Congratulations to the Greens for making history in Brighton and Hove

I must first of all start by congratulating the Greens on a result that exceeded just about everyone’s expectations. It exceeded mine. I thought the Greens would end up with 21 or 22 seats. I didn’t expect the two amazing results in Withdene where Sue Shanks topped the poll, nor Christopher Hawtree’s sensational efforts in Central Hove. I suspect that Green High Command had some doubts, but one man did not share them – Chris Hawtree himself.

The Greens have emerged from this election with 23 councillors (including 6 in Hove, up from 1), the Tories are down to 18 and Labour have remained static with 13. The Lib Dems have been wiped out as predicted, hoped for and encouraged by this Blogger. Labour now has just one councillor in Brighton Pavilion where the Greens are now winning in Tory strongholds.

Before touching on other results, can I mention those sitting councillors who have lost their seats. Politics can be cruel, and election losses for sitting politicians offers no hiding place. Focus is on those who have been victorious, but this evening we should pause to thank the following for their service to the City, often at a cost that ordinary citizens, even party activists, don’t see and can’t always appreciate: Paul Elgood, David Watkins, Jan Young, Melanie Davis, Ayas Fallon-Khan, Pat Hawkes, Christine Simpson, Maria Caulfield, Trevor Alford, Kevin Allen, Juliet McCaffery, Steve Harmer-Strange, Ted Kemble.

I got one result hopelessly wrong – Moulsecoomb and Bevendean – where I felt that Maria Caulfield would win and, on her coat tails, Ayas Fallon-Khan (moving from Goldsmid) and Cath Slater (well known locally) would cause an upset in Labour’s back yard. I was wrong. And so I eat Humble Pie (though I do prefer Sugar Puffs). And congratulations to Labour’s team in M&B, Leigh Farrow, Mo Marsh and mayor-elect, Anne Meadows. This result, along with the return of the Legend that is Brian Fitch in Hangleton and Knoll, the anticipated gains by Penny Gilbey in North Portslade and Alan Robins in South Portslade, and the unexpected election of Anne Pissaridou in Wish, were the few positives on a day when it seemed the Greens were conquering everything before it.

A bitter-sweet result, and one predicted in this blog, was Jeane Lepper successfully defending her seat in Hollingdean and Stanmer. A combination of the Lepper name and Jeane’s own reputation as a hard-working and effective caseworker saw her survive. One of the few errors the Greens made this year was to underestimate Jeane Lepper.

A quick word on the one Green who was not successful in H&S, Luke Walter. Luke must be incredibly disappointed tonight, but he should be proud of his achievements. He probably worked harder than any candidate in H&S, but electoral politics can be unfair, especially when your surname begins with a W or a Y (ask Jan Young). Luke has the advantage of age on his side, and his time will come before long. (I will be blogging on the fortunes of all the young candidates in the near future. None of them, other than sitting councillor, Alex Phillips, who I heard described as the “Baby of the Chamber” today, was elected.

But the day belonged to the Greens who, I understand, were in celebratory mood when they retired to the Cricketers Pub for an orange juice after the count. Never before in the United Kingdom have the Greens become the largest group on a Council, and this is the largest group of Greens ever elected (what do you think of that, Norwich?). So congratulations to all newly and re-elected Greens throughout Brighton AND HOVE. I will blog more on the Greens remarkable achievements and the challenges that lie ahead in the next few days. But for now, enjoy the night, encourage Bill Randall to go wild and have another lemonade, return to your constituencies and prepare for ….. I’m not sure. A coalition? A minority administration? Definitely Christopher Hawtree to be Lead Councillor for Libraries! Congratulations, All.

We’ll weather the weather whatever the weather whether we like it or not

A heavy storm descended over Brighton and Hove earlier this evening. I was returning home from a dinner at the Lodge in honour of the Royal Couple when I was soaked through to the skin by a terrible down pour. We can all be grateful that the Fairy Tale marriage was blessed by wonderful sunshine.

But it made me think of Thursday and the impact the weather might have on the result. Rain all day will produce a very low turnout, and all bets are off as to who will win overall. In areas such as Patcham, with the organisation and resources of the Theobalds, any Green challenge will fail hopelessly. In a ward such as Regency, with all polling stations in close proximity to where voters live, the weather will have less of an impact and would impact equally on Labour and Green turnout.

But rain during the day, clearing up and becoming sunny around 6pm will favour Labour and the Greens. The Tories, traditionally, get their core vote out during the day. Heavy rain will frustrate their efforts and would make some of the secondary challenges by Labour and the Greens more effective. It could make Hove as a whole very unpredictable. Take Westbourne, Wish, Central Hove, North Portslade, South Portslade, and Hangleton and Knoll wards, all Tory candidates will be hoping (and in the case of Bishop Brian Oxley, praying) that it won’t rain on Thursday.

By contrast, rain in the early evening could well see the return of a Tory controlled Council. Labour and the Greens will struggle to get its vote out and the Tories will retain all its seats in Hove, and pick up a couple in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean. It could also make gains in the west of Hove.

Glorious sunshine should help ensure that turnout is not embarrassingly low in an election that has, in all truth, failed to capture the imagination.

My hope is for rain in the day, giving way to a fresh, warm late afternoon and evening. That will most benefit the Greens and Labour, ensuring that a Green/Red coalition becomes a real prospect.

How Baron Pepperpot has fallen out of love with Labour, and now Valerie has fallen out of love with Donny Osmond

Baron Pepperpot’s hopes for a Labour wipeout in Hollingdean and Stanmer has attracted some response, forcing the Baron to explain himself: “I wouldn’t say there are divisions within Labour, but the party needs renewal if it is to survive locally-lest the Greens wipe it off the map. There you go, honesty about a real threat. The old order must go. Now to curtail speculation, I am not a sitting councillor or a candidate. Just a Labour member.”

Later he came back to say: “I must add that i have nothing against the sitting H&S councillors, I just feel that a heavy defeat in this ward would be a catalyst for change that Labour needs locally.”

The Ghost of Nobby Clarke takes up the story: “The Barons comments are interesting and I think his wish might just come true with 2 of the candidates being ousted, I also agree Labour is looking at national trends a little too much and not allowing for the Brighton Left Wing Trendy voters who like opting for supposed cuddly Greens (wolves and sheep’s clothing spring to mind), they’re also putting a tad too much effort in Queens Park where they will come unstuck once again, no mention of the collapse of the Green vote in the general election in Kemptown yet from Mr Morgan as another pointer to taking QP.”

As for predictions, Sugar Puff Eater, Warren Morgan, writes: “Well, 12 days to go and we will see who is right in Hollingdean & Stanmer, Regency, QP, Hanover & EG, PP, Brunswick and Goldsmid. Those wards will determine how many seats the Greens hold against the Labour challenge and win from the Lib Dems or Labour. I think at best they will have a net loss or gain of one.” A brave prediction, Warren, but one with red-tinted specs. I think it will be a net gain of eight. This is the core of the Green offensive and where most resources are being targeted.

Warren goes on: “Labour will certainly gains seats from the Tories in some or all the following wards: Hangleton, Wish, M&B, North Portslade and South Portslade.”

I have this picture – each morning Warren lines up his Sugar Puffs, grouping them into wards, candidates and likely victors, before gobbling them all up. How he loves his Sugar Puffs!

Marina72 helpfully provides an insight into Labour and the campaign in St Peters and North Laine: “I got a PDF of the Labour poster via email. Not quite the same, but nonetheless I’ve seen several in windows around 7 Dials/Prestonville (more than Greens, to my surprise.)”

And Momma Grizzly is annoyed with me for suggesting narrow campaign in Hollingdean and Stanmer: “The Conservative campaign in H&S is certainly not just focused on Coldean. We’re campaigning hard all over the ward, Baps! Tsk tsk.”. I apologise, Grizzly One, I know you’ve been to the Bates Estate (did you see me wave?) but I don’t think that Belushi’s Below is in the ward!

But on this slow day for electioneering, I bring you some news from two of our esteemed Returning Officers. Brighton and Hove City Council Chief Executive, John Barradell, has been identified as the 17th most influential person in local government. The citation reads: “John Barradell is one of a growing band of chiefs who are using technology to drive the redesign of services. For example, he held a ‘city camp’ at which citizens could design smartphone applications to measure local congestion or air quality, or show how to access services.”

John, however, is 941st most influential Tweeter in Brighton and Hove, according to updood.com’s 1,000 top twitter users in Brighton and Hove. He is just one place above Eternal Tattoo, but well ahead of Tom French who is at 964. Sadly this Blogger fails to make the top 1,000, leaving him …. or her …. feeling neglected and unloved.

And on the subject of love …. Valerie Pearce at Brighton and Hove City Council says she is not in love with Donny Osmond …. “any more”. When did this end, and does Donny know? Clearly upset, all Valerie is eating is comfort food: chocolate and sausages. Updates on this developing situation as we receive it!

Labour talking a good fight and paying respect to Pat Hawkes

The Honey Monster (Craig Turton) has reacted to my comment that “So disorganised are they (Labour) in some seats that members have complained about not being given posters for their windows”. Craig says that could be because “like in East Brighton ward – where doorstep enthusiasm for Labour far exceeeds 2003 and 2007 – demand for posters is outsripping supply. Same in Hangleton and elsewhere.” Nice try, Craig, but the empty windows suggests otherwise. There is still no enthusiasm for Labour. Brighton and Hove is not like the rest of the country – the Caroline Effects will still make a difference.

As for enthusiasm for Labour in the future, Blue Labour isn’t going to play at all well in Brighton and Hove. I wanted Red Ed Milliband to win. What on earth is he doing? He is proving to be a disaster, while Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper are, at least, putting some clear water between Labour and the Tories.

Steampunk suggests that Labour has given up on Central Hove: “A Labour party member told me ruefully last weekend, ‘no matter what you do, the Tories will always win in Central Hove’. So I suspect that having come fourth last time round, this year they have been focussing on the more winnable wards further out such as Wish, Hangleton and the two in Portslade. Or perhaps everyone has gone to Queens Park?”.

Blue Lady Linda says that “There is a hive of activity going on in most of the wards from our activists: telephone canvassing, envelope stuffing, literature deliveries, knocking up and general cross ward support. There is much that goes on ‘under the radar’”. Lady Linda is right that traditionally the work of the Tories is not that obvious but they have been able to get out its vote.

She says that she thinks that all parties other than the Tories have given up on Hove Park. “I come to this conclusion, because I have yet to see any literature or sighting of a candidate, other than Tory, in Hove Park Ward.”

MJ must be a Labour hack because who else would come out with the following tosh: “Word is that the Greens are under pressure in Regency and are stalling in Queens Park and Brunswick. They may also drop one seat in Hanover, Preston Park and Goldsmith. The Labour vote is too high to see Green or Tory gains.” There’s no such ‘word’, there is no such pressure, they are not stalling, and the Greens are not going to drop seats. Luke Walter’s reaction is right when he simply responded “LOL”.

The love within Labour is overwhelming. Baron Pepperpot writes: “As a paid up member of the Labour Party who fully supports our Queens Park campaign, I would like to say how happy I would be to see us get completely stuffed in Hollingdean and Stanmer…”. Wow! I’m intrigued as to why you feel this strongly. Do say more. And if this is the mood with Labour ten days out from an election, what levels of fratricide can we expect if my predictions are correct and Labour is left with a smaller rump than they currently have?

Christina Summers, one of the Green candidates has responded to my praise of Luke Walter and his campaigning zeal: “Don’t worry BPB, Luke is most definitely not a lone Green campaigner in Hollingdean & Stanmer…and our opponents are most definitely not complimentary nor do they resemble any sort of firework…apart from the occasional banger…usually when we’ve leafleted their homes.”

As regular readers will know, I have been predicting two Greens and one Labour (Jeane Lepper) being returned in Hollingdean and Stanmer. This would see the end of the long and illustrious council career of Pat Hawkes who has represented the area for many decades. She has also been an active trade unionist, rising to be President of the NUT. Consistency in service (although not always in views) means that she deserves respect, and she certainly has mine.

Ten days to go and the campaign has gone oh so quiet

I’ve been silent for much of the last week, listening and observing. I have spent a bit of time in the majority of wards, for one reason or another, and spoken to several candidates in each party. What has emerged is a depressing picture – and election campaign that has failed to catch the imagination of the City, including party activists and members.

With very few exceptions (East Brighton, Queens Park, and seats in west Hove) Labour is in the doldrums. Some candidates and councillors are out and about, but in some seats it has been hard to get any party members to do any door knocking. In one town centre ward, just the three candidates have done in any door knocking and even then one of the three has limited his activity to the minimum.

It is largely candidates and councillors doing 95% of the work for Labour. So disorganised are they in some seats that members have complained about not being given posters for their windows, while others have decided not to out them up at all.

Members in Queens Park are full of praise for the tireless efforts of Tom French (no surprise there) and to a limited extent his running mates. In East Brighton, Warren Morgan (no doubt fortified by regular supplies of Sugar Puffs), Craig Turton (masquerading as the Sugar Monster) and Gill Mitchell, are going about their business with quiet determination (I said QUIET DETERMINATION, Warren). Labour posters are in clear evidence in East Brighton, but other than Hollingdean and Stanmer, and Hangleton and Knoll, this election is resembling a poster-free zone.

Tim Ridgeway recently counted the posters he could see from the number 26 bus (Chuck, the 26 goes from Churchill Square to the Hollingbury Industrial Estate) and he counted less than 10 posters in all. This included the Green heartland of St Peters and North Laine where Labour posters are numbering the same as Green posters. (I’m not predicting a shock result here but my sources have been impressed by the one woman campaign being run by young Clare Calder who is said to be out on the doorstep most days).

The Greens are faring a bit better, with activists turning out and members from beyond Brighton coming in at weekends to help. Momentum has been maintained in their key target seats. Much effort is going into defending the seats in Queens Park and challenging for gains in Brunswick and Adelaide and in Goldsmid where Green posters are clearly in evidence and Labour posters largely absent.

In Hanover and Elm Grove, where Labour is focussing much of its efforts, moving resources from elsewhere in the city, the small advances being made by Labour in what was once its safest seat, will come nowhere near displacing the Buddha (Bill Randall) and his two Green running mates.

Hollingdean and Stanmer continues to be a hot-bed of activism. Momma Grizzly is out most weekends but most of her efforts are focused on Coldean. Jeane Lepper has been here, there and everywhere, like a Catherine Wheel of bonfire night, and always a complimentary word for her Green opponents (well, perhaps not). But it is the Greens that are most evident and winning the poster war. In particular, Luke Walter is campaigning full time. Ironically he could be the loser in this Alphabet Election as he is bottom of the ballot paper and might be pipped to the post by Jeane Lepper.

In Regency, when James Asser isn’t stuck on trains, he and Dan Wilson, along with the Determined Anne Freeman, are working their socks off, but so too are the Kitcat Two. Dan and James may well reduce the Green majority but they have too much to make up.

Finally, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean looks as though it may produce a split result, but the Tories remain narrow favourites to take all three seats but Anne Meadows might yet hold on to her seat.

I still don’t have a feel for the campaigns in Central Hove, Wish and Westbourne wards. Has everyone given up and gone home? And what of Christopher Hawtree? It is very quiet on the Hawtree Front and our readers are missing your daily overview. Just 10 days to go and it will all be almost over …..

The fringe candidates in this May’s local elections in Brighton and Hove

In the last couple of days I have commented on the independent candidates standing in Wish (Mr and Mrs Jenny Barnard-Langston), Hangleton and Knoll (Jo Heard) and North Portslade (Theo Child). But there are other fringe candidates standing,and I don’t mean the LibDems or UKIP. If you read between the lines of what I have written about those parties you may have gained the impression, I can’t think why, that they are not my cup of team (forexample, “I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than vote for UKIP”).

The most spoken about Independent this May is former mayor, former Lib Dem and sitting councillor David Wakins who is hoping to defend his seat in Brunswick and Adelaide. His candidature could be characterised as the Mr Angry Candidate, not that David is the angry sort, but his treatment by the Lib Dems has not been kind and his is a spoiling campaign designed to undermine support for the Lib Dems in their last remaining area of representation.

Trade Unionists and Socialists Against the Cuts may have worthy intentions, but they are likely to mobilise no more than a few dozen votes. Standing for TUSAC are an uninspiring bunch who have failed to rally the working classes time and time again. There was a song, can’t member who by, that went “As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes, the revolution starts”. The chorus was sung by an increasingly drunk singer. The final chorus went “As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes, ……… I think ….. I’m gonna ….. be sick”.

Now I’m not suggesting that any of the TUSAC candidates are partial to a drink or two, but they are a mixture of uninspiring individuals (Bill North standing in East Brighton) and more enthusiastic, less cynical types such as Jon Redford (Hanover and Elm Grove). He is active in the Stop the Cuts Coalition and, at least, has some get up and go about him. At just 23 Jon is one of the younger breed of candidates and he has been part of the campaign against cuts in Education Maintenance Allowances.

Also standing for TUSAC in Hollingdean and Stanmer are Phil Clarke, Tony Greenstein (how is it that he hasn’t yet been expelled from TUSAC – he has been expelled from evey other fringe group on the left) and the Peter Stringfellow of Brighton politics, Professor Dave Hill. Dave Bangs is standing for TUSAC in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.

What is touching, yet quite sad about this bunch, is that unlike Don Quixote who charged at imaginary enemies, this lot have real enemies yet they tend to focus on others on the left and fail to mobilise real opposition against the Tories. They just don’t know how to organise an effective coalition. Their handful of votes could just let the Tories in in very close contests. One wonders if this is what they hope for …..

Gerald O’Brien is standing in St Peters and North Laine. He has stood in more elections than the number of comments left on this blog by the Legend that is Christopher Hawtree. He is yet to top 100 votes and even being most generous, is unlikely to win in this seat, the safest Green seat in the country.

Mohammed Asaduzzaman is standing as an Independent in Queens Park. A respected local businessman, concerned with crime, he has stood before but has little chance of making more than a ripple on the result in Queens Park.

And finally we have Yuri Borgmann-Prebil (Preston Park) and Susan Collard (St Peters and North Laine) standing for the European Citizens Party. Now for many weeks I have been collating comprehensive files on both Yuri and the European Citizens Party. In fact I have focused on little else …. zzzzzzzzz

Wishing for an incendiary campaign in Wish ward

Possibly one of the most intestine contests this May, and one that has, until the last 24 hours, been largely ignored, is the contest in Wish ward. The characters involved are fascinating and the ingredients are there for quite an incendiary campaign.

Defending the seat aree two sitting Conservative councillors, Ted Kemble and Garry Peltzer Dunn. Nice guys they may be, they are unlikely to ignite the election campaign. They had comfortable majorities at the last election, but with the re-emergence of former Conservative councillors, Mark Barnard and Jenny Barnard-Langston, who are standing as independents, sufficient Tory votes may leak to them to make this a marginal seat.

Standing for the Lib Dems is former Brunswick councillor Bob Bailey and Daniel Russell. For a number of reasons, not least the Clegg Effect, they can expect to heavily beaten. It is interesting to note that Mark and Jenny have decided not stand as Lib Dems. If my memory serves me correctly, they defected from the Tories to the Lib Dems some years back. They sure know how to back a lost cause.

Labour, which came a spectacle second after the Tories last time out, are fielding two women candidates, Anne Pissaridou and Christine Robinson, which may help the cause. They would need to make up around 700 votes which is not impossible given the changed fortunes of the the Tories and Labour.

Veteran campaigner and someone well known in the area, at least by this correspondent, is Sue Baumgardt who is the “Green Party First Choice Candidate”. Anton Simanowitz is the Green Party’s “Second Choice Candidate”.

Bringing up the rear, but very likely to beat the Lib Dems, is Richard Allden of the UK Independence Party.

At one point the Tories would have considered another Hove ward, Goldsmid, as a safe seat. But an excellent campaign by Melanie Davies won a seat for Labour, and then Alex Phillips was able to take a seat for the Greens in the Goldsmid by-election in 2009. The same could happen in Wish. Labour will eat into the Tory majorities, and a strong showing by Sue Baumgardt could make this a three way marginal. One Tory should be re-elected but I wouldn’t want to call the second seat. Much depends on what resources both Labour and the Greens commit to Wish. Judging by how stretched Labour is elsewhere, and the concentration by the Greens elsewhere, the Tories could just hold on.

UKIP set to take the local elections by storm (actually a light breeze rustling the leaves)

So there we have it.  It is not the Switch to Fitch movement, nor Christopher Hawtree standing in several seats simultaneously, but UKIP that is set to take Brighton and Hove by storm.  Well, maybe a gentle breeze.  The party is rumoured to have seven candidates (so far ….) to stand in May’s local elections, a candidate in Patcham, St Peter’s and North Laine (I am reliably informed that Labour’s Adrian Morris “a great guy and a real supporter of your community” isn’t standing for UKIP), and Wish.  There will be three UKIP candidates in Rottingdean Coastal including Paul Perrin (the UKIP candidate in Hove at the general election).

Nigel Carter, the UKIP candidate in Brighton Pavilion last May, is standing in Withdene, or is it Hollingbury (sic), or maybe Woodingdean.  Perhaps somewhere else.  They haven’t yet decided.

Paul Perrin told me: “We are in the process of setting up a local branch/association, our only resource is goodwill of local supporters so we are spread a bit thin and rushed …but ….  I think it is safe to say that we are really just local people who think the UK should be putting UK citizens first, and think the local council should be putting its residents first.”  I think I am quite safe in saying that, on that platform, UKIP will not be forming an administration in May or even holding the balance of power.  But their arrival (if it can be called that) adds a bit of colour, especially in Rottingdean Coastal which is fast becoming a four-way marginal – Labour’s Harris Fitch, UKIP’s Paul Perrin, Christopher Hawtree of the Greens are all confident of unseating Mary Mears.  Be afraid Mary Mears, be …. well …. a tad amused. 

But have I got it wrong? ‘rottingdean’ says I should check my sources: “The Lido mob, UKIP or Mr Pickwick might not be the only surprises in Rottingdean, something far bigger is being rumoured to unseat Ms Mears.”  I’ve heard nothing.  I think Mary is safe as houses.

Doorstep Brighton 15: Websites, Patcham, and denying Christopher Hawtree a famous victory in Rottingdean Coastal

There has been a great deal of interest in the new Labour Party website. And even Green activists have applauded its launch. Luke Walter, for example, said:  “A few kinks, but fair play. A big improvement to the last one.”  So, too, have a number of new readers (and now probably ex-readers) who were attracted to the last post having searched ‘lap-dancing club Brighton’.  Probably the same ex-readers who were no impressed with the picture of me dressed in nothing but a sheet!

Warren also answers some of the gaps in the new website: “Thanks for all the comments and for pointing out the glitches/omissions, all being corrected. …. Yes, Celia Barlow was selected to stand in Central Hove (her bio will be changed), and Brian Fitch in Hangleton & Knoll. Their experience – and that of Simon Battle and all 13 Labour councillors running for re-election – is balanced by the new talent we have in Queens Park, Regency, Goldsmid, Hanover, Wish, St Peters, Preston Park and elsewhere.”

Dr Faust criticises me for hypocrisy: “On the ‘Thumper principle’ you seem to be failing yourself with your rather snide comments about Brian Fitch and others. Your respondants have followed suit as well – but I think that’s OK. Say what you like about candidates, preferably let it be true, but if not someone will hopefully point out your error.”

Tom Matthews says that this is a fair point, points out that I can get away with making snide comments because “(s)he’s not running to be a councillor, or IS (s)he??”. Thank you, Tom, I’m a sensitive soul, finding criticism hard to cope with! As for standing for Council, I wont confirm or deny rumours that i might be standing as an Independent Green in Rottingdean Coastal inspite of accusations that I will split the anti-Mears vote, thereby denying Christopher Hawtree an historic victory.

But Dr Faust is wrong. I wasn’t being snipe about the People’s Brian. I said he was a legend and that he would save the No 5 bus to Hangleton. I couldn’t be fairer.

‘Andy’ points out that the new website seems to suggest that one of “Labour’s candidate for Patcham seems to also be standing in Brunswick. That’s a good start!”.

And talking of Patcham, Serenus Zeitblom said: “You can tell it’s getting close to election time in Patcham because we’ve just had a flyer through the door advertising Messrs Theobald, Theobald and Pidgeon’s surgery times … however in the seven years I’ve been living in the ward I don’t think I’ve seen any evidence of Labour activity ever.

But I’m not wholly convinced by the new Labour website. Smart and slick at first appearance, it appears to be full of slips and errors – almost as if the webmaster has been filling in a template. And here in Brighton where you’re never more than a few yards from a web developer you expect slick digital campaigns.”

Two points regarding Patcham, “Messrs Theobald, Theobald and Pidgeon” surely refers to councillor Geoffrey and councillor Carol Theobald” as well as councillor Pidgeon. And secondly, there has been practically no reports on the campaign in Patcham, not even a convincing opinion from the Peter Snow of Brighton politics, Christopher Hawtree, that with a swing of just 187%, Patcham will fall to the forces of the Greens.

Robert Nemeth and the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club

There are a large number of young candidates standing in May’s local elections, Rachael Bates (Momma Grizzly to her admirers and keen Sarah Palin fan), Tom French (who impressed all in last year’s St Peter’s and North Laine by-election, and Robert Nemeth. 

Several of my “spies” (as Dan Wilson calls you) have been talking about Robert Nemeth.  Robert, for those who aren’t familiar with him, was the  unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the Regency by-election in 2007 and who had come 5th in Regency in May 2007.

Robert was described by the Argus last May as a “young hopeful” who had “come to the fore”.  Robert does put himself about and is predicted to have a bright future in politics.  But he is a central player in local Conservative Party affairs.  In 2009 he succeeded Daniel Hannan MEP as chairman of the Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club which, according to Daniel Hannan, “raises oodles of money from all over Sussex for the three Brighton and Hove seats”.  (Labour and Green activists take note.  This is SERIOUS fundraising with a very right wing edge).

Robert, a property developer, writes a regular architecture column, Building Opinions, in Latest Homes magazine.  In this week’s column he writes about Hollingdean: “Hollingdean began as one of the laines (fields) of the parish of Preston and was developed from the 1890’s. It is well known for the council depot and the waste transfer station beside the railway bridge.  Most interesting of all was the municipal abattoir on the same site that operated from 1894 to 1986”.

One can only assume that Robert is not standing in Hollingdean and Stanmer if that is the best he can write about Hollingdean. He could have mentioned the vibrant community around Five Ways (part of which is in Hollingdean), the golf course (and the wonderful but hidden Old Golf House), and the wonderful mixed community and schools  from the Dip, up Stevens Road, to Lynchet Close and Brentwood Road.

Robert has an admirer in an unexpected corner – Christopher Hawtree.  Christopher writes: “The Tories should have opted for Robert Nemeth in Wish rather than continue with the nationally discredited Ted Kemble. The Jason Kitcat case resonates. Garry Peltzer Dunn and Robert Nemeth would have presented a far stronger Tory case in Wish”.

So there you have it.  The future of the Tories locally is invested in the person of Robert Nemeth, and the tens of thousands being raised through the  Sir Winston Churchill 50 Dining Club.