The Tory campaign in Brighton Pavilion: not getting off to a Grand start

The newly selected Conservative candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Clarence Mitchell, has not got off to the most auspicious of starts.  This afternoon he tweeted a picture a photo of Brighton beach, taken from his hotel window at the Grand Hotel:

A Grand View of Brighton

It’s a curious tweet, and suggests a certain lack of knowledge of the city’s politics: Brighton and Hove currently has a Green-led minority council, and one Green and two Tory MPs.  Labour are the third party on the council.  “Labour Fail” seems like an odd way of putting it.

Moreover, Mitchell compounded the error by his response to people who pointed out that the Grand Hotel was not exactly representative of a city in which low pay and high living costs are endemic – that he was supporting the local economy.  The Grand is not locally owned; dozens of more modest hotels are local businesses.  A better-briefed, more serious candidate would know that.

It’s all a bit surprising for someone who works in … PR.  It reinforces the impression that, in 2015, the Tories will be also-rans – the comedic support for a fascinating battle between Purna Sen for Labour and incumbent Green MP Caroline Lucas, candidates of real substance with proven track records: Clarence Mitchell’s selection suggests that this battle will powerfully highlight the difference between celebrity and achievement.

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2 thoughts on “The Tory campaign in Brighton Pavilion: not getting off to a Grand start

  1. Living in Scotland, it’s fascinating to see other pockets across the country where the Conservatives really are not a major force. Do you feel that the city is leaning in a particularly Green or Labour direction at the moment, or is it too early to say?

  2. Difficult to say. At local government level, I have no doubt that the Greens have blown it. For all the difficulties of running a minority administration at a time of austerity, the real problems for the Brighton Greens are self-inflicted; their disastrous management of the recent dispute over refuse workers’ allowances, for example, which was a major factor in their losing a crucial by-election in one of their safest wards (which in turn meant losing the casting vote in key Council committees). They’re looking increasingly like a lame duck administration, dependent on the Tories to win votes in Council, and facing a resurgent and confident Labour Party.

    In terms of holding Caroline Lucas’ seat, I think it’s rather different. It’s been fascinating to watch how, as the Green Council’s judgement has gone from bad to worse, Caroline Lucas has called the politics right on every issue – her political touch is far surer than the administration’s. She has a base of support that goes well beyond the core Green vote and has been able to make a strong stand against austerity at a time when Labour – in Westminster at least – appears reluctant to do so. But Labour has adopted a really strong candidate for Pavilion in Purna Sen, and looks very confident. Labour clearly has the organisational upper hand over a demoralised and divided Green Party. So it could be close – there is everything to play for in Pavilion.

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