Paul’s Campaign Diary

Brighton, early doors.

On Friday, we met outside Brighton railway station to meet and greet the early morning crowd. The weather is clearer, but not warmer, so we stamped our feet and kept moving around. I was joined for the former Hove MP Ivor Caplin and Labour’s candidate in the Kemptown by-election Theresa Mackey.

After the morning rush, we visited St James’ Street to talk to retailers. At a major cosmetics store, we spoke to the manager who had been recently assaulted and the shop robbed. In the Co-op we heard the same story: mass looting on a daily basis, abuse and threats directed at staff, and a police response described as sub-optimal at best.

If any street in Britain could benefit from a neighbourhood police team, with named officers, and regular foot patrols, it is St James’ Street, Brighton. There’s a vibrancy to the place, and it should in no way be sanitised and turned into yet another standard-issue high street with all the same big stores. But a regular police presence would make it safer for everyone.

We paid our respects at the AIDS memorial sculpture by Romany Mark Bruce in New Stein Gardens. This is a cast bronze depiction of two figures entwined in the shape of the famous AIDS memorial ribbon. As Ivor explained, the sculpture is a solemn place where people come to reflect on lives lost.  

Theresa showed me around Kemptown Village, including the excellent flea market and some of the great independent stores. We found the line between campaigning and shopping is quite thin. The by-election is on 2 May, and I know Theresa will represent Kemptown with great energy and passion.