Warren Morgan, the Progress supporter & Labour leader of Brighton and Hove Council warned in an email that 100 Momentum members were holding a rally before the AGM of Brighton and Hove Labour Party. He was out by a factor of 8 or 9!
Brighthelm Community Centre has a very large hall. I have never previously seen seen it so full. This was probably the largest meeting it has ever held. Not only was the hall jam packed solid, as you will see from the photographs but so was the café area at its rear, so much so that people were spilling out on the streets. At the main door to Brighthelm Centre there were another couple of hundred people. I would estimate that there were probably between 800-1,000 people there.
There were no national speakers but people were determined that the coup by 172 Labour MPs against the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn would not succeed. Brighton & Hove Labour Party’s AGM happened to fall just as the chicken coup was in full swing with the result that the Momentum group didn’t need to do any mobilising. The Right did our job for us.
The Labour Party AGM was scheduled to start at 4 pm. It had to be held in 3 different halls within City College because the outgoing right-wing Executive had refused to book a hall large enough. Being suspended I was unable to attend but my wife and two of my sons, all Corbyn supporters, attended and I was left looking after my other son who is autistic. Whilst outside waiting I encountered an old foe and squatting mate, a glum looking Lord SteveBassam of Brighton, who is now Leader of Labour in the House of Lords which has declared UDI from the Shadow Cabinet and it would seem the Labour Party. Bassam used to be on the far-left before a glittering career brown nosing Blair beckoned. Another old foe I encountered was an ex-Councillor from Queens Park Ward, which I once chaired, Jackie Lythell.
It was only late in the day that the Right woke up to the fact that their grip on Brighton and Hove Labour Party was endangered. When I was last suspended in 1982 along with about 30 other comrades, the Brighton Party covered both constituencies and when the Right failed to gain control the whole party was suspended by Neil Kinnock after desperate pleas by Bassam, then leader of the Labour Group. In the interim, the Party was organised and a District Party, to which any member can turn up and vote, was established. It covered the two Brighton constituencies and Hove. Under New Labour it had MPs for all 3 constituencies but in 2010 Caroline Lucas gained Pavilion from Labour and the Tories regained Brighton Kemptown and Hove. In 2015 the arch apostle of New Labour, Peter Kyle, narrowly gained Hove. Kyle is a paid up member of Progress and his partner Ivor Caplin was the previous Hove MP and ajunior Defence Minister under Blair and thus a junior war criminal too.
On Friday (see figure) Council Leader Warren Morgan woke up to what was happening. He and Kyle were scheduled to address a Local Government Conference but whenthey saw what was happening they decided to stay in Brighton. They feared that their useless and incompetent friends, such as John Warmington the previous Secretary, who hasn’t once got a notice of a meeting out 7 days beforehand as constitutionally required, were facing defeat.
Warren Morgan therefore sent a panicked last minute email round to his friends saying that the far Left was in danger of taking control of the only ‘critical friend’ that the cutters and carvers in the Labour Group had.
Timing in politics is everything of course and it didn’t help that the Brighton & Hove Labour AGM took place in the week of Chilcot, when the New Labour brand is not all that popular, but there is also another consideration which is probably beyond the imagination or understanding of Warren Morgan, Kyle and Bassam. New Labour, with its devotion to market economics and its attempt to continue where the Tories have left off, is no longer attractive if it ever was.
The ‘centre ground’ of politics has imploded. The Lib-Dems got 8 seats at the last election, which is almost as low as the six they gained in 1964. People want answers not compromises. The muddled middle holds no attractions. Six years of austerity has meant that many people are hurting badly. They don’t want to be told that there is no alternative to laissez faire capitalism.
The irony of the chicken coup against Corbyn, which has run up against the fact that he won’t resign even after a vote of no confidence, which is in reality a vote of no confidence in the membership of the Labour Party, is that it uses the Brexit vote as its pretext. It was New Labour politics that led to the disenchantment of many Labour voters. In Scotland they simply led to the wholescale abandonment by the working-class of Labour for the SNP.
The Leave campaign won amongst the working-class of Northern England (and also in one of the poorest areas, Cornwall). The reason is because these are the areas which have been devastated by first Thatcherite economics and then New Labour. The free market has meant the destruction of industry, the privatisation of nationalised utilities, a declining standard of living and low wages – all of which have been falsely blamed on immigration and thus the European community.
The politics of Corbyn have had greater resonance with supporters of UKIP than New Labour because it is only radical ideas of renationalisation, rent controls, taming the market, a National Investment Bank and workers rights, coupled with ousting the private sector from the NHS, which has any appeal. The politics of the Warren Morgans and Peter Kyles are completely unattractive.
Suffice to say, although the election for the non-officership posts haven’t yet been counted, all the Officers of Brighton & Hove Labour Party were won by Momentum, meaning the grip of New Labour in Brighton and Hove is now finally over. The post of Secretary was won by my good friend Greg Hadfield by nearly 400 to 200 votes, which bodes well for the future!
is a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a member of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.