An alternative view to the Brighton and Hove Independent 100

The Brighton and Hove Independent last week (30th May) published a list of the “100 people who make our city what it is”. The Editorial Director, Greg Hadfield has said he “expects – and even hopes – that almost everyone will disagree” with the list.

Let me be the first. There are the predictable names but it is who Greg has missed that demands comment. For example, why is your Humble Blogger not included? No politician can hope for recognition and success without endorsement from this awesome blog.

It is all very well to have Martin Harris from the bus company, but what about former Mayor, Brian Fitch, who singlehandedly, in a career stretching back to when Methuselah was a boy in short trousers, has saved bus route after bus route, most recently the Number 5, from being callously axed without a second thought to those isolated on our estates. What hope is there for them now that Brian has moved to Eastbourne?

More seriously, in the media section, there is no mention of anyone from the Brighton Argus. I just can’t imagine why not! Adam Trimingham, at least, should be there.

Three politicians from each of the main political parties are listed although the Green, Major Druitt, is listed because of his business influence, and Katy Bourne appears to have transcended her party political affiliations to be listed under Public Services.

But how does one make a judgement on who has made a contribution to make our city what it is. When reviewing the list, I was hard pressed to say for over half of them one thing they have done to make or change the City. Merely holding a position, elected or otherwise, doesn’t mean that you have helped to shape a place.

A better list would be who, over the last 25 years or more, has helped to make Brighton and Hove what it is today. Who is the modern day Herbert Carden, Margaret Hardy, Lewis Cohen, Dorothy Stringer, John Morley, Denis Hobden, Tony Hewison, Asa Briggs, or Richard Attenborough? Their influence on the City remains even though they are no longer with us.

I could mention people like Linda Pointing, Dani Ahrens and Melita Dennett, who (amongst others) were pioneers in the movement for lesbian and gay rights and recognition, and opposition to Section 28. Or Shirley West who was, for many years, the backbone of the Women’s Centre. Jess Wood from Allsorts continues this work, particularly with children and young people.

For fifty years Patricia Norman was central to the Friends Centre and to its adult education arm. Into her nineties she continued with a group for pensioners run from the Friends Centre, as well as being involved in the work of Brighton Housing Trust for over 45 years, most recently as its Life President.

Kate Page has been at the Resources Centre for almost 35 years, helping countless community organisations shape their communities. And Faith Matyszak provided the backbone of BME services throughout the 1980’s, 90’s and noughties.

Local domestic violence services were saved by a group including the above-mentioned Shirley West and Jean Calder, who subsequently became the first Director of the Women’s Refuge Project (now Rise). Jean later led the successful campaign to save St Peters Church as a place of worship, alongside Janet King, Isabel Turner and others. (Jean now has the honour to be a regular contributor to this esteemed blog.)

Interfaith activities were championed by Tehm Framroze, and now by Anthea Ballam. They should be on the list. Andrew Manson-Brailsford and Ian Chisnall continue to make the Church relevant in the community. Rabbi Elli Sarah does likewise for Progressive Jewish community.

While he will no doubt write a strongly worded letter against his inclusion, Tony Greenstein should be included for being a public irritant of gargantuan proportions but, more so, for being one of the most consistent anti-fascist in Brighton and Hove.

What about the campaigners who helped to close down the Dolphinarium? Or Duncan Blinkhorn and Mark Strong for getting the needs of cyclists acknowledged.

Mushtaq Ahmed was pivotal in establishing Sussex CCC as a force to be reckoned with. Dick Knight could represent all those who helped secure a stadium fit for the 21st century at Falmer.

Michael Chowen, a local businessman and employer, has been a philanthropist with a particular commitment to women’s services. Peter Field has had a long history in charitable work, not least in nurturing and developing housing services for homeless people.

I could go on and on, and I usually do, but those named above would be 25 of my 100.

Nancy and Caroline have everything to gain from Charlotte avoiding the Hustings

In a recent blog on her website, Chuck Vere reflects on whether to take part in hustings in the run up to the general election. In a later post she says “You see, if I am not there Labour and them Greens will fight amongst themselves – such a bad thing?”

I imagine the hustings in Brighton Pavilion will be most fascinating, and I can see why Chuck is in two minds about attending. Following the example of Labour in 1996/97, the Tories in 2009/10 are saying as little as possible in order to avoid making mistakes.  But unlike Labour in ’97, the Tories cannot assume an uncomplicated procession into Downing Street.  Its candidates are going to have to fight house to house and street by street in constituencies like Brighton Pavilion.  Hustings will be an important part of that.  Hustings at The Calvary Church will be just one of many that will be arranged.

What Chuck Vere has to do, and what she will find very difficult given the poor organisation of the Tories across Brighton Pavilion, is to get to meet and convince ordinary residents – those who have not moved to Brighton from London in the last five years – that she isn’t just another Tory on the make.  She may be comfortable at the Withdene Sportsman and in the company of members of the local Conservative Association, but how will she get on in Crabtree Avenue, in The Dip, and in Stephens Road.  When will we see her on the Number 46 bus? The Conservative Association is not strong beyond the outlying wards.

Caroline Lucas has the a similar problem, getting across to residents beyond the Muesli Belt where the Greens are particularly strong.  Caroline has momentum but not a strong organisation across the constituency.  Nancy Platts, who is running the most energetic campaign and who is seen around all wards, and understands why the bells tolling this evening at St Peter’s Church is significant, is hampered by a local Party on its knees.

The outcome of a three-way split, in an election campaign being waged by three extraodinary women, may be decided by hustings.  On that basis I would be delighted if Chuck Vere failed to show as it would give the edge to Nancy and Caroline.  However, in the interests of democracy I hope she will be there.