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 Result Changes Brighton & Hove Political Landscape

The obvious impact of the Green victory in Goldsmid Ward is the loss of overall control on Brighton and Hove City Council. For the Greens it provided their first ever Councillor in Hove and the first time the Party has won a seat off the Conservatives. Neil Harding provides a good summary of the impact of the result on the City Council.

In the longer term it provides huge momentum for the Greens in the twelve months before the General Election. For Labour it is a disaster. It reaffirms that Labour is a party in decline in Brighton and Hove, now firmly established as the third party in the City. They lack credibility, a party associated with defeat after defeat, heading for three losses in the City in the General Election. Ironically, it isn’t a disaster for the Conservatives who had a credible result even though they lost their seat in a by-election caused by the unacceptable actions of their former councillor, Paul Lainchbury. Unlike Labour, they were not humilated.

This was the worst result possible for Labour. Labour Group Leader, Gill Mitchell said last night “The Conservatives are fatally wounded and they will not be able to get anything through the council”. To describe the Tories as fatally wounded is pure nonsense and demonstrates the mindset of Labour, still seeing the battle lines as Labour v Conservatives.

There is anger at both parties, but most particularly against the party of government. Mary Mears, a most perceptive politician, has already identified the Greens as the main opponents to the Tories. She dismissed the result as a protest vote on national issues but was quick to attack Green policies, saying that they have not properly costed their programme. That is, indeed a challenge for the Greens.

But for today, the Greens, and Councillor Alex Phillips in particular, should enjoy the moment. If the Green Party is to make the next breakthrough at parliamentary level, the hard work begins tomorrow!

Tactical Voting Needed to Beat the Tories

In this blog on Wednesday I said that Mary Mears was hanging on to power following the resignation of Paul Lainchbury resulting in a by-election to be held on July 23 in the Goldsmit ward. A victory by the Greens (possible) or Labour (increasingly unlikely) would deny the Conservatives control which they currently have on the casting vote of the Mayor.

The Argus has now picked up on this and is reporting that Labour, the Greens and Lib Dems might cooperate to oust Councillor Mears as leader of the council. This would mean that the Tories could no longer form a cabinet and all parties would have to cooperate to run the Council.

Tactical voting is what is needed, and both Labour and Lib Dem supporters should really consider voting for the Green candidate, Alexandra Phillips.

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.