Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Thursday, May 09, 2019

A tale of two elections?

A week on from the local elections, we’re still digesting the meaning of the votes cast by local people in Brighton and Hove. I would describe what happened (from a Labour point of view) as a tale of two elections.

Where we were up against the Tories, we did well. Where there were seats to be won – as in Central Hove – we won, or – as in Hangleton and Knoll – came tantalisingly close. We also piled up Labour votes in Labour Portslade – and across the city, we saw massive swings to Labour in Tory Rottingdean and Woodingdean – which is now marginal.

However, where we were facing the Greens, they made gains at our expense, whilst also gaining votes in the seats they already held, particularly in Brighton Pavilion.

I have blogged before about the challenge and opportunity which the election results present to Labour and the Greens (to work together to achieve radical political objectives) and I won’t say more about that right now.

What has struck me since the elections is how swiftly people have drawn conclusions from the election results (particularly where these chime with the views they already held). I was sorry to see the resignation of my friends and comrades in Kemptown CLP, particularly when – in their constituency, the local elections results simply were not disappointing.

I know that Labour’s national position on Brexit cost us support from some remainers – because I met and spoke to some of them, but I don’t think that the national position on Brexit can tell us anything about why we did better in Hove and Kemptown than we did in Pavilion, any more than it explains the generally good results for Labour across the South East Region.

I want to hear a lot more views from a lot more people – particular Labour Party members and activists across Brighton and Hove – before I get anywhere near thinking that I understand both what happened last week, and how we do better in future.

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