Green party’s Caroline Lucas faces a battle to keep her Brighton seat

Brighton Pavilion

Brighton’s famous Pavilion, which gives the constituency its name. Image: Jade Wimbledon

In 2010, the Green Party secured their first Member of Parliament when Caroline Lucas was elected to represent Brighton Pavilion.

The Green Party has seen a huge surge in membership during the current election campaign.

Eyes are now on Brighton as people wonder whether the membership spike will translate into an increase in Green votes, and particularly whether the party’s former leader can hold her south coast seat.

Brighton Pavilion

The constituency is named after the town’s iconic palace, built by the man who would later become King George IV.

The area is considered relatively affluent, and it includes the centre of Brighton and the famous shopping lanes.

Across the road from the palace the Brighton Kemptown constituency starts, which incorporates the suburban towns that run along the coast to the east of Brighton.

To the west is the Hove seat.

The central Brighton seat is very different from both of its neighbours: the Conservatives won both Brighton Kemptown and Hove in 2010.

Central Brighton, on the other hand, has a reputation for being a bastion of left-wing views.

It’s a famously liberal and tolerant place, with a vibrant gay community and hosts of arts students.

It  has a high number of independent cafes and shops, vegetarian restaurants, and LGBTQ nightclubs.

Labour to Greens

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The Brighton Pavilion seat had previously been held by Labour, but in 2010 Dr Lucas won with just over 31% of the votes, pushing Labour’s Nancy Platts into second position with just under 30%.

Caroline had been the leader of the Green Party since 2008 but she stepped down in 2012, saying that she wanted to give other party members the opportunity to take on prominent roles.

She’s the favourite to win the Brighton Pavilion seat again this time around, but only by a narrow margin.

Her media performances during the campaign have been characteristically fluent and confident, and she receives a warm response on the streets of Brighton.

But her chances of success may be affected by the problems that the Green-led council has battled over the last few years.

The town has faced piling rubbish due to bin strikes, seemingly never-ending roadworks, and an embarrassingly poor recycling rate.

The other candidates 

If anyone were to beat Caroline, it would likely be Labour’s Purna Sen.

Purna was born in India but moved to the UK with her family at the age of two. Her grandfather worked with Gandhi and her parents were activists and campaigners.

On her website she says that she believes:

Everybody – no matter what their background – should have the chance to live a life not of stress and struggle, but of hope and opportunity.

The Conservative candidate Clarence Mitchell is also likely to attract a high proportion of the vote.

Clarence’s Brighton pledges challenge the perceived shortfalls of the Green-run council head-on.

He talks about tackling extortionate parking charges, revamping the rubbish and recycling services, and putting an end to council tax rises.

Chris Bowers is the constituency’s Lib Dem candidate, although the Lib Dems secured just under 13% of the Brighton Pavilion vote in the 2010 election.

Competing against Caroline, Purna, Clarence and Chris are Nigel Carter for UKIP, Howard Pilott for the Socialist Party of Great Britain, and independent candidate Nick Yeomans.

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