23 May 2007

Council elects Tory Mayor giving the Tories control.

Tory Carol Theobald has been elected Mayor of Brighton & Hove giving the Tories the casting vote and control of the council which will mean more car parks in the centre of town inevitably bringing more congestion and pollution. There is also going to be heavy cuts in social services hitting the most vulnerable.

This is the disaster waiting to happen that I predicted here. Crucially the seats lost by Labour to the Tories in Portslade and Moulsecomb have cost the people dear. These should be rock solid Labour seats - there are now no safe Labour seats in Brighton. The election results were an unmitigated disaster. Simon Burgess (who lost his seat) and Gill Mitchell will argue that we have to continue our pathetic cautious line on policy and that radical policies would have cost us even more. It is difficult to see how more disastrous the results could have been. The only saving grace was Juliet McCafferty and Kevin Allen in Preston Park - but they only held their seats by defying the Labour leadership and in effect ironically picking up some of the 'anti-Labour' vote.

It is clear that Brighton Pavilion is lost to the Greens (31% to our 25%) who will almost certainly install their first MP here at the next election. What is more serious however is whether Labour can persuade Green voters in Hove and Kemptown to back them as the only way of stopping the Tories getting these two seats (Tory 42% to Labour 28%). It would need a virtual miracle to stop the Tories in Hove but Kemptown might still be redeemable (but extremely difficult).

Labour and the Greens combined got well over 50% of the vote but only 46% of the seats. Once again our wonderful electoral system gives arbitrary power to the Tories.


  1. BradfordLabourdude23/5/07 3:08 pm

    If you think that's bad check out Bradford! We're stuck with the all losers coalition of Tories and Lib Dems (again) just because the Labour group(The biggest party by 7 seats) don't want to lead a three way executive with the absolute worst Tory group ever to be puked up in the history of the country! No joke! Bradford was the only plave in the country they made a net loss of seats! (I think).
    Electoral reform NOW

  2. You're telling me that Labour got the most support, but not a clear majority, in Bradford, but was then either unwilling or unable to negotiate a coalition with either of the other parties, as a result of which they find themselves in opposition.

    Exactly how is electoral reform going to change that? Making the electoral system more proportional makes it more, rather than less likely that this kind of situation will arise.

  3. I think the point bradfordude is making is that people will the coalition they want under PR not some mysterious make-up coming as a result more of the quirks of the voting system than of how people actually voted.

    The Lib Dems can be pretty Tory in their ways in a lot of areas despite winning the majority of their votes from ex-Labour voters fooled in thinking the Lib Dems are more left than Labour. Under PR this would be seen through and the Lib Dems would be punished for such dishonesty. This would make it more likely in places like Bradford and Brighton that a true left-wing coalition could be formed which would almost certainly have Labour as its largest group. The people should get what they vote for, under our present undemocratic system they don't.

  4. Roger Field8/12/07 12:05 am

    All this voting system talk is simply because we are the losers this time. You would not be talking about it if the situation were reversed.

  5. Roger, I have been a supporter of electoral reform since the mid 1990s. In case you forgot, it was in the 1997 Labour party manifesto. Blair did try to push a referendum through, but obviously with such a massive majority it didn't seem such a pressing issue and old Labour people like Prescott, Straw and McCartney were dead set against. This is probably the biggest mistake Labour have ever made. A PR referendum would have been easily won in those days because it would have been plain to see it couldn't be for partizan reasons. The problem now is people are going to think the same as you that it is just because our majority is threatened. I honestly can say I would support PR even if it helped the Tories because this is about democracy. Votes for women has kept the Tories in power for most of this century but it was still the right thing to do. Votes at 16 will probably help them as well, but it should still be won.

    I think you are right that it is now too late and would look too much like gerrymandering for Labour to change the electoral system before the next election. What they should do is hold a referendum on the same day as the next general election (which would be held under the present system). It would force the Tories to have a clear position (which would be against) and if the referendum was won it would place a clear imperative on the next government whoever that may be.