East and Shoreham.  Therefore, this blog is changing its recommendation and is calling for tactical voting for Labour’s Emily Benn, granddaughter of Tony Benn and niece of Hilary Benn.  Alas, she does not share their politics.

By contrast, the website of the Lib Dem candidate in Worthing West and Arun, Hazel Thorpe, is lively and impressive.  Unfortunately, Hazel (who I personally admire) has little chance of success but nevertheless, this blog urges all Labour and Green supporters to vote tactically for Hazel Thorpe.

My next blog will review the two Brighton seats.

Politician of the Year – show some imagination

Saturday saw the launch of the Brighton Politics Awards 2009.  Nominations for Politician of the Year have ben a bit disappointing, with Ed Milliband, John Prescott and Nancy Platts being the only nominations to date.  It was Nancy who nominated Ed Milliband, immediately creating a new ategory, that of Brown Noser of the Year.

I had hoped for some interesting local nominations (not that Nancy isn’t interesting!). How about Mary Mears, or Bill Randall, or Alex Phillips, or Caroline Lucas, or Chuck Vere?  Are they too uninspiring?  Is there nobody else locally who deserves a nomination.

To make it easier for you, there will be four sub-categories, one for each of the four main parties (although it will be hard to find someone/anyone intresting/inspiring in the Lib Dems (beyond Stormin’ Norman Baker).  Ideally there will be nominations for a non-Party person.

From each Party sub-category one nominee will emerge for the prestigious and much covetted Politician of the Year award.

So send your nominations in, with a word or two about why they should receive this unique honour!

Nominations can be made on Twitter (@BrightonPolitic) or by emailing brightonpoliticsblogger@googlemail.com