It’s election day tomorrow and the phrase I keep seeing and hearing – mainly from the Labour Party desperate to achieve the majority they need to take total control of Brighton and Hove – is ‘we must not split the vote’.
But the questions we need to ask ourselves include the following: are they ordering us not to split the vote because it’s a good idea for us? Or because it’s a good idea for them? Do they actually deserve unchecked power? And should local elections be used to send a message to the Tory government?
Take a look at the point-blank refusal from both the Greens and Labour to accept any responsibility for the various entirely avoidable self-made disasters that have been inflicted on our community by both parties over the past 12 years.
Labour especially seems to have forgotten the various mistakes – extremely costly for taxpayers – that it made while in power from 2015-20.
These included the home to school transport debacle, which affected our most vulnerable children, and starting a process that led to the domestic violence charity RISE losing a key contract. And there were the bike lanes, which started under Labour, and the “insourcing” of council house repairs.
I strongly suspect that the plea to not split the vote follows what many residents have been continually telling our Brighton and Hove Independents candidates – and no doubt those of the major parties: “We are fed up of party politics and empty promises and want to see genuine change.”
The reality is that splitting the vote has proven to be a very effective form of governance in countries and cities far more prosperous, efficiently run (and scandal-free) than our own.
Scandinavia is a good example, where “rainbow coalitions” ensure that checks and balances are in place so that every citizen who votes is actually represented (not just the “winning party”).
In contrast to this, a majority council for, say, the Labour Party would see national policies and strategies effected carte blanche at our local level with very little opposition or consultation with anyone outside the Labour Party.
To this point, over the past few weeks, I’ve attended various hustings around the city and one particular moment comes to mind.
A member of the public asked the candidates about their willingness to collaborate cross-party if elected. When asked who they would be willing to work with, the Labour candidate gave a one-word answer: “Labour.”
Can it really be that only one party has all the answers – and all the people capable of solving all our city’s myriad challenges? I don’t think so, which is precisely why we formed the Brighton and Hove Independents.
Our purpose is to improve the running of our city through common sense and evidence-based decision-making made by capable people who are agnostic about national party politics.
We have put up candidates who have lived here for decades and have a proven track record of working together with all kinds of people and groups to get things done.
Perhaps most importantly, when residents elect a Brighton and Hove Independent candidate, they can be sure of a genuine advocate in the council chamber who will fight for their best interests only – with no party agendas.
Tomorrow – on Thursday 4 May – residents across Brighton and Hove will have two or three votes, depending on where they live.
Our message is clear: please give at least one of those votes to the Brighton and Hove Independent candidate. Based on the past 12 years, what have you possibly got to lose?
Bridget Fishleigh is standing for the Brighton and Hove Independents for a seat on Brighton and Hove City Council in Rottingdean and West Saltdean.