Marginal seats

Brighton Pavilion: will the Greens hold on?

It’s 19th on Labour’s list of targets. It would fall on a swing of just over 1%. Caroline Lucas’ majority is only 1,252. Last week a poll commissioned by Lord Ashcroft found Labour in the lead, albeit by a tiny margin:

Brighton Pavilion opinion pollAnd yet, despite all of this, I reckon the Greens will hold on in Brighton Pavilion.

I think Caroline Lucas’ personal popularity outranks that of her local party, which has been running Brighton and Hove council as a minority administration since 2011 with mixed success. Lucas has a national media profile that probably repels as many people as it attracts, but in her constituency she has managed (so far) to rise above the antics of some of the Green party’s councillors.

The election result in 2010 was extremely close:

Brighton result 2010My feeling is that it’ll be similarly close next year, though the margin of victory for Lucas may turn out to be slightly larger (thanks to the incumbency factor), and both Labour and the Greens’ vote share will probably go up at the Liberal Democrats’ expense.

Brighton isn’t entirely a homogenous commune of liberal free-thinkers and environmentalists, however. Both the 2010 and 2005 results revealed the existence of a solid, stubborn block of Tory supporters – so solid, in fact, that the party achieved precisely the same share of the vote at both elections:

Brighton 2005 result
It’ll be intriguing to see if the 9% share for Ukip in Lord Ashcroft’s poll translates into anything substantial next year, and whether this chips away at the Conservative support.

Brighton Pavilion will remain the Greens’ one and only seat after the 2015 election. I don’t think they’ve yet achieved what the late great Bob McKenzie used to call “take-off” in any other constituency. The closest they came was in Norwich South in 2010, but that ought to swing from Lib Dem back to Labour next year.

Nonetheless Brighton Pavilion will be one of next year’s must-watch contests. Matching Caroline Lucas in the profile stakes is the Tory candidate Clarence Mitchell, former BBC reporter and spokesman for the family of Madeleine McCann. Labour’s candidate is Purna Sen, deputy director at the Institute for Public Affairs at the LSE.


2 responses to ‘Brighton Pavilion: will the Greens hold on?

  1. If the Green led minority administration continues to attract negative coverage in the media, locally and nationally, Caroline Lucas€’s chances will be threatened. I agree with your prediction, however €- she is a charismatic figure who manages to distance herself from the council.

  2. Yes, I think Caroline Lucas will get back on a personal vote as the incumbent.

    The Conservatives had roughly the same percentage vote in 2010 and 2005 (23.7 versus 23.9) but about 2,500 more actual votes because turnout went up significantly.

    Given how close the polling seems, I expect turnout could be high next May too. Might that favour the two largest parties against say UKIP or the Greens?

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