Friday, 24 July 2009

General Election - bring it on!

Well a long night's sleep on, and time for some reflection on yesterday's by-election result in Goldsmid.

What a night! The Greens, in the shape of one Alex Phillips, have certainly arrived in Hove - and have 'caught up' with Labour: both parties now have 13 councillors.

Alex picked up 1,456 votes - 38.5% of the total cast - to take the seat from the Tories, the Greens' first foray into representing Hove on the Council, and leaving a properly hung council: of the 54 seats, the Tories now have 25, The Green party and labour both have 13, the Lid-Dems and an independent councillor three between them.

The council's King's House HQ is buzzing this morning with heated negotiations about what this all means for the future of the Tory administration - and how opposition and the crucial scrutiny processes should be managed without a clear party of opposition.

It's too early to say how any of these talks will pan out yet - and what shape the council will have when the dust settles a bit. If all the opposition parties can work together the Tories' two years of misrule here could come crashing to an abrupt end as they simply won't be able to rustle up a majority in council. That means, whatever happens, we wont have a Tory budget in April: they simply won't be able to get it through council without massive concessions to the other parties. And no-one will be able to garner enough votes to be elected leader of the council unless they agree to a multi-party cabinet which actually reflects all voters' wishes.

Ironically, the Labour group could see its influence increased as a result after a disastrous night for the party. It's unlikely to be lead by Gill Mitchell though, the East Brighton councillor who has presided over the collapse in their vote share - and the party's general decline locally over the past couple of years.

One of the more interesting comments posted on Argus web coverage of the election calls for her to quit now before she is pushed.

A reader posts:

This is a disaster for Labour. Gill Mitchell is starting to become an embarrassment. She's not even popular amongst Labour supporters never mind anyone else.

Give someone else a chance Gill. There's still 1 or 2 decent Labour councillors left. But you're useless.

Whatever this result means for the future of Brighton and Hove Council - and I'll post regular updates whenever there's news about this - it will have an enormous impact on politics in the city.

It finally puts the lie to the notion that voting Green will let the Tories in - clearly voting Green, here in Brighton and Hove, elects Green party politicians. We've always known that's true here in Queen's Park - now we know it's true in Hove too.

And the result is a massive shot in the arm for our campaigns to see Caroline Lucas and myself elected as Green MPs for Brighton Pavilion and Brighton Kemptown.

Caroline, who has spent the last few days campaigning in Goldsmid with human rights activist and leading Green Peter Tatchell, said Caroline Lucas, national Green Party leader, said the win was spectacular.

"It signals an unstoppable surge to elect the first Green MP at Westminster, whenever Gordon decides to go to the country," she told me this morning.

"With this result, we're on the threshold of taking Green politics to the heart of Westminster."

Formerly Labour-faithful local political blogger Neil Harding (predicting we could be the largest party on the council in 2011, with 21 councillors), called the result a political earthquake for Brighton and Hove. I hope he's right: time will surely tell.

Of course the last word on this has to go to Alex:

"Thank you to all the voters who put their faith in me. It's a ringing endorsement of Green policies and the work of Green councillors locally.

"I will be hardworking and unswerving in my task of representing local people and delivering positive Green change.

"Hopefully this means we can put pressure on the Tories and concentrate
on our policies of a 20mph speed limit and introducing a living wage,
which is more than the current minimum wage."

Full result

GRN 1,456 - 38.5% (+17.6%) GRN GAIN FROM CON

CON 1,104 - 29.2% (-0.9%)

LAB 816 - 21.5% (-6.8%)

LD 280 - 7.4% (-7.32%)

UKIP 129 - 3.4% N/A (others 6% last time)


  1. "It finally puts the lie to the notion that voting Green will let the Tories in - clearly voting Green, here in Brighton and Hove, elects Green party politicians. "

    It does nothing of the sort and all people will do across the country if they vote Green is help a right wing Tory government come to power.
    Given the Green Party has its roots in hard right wing politics perhaps this is your real intention.... You are certainly doing the work of the Tories for them.

  2. Chris

    Voting Green certainly does seem to return Green Party politicians here in Brighton and Hove, and that's all I'm saying. And a couple of Green MPs from here isn't going to make the difference to whether we get a right-wing Government: Labour has already made sure that we will.

    Personally, my political background is left of centre - I gave up on labour when it was clear that the gap between rich and poor was getting wider under Blair. I juts want a better life for people here in Brighton Kemptown. I don't know much about the roots of the party, or care really: I just don't see what it has to do with people's lives here and now.