In 2015 Labour doubled its number of seats on Brighton and Hove City Council and formed a minority administration for the first time in eight years. We set about building and buying back council houses, building a thousand truly affordable homes, tackling rough sleeping and homelessness, building a stronger economy and stronger communities, despite being outnumbered by the Conservative and Green opposition. In the face of massive Government reductions in the council budget, and increases in our responsibilities as a local authority, we put Labour values into action.
This was not enough for Momentum, who viewed most of those on the Council as Blairites. They set about, under the leadership of Greg Hadfield, replacing sitting councillors with Momentum backed candidates in pursuit of a “Socialist Majority”of 26 or more councillors.
16 of the 24 Labour councillors elected in 2015 are no longer on the Council, many of us forced to quit, deselected or left to campaign alone in the elections. Many very able and talented councillors were lost. The citywide Party organisation that had helped us win in 2015 was broken up into Momentum-controlled CLPs. I was forced out for speaking up on antisemitism during Party Conference.
In the 2019 local elections, Labour lost five of the seats we had gained from the Greens back to them in the two Brighton constituencies. Labour’s citywide vote share fell by nearly 5%. Some gains from the Conservatives in Hove by Peter Kyle’s campaign team meant a net loss of 3 seats overall. The attempt to win a “Socialist Majority” failed. Even some of those elected have since been embroiled in controversy and evidence of antisemitic social media posts. One didn’t even make polling day before being expelled, another quit, both over antisemitism.
Here is what happened to the slate of candidates Momentum promoted:
- East Brighton ward
Cllr Nancy Platts: re-elected, made Leader. Shared a platform with Chris Williamson at a meeting addressed by expelled member Tony Greenstein
Gill Williams: elected
- Goldsmid ward
Debbie Taylor: lost
John Allcock: elected
- Hollingdean and Stanmer ward
Phil Clarke: was a 2015 TUSC candidate, lost a Labour held seat
Theresa Fowler: elected
- Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ward
Kate Knight: elected. Resigned from Labour after investigation into antisemitic posts on social media.
- Preston Park ward
Denise Friend: lost a Labour held seat
Juan Baeza: lost a Labour held seat
- Queen’s Park ward
Colin Piper: stood in 2015 for TUSC, lost a Labour held seat, now CLP Chair
Amanda Evans: elected
Nick Childs: elected, resigned as Education Chair following revelation he sends his daughter to Roedean private school
- North Portslade ward
Anne Pissaridou: elected, suspended from the Group for antisemitism
- Hanover and Elm Grove ward
Danielle Spencer: lost
- Wish ward
Alex Braithwaite: suspended whilst still a candidate for antisemitism, lost
Adam Imanpour: lost
- Rottingdean Coastal ward
Robert McIntosh: lost
- Central Hove ward
Gary Wilkinson: elected
- Patcham ward
Adam Scott: lost
Jerry Gould: withdrew after making antisemitic commentshttps://metro.co.uk/2018/09/25/brighton-labour-council-candidate-sent-deeply-offensive-anti-semitic-letter-7977460/
- Withdean ward
Claire Wadey: lost
Ian McIsaac: lost
James Thompson: lost
- Woodingdean ward
David Wilson: lost
- Hangleton and Knoll ward
John Hewitt: lost
Labour has now squandered its position as the largest group on the city council after a disastrous series of electoral losses, expulsions, suspensions and resignations over antisemitic posts.
Without root and branch change in the Momentum-led local parties (Kemptown, for example, is chaired by one of the former TUSC candidates) then a Green-dominated Council seems likely for the foreseeable future, with 2023 a Green-Tory battle for control, unless Labour can “clean house”.
Had we in the 2015-19 Labour Group not been fighting a daily battle against people supposedly on the same side, then we might well have secured that majority which had eluded all parties in Brighton and Hove for the past twenty years, and we could now be leading the effort to lead the city’s recovery post Brexit and post Covid19. Just as Corbyn’s leadership failed the country, Momentum failed Labour and failed the city we aspired to make a better place for all who live here. Just as change came to Labour nationally, soon I hope change will come to Labour here.