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The sole Green Party MP in the House of Commons is Caroline Lucas, who has continuously represented the seat of Brighton Pavilion since 2010, prior to which it was held by Labour.

East Sussex, like most of the (non-London) South-East of England, is a Conservative stronghold, with 5 Tory seats. The only non-Tory seats are in the city of Brighton and Hove (2 are Labour, 1 is Green).

While the prevalence of Labour in the main urban centre may not be too surprising (possibly due to the presence of lots of younger voters, though I may be wrong here), Brighton Pavilion is a curiosity, as it has the only Green MP, who has consistently improved on her majority. Why is this the case?

  • It is not at all unknown in Britain for a charismatic and committed constituency MP to hold a seat against all trends, because of a personal vote for them. Take for example Norman Lamb in Norfolk-north. It had a massive Leave vote, and it is a rural area which would typically vote Conservative. But NL held it in 2017 against all odds for the Liberal Democrats because of his local popularity, occasioned by attention to his constituency duties. – WS2 Jan 10 at 11:10
  • Are you asking why Brighton Pavilion isn't Tory or why it isn't Labour, or both? – Caleth Jan 10 at 11:28
  • Both, but in particular, why is it Green? – Student Jan 10 at 12:13
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    @Student Because there is a person called Caroline Lucas who is much respected and admired. – WS2 Jan 10 at 19:55
  • have you ever been to Brighton? – James K Jan 10 at 23:16
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At the point in which Caroline Lucas won the seat in 2010, Brighton Pavilion had already developed into a 4 way marginal between Labour, the Conservatives, the Green and the Liberal Democrats. In the previous election in 2005 the respective vote shares were 31.5%, 23.9%, 21.9%, and 16.5% (note boundary changes make some of these figures less usefult than is ideal). This isn't all that surprising. Brighton is a city with a young, progressive and relatively wealthy population, especially compared to others on the South coast. In many ways this makes it more comparable to London constituencies such as Islington North or Islington South, or other urban constituencies such as Bristol West and Norwich South than the rest of East Sussex.

The 2010 election occurred during a downswing in Labour support. However a lot of this was a movement of progressives away from Labour and towards the Liberal Democrats and (in the areas where they already had significant support) the Greens. In the specific case of Brighton Pavilion this swing was heavily directed to the 3rd place Greens (the Liberal democrat vote stayed constant in absolute terms, but fell as a percentage due to higher turn out.

In the subsequent election in 2015 Lucas benefited from both name recognition as the incumbent and the massive collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote following their entry into a coalition government with the Conservatives. In the snap elections of 2017 and 2019 the Liberal Democrats didn't run a candidate, which further benefited the Greens.

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  • Interesting to see that a place like Vauxhall didn't vote for the Greens in 2017, especially as the Labour Party fielded Kate Hoey, an ardent Brexiteer. I suppose that could be down to the Corbyn wave....... – Student Jan 10 at 13:07

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