Boundary Changes Are Like A Rubik's Cube

Brighton Politics Blogger is having a debate about what will happen to Brighton and Hove's parliamentary boundaries in 2013.

It is really impossible to know because the changes nationally will have knock on effects on every boundary. By my calculations, at least one in six voters will have a change of MP by an administrators pen. Rather more change than any general election has ever managed.

Despite the no doubt best efforts of the boundary commission to minimise change, every small boundary shift has an even bigger knock on effect on the next constituency and so on, so Brighton and Hove could be radically redrawn despite Brighton Pavilion being within the margins of 73,000 to 80,000 electors that the new rules permit and Hove being only a few hundred outside, well they would be that close before the new individual voter registration starts which will disenfranchise millions of transient voters in poor urban areas. If you move house often as students and other renters do then expect to find yourselves removed from the electoral register and unable to vote.

This government has proposed some quite radical changes to our constitution. Only one - the proposed change to AV have we been consulted on.

The change to AV and electing the Lords by PR would both be a move towards more democracy. Sadly neither are going to happen. It was never going to be easy to persuade people that changing from the worst electoral system to the second worst was a worthwhile change. An inept Yes campaign made a NO vote a certainty and the Tories and Labour lords are determined to stop a democratic upper house.

Individual voter registration, fixing parliament terms at 5 years rather than 4, enlarging boundaries, scrapping administrative and geographic considerations and more frequent reviews are all anti-democratic moves. All of these are now likely to happen.

Shame we didn't get a referendum on any of these changes.

An Analysis Of Local Elections Brighton & Hove 2011

The safest Green wards are St Peters & North Laine where they hoovered up an amazing 61% of the vote (a 39% majority over Labour on 22%) followed by the extraordinary performance of the Kitcats in Regency ward moving from 41% of the vote in a 2009 by-election to 56% of the vote now (33% lead over Labour on 23%). 690 votes elected Labour's Roy Pennington in 2007, it would be a poor third place now, the Kitcats managed over 1650 votes each!! Hanover and Elm Grove the Greens got 56% to Labour's 33% and Goldsmid is now also fairly safe for the Greens on 40% to Labour's 29%.

Adding up ward votes across the constituency the Greens managed to win Brighton Pavilion with 46% of the vote compared to Labour's 26% and Tory's 22%. Good omens for Caroline Lucas's re-election even with some boundary changes for 2015. Overall the Greens have 11 councillors in this constituency, the Tories 5, and Labour just one - Jeanne Lepper - what would ex Labour MP here, David Lepper, think of that?

In Brighton Kemptown the Greens also managed to top the poll there with 34% of the vote, compared to 29% for Labour and just 26% for the Tories. Could be a real nerve dangler in the Greens can convince people of this for 2015. Both Labour and Greens have 6 councillors each and the Tories have 5.

In Hove & Portslade the Tories topped the poll with 35%, closely followed by Labour on 33% and the Greens trailing in third with 22%. The Tories have 8 councillors here, both Greens and Labour have 6 each.

The few safe wards for Labour were again East Brighton where they polled 49% of the vote beating the Greens and Tories neck on neck on 22%. Moulsecoomb & Bevendean has again reasserted itself as a solid Labour seat with 46% Labour to the Tories 26% and Greens 25%. Labour also reasserted itself in Portslade with 53% in the North ward and 50% in the South ward. A majority of 22% and 18% respectively.

The dwindling number of safe wards for the Tories are super safe Hove Park with 67% of the vote to Labour's 16% and Woodingdean with 55% and Rottingdean Coastal with 53%.

Once safe Tory Patcham is now a battlefield between Tory and Green 46% to 29%. Withdean is now a split marginal 38% Tory to 36% Green. Only an even split of the votes saved the Tories in Westbourne as they won all seats with just 39% of the vote. The Greens are now on 25% there to Labour's 29%.

Other super marginal split wards are Hollingdean & Stanmer with Greens getting 40% of the vote to Labour's 37%. Central Hove 33% Tory to 32% Green. Wish which split 37% to both Tory and Labour and Hangleton and Knoll 44% Tory, 40% Labour.

Other seats where the Greens consolidated their lead were Queens Park 44% of the vote to Labour's 37% and Preston Park 46% to Labour's 37%.

Overall Labour gained 5 seats from the Tories and lost 5 seats to the Greens. The Greens gained 5 from Labour, 3 from the Tories and 2 from the Lib Dems (wiping them out by 38% to 23% in Brunswick & Adelaide). The Greens have never lost a seat in Brighton and Hove, ever!

Why I Want An Independent Scotland

The right-wing has a problem. After years of telling its supporters that Scotland does very well out of English taxpayers, it is not surprising that most Tory voters rather support the Scottish Nationalist cause. But of course this is not what the right-wing establishment wants at all. The truth is that whatever subsidy England does give to Scotland (if anything when you think of how much government is based in London) it gets much more back in power and prestige. No way do the Tories want a socialist republic on these Isles showing exactly what the English are missing out on.

Now don't get me wrong when the Scots vote on Independence as they now surely will, it will be incredibly hard for the SNP to win. For one thing, without a draft deal on how it is all going to happen, then the Scots could be voting on a blank cheque. Voting for independence with less than 10% of UK national debt taken on (as per capita it should be) is very different from say 20% of UK national debt.

I think the EU would embrace the Scots nation and the Euro would be the natural choice for its currency. Total fiscal autonomy and not having to pay towards the UK's sizeable defence bill, especially Trident will free Scotland - a big land area with a small population. Even without oil, Scotland can easily produce its entire electricity and power consumption. All from renewable sources.

But apart from thinking that Scotland will enjoy the fruits of freedom from London diktat, and plentiful raw materials, it will also be free to be a small democracy fo five million people. For me small is beautiful. Small European nations lead the way on democracy, whether it is excellent public services, large per capita GDP or green economies and high political participation. Scotland will be better off. In fact I would like to see independence for London, the North West, Midlands etc as well if at all possible. Democracy is better when small, for that reason, go for it Scotland, I wish you all the best.

Greens Should Organise A Boycott Of The Argus...

...unless the Argus stops its nasty rightwing campaign against them.

I concluded long ago that the Brighton Argus was a rightwing rag. If the Greens tolerate the sort of nasty rightwing headline they were given on Thursday, then there will be plenty more to come - the Argus is leading the Tory fightback with as nasty headlines as it can.

I doubt anyone thinks the headline 'Greens want more sites for travellers' was a helpful promotion of one of the Greens policies.

The truth is this was a small part of a raft of policies the Greens are putting forward. The only reason the Argus put it on their front page and across billposters across Brighton and Hove was to make people think this is the number one priority of the Greens when it is nothing of the sort. Of course most people who saw that are going to think it is the first act of the new Green administration. And whatever the merits of having more sites for travellers this is not going to go down well with a lot of voters and the Brighton Argus knows that.

The Greens need to counter this distortion as quickly as possible to limit any damage to their reputation. They need to do at least one of two things (and preferably both). 1. They need to argue why more official sites will ease the problem of travellers on unofficial sites. and 2. They need to make clear in no uncertain terms that if the Argus continues along this line (which is of course entirely up to the owners of the Argus) then the Greens will publicise exactly who owns and is pulling the strings of the Brighton Argus and why they might have a particular political bias. Also the Greens should tell people to boycott the paper because it is so distorted.

Now, a lot of people might think this an over-reaction, but if the Greens want to avoid the plight of Labour who were pilloried and bullied by the owners of the press into being completely pathetic on socialist principles, then they had better act and act quick.

Some Greens may think they can ignore the Argus as it only has less than 30,000 readers, but they must also remember that virtually everyone in Brighton and Hove reads their billposters. This is a powerful weapon as Ken Livingstone can attest to in London when 6 months of Evening Standard bilge helped remove him from being Mayor.

Brighton & Hove: What We Voted For And What We Got.

Cost, Complexity And Clegg

These are the 'three c's' the NO team used as revealed by Tim Montgomerie at Conservative Home in a good article I read in the Daily Mail of all places.

Basically Tim says YES2AV could have won this campaign if they had explained why AV was needed and how it works in simple terms - they failed on both counts and I agree this is why we lost. Also, without the bulk of the Labour party onside and without a coherent strategy it seems, they had no chance. Those from the Labour party who opposed AV have been disgraceful and they have made their leader Ed Miliband look weak and foolish (maybe he is).

The results for the Green party here in Brighton and Hove have cheered me up a bit. But frankly I am very disappointed. To lose 68% to 32% is a pretty devastating defeat. To lose the AV vote in Brighton and Hove albeit a close 49.9% to 50.1% is even more disappointing.

Silver linings?

Well at least it wasn't full blooded PR was that was tested, cos I think the weak YES campaign would have lost that as well, maybe not by so large a margin.

Thinking about it, the overiding lesson is don't have a referendum on things people cannot grasp in less than 5 seconds.

Imagine if there had been a referendum on the NHS before it was instituted, or on gay rights or loads of other things that once implemented people overwhelmingly support. When people see just the price and not the benefits they plump for the status quo it seems, especially when their newspaper tells them to.

Just to finish, I agreed with Clegg that the early referendum was the right idea, but I think in hindsight, they should have tried to get STV for local government first, so people could see how it works before they went for a referendum.

As it is, the ERS and the LIb Dems find their preferred preferential form of PR looking very shaky. Surely only open-list PR could now be put forward and probably not for at least 10 years, if ever.