Perilous Prognostification? Updated Prediction for Brighton and Hove City Council Elections in May 2019

Brighton Politics Blogger is back in the saddle, sort of predicting the results of the local elections in Brighton and Hove in a couple of weeks.

I agree with the overall thrust – I think it unlikely that there will be a majority administration.  I don’t get a sense that anyone who is not already a committed supporter or member is feeling anything positive about either Labour or Tories as parties at the moment.  Nationally the two main parties are commanding dwindling support, with both parties losing the support of many of their 2017 General election voters. I see no reason to think this is any different locally, and plenty of anecdotal evidence of disaffected members in both.   

This should probably be good for the Greens – though their polling nationally is not improving, the local picture in Brighton and Hove is always different.  However they have a lot of ground to recover and are only slowly recovering from a strong reputation locally for incompetence.  Nonetheless I think they are most likely to increase their share of seats.

I agree a ‘seat here or there will decide whether Labour or the Conservatives are the largest party, with the balance of power being held, once again, by the Greens.’   Overall though I think BPB overestimates Labour performance and underestimates the Greens.  I still hold to my earlier prediction.  A few Green wins from Labour will see the Conservatives as the largest party, even without any gains. 

The underlying rationale remains the same.  Brexit is still the only political issue, totally dominating opinion and voting intention. With Labour still ‘sitting on the fence’, only the greens offer a clear way to register support for Remain.

To take a couple of examples from the BPB post, in Preston Park  and  Hanover  I cannot see any shift from Green to Labour, but lots of traffic the other way in these solidly remain areas.   

In Preston Park I think there will be one gain for the Greens from Labour.  Julie Cattell topped the poll for Labour, 412 votes ahead of the unelected fourth placed candidate, so I suspect she will hold on.  However there were only 65 votes between the elected third placed candidate (Labour’s Kevin Allen) and unelected fourth place Green.  Kevin had the advantage of some recognition, having previously served as a councillor in the area, and a unified party behind him, neither of which are true for the other two Labour candidates on the slate this time.

In Hanover, Labour’s best placed candidate, Emma Daniel, was third.  Having won in a by-election two years earlier (by 38 votes), in the year of the great Green collapse she was some 330 votes ahead of the nearest Green challenger.  She has been active, and I can believe her identity based politics plays well in the area, so she could well hold on, but I can’t see any Labour gain here and suspect the Greens may well win all three.

I’m not well placed to comment on Christopher Hawtree’s electoral magic, but Jack Hazelgrove is also running again for the Greens in Hollingdean and Stanmer, a ward perhaps poorly served by two resigning Labour councillors and one that voted 2 to 1 in favour of remain in the referendum.  Last time, he was denied a seat by only 53 votes.  A likely Green gain.

Hardly a comprehensive overview I know, but while I suspect BPB may be right that all the parties will be disappointed by the results, I think it is likely to leave the Conservatives as the biggest party.  Another minority administration is likely to leave the residents of Brighton and Hove the most disappointed of all though.  We face a number of serious pressing issues and a period of clear leadership, with the ability to get things done, would be very welcome.