Westbourne by-election: the wooden spoon candidate enters the race

And then there were 6: Graham Cox (Conservative), Louisa Greenbaum (Green), Nigel Jenner (Labour), Paul Perrin (UKIP), Gareth Jones (Lib Dems), and now Pip Tindall (TUSC).

Ms Tindall, a former Green candidate in East Brighton, has been selected to contest the Westbourne by-election on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. When I say “contest” I really mean “crawl in last” since TUSC has the unenviable record of coming last in most elections locally.

But TUSC’s entry into this by-election race will have some small impact, for TUSC is to Labour and the Greens what UKIP is to the Tories, an annoying side show that will take a handful of votes from the more credible parties.

So why has Ms Tindall abandoned the party she stood for just 7 months ago? She said: “The Green Party says it’s opposed to cuts, but that’s just so much hot air if it won’t fight them when it gets the chance. I was horrified when I heard the Greens in Brighton intended to hand down the cost of the banking crisis to those least able to afford it – the public service users of Brighton and Hove.”

I am sure that the Greens are trembling in their boots as this Don Quixote charges an imaginary windmill. I can make a prediction about the by-election result: TUSC will come last, then the Lib Dems, then UKIP. Who will win? Not sure yet, it is a genuine 3 way marginal.

Tomorrow’s public sector workers strike will provide a morale boost for both Labour and the Greens. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will also ensure that anyone in doubt about going out on strike will have had and doubts removed. Good luck to one and all who are joining tomorrow’s action.

Westbourne by-election: comments that open up the sluices at both ends

Apologies for my silence. I’ve not been well. Three days with, as Monty Python said in regard to some Australian table wine, the sluices were opened up at both ends! That’s already too much detail for my three regular readers (Grizzly, Doris and Biker Dave. So Cool Soosie seems to have abandoned me).

I have just reviewed a few dozen comments on this blog and the overwhelming majority seem to be attacking the Green candidate, Louisa Greenbaum. It is quite obvious that Labour and Tory activists seem to think that Louisa is the front runner. And they are probably right.

Caroline Penn is one whose comments are normally positive about her candidate, Nigel Jenner, and lists his qualities. She makes a reasonable attack on the Tories for the closure of Hove Police Station.

Another Labour supporter, Gloria Van de Lay (who has teased me mercilessly in DM’s) describes Nigel as “locally resident” living, as he does, just outside the ward. She also sees the Tory record on policing as a weakness of the Tory campaign. I wouldn’t write Graham Cox’s chances off. He is an extremely strong candidate, is well known in the area, and is one of the most single-minded individuals I have ever met, judging from his record as the Top Cop in Hove some years back.

Having listed Louisa’s various interests from her Facebook page, Gloria announces that, on balance, she advocates a vote for Nigel. Fancy that. She is also beastly to the Lib Dem candidate, Gareth Jones. For me to defend a Lib Dem, well that how OTT she has been. I agree with Simon Williams, the former Green councillor, who suggests she lies down in a darkened room for a while.

Steampunk claims most of the Green councillors are over 70 but look younger due to healthy green lifestyles. He says that Alex Phillips is the youngest at 43. A brave man to take on Lady Everton. Careful crossing the road, Punk. You don’t want to be run over by a Big Lemon.

My Pal Paul (Perrin), the UKIP candidate, bemoans another party employee running for office. I understand Louisa works just 10 hours a week for the Greens. But why should it matter anyway? He also notes that Louisa was the Green’s ‘first’ candidate last time. A strong point in her favour, I would imagine, given that three of the other candidates stood elsewhere as recently as May. Her track record strengthens her position.

Paul also says that I have “really lost it” – I got his age wrong (he seems to have taken offence at giving his age as 14 and three quarters!) and guessing that my “beloved Louisa” was in her 30’s when she is, in fact, a male in her 50’s. Actually, she is 41. Paul says that I am “squandering whatever good will (I) have had in the past…”. Well, thank goodness for that. As long as Doris, Biker Dave and Grizzly still love me, I’m happy.

Linda F (a Young Tory, me thinks, under 50 anyway) joins the ranks of the Green bashers, mentioning the schools attended by Louisa (Leeds Girls’ High School) and a couple other Greens, as well as putting the boot into Nigel Jenner for attending Brighton College. I heard a rumour that the Tory Party leader, Dave Cameron, his mate Boy George, and several others in his Cabinet went to Eton, while his fag (not a derogatory term but indicates a junior boy who does the bidding of a prefect at a private school) Nick Clegg went to the inferior Westminster School.

My spiritual friend, Ghost, identifies some of Louisa’s advantages in this by-election, second on the ballot, the only woman, and an established profile in the ward.

Pete Gillman, like Caroline Penn, makes a characteristically positive intervention by focusing on issues, although he might be being a bit melodramatic by suggesting the Greens wanted “easy access to hard drugs and legalised brothels if they had their way.”

Mike Weatherley has gone out to show a united front with Graham Cox, promoting him on Twitter and canvassing for him. But the cause of unity is not helped by Valerie Paynter, the biggest fan of The People’s Mike in Hove. She challenges Graham: “You say you agree with Mike Weatherley ‘on most issues’. I wonder, could you tell us, on what named issues you disagree?”. Not helpful Ms Paynter, well not for the Tory cause.

My Pal Paul says this by-election will make no difference unless, of course, he is elected. I think he may beat the Lib Dems into 4th place, but not more. But RobS (who graces us with his presence, says that “the election of a Green is the one result that DOES make a difference to the running of the council. True it doesn’t change overall control, of course, but when a minority administration is running a council, an extra voice and an extra presence for committees etc. can improve the quality of council management and decision making.”

Apologies for the length of this post, but needed to catch up with you all. In your comments, please keep them fair and reasonable.

Westbourne by-election: Greens select male, 50’s as its candidate. But, wait, what is this cunning plan ….?

There we have it, following the trend started by UKIP (Paul Perrin, male, 14 and three quarters), Labour (Nigel Jenner, male, 50’s), the Conservatives (Supercop Graham Cox, male, 50’s), and the Lib Dems (Gareth Jones, male, seems mid 50’s), the Greens have followed suit by selecting a candidate who is male, 50’s.

But wouldn’t you believe it, the pesky Green candidate is masquerading as a female, in her 30’s, going by the name Louisa Greenbaum. And slyly, she actually lives in the ward, stood there in May in the local elections, is not just now discovering an interest in education but has two children in a local school where (it is rumoured) she is a governor. Now it is clear that I am showing my bias, putting a green gloss on this candidate because of the hostility I have for Labour that has been evident since I was in the womb.

I hear that Louisa has been the front-runner in the selection, possibly the sole candidate from the outset. Without wanting to provoke the displeasure of my Labour friends, it is clear that on so many levels, Louisa is different from the Identi-kit candidates of the other parties. Last week, immediately after the resignation of the Bishop, I suggested that Labour’s Caroline Penn (female, 30’s) would have made a strong candidate. But on this and many other things, Labour did not listen to me. But never mind. I do look forward to an exciting election campaign, and I genuinely wish all five candidates well. But on the basis of candidates selected, the Greens, followed by the Tories, have made the best start.

Westbourne by-election: in defence of males in their 50’s standing for election

The Lib Dems have selected Gareth Jones as their candidate for the Westbourne by-election and in doing so they have broken the mould. Well, yes, their candidate is male but half the age of My Pal Paul (40’s male), Supercop (50’s male) and Nigel Jenner (50’s male).

It has been suggested that I have something against males in their 50’s standing for election. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of my best friends are males in their 59’s, and all I was doing was to draw attention to a trend that was developing in the selections for Westbourne.

There are some fine public servants who are male in their 50’s and I believe it is right that young and old alike, male and female, gay and straight, all should be in elected positions locally.

But in a by-election, where there is greater focus on individual candidates, the similarities and differences between candidates is brought into clear focus.

So young Gareth is breaking the mould and, given his relative youth, so too is Paul Perrin (the Adrian Mole of Brighton politics).

Tonight the Greens are selecting their candidate. The Greens are themselves a mature bunch, but no doubt they are young at heart, as is Nigel Jenner and certainly is Supercop.

Gloria Van de Lay draws attention to the incredible ages of the Greens: “Green leader of the council – male, white, over 50 – (if not, apologies Bill, you must have had a hard life); Green Cabinet – 70% male – all white, some must be at least 50 – unless see above re hard life. Some of the women are at least that, but that doesn’t seem to matter – after all, the Blessed Caroline is 51! Green MEP – male, white, over 50.”

I’m sure we will hear in the next hour or so who the Greens have selected. Watch this space.

Westbourne by-election: Labour selects an identi-kit candidate to match his UKIP & Tory opponents – a male in his 50’s

There is an earth shattering headline in a press release put out by the Labour Party when announcing its candidate for the Westbourne by-election. It screamed: “Labour Backs Nigel for Westbourne!”

It’s just as well that the Nigel it is referring to is Nigel Jenner who happens to be the Labour candidate. Gone is the description of him being the Labour and Co-operative candidate. One wonders whether, if he is elected on 22nd December, whether he will be a member of the Labour Group or the Labour and Co-operative Group.

Nigel, 54, is “a born and bred Brightonian and keen Albion fan” and “has worked for Brighton & Hove City Council in the past and hopes to utilise his skills and knowledge, especially in children’s services, to represent Westbourne residents effectively.” What is he saying, are there particular problems of child neglect in Westbourne that need addressing, something the Council is ignoring since he left? We should be told. At least Supercop is clear that Sussex Police have mislaid a police station somewhere in the Holland Road area.

But more on Nigel. He is “currently self-employed, working with city community and voluntary groups to help local young people, such as Brighton & Hove Albion’s Football in the Community scheme. Passionate about young people and education, Nigel is appalled by the savage Tory-led Government cuts to young people’s services in Brighton & Hove, which have contributed to an increase in Youth Unemployment by 127% in Hove alone, over the last year.”

The press release continues that Nigel “is particularly concerned with Hove’s ‘school places crisis’ and will be campaigning for a new school for Hove. Nigel is also opposed to increased parking charges for Westbourne residents and local businesses, as well as Green plans to allow 750 homes to be built on green-field land in Hove’s urban fringe, when there are brown-field options available to build the same amount of housing, across the city.”

There is a lot that Nigel opposes. One wonders where he thinks new housing should go, if not on a so-called green-field land in Hove’s urban fringe. Does he not want homes for the children of Westbourne residents?

Nigel concludes that “Westbourne and the residents of Brighton & Hove deserve better.” I hope he includes the good folk of Goldsmid Ward to which he tried to plight his troth in May but he was spurned at the altar. Yet seven months later, without a backward glance to Goldsmid, he is ready to leap, on the rebound, into a new relationship with Westbourne. Love can be so fickle.

Just two final points. With UKIP’s Paul Perrin (male, 50’s), the Tory’s Supercop Graham Cox (male, 50’s) and now Labour’s Nigel Jenner (male, 50’s) I think I’m beginning to notice a trend. Can’t quite see it yet, erm, are they all Gemini’s? No, that’s not it. No, I give up. Perhaps the Greens will put someone up who is, perhaps, male and in their 50’s. Or could they select one of those other things, you know, the sort of person the Church of England won’t allow to be Bishops.

Finally, Labour should proof read its press releases. It is something I am told by my loyal readers (Grizzly, Doris and Biker Dave) that I should do with this blog. If Labour is worrying why nobody has emailed to pledge support it might be that it has misspelt its email address thus: laboruactive@gmail.com. Or they might not be getting pledges of support because men in their 50’s are not the most inspiring candidates in this race, Perrin, Cox and Jenner apart.

Supercop Graham Cox joins the Westbourne by-election campaign as the Tory Party candidate

And then there were two, Paul Perrin and Graham Cox, candidates in the Westbourne by-election. Yes, this evening the Conservatives chose Graham Cox as its candidate in the by-election. Graham is the former head of Sussex CID and was Divisional Commander in Hove where he gained the reputation for being Supercop. His first tweet (on @CoxGraham) following his selection was “Keep a proper police station in Hove. Vote Graham Cox in the Westbourne by-election”.

Mr Cox, chair of the Hove Conservative Association, is a clever choice. He is well known in Hove, and will no doubt play a law and order ticket in the by-election. But he has a couple of problems. Rumour has it that he and Mike Weatherley are not the greatest friends, each representing the two sides in the Hove Conservatives. The other problem he has is that he is a middle aged man. Should Labour and/or the Greens put up a younger woman, they will enjoy an immediate advantage over the Tories.

Mr Cox also has a problem, known as the Conservative Coalition government. His tweet calling for “a proper police station in Hove” brings the immediate response of “Who is imposing these cuts on Hove and on Sussex Police? He may try to blame the former Labour Government, but there is a growing consensus that the Coalition is going too far and too fast. Mr Cox needs to come out and oppose what his own government is doing.

Having said that, the little contact I have had with Graham has always been positive and I can say I genuinely like him. He will work like a Trojan, he will pound the beat, sorry, the streets of the Ward, and he will work and work and work right up to 9pm on Thursday 22nd December. Clever choice which brings this back to being a genuine 3-way marginal.

UKIP first to select candidate for Westbourne by-election

UKIP has become the first of the political parties to select their candidate for the Westbourne by-election on 22nd December. Paul Perrin Is confirmed as UKIP’s candidate.

Nominations have closed for the Greens, with the candidate due to be announced on Thursday evening. Two possible names have been floated but nothing has formally been announced.

In spite of my best endeavours, I have no word on the Labour or Tory candidates, although a couple of names have been mentioned to me in confidence.

I have considered putting myself forward as the candidate for the Christmas Party. My platform would include free mince pies and sunglasses for pensioners. What do you think?

Anyway, congratulations to Paul Perrin and UKIP for getting off the starting blocks so quickly, but then I imagine it is easier if you have just 3 members locally.

Westbourne by-election: update after the first weekend of campaigning

I think I have just seen the first flower of spring, one usually hears in late February. Today’s version is who has seen the first poster of the Westbourne by-election. Both Greens and Labour make the claim, but I am yet to see evidence in the form of a photo on Twitter or one emailed to brightonpoliticsblogger@googlemail.com.

But the troops have been out, both Labour and the Greens, and did I see a Grizzly?

Caroline Penn reported Labour posters up in Westbourne at lunchtime today, but the first report of a poster going up came at 14:29 yesterday (Saturday) from Green councillor Christopher Hawtree, who wrote: “Former Peace Messenger Brian Fitch looked daggers when he saw me giving a resident a poster which went straight up at noon.”

Any advances of 12 noon on 19th November?

The Tories recognise that the “by-election looks like a three way marginal… Bring it on and keep it blue!” says The Estate Agent (Rob Buckwell) on Twitter. Is this an indication that he might be the Tory Party candidate?

Both Labour and the Greens have been out on the knocker and delivering leaflets. The Greens, according to Luke Walter, have put a Greenleaf through every door in the Ward. Tim Sewell reports that there has been a good “doorknocking and delivery session” with Caroline Penn, Warren Morgan, Lis Telcs and “many others in Westbourne. Will be hard one to call.”

I assume he means that it is a genuine 3-way marginal. Labour’s Spiritual Leader in Brighton, Lord Steve Bassam, does not think the same. On Twitter he wrote: “Feel a bit guilty as I think I ought to go canvassing in local council by-election. We all need to get out there it’s a R Tory/Labour fight.” I don’t think so, and nor do I imagine that Lord Bassam thinks so either. The Greens are the ones to beat but I admire the old campaigner’s instinct in talking down the Greens so to consolidate the anti-Tory vote with Labour.

Steampunk draws attention to an omission in my posts and comments by others: “Is Paul Elgood planning a come-back? I was going to say, nobody’s commented on the Lib Dems’ chances yet.” I have no knowledge about Mr Elgood but I think that the Lib Dems’ chances of winning are as likely as two of my regular readers, Biker Dave and Doris, eloping to Gretna Green.

Harris Fitch is full of bravado, the same bravado that led him to predict a win in Rottingdean Coastal in May: “It won’t be a futile course, we shot off the starting line months ago. We have so many keen members there compared to the Greens that we probably could man the election campaign with locals. Of course outside help is always welcomed though!” That is a remarkable claim, that Labour “shot off the starting line months ago”. I doubt it, but if that is the case (and I have seen no evidence of it in Westbourne Ward) it should make it a more even fight.

One welcome entry to the fight is the report from The Pepperpot Post that the shy and retiring Paul Perrin will be standing for UKIP.

Dr Faust has said that the issue of school places will be a key issue in the by-election. All parties will claim that they are the one who are most keen on a new school. The reality is that this by-election will not ultimately influence such provision.

Daniel Yates agrees that education is an important, but not the sole, issue: “the Labour and Co-operative vision for first class education with true community engagement really does appeal across a very wide political spectrum. Of course, there are also many other issues where this is true and we wont be sucked into believing that everyone is Westbourne is going to vote purely on schools.” If that is the case, how come education is in such a poor state after 13 years of a Labour government. Education is one reason why voters in Brighton and Hove have lost faith in Labour.

Keep reports flooding in. Either email me on DM @BrightonPolitic.

The Great, the Good and the Ghost of Nobby Clarke predict a Green victory in the Westbourne by-election

And they’re off in the 12.22 Christmas Stakes, with the Greens perhaps going off too quickly, taking an early lead. Well, that’s the view of the Ghost of Nobby Clarke who reports: “Greens supposedly seen out in Westbourne yesterday, bit soon by my thinking but the 22nd might hold some ground then, if the Green Machine wasn’t in full effect last May and they polled the votes they did they’ll be a tough nut to crack on this one- De Ja Vu Goldsmid By Election.”

The Ghost recognises the clever tactical nature of the Green’s being quickest out of the starting gate by ensuring the by-election will be held on 22 December: “Of course strategically clever of The Green Machine as the tories and Labour will no doubt take another few days to get their house in order whilst you tread the cobbles picking up votes and delivering your first leaflet- plus as you well know most Tory voters will have their eye on Christmas but most Green voters will have their eye on the polling station You had paper candidates in May so imagine how you’ll fight without both hands tied behind your backs?, if thats twinned with Louisa Greenbaum as candidate (if she is) it looks rock solid.”

Given the demographic changes in the area, and the possibility that the Greens did not work the area in May’s elections, Zombie predicts a Green walkover: “Poets Corner…full of creative, arty, media and educated types; youngish and relatively well-heeled. Very reminiscent of the area around Blaker’s Park in social make-up. Once heavily Tory but now full of ‘progressives’. Add in an unwanted by-election, probable very low turnout and no obvious anti-Tory frontrunner-you probably have ingredients for a Green walkover if they work it hard. If it was true the Greens in May were only a nominal force their prospects must be very bright indeed. You would need to be very brave or charismatic to be the Tory or Labour candidates unless you like egg on the face.”

There has been an interesting comment from Luke Walter who, one suspects, is the strategic and organisational genius behind the Greens successes in Brighton. He says that the Greens have not worked Westbourne before, yet they came within a couple of hundred votes of winning the seat in May: “I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of Green resources went into neighbouring wards, namely Goldsmid, Central Hove and Brunswick and Adelaide.”

No doubt this is an understatement from Mr Walter. What he doesn’t say is that, even as I write this over my Sugar Puffs (good morning, Warren), the full might of the Green Machine is being mobilised to blitz the ward this weekend with Greenleaf papers.

The fact that Luke is not going to be the Green candidate, and that he is likely to organise the campaign, is another reason for concern for the Tories and Labour. He is, by some way, the best election organiser in the City.

But spare a thought, have some sympathy, for the dedicated activists in the Labour ranks. Take Labour activist, Pete Gillman, for example. He worked tirelessly in St Peters & North Laine in May, is now facing 4 weeks on the stump, in what could well be a futile cause: “Back on the campaign trail then. Me and my feet have only just got over the Council elections.  I would have preferred another few months before this was called but up for the fight as part of Labours resurgence.”

A final point about the Tory candidate. I suggested it could be one of the Young Turks who surround Mike Weatherley. Steampunk was first in with the predictable “Young turks don’t get voted-in for Christmas.” nice one Punky.

Brian Oxley resigns seat on Brighton & Hove City Council: 3-way by-election pending

Brian Oxley, the much respected Tory Councillor has resigned his Westbourne seat on Brighton and Hove City Council which will see a by-election in this three-way marginal, possibly this side of Christmas.

Brian, also known to my loyal readers (down now to just Grizzly and Biker Dave) as The Bishop, topped the poll in May’s local elections with 1,228 votes. His fellow Tory, Denise Cobb, in second place, polled 1,152. And this is where it gets interesting. Just 132 votes behind Denise was Labour’s Simon Battle on 1,020 with the Green’s Louisa Greenbaum 109 behind Simon with 911 votes.

Given that Labour fought a hard fight in May with the Greens fielding, in effect, paper candidates in a seat which they felt they had little chance of winning. The exception to that view was Christopher Hawtree whose predictions one ignores at one’s peril, as I found out to my cost with his sensational win in Central Hove.

With their superior organisation skills, the momentum they continue to enjoy, and the loss of a popular Tory from the ballot paper, this is a genuine 3-way marginal.

Much will depend on the selection of candidate. In the Goldsmid by-election the Greens had an exceptional candidate in Alex Phillips who won the seat, the Green’s first in Hove. What is more, she won it from the Tories, dispelling the myth that the Greens could only win seats from Labour.

A possible candidate for the Tories would be Jan Young who lost her Central Hove seat to the said councillor Hawtree. She would benefit from name recognition as a former leading member of the last Tory administration.

Labour’s Simon Battle is a former councillor, well known and liked, but I suspect he does not have the stomach for over three years in a third party with no influence and less prospects. I can’t see him standing. Caroline Penn might put herself forward. She is likeable, modest, hardworking, energetic and might, I suspect, have ambitions beyond the local authority. Could she see a successful by-election campaign as the springboard to become Caroline4Hove in 2015?

The risk for Caroline would be a loss to the victorious Greens, something I think is very possible. For her, for any Labour candidate, to lose to the Greens would set up the Hove 2015 election very nicely. The key, I think, is the Green candidate. Waiting in the wings, and now living in the area is the Greens’ Luke Walter. I have described him as the best councillor not to be elected in May when he lost out in Hollingdean and Stanmer to the formidable Jeane Lepper.

Luke Walter, together with Alex Phillips, were the unsung heroes of the Caroline Lucas’ campaign in 2010. If he was to be selected, and the might of the Green Machine was to rally behind him, I would put good money on the Greens gaining the seat in the by-election, with Caroline Penn a close second.