Rachael Bates, a right wing admirer of Daniel Hannan and of a former Labour leader

I’m not into the cult of personality, but today I just couldn’t resist posting a profile of one of the most determined, right wing  and youngest amongst the local Conservative ranks.  It is none other than Momma Grizzly herself, Rachael Bates.  Why her and why today? It is Rachael’s 22nd birthday.

Rachael’s political hero is Daniel Hannan MEP. Immediately you will get an insight to her right-wing views.  She describes Daniel thus: “He has great vision, is spot on about almost everything, is a fantastic orator and is just a lovely guy”.

Rachael graduated last year from that hot bed of Conservative activism, Sussex University, and immediately started working for the newly elected Conservative MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley, one of several bright young activists who support him.

Away from politics, Rachael loves going to the Pav Tav (usually for Guerilla Rocks) and to Belushi’s Below for their fantastic rock and metal night, Abandoned. (I have no idea what I have typed and whether it makes any sense to anyone else.  It certainly is alien to me).

Rachael is a Big Society kind of girl: “Charity is extremely important to me. I have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Childreach International. The charity that I champion the most is Help for Heroes. I will never be seen without my Help for Heroes armband”. (Is a Help the Heroes armband essential dress for Belushi’s Below and Abandoned?).

This next view will not go down at all well with Labour activists at all. She says that the opposition politician she admires most “despite disagreeing with a lot of the decisions he made, it has to be Tony Blair.  His strength, determination and devotion to what he believed was right for the country are something I admire very much.”  Rachael, you must be one of the last two people in Britain who thinks what he did (Iraq, Afghanistan, George W Bush, etc) was right.  The other person is …. Tony Blair.

In May’s local elections Rachael is standing for election in Hollingdean and Stanmer. As a Conservative candidate she has absolutely no chance of winning (I know, that’s harsh, especially on her birthday, but it is the truth). But this does not stop Rachael Bates. She is clear about what her priorities would be if, IF, she was elected: “My main priority is to keep council tax low so that hard-working people can have more of their own money in their pockets. I am passionate about letting people run their own lives rather than the government dictating to them.”

She goes on: “Parking is an issue that I find is a massive problem that needs to be addressed, as is the issue of travellers.”  So not compassionate conservatism here.  A true follower of Daniel Hannan.  “I am keen to continue working closely with the two fantastic universities in Brighton and to encourage a good relationship with students and their neighbours.”

Her political ambition is to successfully represent the people of Hollingdean & Stanmer and to make Brighton & Hove’s council tax one of the lowest in the country.  How depressing.  Nothing about making Brighton and Hove a better, fairer place to live.  It is a good thing, then, that she won’t be elected.

But she has expressed one political ambition that I can’t fault her on, and that is to appear on the Brighton Politics Blog!  So, happy birthday, Rachael.  I am glad that I have been able to be part of fulfilling the only ambition that you will achieve this year.

The Labour Party has failed young people; the Greens are now failing them

Brighton has had, for several generations, a tradition of resistance.  In the 1930s, when Oswald Mosely’s Black Shirts tried to rally in Brighton, there were fierce street battles, and the fascists were prevented from meeting on The Level.  In the 1960s, with the founding of Sussex University, radical student activity abounded, with sit-ins and demonstrations. In the 1970s there were dozens of left-wing and anarchist groups operating in Brighton, based around the old Resource Centre where the Brighthelm Centre now stands.  Punk, New Wave, and Ska music vied with the politics of fascist groups. Feminist and separatist women’s politics was flourishing.

The arrival of the Thatcher government in 1979, and with it mass unemployment, saw Right to Work marches, the People’s March for Jobs, and more fascist activity.  The National Front was active locally, with many of its national leaders living locally. The Anti-Nazi League attracted lots of support from students and young activists, although not from the Militant-dominated Labour Party Young Socialists who supported the less militant Committee Against Fascism.  Militant and the LPYS didn’t support the opposition to the Falklands War, but hundreds of young people did march against the war.  This growing activism created momentum that led to Labour’s assault on the Tories 130 year control on Brighton Council.  Hundreds of young activists had joined the Party and led by David Lepper and Steve Bassam, Labour took control of the Council in 1986 for the first time ever.

The Poll Tax created further momentum and support for the Party peaked in 1990.  But within two years all was lost when the Brighton Labour Party was closed down as part of Kinnock’s witch hunt against Militant.  The Party has never properly recovered and young activists today are few and far between.  The anarchist and fringe left groups have gone.  Small, marginalised groups have emerged, but they are characterised by sectarianism and an inability to organise and mobilise.  Some young people have maintained their political awareness, but mainly in single-issue campaigning.  More often than not, they have become disillusioned and disengaged.  And who can blame them.

The Labour Party in government betrayed the heritage that brought advantage to many of its leaders by introducing tuition fees and saddling generations of graduates with years and years of debt.  Housing is a major concern and so too are job prospects.  The Greens, who should be in a position to harness the anger, aspirations and idealism of young people, are showing themselves to be poor organisers and somewhat elitist, in spite of the success of Caroline Lucas.  A question the Greens must answer is: why are talented young activists like Tom French in the Labour Party and not part of the next chapter of the Green’s march forward in Brighton?

The Labour Party has failed young people, the Greens are failing to capitalise.  What a failure by both.

A Tactical Vote in Lewes is a Lib Dem Vote

The first call for the Tactical Voting Campaign is for Labour and Greens to support Stormin’ Norman at the General Election.  Norman Baker MP was elected to Parliament in 1997. A former local councillor he has gained a huge reputation at Westminster for his campaigning from the back benches for a public enquiry into the death of David Kelly.

There should be no difficulty in Labour and Greens voting for Norman, unless of course you are a huge fan of Peter Mandelson.  Baker is probably the MP hated most by Mandelson.  All the more reason for voting for him!

Up against him are Jason Sugarman (Conservative) and Hratche Koundarjian (Labour).  Sugarman was educated at Brighton College and Durham University. He is a barrister specialising in criminal law. Having contested Dudley South in 2001, he appears to be a Tory in search of a seat. Koundarjian was educated at Sussex University and works in public affairs. Unfortunately for him, Labour doesn’t stand a hope in hell of winning in Lewes, so Labour voters should have no hesitation in voting Lib Dem.

The result in 2005 was:

Conservative: 15902 (34.2%)
Labour: 4169 (9%)
Liberal Democrat: 24376 (52.4%)
Green: 1071 (2.3%)
UKIP: 1034 (2.2%)
Majority: 8474 (18.2%)

Since then there have been boundary changes.  The UK Polling Report has adjusted the 2005 result to reflect the boundary changes and reports a notional 2005 result as follows:

Liberal Democrat: 26140 (51.6%)
Conservative: 17212 (34%)
Labour: 4943 (9.8%)
Other: 2359 (4.7%)
Majority: 8928 (17.6%)