Monday, 11 April 2011

Glorious sunshine, campaigning and the beach in Brighton

Down to Brighton yesterday to help the local election campaign in Brighton - well, Hove actually - old joke there. My friend and Chair of the LGBT Greens, Phelim Mac Cafferty is standing for election in Brunswick ward there along with Ollie Sykes. So together with a colleague from the London Green Party we caught an early train down from London arriving in Hove just after 11 as the Sunday trains take longer.

The weather was glorious and the sea breezes wafting up the steep streets from the sea below made it worthwhile coming to Hove, election or no election. The Brighton marathon was also on and the sea front was the course, with limping athletes regularly passing the ice cream vans and the assorted day trippers and others lying on the beach or swimming - it was certainly warm enough for a dip yesterday!

Gathering our materials, we proceeded to set up a stall along the main road but sufficiently far away from the main 'drag' of the marathon, where we would have been overwhelmed by crowds. We were also strategically placed opposite the GMB building, which was the only one I saw in the area festooned with 'vote Labour' posters. A small annexe at the back was also marked as 'Labour HQ' but we saw no activity there all day - perhaps an indication of some fallback in activism locally, although I believe that the party is active elsewhere in Brighton.

Apart from the candidates, we were also joined by Chris Hawtree, the candidate in the adjoining ward, whom I discovered is also a man of letters and very kindly presented me with a copy of his 'Anthology on Dogs' which he was seeking to sell to passing dog owners in order to raise campaign funds. I promised that we would have a chat about literature at some point in the future as it is one of my passions. As there were so many people passing by, some of whom were visiting Brighton and others who were there for the marathon, we made a point of trying to single out those who were living locally. A number of conversations over local issues ensued with the candidates, including a local Labour Party member who wished the campaign well. We were also dispatched to deliver window posters to locals who had promised to put them up, along with a covering letter. I noticed a number of Green posters on various windows.

There was a very positive response from the voters and several said that they were voting Green on May 5th or would seriously consider it. All felt that it was a very productive day. I managed to take my lunch on the beach and gaze at the oh so blue sea shimmering in the sunshine. By five o'clock the streets were quieter and we dismantled the stall - most of the election literature had been distributed and there were no negative responses whatsoever, apart from the occasional Tory voter in twin set and pearls who dismissed us with disdain.

Then it was off for a quick drink, by then I was suffering from sunburn, along with several others who had been on the stall, though I had taken the precaution of wearing a hat. I finally caught the 7.20 train from Hove back to London Victoria via Brighton.

I am unable to come down to help the campaign again as I have a meeting of the party's international committee next Saturday and not quite sure yet about my movements over the Easter weekend, as I will be leaving for Ireland on Easter Monday. But I wished them all well and certainly based on my experiences yesterday, I think that the campaign is going really well. Hopefully next time I am down I can spend some time by the sea and celebrate the election of several new Green councillors in Hove.

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