Monday, 29 March 2010

A Look @: Brighton & Hove

Brighton & Hove is home to one of the most exciting seats in the country this year. The Green Party could make an historic gain in Brighton if they can come out on top in a three way marginal. Currently Labour hold all three Parliamentary seats in the unitary authority but the Conservatives replaced them as the largest party on the Council in the 2007 local elections. The Tories were agonisingly close to gaining full control winning 26 of the 54 seats and are currently running Brighton & Hove as a minority administration. But the Greens also doubled their councillors from 6 to 12 in 2007 so their tails will be up going into the General Election in May.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Brighton Pavilion

David Lepper





GRN Gain

Brighton Kemptown

Desmond Turner




CON Gain


Celia Barlow




CON Gain


I shouldn't need to tell anyone this is a constituency to watch on election night! Brighton Pavilion is where Caroline Lucas hopes to make history this year and become the first Green MP to be elected to Westminster. Current Labour MP David Lepper won his seat from the Conservatives in 1997 and has been re-elected with comfortable majorities ever since. He is stepping down this year giving Labour's opponents a perfect opportunity to gain an open seat. In 2005 Lepper lost over 12% of his vote to Keith Taylor, who is the leader of the Green Party's group on the Brighton & Hove council. Taylor lost to Lucas in a close vote to be the Green PPC in Pavilion this year but has pledged his support to Lucas' campaign. 9 of the Green's 12 councillors in Brighton were elected from wards in this constituency giving them an advantage on the ground over Labour and the Conservatives, who have 5 and 6 respectively. Only two things are certain here. It's going to be a tight race and it will be won by a woman. Labour have selected Nancy Platts and the Conservative candidate is Charlotte Vere. I'd say Vere is more likely to spoil the Green's party as there is definite potential for the left leaning parties to split their vote. But I reckon this will come down to who wants it more and as it's by far their top priority I think Caroline Lucas and the Green Party will be celebrating in May; Green Gain.

Brighton Kemptown doesn't look too good for Labour either. Desmond Turner was another to ride the Blair wave into Parliament but he's standing down after 13 years an MP. He hasn't left Labour PPC Simon Burgess, the former leader of Brighton & Hove Council, with much of a majority to defend although the boundary commission didn't help in that respect either. The Conservative candidate Simon Kirby is also a former leader of his party's group on the Council and he's a strong favourite to win this back for the Tories. Tory gain is the likely result here.

Finally, Hove is another seat Labour look set to lose in the South East. Defending a tiny majority Celia Barlow has a lot of work to do to hang on to the seat she held for Labour in 2005. Especially as she has received a lot of bad press for claiming £28,000 in expenses for her constituency home in Hove. Like the two Brighton seats, Labour won this from the Conservatives in 1997 but that looks set to change this year. Mike Weatherly is the Conservative candidate charged to win this back and he'll be hoping to make his third run for Parliament a success. He's odds on to take it and I think Barlow would be struggling without her expenses problems; Tory Gain.


  1. I think the Greens are definately working the hardest for it.

    There are teams going out canvassing every day of the week, and aboslutely loads of people turning up to action days every week as well.

    And with the Brighton and Hove Green Party membership continuously growing strongly there wil only be more and more people working for it as the elction gets closer.

    The Greens inspire people as they see there is a chance to make a difference and the other parties just can't compete.

  2. What's the council distribution?

  3. MT

    Current council distribution:


    Con 25
    Grn 13
    Lab 13
    LD 2
    Ind 1

    B Pav

    Grn 9
    Con 6
    Lab 5

    Ben Duncan

  4. According to Press Association analysis of the 2007 city council elections in Brighton Pavilion, the Greens are 221 votes ahead of the Tories, with Labour trailing more than 1,000 votes further behind in third place.

    It might be fair to say that the number of Green voters in the constituency has increased beyond that number, especially in light of the impressive result at the European elections across Brighton and Hove.

  5. Thanks Ben, and pluralprogressive. Yeah i was slightly sceptical about the Brighton Pavilion prediction, but i'm convinced now. Impressive. Not that i'd question your methodology Tom ;-) but i can see more clearly what you mean now. Please keep us updated.

    I think we need to contact the candidates Tom. Would be interesting to do a few phone interviews and maybe a couple of high profile Brighton & Hove residents? Call me this afternoon.

  6. There's little doubt that the Greens are fighting a well resourced campaign and are massively outspending Labour and Conservatives in Brighton Pavilion. But writing off Labour so easily doesn't give credit to how close this fight really is.

    Labour's new candidate Nancy Platts has been grafting locally for two and a half years, lives in the city and has a strong profile.

    As a Labour activist I'm interested that the Green vote, which has been strong at local and European elections, might be soft at the General Election. There is a big anti-Tory feeling in the centre of town and that could play well for Labour.

    Brighton Pavilion is surely 'too close to call'.

  7. I've done quite a bit of canvassing for the Greens in the last month and have yet to meet anyone who says they are *definitely* going to vote Labour in the election.

    Of course a percentage will come back to the fold on the day, but if anything it's the Labour vote which is soft this time round. So I'm hopeful that Brighton voters are poised to act on their disillusionment with both main parties and make a positive vote for Caroline Lucas as a fresh voice at Westminster.

    It's also worth mentioning that most of the momentum in the Green campaign is not down to funding but just the sheer number of volunteers who want to help make history here!

  8. Sorry, I mis-read I bit there. You didn't say Labour were outspending the Tories. Apologies to any offended Conservative activists!

  9. This is a great blog - interesting stuff.

    My perspective - I've done quite a bit of canvassing in Brighton Pavilion for Labour and spoken to a lot of people who are solid Labour. Of the Green supporters I've spoken to, the vast majority also voted Green last time. That's important as it suggests that the substantial swing required for the Greens to get from third place to first hasn't come off. And plenty of don't knows still, so there's everything to play for yet!

  10. Thanks Tracey. Interesting stuff.

    On behalf of the Britain-Votes team i just want to encourage everyone following the blog to leave us their comments. Please feel free to keep us informed about developments in your area. If its in the media, just post up a url.

    Thanks again.

  11. Well, given that 22% of the city voted Green in 2005 (and 31% in the Euro elections last year) it's not surprising that Tracey is encountering lots of Green voters who voted Green before.

    Independent predictions from ICM and the bookmakers see Labour in 3rd place at the moment; apparently the Lib Dems are afraid they may lose their deposit.

  12. Rod Liddle's Sunday Times sketch yesterday on the Pavilion contest is savage but also quite revealing:

    More sober commentary from the Economist and the Guardian:

  13. Cheers for that Jack! Some good articles there.

  14. Caroline named Best UK Politician in the Independent on Sunday today:

    “If nothing else, there should be one great moment in the 2010 election: were you up for Lucas’s win?”