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City MP3 - Three Members of Parliament

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Labour's Clean Sweep

Constituency MP Party 1997 Majority

2001 Majority

2005 Majority
Brighton Kemp Town Des Turner Labour
Brighton Pavilion Dave Lepper Labour
Hove Celia Barlow Labour
3,959 Ivor Caplin
3,171 Ivor Caplin

It is said that when on the night of the 1997 general election Tony Blair was told Labour had won Hove, he knew he had won nationally. Hove was so unexpected. It's fair to say that Labour was fairly confident about winning Brighton Pavilion, hopeful about winning Brighton Kemp Town, but resigned to the Tories keeping Hove. In fact, Ivor Caplin captured Hove with a decent majority of almost 4,000 votes, thereby sweeping the Tories out of the newly-merged Brighton & Hove. Labour now controlled both the new council and all three parliamentary seats.

All three MPs had come up through the ranks of local council politics. Dave Lepper led Labour to victory on Brighton Borough Council back in 1986, the first Labour victory in the history of local government in Brighton. Likewise in 1995 Ivor Caplin led Labour to victory in Hove. And Des Turner had been a long-serving councillor on both Brighton Borough Council and East Sussex County Council. These local government connections were useful to the new unitary authority of Brighton & Hove. The new MPs worked closely with the new Council to lobby central government on issues important to the new city.

Ivor Caplin was from the right of the party; Dave Lepper from the pragmatic left, and Des Turner further to the left again. Caplin soon began to climb the greasy pole, starting as a pariamentary private secretary in 1998 and rising to Minister for Veterans in the Ministry of Defence in the second Labour government. He decided not to stand for re-election in the 2005 general election. As a government minister and strong supporter of the decision to invade Iraq, he became a local focus of opposition to the war, and, given his small majority, some say he stood down rather than be defeated. He might well have been right about his chances, since his succesor, Celia Barlow, held the seat with the wafer-thin majority of 420. Ivor Caplin is today a senior consultant with a political lobbying firm, Foresight Communications, created in 2001 by a former Downing Street civil servant, Mark Adams.

Dave Lepper announced in September 2006 that he would not contest the next general election. He has focused on being a good constituency MP, and city representative. He has voted against the government a total of 18 times.

Des Turner is one of Labour's rebel MPs, that is, he doesn't always support the governement legisalation. He voted against the party line 19 times in the first parliament, 28 times in the second, and 5 times so far in this parliament. It's no surprise to learn that he called for Tony Blair to stand down long ago. He has announced that he will retire at the next general election.

Celia Barlow has only been an MP since the last general election in May 2005. She is the first woman to represent the city in parliament, and is currently (October 2006) a parliamentary private secretary in Defra. Rebellions: zero.




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