Students effect elections, housing and jobs

Since the local elections there has been much comment about the influence of students on the election. In wards like Hollingdean and Stanmer, the Greens were able to organise the student vote, winning two seats from Labour.

Some have commented that it isn’t right that students who are temporary residents in the City can vote in their home town and in Brighton and Hove. In particular some say that it is wrong that the student vote in 2011 will effect how the City is run well after this generation of students have moved on.

My view is that a lively student population enriches the City, and of course they should be allowed to vote. Part of the problem for the old parties is that they have neglected student voters for many years. Caroline Lucas (thanks to the efforts of Allie Cannell) was able to draw on the student vote, ensuring her election.

Nancy Platts, in an interesting post on the blog Southern Front, comments that it is Labour’s lack of vision damaged her electoral chances against Caroline Lucas: “Brighton is a university town with a history of political activism, especially at Sussex University. Student numbers can swing an election in Brighton and tuition fees were a gift to the Greens. How hard can it be to decide where to place your cross on election day when there are three political positions presented; higher tuition fees from the Tories, a free university education from the Greens or, well, er…a ‘review’ from Labour. Did we forget how to do politics – why would any student vote for a review? The Greens consistently targeted the student vote and increased turnout from the universities.” Her post is well worth a read.

Caroline Penn says that she has “nothing against students. I’m sure most of us here were students once. It’s wrong to blame them as you say for many of the issues that have arisen. While friends have had issues with student parties, a more responsible landlord (and better university liaison) should deal with that.”

Craig Turton comments on the impact of students on the local employment market: “Between Brighton and Sussex universities we have one of the largest rates of post graduate student settlement anywhere outside of London but in a relatively small geographical area. This can be beneficial for employers (ie; a virtually permanent pool of highly educated workers) but can equally create problems (ie; competition from graduates leaves local people with few or no educational qualifications at a disadvantage even for jobs not requiring a degree. Without wishing to appear facetious, we probably have the most over qualified call centre workers and bar staff in England).”

Students are a fact of life, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. Where have I heard that before? They student body causes problems, enriches our community, puts huge pressure on housing, and creates unfair competition in the jobs market. But Brighton wouldn’t be Brighton without the students. If you don’t like them, move to Worthing!

A tactical vote in Worthing East and Shoreham is a Lib Dem vote

Worthing East and Shoreham is an interesting seat.  The sitting Tory MP, Tim Loughton, has a good public image and is a hard-working constituency MP.  Labour and the Lib Dems were neck and neck last time, with Labour coming out marginally in front in second place.

However, with the national decline in the Labour vote, their inability to make any breakthrough in Worthing itself (surely an area where Labour could thrive), and the effectiveness of the Lib Dems in pavement politics, the recommendation of this blog is for tactical votes for the Liberal Democrats.

The Lib Dems need to get their acttogether, however, and get a decent candidate in place quickly.  Labour have had young Emily Benn, probably to be the youngest at the general election, in place for the past year. Her youth will probably count against her. The grand-daughter of Tony Benn and neice of Hilary Benn, she comes from a more Blairite tradition, reflecting the politics of her mother, Nita Clarke (who worked for Tony Blair)  more than those of  Tony or Hilary. For example, she supported the war in Iraq, and this will surely count against her.

The 2005 result:

Conservative: 19,548 (43.9%)
Labour: 11,365 (25.5%)
Liberal Democrat: 10,844 (24.3%)
UKIP: 2,109 (4.7%)
Other: 677 (1.5%)
Majority: 8,183 (18.4%)

Tactical Voting in Sussex

Following on from my call for tactical voting in Brighton Pavilion at the next General Election, here are my recommendations for tactical voting elsewhere in Sussex:

Crawley: Labour (Laura Moffatt – sitting MP, well-regarded locally, hard working, good record on expenses!)

Lewes: Lib Dem (Norman Baker – Stormin’ Norman, the sitting MP and persecutor of Mandleson. The most exceptional opposition MP)

Eastbourne: Lib Dem (Stephen Lloyd – a typically hard working Lib Dem, taking up grass routes issues and making a good name for himself))

Hastings & Rye: Labour (Michael Foster -sitting MP who has earned good reputation locally and can expect strong personal vote)

Brighton Kemp Town: Labour (Simon Burgess – hoping to replace Des Turner. Respected former leader of the City Council. A decent man)

Brighton Pavilion: Green (Carolline Lucas – Leader of the Green Party, MEP for the South East. Likely to become the Greens first ever MP)

Hove: Labour (Celia Barlow – sitting MP, surprise winner in 2005. Works hard but has expensive taste in bathroom furniture ….)

Shoreham and Worthing East: Lib Dem (no candidate selected yet, which is a weakness, but in Emily Benn Labour doesn’t have a particularly strong candidate)

There you have it. 4 recommendations for Labour, 3 for the Lib Dems, and 1 for the Greens. If the supporters of each of the non-recommended parties voted for the recommendations above, then 8 non-Conservatives could be returned from Sussex.

I will comment more on each constituency in the weeks to come. Please let me have your comments and views on the various campaigns – their strengths and weaknesses.