Thursday, 11 June 2009

Goldsmid by-election latest: Tories waste taxpayers' cash and Labour's candidate abandons party and adopts Green policies

I thought that missing Tory Paul Lainchbury's resignation might mean an end to national focus on the forthcoming by-election in Goldsmid.

But no, Private Eye (excellent as always, please subscribe!) has taken a final (?) look at the way the Tories' handling of the saga has cost the local taxpayer dear.

Under the headline 'The Curse of Gnome', the Eye has, as usual, found a new angle in its 'Rotten Boroughs' column: the outrageous £10-20,000 cost of the Tories' cynical attempt to put off Lainchbury's resignation until after April's annual council had approved Mary Mears' leadership for another year.

Here's their take on things:

SO, FAREWELL then Paul Lainchbury, Skidrow-on-Sea's absentee Tory councillor, who resigned on the day of last week's local and Euro elections.

After Lainchbury, who had missed every Brighton & Hove council committee meeting and community/resident group for a year, was exposed in the Eye, Tory council leader Mary Mears insisted he stay on long enough for Skidrow Tories - who now lose their overall majority - to select the new mayor and cabinet unopposed last month.

This meant the ensuing by-election could not be held on the same day as the Euros, prompting a special poll in Goldsmid ward costing an extra £10,000 - £20,000. Trebles all round!

That would have been enough to fund Green proposals the Tories said were just too expensive: supporting the Albert Kennedy Trust's work with young LGBT homeless men in the city, for example, or introducing an integrated travel plan for students attending the Varndean campus.

I imagine voters will be furious: the Tories can't really be expecting to win at all.

Meanwhile, the latest leaflet sent out to householders in the area by Labour Party candidate Liz Telcs seems to abandon the party (presumably in the wake of seeing the party's city-wide vote share slump to barely 15% in last week's election to the European Parliament) - though it does boast that she's being supported by local celebrities including a couple of Labour councillors and someone she knows from work.

It does boast some policy ideas too: remarkably they are almost identical to those announced by Green Party candidate Alex Phillips a couple of weeks ago: safer cleaner streets and more local school places.

Of course it's high praise for Alex that Labour are so impressed by her policies that they just want to adopt them for themselves, but I can't imagine voters will be so impressed.


  1. Ben, I live in Goldsmid ward and have had 3 leaflets from Liz Telcs in the last 3 months, not one from Alex and the Greens. Come on, if you are to win, you guys need to get your act together and start campaigning.

    Much as I dislike Liz (I am in the Labour party and received the sharp end of the party leadership imposing candidates from the centre and Liz is one), I have to admit she and her partner Warren Morgan have hit the ground running in the campaign stakes.

  2. Hi Neil

    Thanks for your comments.

    It's all to play for. I don't know why you haven't received anything: a couple of weeks ago we delivered an 'Introducing Alex' leaflet after our candidate Alex Phillips was selected.

    Our next one, detailing her policies and recent results here will have gone out by Sunday night (I personally trudged round the streets of Hove for a few hours yesterday delivering some).

    So that'll be two in recent weeks - and, of course (I'm afraid), there'll be more.

    I am really sorry to hear something went wrong and you didn't receive yours.

    But your bigger point is true, of course: Labour's candidate has been campaigning for longer.

    Liz has been desperate to be a councillor for some time (witness her massive defeat in previously safe Moulsecoomb and Bevendean in 2007), whereas Alex was only selected a few weeks ago.

    But 'hitting the ground running'? I can't really think that characterises Liz's campaign - but I hope it will Alex's.

    The Labour leaflets I've seen (all of them I think) have been so poor that if I was a floating voter I'd have been driven to either stay at home - or into voting for another party!

  3. Ben, I hope the Greens pull it off in Goldsmid. The Tories have acted disgracefully just to keep control of the council. I hope they are punished.

    I just got a Tory leaflet today saying that Paul's none existence at council meetings is down is him suffering from 'ill health' and that contrary to the 'scuriless' claims of the other parties, he didn't claim the 'full' allowances. Pull the other one eh?

    Just out of interest, if the Greens win, with both Labour and Greens on 13 councillors, who becomes official opposition? Also will the Tories still have control till April?

  4. Thanks Neil

    Hmm ill-health and no expenses eh!

    Anyway, The current leadership could face a vote of no confidence, as I understand it, at any council meeting, if some notice is given. There isn't one planned for August though.

    If the Tories lose Goldsmid they'll find it (almost) impossible to win such a vote, and that'd be that for Mears et al.

    But as for who'd be official opposition in the meantime, I'm not sure.

    There would have to be some 'arrangement' I think, such as rotating the duties, and a rebalancing of scrutiny and regulatory committee places, but it's all be subject to some negotiation...


  5. Hi Ben, thanks for reply. I've been getting loads of leaflets from the Fib Dems - environmental surveys and such bull. They are trying to nick your vote. I have had one leaflet from you guys - came in a brown envelope - which I am afraid didn't impress the wife - she asked how environmentally friendly that was as all the other parties had not used envelopes.

    I think you need to step up your campaign. I want you to win here. I am still in the Labour party and am sitting on my hands, so difficult to help you out much as I would like to. Not received the latest Telcs effort yet that has slagged off Alex. Hope you sue them like crazy! Best wishes. Neil