Brighton-backed Greens scent Highgate by-election victory

 Brighton Green councillor Alex Phillips supporting Alexis Rowell in Highgate

Labour campaign team boosted as rivals bring in reinforcements

Sally Gimson

Published: September 1, 2011

THE Green Party has called in reinforcements from Brighton to try to swing the Highgate by-election, offering the bold boast that victory is now “very likely”.

Members and councillors from the seaside town are joining canvassers going door-to-door as the party tries to wrest a council seat from Labour.

The Greens hope the extra firepower will enable it to replicate the success it has had on the south coast where Caroline Lucas became their first MP in May last year and where they have the most members on the local authority, albeit running a minority administration.

Labour campaigners, who have brought in helpers from across London to swell their own team, were dismissing the arrival of Brighton activists in Highgate yesterday (Wednesday).

They said voters would be unimpressed by attempts to replicate those “feelgood” results in Camden and pointed to the claims the Greens in Brighton had cut council services by keeping parts of the previous Conservative administration’s budget plans.

The Highgate poll has become a litmus test for the Greens, trying to bounce back from losing two of their three seats at the Town Hall last year.

The September 15 by-election has been triggered by the resignation of Labour councillor Michael Nicolaides for “personal reasons”, Alex Phillips, 24, a Green councillor on Brighton and Hove City Council, was among door knockers last week.

More Brighton members are expected to join the campaign to get candidate Alexis Rowell, a defector from the Liberal Democrats, elected.

Ms Phillips said: “It’s very likely we will win. There aren’t many places in London where we have this chance.”

Labour unseated two Green councillors in Highgate in May last year. Despite a push from the Conservatives in the ward, which included using London Assembly member Brian Coleman on the doorstep last night, Labour candidate Sally Gimson and her campaign team still see the Greens as the most dangerous threat to her attempts to defend the seat.

She said: “We have had lots of support from councillors and MPs from across London. Jeremy Corbyn, David Lammy, Tessa Jowell and Frank Dobson.”

And yesterday Labour members from Brighton offered to match the Greens by also coming up from to help.

Conservative candidate is Tony Denyer, while Martin Hay is standing for the Lib Dems.


Brighton-backed Greens scent Highgate by-election victory

I joined the Green Party in 2005, disillusioned with Labour and Lib Dem.

With my focus as a disabled person and decades-long jobseeker on national issues, I note that the big three parties have sold out to a neoliberal 'welfare reform' agenda that seeks to destroy the concept of 'social security'. Fuelling that are smear stories, while an American health insurance giant called Unum -- associated with 'disability denial factories' before Atos Healthcare took on that role in the UK -- has been 'advising' UK governments since the early 1990's on 'welfare reform'.

(Incidentally, Labour made an investment banker, David Freud, their adviser on welfare reform before he defected to the Conservatives on the offer of a peerage. So an investment banker is now Welfare Reform Minister, cutting housing benefit for those on low incomes as well as those on out-of-waged work benefits.)

Now, be prepared for a forthcoming media advertising blitz as Unum seeks to capitalise on the UK as a prime market for the insurance products it will have to offer. Is it not time the UK learned from America's mistakes?

Green Party core values indicate that the Green Party is fit for purpose, while a Citizens Advice report on the efficacy of the new Employment & Support Allowance describes that as 'not fit for purpose' and the lead time to an ESA tribunal is now 12 months, according to Disability in Camden 'Discovery' magazine, latest issue.

Alan Wheatley

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