Local Politics – Brighton Kemptown

I haven’t posted much about the forthcoming General Election but I couldn’t resist making a short comment about the situation here in Brighton & Hov, which is actually quite interesting. The three constituencies in the city are all marginal: Hove, Brighton Pavilion, and Brighton Kemptown. All of these were Conservative strongholds until 1997, when they all fell to the Labour party which held them until the last General Election 2010. Hove and Brighton fell to the Conservatives in 2010 while Brighton Pavilion was taken by the UK’s only Green MP, Caroline Lucas. Much of the media attention in Brighton is focussing on the latter seat, where (surprisingly to my mind), Caroline Lucas seems set to retain her place in the House of Commons having apparently succeeded in her campaign of distancing herself from the local Green Party’s abject performance in running Brighton and Hove City Council.

I am currently living in Brighton Kemptown, a two-way marginal in which the Labour candidate (Nancy Platts) is fighting the incumbent Conservative (Simon Kirby). The seat encompasses the eastern part of Brighton and the semi-rural suburbs and villages stretching out to the east of the seat. At its western end it includes Queen`s Park ward, the centre of Brighton`s vibrant gay community, then Kemptown, the council estates of Whitehawk and Moulscoomb and then, beyond the racecourse, more affluent and genteel coastal villages like Woodingdean, Saltdean and the town of Peacehaven. At the north of the seat is Brighton University`s Falmer campus – despite Moulscoomb itself being in the constituency, Moulscoomb campus lies just over the boundary marked by the A27  in Brighton Pavilion. The University of Sussex, where I work, also has a campus at Falmer, but it is also in Brighton Pavilion.

Here is a map showing the constituency boundaries:


I often get the No. 23 bus home from work in the evenings. The route of this bus takes it down the A27 to Elm Grove, where it turns left up the hill into Elm Grove which runs uphill into Hanover, which is (more-or-less) that segment at the Western boundary of Brighton Kemptown that has been eaten into by Brighton Pavilion. The bus then turns right and travels south taking it into Queen’s Park and then left again to take it along towards the Marina (the bit that sticks out into the sea).

I know it’s not a very scientific guide to the likely election result, but it is noticeable that the posters showing in the windows in the houses of the Hanover salient of Brighton Pavilion are almost exclusively for Caroline Lucas while those along the rest of journey in Kemptown are almost exclusively for Nancy Platts. It’s a remarkably sudden transition that coincides with the constituency boundary in fact. I’m not sure how much it is reasonable to infer from this observation, but I’d say based on other evidence that Caroline Lucas will probably hold Brighton Pavilion and Nancy Platts will be the next Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown.

But of course I could be wrong.

One Response to “Local Politics – Brighton Kemptown”

  1. Phillip Helbig Says:

    Whenever I hear a discussion about a first-past-the-post election, I am reminded of reports of “elections” in Cuba or in Eastern-bloc countries. It seems to me that the difference between 1 and 2 or 3 is much smaller than between 1 and many or even 3 and many.

    For those who insist that an MP representing some geographical region (no matter how many people voted for him and no matter how diverse his constituency) is somehow better, one can still have them: determine the number of seats via PR but include the direct candidates in the number of seats allotted. Best of both worlds.

    When I was living in Blighty, election coverage featured the swingometer. By concentrating on swing constituencies and other such tactical matters, the real idea of democracy gets lost.

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