Predicting Green gains in Preston Park and Hollingdean & Stanmer in May’s local elections

Yesterday Luke Walter made some really interesting observations about changing demographics in areas outside the town centre (see yesterday’s post).  He noted that Green supporters from the town centre wards are moving to more outlying areas which could result in electoral gains for the Greens in areas such as Hollingdean and Stanmer.  (For the record, Luke is standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer for the Greens). 

As you would expect, Labour activists have responded.  Dan Wilson, the thoughtful Labour candidate in Regency ward has written: “I don’t disagree with Luke’s view of how Brighton and Hove is changing. But I would note that his critique of change relies on Labour being in govt. I think a coalition at Westminster combined with a Tory council locally is a salient difference on the doorstep in 2011. It’s a precarious situation out there. Clear anti-Tory sentiment, I sense a lack of clarity of where the Liberal support will land, massive numbers of Green/Labour switchers. And who knows what they will do. Good canvassing for us lately but proving hard to crystallise the Labour vote as ever but it is so different from a year ago and the run up to the General Election. I am quite surprised the Greens aren’t doing more to protect their flank.”

My prediction is that the Green vote in Brighton Pavilion will harden, resulting in comfortable Green wins in St Peters and North Laine, Hanover and Elm Grove, and Regency.  I also think that the Greens will pick up at least one extra seat in Preston Park in addition to the one already held by Amy Kennedy.

Hollingdean and Stanmer is harder to predict, but in each election where a party has momentum unexpected results are achieved (as with Amy Kennedy in Preston Park last time). I suspect that H&S will be the ‘breakthrough ward’ for the Greens this time, defeating established Labour councillors.  I have previously said that ousting Labour’s Jeane Lepper is the big ask, and I doubt whether all the factors are there for this to happen.  She will survive because of Labour’s relative strengthening in the polls but more importantly (and this is why I single her out) her reputation in the ward which others underestimate. I think H&S result will go 2 Green and Jeane Lepper.

The Greens may well strengthen their position in Patcham and even Westdene, but I doubt whether they will run the sitting Tories even close.

So in Brighton Pavilion, my prediction is the Greens returning 12 councillors, the Tories 6 and Labour 2.

  • Hanover and Elm Grove: 3 Greens
  • Hollingean and Stanmer: 2 Greens and 1 Labour
  • Patcham: 3 Conservatives
  • Preston Park: 2 Greens and 1 Labour
  • Regency: 2 Greens
  • St Peters and North Laine: 3 Greens
  • Westdene: 3 Conservatives

In the next couple of days I will share my predictions for Hove and Brighton Kemptown (including a sensational prediction for Rottingdean Coastal!).

Patcham, Rottingdean Coastal, Stanford, Westbourne, Wish, Westdene and Woodingdean: The safest of safest seats

There are some wards, Patcham, Rottingdean Coastal, Westbourne, Wish, Westdene and Woodingdean that are safe safe safe Tory seats.  These are seats that, barring a minor (major?) miracle, will return Conservative councillors decade after decade.  Other than Woodingdean, I can’t recall a non-Tory ever representing any of these areas.  Once, in Westdene, James Humphrey resigned the Tory whip and sat as an Independent in protest at the anti-gay Section 28.

Stanford ward is slightlydifferent as it currently has an Independent elected.  A former Conservative councillor, Jayne Bennett was elected in May 2007.  She tends to support the Tories in just about every vote so, for the purpose of this analysis, is being treated as a Tory.

Such is the domination of the Tories in these seats that even if you took the top votes from the Labour, Lib Dem and Green candidates from May 2007, and added in the votes gathered by any independents, the sum of al their votes would not beat the lowest placed Tory.

The importance of these wards for Labour and the Greens is not at local election level but at general elections when the few hundred votes returned in these areas will make, and did make, the difference between winning and losing.

So my advice to Labour and Green supporters in these wards, vote for the candidate and party you like best so that the parties can gauge the level of their support as they prepare for 2015!