The latest candidate to throw their hat into the ring for the Brighton Pavilion parliamentary seat has vowed to out-green the sitting Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Liberal Democrat candidate Chris Bowers has announced he will join the battle for the highly contested seat and said his strong environmental background would allow him to “fight fire with fire” against the UK’s only Green MP.
The Nick Clegg biographer said he is confident heading into the election, adding that he could offer a “pragmatic environmental option”. However, bookmakers are less sure, ranking the Liberal Democrats as 100/1 outsiders along with Ukip for the seat which they see as neck-and-neck between Dr Lucas and Labour candidate Purna Sen.
Mr Bowers, who has been a Lewes District councillor since 2007, is best known as a tennis commentator having worked as a member of the BBC 5 Live team at Wimbledon for 13 years until 2006.
The 53-year-old can still be heard on Eurosport and internet radio.
Mr Bowers said: “I have tremendous respect for Caroline Lucas and she and I probably agree on most of the major issues, certainly the environmental ones.
“But the best she can hope for is to be a one-woman pressure group in the House of Commons, while the Lib Dems have been in government since 2010, running the Department for Energy and Climate Change and fighting for the environment.
“With my environmental background, I’m offering Pavilion voters a pragmatic environmental option.
“We can get things done rather than just shout from the sidelines.”
Bernie Millam finished a distant fourth in the 2010 election for the Lib Dems, with less than 14% of the vote, but Mr Bowers is confident the flip-flopping over university tuition fees and role as junior coalition partners won’t harm his chances.
Green MP Dr Lucas said: “I think we’ve proven that, with the right political will, what Mr Bower dubs a ‘one-woman pressure group’ can get things done.
“I enjoy a great deal of constructive cross-party collaboration on a wide range of environmental and social justice issues.
“I’m also fortunate to be able to hold the other parties to account – for the very fact that I do have a distinctive platform and I don’t have to toe the usual party lines.”
Place your bets
Ladbrokes said Brighton Pavilion saw the most amount of money staked for any seat in the whole of the UK in 2010 when Caroline Lucas pipped Nancy Platts by 1,252 votes.
The company’s head of political betting Matthew Shaddick said he expected the seat to be near the top of the money list again in 2015, with the current odds pointing to a repeat photo finish.
Current odds are: 10/11 Greens, 10/11 Labour, 25/1 Conservatives, 100/1 UKIP, 100/1 Liberal Democrats.
The company has taken one bet on the Lib Dems so far, for a modest 10p.
Mr Shaddick said: “I think it would be fair to say that the betting markets do not share Mr Bowers' optimism.”