Doorstep Brighton 5: Secret Tories, Public Tories and the neo-deity Christopher Hawtree

 I am grateful to ‘steampunk’ for his appraisal of the Labour candidates in Goldsmid: “Nigel Jenner previously managed the council youth service, and while I haven’t worked with him personally  – on paper that’s a respectable credential. I suspect Labour will give Liz Telcs higher billing though.” 

On the Greens, Steampunk says: “Alex Phillips is one of the most energetic personalities in the Green Party today, and her exuberance could just give her team enough momentum to take a second seat in the ward. Ruth Buckley would bring a refreshing down-to-earth perspective to the council by virtue of not being a career politician and I would like to see her elected.”

As for the prospects of the parties, Steampunk says: “The Greens certainly have a better chance than Labour of taking the remaining Tory seat, but even so I think it is a tall order and more likely the status quo will prevail, one apiece in Goldsmid to Greens, Conservatives and Labour.”

Is Chris Hawtree a minor deity? He seems to be omnipresent and clearly works in mysterious ways!  He has been campaigning in Hollingdean, Patcham, Goldsmid, Brunswick and Adelaide, Portslade South, even Rottingdean Coastal where he is on the verge of unseating Mary Mears! But as always he offers very interesting and valuable insights.  In Goldsmid he writes:  “I sense rising support for the Greens in Goldsmid tho’ there is recognition that Melanie Davis has been diligent. Liz Telcs came across poorly in the by election.” Labour councillor Craig Turton reports that Labour’s team in Goldsmid, Lis Telcs, Melanie Davis and Nigel Jenner, have been knocking on doors and speaking to Goldsmid residents “months before the Greens even selected their candidates” and he promises a new Labour (he stresses not New Labour) website soon.

As for the Tories in Goldsmid, ‘Clive’ says the Tories have selected three candidate and that they are easily ‘googleable’. I tried but without joy.  Perhaps Clive can tell us more about Huey, Dewey and Louie. He does say that “they all look like estate agents, and will no doubt run their usual under-the-radar campaign, hoping that the core vote is enough to defeat a divided opposition.” 

Mr Hawtree points out that in Brunswick and Adelaide Labour voters are realising that the best way to get at the Coalition is to vote tactically for the Greens, not least because, as he says, “Labour has given up on Brunswick, there could be more such votes”.

An unknown factor in Brunswick and Adelaide is the candidacy of David Watkins.  The former Lib Dem is yet to announce whether he intends to stand.  Watkins has no organisation behind him, and he stands little if any chance of winning. If he does stand, he will draw some support from the Lib Dems, most crucially from Paul Elgood.  Even 100 votes leaking away from Elgood could see a Green clean sweep.

Chris Hawtree says that there is not much sign of Tories canvasing anywhere.  But don’t be deceived, the Tories never have the same street presence as Labour, the Greens or the party once known as the Lib Dems. 

In Patcham, the first mention of this ward in Doorstep Brighton, the Greens have been out canvassing.  The Greens did surprisingly well in Patcham at the general election but it would take a shift of Egyptian proportions to see the back of Geoffrey and Carol Theobald.

Can I extend a warm, if brief, welcome to the Conservative candidates in East Brighton, Kelvin Poplett, Chris Sandland and Peter Booth.  They have established an impressive website www.eastbrighton2011.com and seem well organised. No doubt they will do well in Roedean Bottom and on The Cliff, but along Whitehawk Way … ?  They may have the common touch but they ain’t Mary Mears.

Finally, Dan Wilson reprimands me for failing to report on the Labour campaign in Wish ward: “There’s been some great campaigning by Labour in Wish ward these past weeks” he writes. I stand corrected but I’m not sure of how he addresses me – ‘Bappy’.  I can cope with BPB and ‘Baps’ (credit here to the lovely Chuck Vere and a moniker adopted for me by Momma Grizzly, Rachael Bates), but Bappy, sounds like ‘Nappy’, but then some people think I’m full of …….

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!