An alternative view to the Brighton and Hove Independent 100

The Brighton and Hove Independent last week (30th May) published a list of the “100 people who make our city what it is”. The Editorial Director, Greg Hadfield has said he “expects – and even hopes – that almost everyone will disagree” with the list.

Let me be the first. There are the predictable names but it is who Greg has missed that demands comment. For example, why is your Humble Blogger not included? No politician can hope for recognition and success without endorsement from this awesome blog.

It is all very well to have Martin Harris from the bus company, but what about former Mayor, Brian Fitch, who singlehandedly, in a career stretching back to when Methuselah was a boy in short trousers, has saved bus route after bus route, most recently the Number 5, from being callously axed without a second thought to those isolated on our estates. What hope is there for them now that Brian has moved to Eastbourne?

More seriously, in the media section, there is no mention of anyone from the Brighton Argus. I just can’t imagine why not! Adam Trimingham, at least, should be there.

Three politicians from each of the main political parties are listed although the Green, Major Druitt, is listed because of his business influence, and Katy Bourne appears to have transcended her party political affiliations to be listed under Public Services.

But how does one make a judgement on who has made a contribution to make our city what it is. When reviewing the list, I was hard pressed to say for over half of them one thing they have done to make or change the City. Merely holding a position, elected or otherwise, doesn’t mean that you have helped to shape a place.

A better list would be who, over the last 25 years or more, has helped to make Brighton and Hove what it is today. Who is the modern day Herbert Carden, Margaret Hardy, Lewis Cohen, Dorothy Stringer, John Morley, Denis Hobden, Tony Hewison, Asa Briggs, or Richard Attenborough? Their influence on the City remains even though they are no longer with us.

I could mention people like Linda Pointing, Dani Ahrens and Melita Dennett, who (amongst others) were pioneers in the movement for lesbian and gay rights and recognition, and opposition to Section 28. Or Shirley West who was, for many years, the backbone of the Women’s Centre. Jess Wood from Allsorts continues this work, particularly with children and young people.

For fifty years Patricia Norman was central to the Friends Centre and to its adult education arm. Into her nineties she continued with a group for pensioners run from the Friends Centre, as well as being involved in the work of Brighton Housing Trust for over 45 years, most recently as its Life President.

Kate Page has been at the Resources Centre for almost 35 years, helping countless community organisations shape their communities. And Faith Matyszak provided the backbone of BME services throughout the 1980’s, 90’s and noughties.

Local domestic violence services were saved by a group including the above-mentioned Shirley West and Jean Calder, who subsequently became the first Director of the Women’s Refuge Project (now Rise). Jean later led the successful campaign to save St Peters Church as a place of worship, alongside Janet King, Isabel Turner and others. (Jean now has the honour to be a regular contributor to this esteemed blog.)

Interfaith activities were championed by Tehm Framroze, and now by Anthea Ballam. They should be on the list. Andrew Manson-Brailsford and Ian Chisnall continue to make the Church relevant in the community. Rabbi Elli Sarah does likewise for Progressive Jewish community.

While he will no doubt write a strongly worded letter against his inclusion, Tony Greenstein should be included for being a public irritant of gargantuan proportions but, more so, for being one of the most consistent anti-fascist in Brighton and Hove.

What about the campaigners who helped to close down the Dolphinarium? Or Duncan Blinkhorn and Mark Strong for getting the needs of cyclists acknowledged.

Mushtaq Ahmed was pivotal in establishing Sussex CCC as a force to be reckoned with. Dick Knight could represent all those who helped secure a stadium fit for the 21st century at Falmer.

Michael Chowen, a local businessman and employer, has been a philanthropist with a particular commitment to women’s services. Peter Field has had a long history in charitable work, not least in nurturing and developing housing services for homeless people.

I could go on and on, and I usually do, but those named above would be 25 of my 100.

The Greens Need to Move Up Several Gears

I have been accused of being anti-Green in recent posts. Far from it.  The Greens, who are sensitive lot, should view me as a critical friend. The Greens have aspirations for national office through Caroline Lucas as the first ever Green MP. I have previously advocated a Green vote for Alex Phillips in the Goldsmid by-election. I came close to advocating a Green vote for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion but have held back because of what I see to be the poor campaigning qualities of Green councillors locally.

By contrast, I see an energetic and high profile, principled campaign by Nancy Platts for Labour.  I remain torn although Nancy has definitely strengthened her standing over the last 2 months (although I think she is failing to use the Argus effectively).

Scott Redding takes me to task from time to time. It has been suggested that he is a press officer for the Green Party. I don’t know if this is correct but if it is I worry more about the Greens. He posted a comment listing four, yes a whole four, news stories in the Argus in the last three weeks.

I was involved in a campaign in the 1980’s when a Labour candidate set a target of 100 stories in the Argus in 100 days. He failed when he only got 96 within the set time! And he was a candidate for Council, not Parliament.

The Greens damn themselves with their own self-justification. They need to be swamping the local paper, have mass door-knocking events in Brighton Pavilion, at least once each month in each Ward, but fortnightly if they are really serious about winning.  The Greens must (pardon the un-Green expression) move up several gears if they are to lead this race.

The Greens have three significant advantages over Nancy Platts: They are not Labour; they are seen as a fresh alternative; and they have enthusiastic supporters with an eye on the prize. Their three disadvantage are: they have few members who understand campaigning; their narrow City-centre base; and an absentee candidate..

Nancy Platts has one advantage over the Greens – Nancy Platts the Candidate.

Finally, having advocating a Green vote for Alex Phillips in Goldsmid, and now being critical of her invisibility, I do encourage you all to support her in her fundraising efforts for Rise, formerly the Women’s Refuge Project.  Alex is fundraising for Rise  through  Just Giving – http://shar.es/1qlZB