12 February 2011

Wards To Watch This May In Brighton & Hove

The most important 6 wards (where seats will probably change hands) are MOULSECOOMB+BEVENDEAN, BRUNSWICK+ADELAIDE, GOLDSMID, PRESTON PARK, NORTH PORTSLADE and SOUTH PORTSLADE. There are 21 wards in total but the other 15 are unlikely to see changes (see below). So much for competitive elections under our present electoral system!!

If Labour have got any sense they will concentrate their attacking efforts on 3 wards - North Portslade, South Portslade and Moulsecoomb & Bevendean. These are wards where they can regain 3 seats from the Tories (that they shouldn't have lost in the first place!!). With their current 10% boost in the opinion polls (from 30% to 40%) this should be a shoe-in as all these wards have only around 100 votes in it.

The Greens need to put their limited numbers and resources into attacking 3 wards - Brunswick+Adelaide, Preston Park and Goldsmid. They can gain 6 seats in these wards, 2 from the Lib Dems, 3 from Labour and 1 from the Tories. The Greens also claim they can win seats in Hollingdean+Stanmer, though I find that hard to believe considering Labour's lead there, though there has been boundary changes.

The Tories need to throw most of their efforts into just 1 ward - Moulsecoomb+Bevendean. This is where they can gain 2 seats from Labour in what might become a 3 way marginal as the Greens gain ground on Labour thereby heavily splitting the left vote. I don't expect the Tory vote to increase (it might even fall) but they could still win seats here because of our wonderful electoral system. A lot depends on how active Labour are here and any residual Labour support left over from Nancy Platts excellent campaign in the general election. Labour should not waste limited resources and effort against the Greens in other wards they have little chance of defending.

The Lib Dems will obviously throw everything into Brunswick+Adelaide to defend their only 2 seats. With the national polls showing their vote has halved they will have one hell of a task to stop the Greens from wiping them out and of course no chance of winning seats anywhere else.

There are 15 safe-ish 'clean sweep' wards (one party control) where seat changes are very unlikely*:-

Greens: St Peters+North Laine, Hanover+Elm Grove, Regency, Queens Park (11 seats)
Labour: East Brighton, Hollingdean+Stanmer (6)
Tory: Central Hove, Hangleton+Knoll, Patcham, Rottingdean Coastal, Stanford, Westbourne, Withdean, Wish, Woodingdean (22 incl. 1 Independent)

The Tories locally have laughably and rather cynically played their 'deficit denier' card by deferring service cuts until after the election and even proposed a populist 1% cut in council tax and cut in parking permit charges - an obvious election bribe. I wonder if voters will fall for it? It will mean of course that the 19% cuts required by 2014 will now have to be even more severe starting in 2012. The Tories know without this radical gamble they would have had no chance just following their party's national cuts imperative.

Likely Result Range: TORIES+IND 22-28 seats, GREENS 13-19, LABOUR 8-16, LDEMS 0-2
Prediction (Change): TORY+IND 25(-1), GREENS 19(+6), LABOUR 10(-3) LDEM 0(-2)

*Note - I think the Greens will increase their majorities in these wards because their vote has increased massively since the last local elections, so even the slim majorities in Queens Park are likely to become substantial.

14 of these 15 wards are either safe Tory, Labour or Green with big majorities.

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