Our ambition in 2015 is to gain fifteen more council seats on top of those won in 2011 and since. That would give Labour a majority on Brighton and Hove City Council – no party has had a majority of councillors on the authority since 2003 when the current ward structure was established.
Is doubling the number of Labour councillors a realistic target? Yes. In several recent local elections, Labour have increased their number of seats by similar amounts: in Hammersmith and Fulham in 2015 Labour gained 11 seats. In Lancashire in 2013 Labour gained 23, Staffordshire 21. In Cardiff in 2012 Labour gained 33.
Surely Labour is third on the council? Yes, in terms of the number of current councillors, but in 2011 we finished second in almost all of the 21 wards, sometimes by very narrow margins. Overall we won 32% of the vote citywide, more than the Tories and just 1% less than the Greens, so we are well placed to make significant gains from both. Our organisation and campaigning is vastly improved on 2011.
Which wards are you targeting? The local elections are on the same day as the General Election where we are also aiming to win all three Parliamentary seats, so we are campaigning for every Labour vote in every ward across the city. Historically Labour supporters vote in greater numbers on General Election day than they do in local elections. So we may win seats in wards where we might not normally be in contention. Clearly those with smaller Green or Conservative majorities are more likely to be Labour gains.
So are you targeting Green or Conservative-held wards? Both. We expect to gain between five and ten seats from both parties. The Green vote is collapsing due to their running of the council and they are struggling to find candidates, and the Conservatives have dwindling numbers of activists to support their campaigns, only money. They are losing significant support to UKIP. The Greens are effectively abandoning anything outside of Caroline Lucas’s Pavilion constituency.
Why 15 in 15? We need a majority. The city council faces incredibly difficult decisions as its finances are cut and social care and infrastructure challenges grow, but we have exciting major projects in the pipeline, key pledges to deliver and ambitions for the city. Under a committee system-council, the Tory opposition and a rump of Green councillors could and would frustrate and block everything Labour seeks to achieve.
How can I help? Join in by signing up here: www.brightonhovelabour.com/volunteer and tweet your support using #15in15.