A great night out with young Conservative candidates

I must say I had a great time today. I never knew I would enjoy the company of a group of young Conservative candidates SO much. Talk of a 1p Council Tax cut, the removal of ALL cycle lanes, and how estate agents are doing in this testing economic climate. What fun we had. And to top it all off, we had a group photo taken. From left to right, Kerry Underhill (North Portslade), Adam Love (Goldsmid), Robert Nemeth (Withdene), Michael Ireland (Hangleton and Knoll), Momma Grizzly (Rachael Bates, Hollingdean and Stanmer), the Blogger, George Dore (Preston Park), le Toothbrush (Mike Macfarlane, Regency), and the Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell, Goldsmid). And now we are off to Belushi’s Below for their fantastic rock and metal night, Abandoned, to listen to a couple of rythym and beat combos, Slayer and Megadeath.

Young Tories

Young Tories

Greens and Labour should prioritise its candidates in key marginals to maximise representation

In this local elections, which is likely to be decided by the smallest majorities, it is not too late for the Greens and Labour to prioritise some of its candidates to increase the chances of having councillors elected. The Greens have prioritised candidates in the seats where they have little or no chance of being elected, but inexplicably in some marginals they have not. I have said before that this decision demonstrates a fundamental lack of judgement and political instinct.

Take Preston Park and Goldsmid wards. The Greens have one sitting councillor in each ward, and they have a reasonable chance of winning all three seats in both wards. Nevertheless, the result will be close and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that both Amy Kennedy and Alex Phillips could be defeated. Both are excellent councillors and their experience will be necessary for the Greens should they be the largest party on May 6th.

Alex Phillips, in particular, could be vulnerable as she is second from the bottom, eleventh of twelve, on the ballot paper. Her Green colleagues are second and fifth. It would be a major set back for the Greens in the City, and for the City itself, if councillor Phillips was to lose. While there are a large number of young and very young candidates standing for the first time in May, none other than Robert Nemeth has much hope of winning. As someone who is well past my ‘sell by’ date, I am all for a wide range of ages of councillors on the Council. Alex and Robert are likely to be the only two councillors below the age of 30. (A little aside regarding the lovely Luke Walter – should Jeane Lepper retain her seat, as I think she will, Luke will be the one most likely to lose out purely because he is bottom of the ballot paper).

That is one reason I hope that Alex Phillips will be re-elected. Another reason is she is more likely than most to be able to work with Labour, a quality that will be needed post May. The Greens should have prioritised (and still could) its candidates in Goldsmid, with Alex Phillips as the First Choice Green Candidate. It is foolish to jeopardise he prospects of one of your key assets. If you live in Goldsmid and are not a Green supporter, I would encourage that you loan one of your votes to Alex Phillips.

Similarly in Preston Park, Amy Kennedy should be the First Choice Green Candidate. It is less of an issue in Preston Park as the three Green candidates are grouped sixth, seventh and eight, with Stassi Amy at seventh. Like Alex, Amy is a formidable councillor, and a strong feminist. If she was to lose her seat it too would be a great loss to the Greens and the City.

There are few obvious Labour seats where prioritisation should take place, but that shouldn’t stop the party. In Goldsmid, sitting councillor Melanie Davies is the highest Labour candidate on the ballot paper, as is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll. Other areas where Labour is defending a seat, the sitting councillors is the highest Labour candidate on the ballot paper. That leaves longshot seats for Labour, such as Queens Park, Hanover and Elm Grove, and even St Peters and North Laine. Targeting, say, the top candidate on the ballot paper could see some interesting developments. Just a thought.

A vampire, a bishop, and a ‘Labour/Green’ activist all standing for the Tories in Hove!

More on the new Tory website, and an answer to the mystery about the disappearance of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. Momma Grizzly writes: “Just a quick note on Moulsecoomb & Bevendean: it’s covered by the Kemp Town Conservatives rather than the Federation of Brighton Pavilion and Hove & Portslade Conservatives, hence the absence on this site.”

But where better place to start in this next part of my review of the new Tory website than North Portslade and Tevor Alford? Arable writes: “On becoming a councillor, Initially, I spent 3 years on the following committees: Audit Committee; Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee; and Overview & Scrutiny Commission. Since May 2010, I have served on the planning committee and am also the cabinet member for Central Services, an exciting and challenging role.”. And in his spare time he’s pretty good at head-banging along to the likes of Megadeth and Slayer!

The Patcham Mafia (Pidgeon, Theobald G, and Theobald C) have biographies that speak volumes for their years and years and years service to Brighton and Hove, equalled only by the 14 generations of Les Hamiltons in Portslade and the soon-to-be four generations of Fitch’s.

Andrew Hancox, the Tory candidate in Regency, seems to have lost his bearings somewhat: “During this time I have experienced many of the challenges that living in Central Hove presents”. Mr Hancox, you are standing in Re-gen-cy, not Central Hove. It is the other Andrew, Wealls, standing in Central Hove. Re-gen-cy is in Brigh-ton. (It doesn’t really matter since Regency is due to return a Green Kitcat double act. I say this purely to elicit a reaction from my mate Dan Wilson).

Where do I begin with the Tory candidates in South Portslade? The sitting Tory councillor is Steve Harmer-Strange who is joined by Stephen Harbor-Wade! I am not making this up, honest. Any further comment from me would detract from the beauty of the situation.

In Preston Park and in St Peters and North Laine the Tories are fielding paper candidates, an indication that they have written off certain seat as unwinnable. And to think, that the old Preston ward would have gone Tory even if they put up a monkey with a blue rosette up for election. That was the case until Jeane Lepper (I believe it was her) beat a Tory candidate called Nicholas Gibbon! She sure made a monkey out of him …..!

Phlebotomist Denise Cobb is hoping to defend her seat in Westbourne. So busy is Denise she has little time for leisure activities other than “exercise, dance, swimming, cooking, being creative and travelling.” Standing with the Vampire is Bishop Brian, a devout member of the Church of England. Brian Oxley has managed to remain a decent guy in spite of working for Tory MPs for almost 20 years, and is a Tory for whom I have the utmost respect.

In Wish ward the Tories a fielding Garry Peltzer-Dunn. From his statement you would think he was standing for Labour or the Greens: “I have been made increasingly aware by residents that they feel that the City Council is failing to provide even basic services in a proper manner. It is essential that we return to basics and deliver the services residents want in the manner they require.” Garry, it is your party that has been running the show for the past 4 years. It is the Tories that you are saying are failing “to provide even basic services in a proper manner.”

Finally, for today, Withdean. The Barbie and Ken of Brighton politics, the Normans, are joined on the Tory ticket by Robert Nemeth, the third of Mike Weatherley’s staff seeking election. I have previously said that he is one to watch. In fact, all three of Mike’s staff (Robert, Michael Ireland and Momma Grizzly herself, Rachael Bates) have large political futures ahead of them. At some point I will do a review of young politicians locally. These are interesting times, and we have some interesting young activists who should be watched and followed.

Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder

Noel Coward once sent Winston Churchill tickets for the first night  of his latest play together with a message, “Dear Mr Churchill, here are two tickets for the first night of my play, a ticket for you and a ticket for a friend (if you have one)”.  Churchill returned the tickets with the following message: “Dear Mr Coward, unfortunately I can’t make the first night of the play but would like to attend the second night (if you have one)”.  I am reminded of this by a comment from the Beast of Regency, Dan Wilson, who poses the tedious questions “Where DOES Caroline Lucas actually live?  It’s a question Bappy won’t answer because it will annoy his Green mates. But we should be told!”

‘Bappy’ is one of the names I am called.  As for Dan’s question, to be honest I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care as long as she is around and about in Brighton Pavilion regularly, which she is, that she is available to her constituents, which she is, and that she represents them in parliament, which she does.  As for my ‘Green mates’, you assume I have mates in the first place, and secondly that they are Greens.  As it happens, unlike Churchill, I do have a friend.  Actually more than one, but as far as I am aware just one is a Green (and a Green councillor as it happens).  As a former Labour activists, many of my friends are current or former Labour Party members.

But more important than my impoverished social life is the local election campaign.  Here are some more updates from Doorstep Brighton:

Christopher Hawtree, more than a mere mortal, is so confident that he will unseat Mary Mears in Rottingdean Coastal that he is now targeting Fortress Withdean. He writes: “After going to Preston Park station this morning, I had a stroll around North Withdean. An interesting area, and all the more so when Ken and Ann Norman went by in a wagon, with two hairy dogs, and wound down the window in some puzzlement. They said that they are “friendly”, which I do not doubt, and seemed to wonder what I made of their territory; I do not think that they themselves are territory: they are unlikely to challenge one to a duel, but it does look as if Withdean is hotting up.” I am sure that Ken and Ann are quacking in their boots, not to mention the imminent derailing of the sparkling political career of Robert Nemeth.

‘Steampunk’ has reacted against Dan Wilson’s critique of Green councillors who he dismisses as “gap year … Greenos who chuck it in after one term”.  Steampunk writes: “Nothing wrong with young people devoting 4 years to serve their community before returning to families, careers and education. And I would venture that Green councillors take their responsibilities more seriously, have more weight of expectation upon them, and work harder compared to elected members of other parties who can afford to just fade into the background”.  I put that quote in so not to upset my Green friend.  I am sure that Labour, Tory and even Lib Dem activists might wish to respond to Steampunk on that observation. I know councillors in all parties that work incredibly hard, well beyond the European Directive on Working Hours.  They are decent, hard-working individuals who should get better paid, if you ask me.

As the battle for East Brighton hots up, I paraded my ignorance of the area by referring to two areas that are in Rottingdean Coastal and not in East Brighton.  Labour councillor Warren Morgan, who I was talking to at an event before Christmas, responded: “I’m happy for the East Brighton Tories to do well in Roedean and The Cliff – neither is in East Brighton ward…”. Peter Booth, one of the three Tory candidates, is united with Dan Wilson: “Roedean and The Cliff are of course in Rottingdean Coastal. We have been active in Whitehawk Way and Whitehawk Road today as our Facebook site East Brighton Conservatives will reveal! Our stay will not be brief!….and of course there is only one Mary Mears! (Thank you for considering us in her league!)”.  Actually, I don’t!

After my dig at the anonymous Goldsmid Conservatives, ‘Clive’ has directed me to their Facebook page. And there they are, the Tories’ Goldsmid council candidates – Adam Love, Debra Livingstone-Wade and Rob Buckwell.  You will not be surprised to hear them say that they “are working hard for the residents and community in Goldsmid ward.  Their priorities to improve the lives of people living in Goldsmid are: 1. Keeping council tax low; 2. Cleaner, safer neighbourhoods; 3. More school places for local children”.  If you are sad like me, with no friends, or “if you have a problem you’d like them to look into, or would like to get involved in the Goldsmid Conservatives, they’d love to hear from you.”  I’ll be on the phone to them first thing!

Regarding the irrepressible Ayas Fallon-Khan, Clive says that it “strikes me that the departure of Mr Fallon-Khan (touted on here as a deselection, not sure on what evidence) might indicate that they are not expecting to win this ward.”  Both are possible.  The Tories may well be divided and Ayas was deselected, AND the Tories have given up leaving the ward to these three estate-agent look-a-likes.

In Brunswick and Adelaide, ‘Andy’ thinks that “the Lib-Dems have increased their chances of holding their seat by ditching (David) Watkins. Watkins was good at turning up for dull council meetings, but not much else. He was never seen out canvassing or at local meetings.”  I don’t agree.  He will have some loyalty votes and some people won’t like what Paul Elgood has done to him.  This could cost Elgood a hundred or so votes and that could cost him the election.  What is more likely is that the Lib Dems, at just 8% in the polls, will be destroyed.  Steampunk says that he has “heard from two separate sources that Watkins is indeed intending to stand as an independent in May, if only to spite his ex-colleagues in the Lib Dems who have betrayed him.”

I also heard this week from the much loved, much missed, much lamented Chuck Vere regarding Rachael Bates.  Chuck writes of Momma Grizzly: “I hope she wins (in Hollingdean and Stanmer) – she has the balls to fight for residents & won’t waste time making empty promises whilst delivering nothing”.

And finally, a welcome to a new blog, from Sussex Socialist Resistance, that describes itself as the ‘Fourth International in Britain’.  Hang on, I thought that mantle was with the Socialist Workers Party, or is it the People’s Front for the Liberation of Judea? Perhaps it was the Judean Peoples Front for … I give up.  Just ask Monty Python.

Is the Brighton Politics Blogger becoming the Darling of the Tory Right? Perhaps not.

What a reaction there has been to two recent posts about young Conservative hopefuls, Robert Nemeth and Rachael Bates.  I think that, in spite of my fundamental disagreement with the politics of Nemeth and Bates, I seem to becoming something of  ‘the Darling’ of the Conservative right!

Rachael herself has taken me to task for failing to mention that Robert Nemeth is a Conservative candidate in Withdean where he “has been running a solid campaign there for months now.  Paragraphs and paragraphs could be written about Robert … but perhaps the best story that I know about him was the time when he chased and successfully caught a thief on a bike who had tried stealing his phone. I wouldn’t have wanted to be that guy on the bike!”  So there we have it, Momma Grizzly and Batman, one in Hollingdean and Stanmer, the other in Withdean.  What can the people of the Brighton Metropolis have to fear.

Lionel Crabb says we should forget about Batman’s membership of the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club, suggesting that Mr Nemeth is also a member of the exclusive Bilderberg Group.  I personally find that improbable given the exclusive nature of this exclusive club.  Perhaps Robert will let us know.

‘Clive’ has been doing some digging on Robert Nemeth. He quotes from Robert’s Latest Homes column: “I bought my first property over ten years ago as a student back when property was actually affordable.”  That prompted this response from Clive: “Property was a lot cheaper in the late 90s but nonetheless, but even the smallest flat in B&H was still beyond the sole means of most students. Which reinforces the notion that these people live very different lives to most of the rest of us.  Apparently he gets paid absolute peanuts for that Latest Homes column too – again, a luxury that most people who make a living by writing could not afford”.

When it comes to Rachael Bates, support for her and her right wing views have poured in.  ‘NG’ takes me to task: “Your rather childish attack on Rachael Bates doesn’t really enhance your reputation does it?”  (I didn’t think I had a reputation worth enhancing!  Have a look at what people say about this blog!)  NG continues that Hollingdean and Stanmer “does have a problem with parking and travellers. Isn’t she right to highlight this?”  And finally, NG asks: “Come on BPB you can surely raise your game a bit.”  If I was to raise my game, become erudite, I would lose the majority of my readers who seem to like, or at react against, the personal nature of this blog.

HP offers Rachael the hand of friendship, or the hand of something …  Judge for yourself: “Speaking as a H&S voter myself, I say she can certainly have my vote…..  She’ll just need to come and take it from my cold dead hand.  Seriously though, is there anything worse than a young conservative? It borders on being creepy, like being a young born-again christian. I believe I’m right in thinking that all young male tories grow up to be Michael Gove – is that really the future they want for themselves????”  But he is wrong about Michael Gove, as William Prothero reminds us, “At university, Gove was in the Labour party!”  And it is worth remembering that Ed Balls is rumoured (according to Wikipedia) to have been, for a very short while, a member of the Oxford University Conservative Association.

A particularly disturbing (should it be disturbed) comment comes from a website calling itself  keeptonyblairforpm which says: “Rachael is some smart girl as regards Tony Blair, and no, she is not one of a kind.  Tony Blair was, is the most inspirational leader this country has had for decades. A pity so many in the mainstrem press don’t like him – for one reason or another.”  I just don’t get it myself.  It’s like putting pins into your eyeballs.  Some people just don’t get the enjoyment you can get from bleeding eyeballs. 

Finally ‘Nick’ rejects my criticism of Rachael’s apparent lack of vision for Hollingdean and Stanmer and her obsession about seeing the Council Tax in Brighton and Hove becoming amongst the lowest in the country. “Isn’t it possible to make “Brighton & Hove’s council tax one of the lowest in the country” at the same time as making it a “better, fairer place to live”?  I doubt it, but let me know what you think.

And finally finally!  Dan Wilson, fast becoming the Beast of Regency, springs gazzelle like to the defence of the Legend that is Brian Fitch in response to my comment about the oft deselected former councillor:  “to be selected so many times! Such love! And he in like Flynn once more. A true fighter. Not a “gap year” councillor like so many Greenos who chuck it in after one term.”  All together, now Ooooooh.  Cutting.  The Beast says: “Brian Fitch is a legend and much loved by Labour people. I would happily join a fan club.”  Please form an orderly queue behind Dan Wilson.

Robert Nemeth and the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club

There are a large number of young candidates standing in May’s local elections, Rachael Bates (Momma Grizzly to her admirers and keen Sarah Palin fan), Tom French (who impressed all in last year’s St Peter’s and North Laine by-election, and Robert Nemeth. 

Several of my “spies” (as Dan Wilson calls you) have been talking about Robert Nemeth.  Robert, for those who aren’t familiar with him, was the  unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the Regency by-election in 2007 and who had come 5th in Regency in May 2007.

Robert was described by the Argus last May as a “young hopeful” who had “come to the fore”.  Robert does put himself about and is predicted to have a bright future in politics.  But he is a central player in local Conservative Party affairs.  In 2009 he succeeded Daniel Hannan MEP as chairman of the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club which, according to Daniel Hannan, “raises oodles of money from all over Sussex for the three Brighton and Hove seats”.  (Labour and Green activists take note.  This is SERIOUS fundraising with a very right wing edge).

Robert, a property developer, writes a regular architecture column, Building Opinions, in Latest Homes magazine.  In this week’s column he writes about Hollingdean: “Hollingdean began as one of the laines (fields) of the parish of Preston and was developed from the 1890’s. It is well known for the council depot and the waste transfer station beside the railway bridge.  Most interesting of all was the municipal abattoir on the same site that operated from 1894 to 1986”.

One can only assume that Robert is not standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer if that is the best he can write about Hollingdean. He could have mentioned the vibrant community around Five Ways (part of which is in Hollingdean), the golf course (and the wonderful but hidden Old Golf House), and the wonderful mixed community and schools  from the Dip, up Stevens Road, to Lynchet Close and Brentwood Road.

Robert has an admirer in an unexpected corner – Christopher Hawtree.  Christopher writes: “The Tories should have opted for Robert Nemeth in Wish rather than continue with the nationally discredited Ted Kemble. The Jason Kitcat case resonates. Garry Peltzer Dunn and Robert Nemeth would have presented a far stronger Tory case in Wish”.

So there you have it.  The future of the Tories locally is invested in the person of Robert Nemeth, and the tens of thousands being raised through the  Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club.