A review of May’s local elections, as seen by birds

I was recently sent an amazing, original review of the local elections. With the agreement of the author, Pearl Ahrens, I reproduce an extract here.

“It’s a week after kestrelection day, and the kites have been counted, cormorants have been congratulated / consoled and meetings have been held. Last year’s kestrelection victory was replayed, with the Grebe Party winning 23 seats on the barnowl, making them the biggest party. The Grebe Group made the announcement on Monday that it will not form a coachicken with the Labullfinch Group, but instead form a minority admoorhenstration.

“Grebes Phalarope Maccaferty and Owlie Snipes took over from the defector Diverd Waxwing, who was standing again as and indepheasant, and Paul Eagled, a Lib Dem. The Lib Dems selected Brian Rock-Dove as a fellow cormorant for Paul.

“Ania Kitcoot, the only Slavonian Grebe on the barnowl, got a seat next to her husband, Jason Kitcoot.

“Tern Sandfrench lost out on a seat in Quail’s Park that he really wanted, by 325 kites. But Quail’s Park is still grebe, with Ben Dunlin staying on but two new barnowlors taking over: Steph Petrel and Geoffrey Birden.

“In St Pintail’s and Nuthatch Laine, Lizzie Dunnock got about 300 kites more than her fellow Grebe cormorants Ian Diver and Pete Whinchat, but they all got kestre-elected. Clare Curlew (hatchling of Jean Curlew and Andean Condor) put up a good flight but should probably try again in a safer Labullfinch seat.

“Diver Bangs, author of the book ‘Where the meadowpipit meets the waterpipit’, stood in Moulescoomb and Bevendean for Tern Union and Stonechat Coachicken (T.U.S.C.), but to no avail, as, sadly, he only got 267 kites.

“The Consparrowhawks ditched barnowlor Magpie Mears as leader of the Consparrowhawk group in favour of Geoffrey Theobaldeagle, ex-cabinercaillie-member-for-the-envionment. Fellow Rottingdean Seabirds barnowlor Lynda Hide caused outrage at the budgie meeting by squarking at the public gallery to “Pay your taxes!”

“The Consparrowhawks did very badly all over the city. Rob Jayrett, Ruth Bullfinch and Skylarks Philips snatched the former Consparrowhawk stronghold of Goldcrest for the Grebes.

“The result in Patcham was only as expected. All 3 Consparrowhawk barnowlors got kestre-elected with a 609 majority on the runner-up cormorant: Hugh Woodcock, a Grebe. Carol and Geoffrey Theobaldeagle and Brian Pigeon are the barnowlors.

“In a welcome surprise victory, the Grebe Christopher Hawktree won his long-eared long-tailed seat in Central Dove. He famgrousely got challenged to a duel by Tory barnowlor Diverd Smewth in the pages of the Argoose. Hawktree rejackdawed the challenge because he was going to the librookery that day.”

Apologies that I didn’t post this much earlier but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Tory young guns firing bullets of indignation

I am not a small-state, socially liberal and fiscally conservative kind of guy. That may come as a surprise to some of you Eco-Marxist, Commie (credit for those labels to Chuck Vere and Paul Perrin – that would be a marriage made Hell) fanatics who have infiltrated the Green Party. I have a problem. I like Michael Ireland, one of the young breed of Tory candidates who stood and fell last Thursday. But Michael describes himself as a “small-state, socially liberal and fiscally conservative kind of guy.” I imagine it’s just a phase he’s going through.

The young Tories had such high hopes only to see each one fall to the Greens or, in the case of Michael, to Labour’s Brian Fitch, and Kerry Underhill also to Labour. Rachael Bates, George Dore, Mike McFarland (the guy lucky enough to leave his toothbrush next to George’s), Robert Nemeth, and Adam Love were beaten by Green opponents.

Young candidates from other parties fared no better with Labour’s Clare Calder, Tom French and Harris Fitch, the Greens’ Luke Walter and Allie Cannell, and the Lib Dems Rebecca Taylor, Tallulah Frankland and Larissa Rowe all lost. In fact no new young councillors were elected, and there remains just one councillor under the age of 30, the Greens’ Alex Phillps.

The young Conservatives are not a happy bunch. Last night I posted comments from a Tory Party member regarding the young Conservatives. Today I have been bombarded by these said Tories denouncing each other as if one of them is my informant. At no point did I intimate that my correspondent was one of their number. But look at how they turn against each other:

Michael Ireland: “I was shocked to see this post after having just cleaned my teeth this morning. Whilst the anonymous poster might have provided a fascinating observation for the blog, their comments, whilst ostensibly representing our group, are merely their own opinion.”

Robert Nemeth: “I’ve never posted on here before but it has been drawn to my attention that it may well be assumed that I am your cowardly friend. As I am neither cowardly nor your friend, I would very much like to distance myself from public attacks on colleagues. There is no real group of young Conservatives as such but, if there were and it did have a spokesman, that person would not be such a sneak. Hopefully it is nobody that I know. For the record, I am dead impressed by the Greens’ organisational skills. I doubt that they managed to get in such a position by sneaking around on blogs.”

Rob Buckley: “Your informer, whoever they may be, does not speak for the entire younger generation within the local Conservative Party. I know some of his/her assertions to be inaccurate. This highlights the problem with hiding cowardly behind anonymity.”

And finally, Momma Grizzly: “I entirely agree with Rob Buckwell. Whoever your ‘informant’ is should have the guts to come out from behind the veil of anonymity if they are to say such comments. They certainly do not speak for all of the younger Conservatives and I’m not impressed that this person who has chosen to remain anonymous has taken it upon themselves to say that they represent our views.”

Labour activists reacted with similar indignation when one of their numbers passed on views which were then passed on to this Blogger. Anonymity is something that you may have to get used to. But there are some fascinating insights that I won’t share, which is a shame. For example, today I received a great email from a Labour activist from Hove who asked me to keep his/her comments ‘off line’, a request which I will respect.

But do keep the comments coming, email to brightonpoliticsblogger@googlemail.com and indicate whether I can use them. Alternatively, Direct Message me through Twitter @BrightonPolitic, or simply leave a comment on this blog.

A good weekend for Labour, but what is it with Warren and the Sugar Puffs?

It’s been a good weekend for Labour, particularly in Hanover and Elm Grove and in Queens Park. Activists by the dozen descended on these wards in a major push for Labour. Baron Pepperpot writes: “Loads of Labour supporters out in Queens Park today, and if I’m not mistaken, I thought I saw Cllr Morgan at the monument that bares my name… No sugar puffs in hand though, although he does look like a big cuddly honey monster…… Queens Park is going red…”. Another Baron, this one Herkonnen, says of the numbers who turned out, “over 60 in fact, met at pepperpot and split between QP and H + EG”.

Yes, it was a good turnout, but will it make the difference? In Queens Park it might just, but I think that Labour is deceiving itself if it thinks it can unseat the Buddha (Bill Randall).

Labour would have been better advised to have directed it’s resources to seats at risk, such as Hollingdean and Stanmer. Labour remains deluded about its prospects, believing it can win in wards such as Brunswick and Adelaide.

Where Labour is heading for an absolutely thumping result is East Brighton. Warren Morgan, whose account of the campaign can largely be relied on, writes: “On Saturday in my ward alone we spoke to 100 people, 70 of them uncontacted since 2007 or earlier, or never contacted at all. 65 voters were Labour, and just three admitted to being Tory. We’ve been doorknocking every week for a year. You do the maths. And in terms of voter contact we are nowhere near the top of the Labour held/target wards.”

Actually, Waren’s last comment is one that I take issue with. Unlike East Brighton, few other wards have the Labour activists to carry out a complete canvass. Queens Park, thanks to Tom French’s singleminded determination, is an exception.

In Hove, Labour is running quiet yet effective campaignsin South Portslade and North Portslade, nothing exciting but enough to challenge for both seats in each ward. The Labour campaign in Hangleton and Knoll isn’t great, but the Brian Fitch Machine should see The Legend elected.

It is being suggested that Celia Barlow has disappeared from the fight in Central Hove, even that she isn’t registered to vote in the election. Can anyone shed light on this.

And finally, Harris Fitch, showing wisdom beyond his years, asks the question that needs answering. He asks: “What is this Sugar Puff thing?”. Yes, Warren, come clean, please tell all….

A campaign more interesting and more important that the local elections

Forget the local elections. There is another campaign that is far more interesting and far more important, mentioned on my post yesterday. Who is the top political Tweeter in Brighton and Hove. And it is not the Sugar Puff scoffing Warren Morgan.

According to updood.com, based on the number of followers, Labour’s Tom French is at number 964 of the top 1,000 Tweeters in Brighton and Hove. His Green opponent in Queens Park, Ben Duncan, is well ahead of him at number 472 with Warren Morgan, nudging ahead for Labour, at number 470. But above them (and I apologise for missing anyone out – I did crawl out of my dark basement for a couple of hours today) is Celia Barlow at number 383, and Green Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett at 353.

The highest ranking Labour politician is Dan Wilson at number 315. Momma Grizzly should be there at about number 250, but she has not set her location as Brighton.

But the leading politician is (and no doubt I will be accused of Green bias) is Caroline Lucas at number 9. But the top Twit in Brighton and Hove is the adorable Peter Andre!

I still don’t appear in the top 1,000, a source of considerable angst and a cause for self-loathing, but I still have all my loyal readers – Christopher, Warren, Grizzly, and now a fourth, Valerie. What more could I ask for? An Easter Egg perhaps.

Labour lacks what it takes to win again in Brighton and Hove and needs someone like Steve Bassam to lead its recovery

One key factor in this May’s local elections is how well Labour in Brighton and Hove has recovered from last year’s general election defeats. Sadly, the same central Party organisation remains in place, and there is a lack of purpose permeating throughout the Party with a few notable exceptions.

In East Brighton, Hanover and Elm Grove, Queens Park, and in Hangleton and Knoll, there are reasonable campaigns being run. The team in East Brighton have, in my estimation, the best campaign. In Hanover and Elm Grove, led by Tracey Hill, consistent campaigning is being undertaken, but the challenge facing the Labour team here is too great and the Green campaign will, ultimately, produce a substantial Green victory.

Queens Park remains the seat where Labour migh justbtake a seat from the Greens is characterised by the exhaustive campaigning by Tom French. But round the clock campaigning in the six weeks leading up to polling day will not counter four years consistent service by Green councillors.

Hangleton and Knoll has a massive factor that is absent from all other campaigns being run by Labour. That is the Fitch Factor (Brian, that is. Harris, you don’t have it …yet).

In some seats in the heart of Hove, the candidates are out and about. Celia Barlow and Simon Battle are seasoned campaigners, and will do well on a personal level. There is a sense of impending defeat in Hollingdean and Stanmer, but the Lepper Machine (along with the machine is East Brighton) can be relied on to fight to the last moment. Whether it can save more than Jeane Lepper is something I doubt.

In other areas, such as Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, St Peters and North Laine, Regency, and Brunswick and Adelaide, the campaigns are struggling. Out of these, the campaign in Regency is the strongest, not least because of the candidates James Asser and Dan Wilson, both excellent candidates who should be offered more winnable seats in the future. Apart from the determined Anne Freeman, there is little evidence of a campaign team. In St Peters and North Laine, the lack of organisation is disguised by the energy and profile of the youngest candidate, Clare Calder. In Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, and in Brunswick and Adelaide, the Labour campaigns can be characterised by ….. well nothing, really.

The real problem for Labour is the absence of an inspirational leader and of some fire in the belly of the local organisation. The one thing that you can rely on to get Labour activists going is to mention Caroline Lucas. What is needed is someone who can articulate a vision (and it isn’t coming from Ed Milliband). Why should people join Labour locally, and why should they become active. The Greens articulate a vision, are active and offer what feels like an alternative.

Warren Morgan, Craig Turton, Tracey Hills, Simon Battle, Brian Fitch, Clare Calder, James Asser, Dan Wilson and Celia Barlow, to name a few, are assets for Labour, but Labour needs two or three hundred activists thing, and thirty or forty candidates who are well known and energetic. Instead, the same old faces dominate, and nothing new is heard from them. Gill Mitchell is more than able, but is yet to reach beyond party and Council structures and become recognised by ordinary people in the way that someone like Steve Bassam was. Steve knew how to organise and to mobilise, and someone like Steve is just what Labour needs if it is to recover in the face of the spreading Green tide.

A round up from Doorstep Brighton – Sunday 3rd April 2011

In reverse order from the anticipated election results, I’ll start with the Lib Dems. It appears that their decline continues with some pace. For the first time in living memory, the Yellow Ones are unable to field a full list of candidates. In an area like Brighton and Hove it shows that this party is now a bit part player, not to be taken too seriously (have I ever?) and should be regarded along side other marginal groups such as the Socialist Party and UKIP.

Rebecca Taylor, one of the Lib Dem candidates in Central Hove where the Lib Dems have managed to find 2 candidates, has written regarding my round up of young candidates: “Reading your post on twitter I felt I’d like to comment – you’ve forgtten a couple of us young uns! Though 30 might not be so young, me and Mark Collins are working hard to win in Central Hove. I’m proud of Mark as at 22 it’s fantastic to see him so committed to working for his city. Like you I’m equally encouraged by all the young candidates emerging. I’ve met Clare (Calder) and Tom (French) and wish them and all of us the very best in the elections.”

As I have suggested before, Rebecca is too gifted an activist and person to remain in the Wastelands (the Lib Dems). But as for including herself as a ‘young’ candidate, she’s got to be joking. She is now closer to qualifying for a Freedom Pass (a bus pass at 60) than her birth. (That all assumes that her party in Coalition doesn’t abolish them in the next few years).

The Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell) corrects me regarding his age. He is not 22 as I suggested but a “positively ancient 27”. I personally can’t imagine what it will be like to be 27. He writes: “It’s all to play for here in Goldsmid, and we are campaigning hard to win in this 3-way marginal. Watch this space…”. Well, Rob, I watched the space for about an hour last night and nothing happened. I suspect the same will be true in May.

Warren Morgan thinks Maria Caulfield is at risk in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean: “A YouGov poll this week of areas holding local elections predicted the Tories will lose 1000 seats on May 5th. If Maria Caulfield’s isn’t one of them I will be very surprised.”

Brighton Boy says that “If warren morgan is looking for councillors who might lose their seats in may the canvass returns for east brighton suggest he may like to look closer to home!”

Peter Booth is a Tory candidate in East Brighton who is standing against Warren Morgan. He insists on referring to Councillor Morgan as “Mr Morgan”. Fear not, Peter, in the early hours of 6th May you may legitimately call Councillor Morgan by the title “The Winner” as you pay tribute, in your speech accepting defea, to his fine victory in East Brighton.

But in his analysis, MISTER Booth says that Warren Morgan “has not a clue what he is talking about! The East Brighton Conservative candidates are working hard to unseat him and his cohorts, and are very pleased to have been supported by Simon Kirby our MP for Brighton Kemptown. I am also delighted to inform him that the 2 Conservative Associations in our city have never worked closer with each other! The Conservative team across the city is now firmly in place, and we are all working hard and up for the final 32 days of campaigning to keep Brighton & Hove Blue.”

I like the dreaded vote of confidence Mr Booth gives to the two Conservative Associations. As for the Conservative Team being firmly in place, it was firmly in place in mid March when the candidates were announced, before George Dore joined the Toothbrush (Mike Macfarlane) in crossing from Kemptown to Brighton Pavilion.

Allie Cannell, one of the most astute activists around, suggests that something interesting is happening in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean “I had a great time doing a bit of door knocking in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean the other night. Those people who have put an outside bet on the Greens getting a seat there might be in for a nice suprise.” I certainly wasn’t one of them, but Christopher Hawtree agrees with Allie: “Moulescoomb could prove very interesting for the Green.” Chris is “more sure than ever that Westbourne could be a swing state. Greens gain Westbourne? Watch that space.”

Finally, Paul Perrin, my favourite Cumugeon, returns to the young candidates and asks: “Do you still think it is a good idea to have all these children (many of whom have only ever drawn on public funds, provided by wealth-generating taxpayers for their sustenance) aiming to run the council?” I have just one question for Paul, do you do stand up routines at open mike events?

More later on the intriguing story of Janet and John (George and the Toothbrush).

Councillors, young and Older, and candidates, young and younger

A number of councillors are standing down from Brighton and Hove City Council. All bar two are Green councillors. That’s not to say that other councillors won’t be around after May 5th. Councillor Pat Drake stands down after several decades as a County and more recently City Councillor. She is much respected, and generous, yet deserved, tributes were paid to her at the last Council meeting (just about the only civil exchange of the evening).

Councillor Averil Older stands down from her Central Hove seat. Unlike some councillors, she has remained a very normal human being, someone who is easy to talk to and to get along with. I wish both Pat and Averil happy retirements.

The Green councillors who are standing down are not retiring. Several are young and, understandably, are having to concentrate on their careers. All are very talented and the City will be all the poorer for the decision of Rachel Fryer, Paul Steedman, Vicky Wakefield-Jarret and Georgia Wrighton to stand down. I hope, like Councillor Pete West, that they will consider standing again at some point in the future.

There are other councillors who are standing but may not survive the decision of the electorate. I predict that up to six Labour councillors are at risk of losing their seats. Up to four Tories may lose their seats along with one Lib Dem and one Independent.

Hoping to win seats on the City Council are several young and very young candidates. For the Tories, Momma Grizzly (Rachael Bates, aged 22) is standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer, and the Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell, also 22) is standing in Goldsmid. For Labour, Harris Fitch (20) is standing in Rottingdean Coastal, and Clare Calder (18) is standing in St Peters and North Laine. The disappointing reality for these Young Turks, is that none have a realistic chance of being elected.

Of these four, the Estate Agent has the best chance of winning a seat although I suspect that in Goldsmid Labour’s Melanie Davis, Green Alex Phillips and another Green will be elected. Alex is currently the Baby of the Chamber having been elected less than two years ago at the age of 24. Alex has what it takes to make it big in politics, probably in Europe and in due course joining Caroline Lucas in Westminster.

Second time candidate at 25, Tom French (who fought a very strong campaign in the St Peters and North Laine by-election last year) has an outside chance of winning Queens Park for Labour, but needs to see off a strong Green presence in that ward.

The young candidate most likely to be elected is Luke Walter (22) who is standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer, although having a surname starting with ‘W’ he may be the Green to lose out should H&S return Jeane Lepper and two Greens (Sven Rufus and Christina Summers).

But the emergence of young candidates is encouraging although it is very regretable when young councillors find it necessary to stand down in order to pursue their careers.

The final word goes to Hanover and Elm Grove councillor, Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett, who has captured a tone that I would like to see between Labour and Green activists. In a tweet earlier today she wrote: “@ClareCalder I’m supporting Greens, but wanted to say i think it’s great you’re standing – I hope it’s a positive experience for you.”. I echo the sentiment, I hope that it is a positive experience for Luke, Rachael, Rob, Harris, and Clare.