Labour can win Brighton Pavilion

The Argus has published a poll that puts Labour in the lead in Brighton Pavilion.

Labour: 26%
Conservative: 16%
Green: 12%

Link to the clipping.

The Green’s Jason Kitcat has rubbished the poll and spent a great deal of bloggage slagging off the use of graphs by every party but the Green Party. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. The Brighton Politics Blogger‘s take is here.

Every party uses polls, graphs and stats to make their point in the material sent out to voters. In Brighton, the Greens use 2007 council and 2009 EU votes to make the point that they’re riding the crest of a wave. They also use a 2009 poll of about 500 people to show they’re doing well here. The Conservatives are using a poll of GPs to suggest they’re the party of the NHS. Labour uses the result of the last General Election in 2005 to suggest that the Greens are well behind the Tories.

It’s a nuanced business. It’s fanciful to imagine that people vote for councillors and MEPs with the same concerns in mind as electing an MP to Westminster. The 2005 General Election was fought 5 years ago on different constituency boundaries. The voters aren’t all GPs. If a party commissions a poll (however venerable the pollsters are) they only want it to show they’re winning. I’ve worked in marketing long enough and commissioned surveys so I know that polls can be legitimately held to prove whatever you want them to say. As is so often the case, Sir Humphrey makes the point so well:

Polls are polls. Past performance is yesterday. We need to compare apples with apples. Methodological quibbling and sampling squabbles aside, the Argus poll is independent and credible. It also provides a few useful reminders:

The People haven’t spoken yet..
The Greens enjoy telling us how they’ve already won the Brighton Pavilion seat. They use the council or Euro elections or their own polls to show they’re a shoe-in. They claim to be the bookies’ favourite and recent campaign material would have you believe that they are a dead cert. It’s a rather presumptuous approach.

I don’t reckon that people much like being told the result before they’ve cast their ballot. Equally, while some pundits have written off Labour locally, this poll shows that’s evidently not the case. The Argus poll reminds us all that bookies, bloggers, pundits, pollsters, candidates, journalists and polticos don’t decide the result. That’s the voters’ privilege and until 10pm on election day, they haven’t spoken. Until then every vote is up for grabs. I love that: game on!

It’s a General Election, stupid.
The 2010 General Election will decide one crucial question: will Labour or the Conservatives form the next government? Talk of a hung parliament means that every vote and MP counts. Brighton’s choice of MP could make all the difference. It’s an amazingly powerful argument on the doorstep: your Labour vote could tilt the balance nationally. From my experience lots of people who have previously voted Green in local elections realise that a national contest is a different matter and much more important. Plenty of previously Green voters are saying to me that they’ll be voting Labour to keep the Tories out.

It’s a fascinating and exciting race here in the City-by-the-Sea. This is a hotly contested three way marginal seat: the Labour, Tory or Green candidate can win. If people tell you otherwise, they’re trying to mislead. Let’s stop second guessing the voters and insulting their intelligence with all this silly chat about opinion polls. They’ll tell us the result in due course. That’s democracy, man.

Disclosure: I’m a rank and file member of the Labour Party in the Brighton Pavilion constituency.

8 Responses to Labour can win Brighton Pavilion

  1. Love the clip, fantastic!

    I agree, it’s still all to play for, but Greens are well placed based on past performance. Like it or not people do look at polls, because our unfair electoral system means that many choose to vote tactically. The Kindle poll isn’t credible, and that’s the view not just of partisan folk like me but many pollsters e.g. UK Polling Report http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2461

    Greens in no way think the outcome is a cert. That’s why we busy canvassing, leafleting and campaigning at every opportunity! We do want to reassure people that, due to our growing vote share, we’re in the running to win.

    I do not agree that this general election is just about a Labour v Tory government. That narrative suits Labour of course, but I think it’s about the kind of policies we want to see in this country as well as who we think will best represent our local area.

    The outcome is in the hands of voters and I can’t wait to see the results!

  2. Preston says:

    If you really believe the Greens are third, why do you spend most of your time attacking Caroline Lucas and not Charlotte Vere?

    Also a quick look at Charlotte Vere’s website shows, most of her party political attacks via blogs or tweets are directed at Caroline and/or the Green Party. Why might that be?

    The answer is of course, you both know where your main threat is. Why else would you attack a party on 12%??

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  4. Preston,

    You’re absolutely right.

    The Labour and Tory strategy in Brighton Pavilion is based around undermining the Green Party, they don’t like to admit it, but both Nancy and Charlotte know that Caroline is the candidate to beat.

    Dan is right, Brighton Pavilion is still all to play for and no one is thinking it’s in the bag. The Greens are still fighting this seat from third place last time, but the weight of polls and elections since 2005 suggests that the Greens may just be in front of the other two.

    Best wishes,

    Luke

  5. Jezz says:

    I like the greens and when I bother to vote locally (increasingly rarely due to diminishing standards and lack of anything new materialising out of all the hype, soundbites, and promises) I vote green for the simple reason that I like their policies and they can make a difference in local government. However, when it comes to a national vote for the party of Government I will always vote Labour (wouldn’t rule out Lib Dems if it helped) to keep the conservatives out! I don’t want them locally and I sure as hell don’t want them nationally! So I, like many I suspect, will abandon their principals with that aim in mind! It’s fanciful to suggest most voters will do anything else because it simply makes sense!

  6. anonyma says:

    I live in the Brighton Pavilion area and the only certain thing for me with this coming May general election is that I won’t be voting Green. Even though I voted Green in two general elections because Bliar was unvotable, for me, even holding my nose, and because Keith Taylor was a very good candidate with a manifesto that balanced workable green policies that most people want and found sensible with far-reaching general politics.

    So Caroline Lucas swings into Brighton and thinks she can do better than a candidate with a huge personal vote. With her Stalinist hard green lines about young people using cheap flights whilst politicians will always fly to places like the south pacific for lavish conferences on the environment.

    I will probably vote labour, as I think Gordon Browne would be a (much) better Prime Minister than Cameron, who reminds me too much of Bliar, and also of the character in 1001 Dalmations who when asked what kind of sycophant he is replies, “what kind of sycophant would you like me to be”. I have no idea what the local labour candidate is like. I have never voted tory in my life, but Charlotte Vere seems like a very nice lady and she guns for Green hypocracy in a way that labour seem to fear to. If it wasn’t for Cameron, Charlotte Vere has a 50/50 chance of my vote.

  7. anonyma says:

    I realised that I know nothing about Nancy Platts. I probably will vote for her, as she is the labour candidate, and I assume she is too young to have been a Blair’s babe. I suppose at a general election you have to keep one eye on who leads the party too, and there are a lot worse than Gordon Brown.

    The Greens scare me more than the tories. Stalinists.

  8. anonyma says:

    I am 99% likely to vote labour on Thursday. The thought of the tories and Cameron getting into power is just too awful. Nancy Platts seems very genuine. Something about Caroline Lucas scares me.

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