Save Our Schools (SOS) Brighton and Hove organised a school assembly rally in the sunshine at the Level yesterday and Brighton MP Caroline Lucas was the first to take to the podium.
She applauded the work of hard-working teachers across Brighton and Hove, thanking them for their hard work, dedication and courage.
However, Mrs Lucas criticised the Conservative government for a real-terms fall in pupil funding because of a projected increase in pupil numbers.
She said: “In real-terms, there is still a three percent per pupil funding cut between now and 2021-22 when you allow for the expected increase in pupil numbers. The schools budget needs to increase, not be cut.
And it needs to increase by between six to seven billion pounds according to the Association of School and College Leaders.”
Save our Schools estimate a cut of £487 or £193,425 per school in Brighton and Hove by the next election in 2022 if cuts continue at the present rate. For secondary schools the national figures is much higher: £378,298 suggesting that cuts to secondary schools are offset by smaller cuts to primary schools.
Mrs Lucas also criticised Conservative plans to scrap free lunches and replace them with (cheaper) free breakfasts which she said, is to give with one hand and take with the other. She said the Conservative manifesto reads like Oliver Twist.
Defending Conservative education policy, Prime Minister Theresa May said the dedicated schools grant: “is at its highest on record at more than £40 billion in 2016 to 2017 and is set to rise to £42 billion in 2019 to 2020, with increasing pupil numbers.”
According to Sandra McNally, Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Surrey, Conservative figures are misleading. This is because the “per pupil figure” was frozen between 2010 and 2011 and again between 2015 and 2016.
She argues that an increase in the core funding for schools is not the same as an increase in the amount per pupil. A freeze in cash terms is likely to result in a reduction in real-terms of 6.5% between 2010 and 2020. This reduction has not happened yet and school funding has doubled in the last 20 years.
Chair of Governors Marisol Smith said that the cut to funding at Moulsecoomb Primary means 40% of their children can’t go away for five days towards the end of Year 6 because the school can’t subsidise the children anymore.
It also means the school has had to make their counsellor redundant, leaving vulnerable children to join the waiting list for CAMHS while their mental health deteriorates.
Mrs Smith explained that extending free school meals means there is now no easy way to check eligibility for the pupil premium. She said: “We now have an administrative nightmare. A large proportion of our pupils are from deprived areas. Extending free school meals has had a perverse effect on our budgets. We used to have an easy way of checking eligibility.”
She said it was often a challenge to get parents to apply for free school meals but when they did, that provided the evidence for the pupil premium.
Solomon Curtis, Labour Candidate for Brighton Pavilion, said: “We have to seriously make sure we have the right policies: 37.5% of the population is under 30 years old but only 2% of MPs are. No wonder we’ve seen cuts, no-one in Parliament is standing up for us.”
Labour Candidate for Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: “I will not sit down, I’ll not wait a second to attack this government. They have cut school funding because this government hates education for all, they only care about education for the richest.
Do not be intimidated by people who tell you we can’t afford to fund education. Keep on with the struggle because failure cannot be an option.”
Lib Dem Candidate Emily Tester who was sitting exams yesterday at LSE said: “Lib Dems would reverse the £3 billion funding cuts and protect per-pupil funding in real-terms. In addition, we’d lift a £4 billion investment to lift the pay freeze on teacher’s salaries, give more free school meals and triple the early years’ pupil premium to £1000 for a fairer start in life.”
Brighton MP Caroline Lucas spoke words of comfort at a rally to remember those injured by the Manchester terror attack. In the face of carnage, she described her shock, desperate sadness, anger and heartache and paid tribute to all who had helped those wounded and dying.
Hummingbird, a community of refugee campaigners, organised a rally at St Bartholomew’s House last Wednesday 24 May to remember the 144 people who were killed or injured in Monday’s terrorist attack.
Mrs Lucas said: “Tonight we too are defiant and we are strong.
“In honour of all those who have lost their lives at the hand of terrorists, we will not give in to fear. We will live our lives. We will meet our friends for the evening at Brighton Festival, walk on the beach, check in on our neighbours and play with our children.
“And perhaps most importantly of all, we will not point fingers of blame nor will we retreat behind our differences.
“Thank you to Hummingbird for bringing us together this evening.
“We may struggle to find the words for how we feel right now but we have found one another.
“And thank you all for being the very best of humankind with your love, your light and with your hope.”
Immam Usman from Brighton’s Al Madina Mosque in Bedford Place quoted Persian Poet Saadi saying that human beings come from the same source and are one family who share each other’s pain. In response to the targeted attack, he quoted a blood donor from Manchester who said:
“They want to turn us against our neighbours and it’ll never happen. Not here.”
Like many, Mr Usman said: “I hope and believe that people here in Brighton and Hove would react in the same way, knowing as Jo Cox famously said, that we have more in common than that which divides us.
“We need to stand together and fight the things that might divide us: poverty, isolation, scapegoating.”
Mr Usman encouraged people to follow in the footsteps of Mancunian Poet Tony Walsh and “choose love.”
Labour Councillor Emma Daniels who is lead member for communities and equalities at Brighton & Hove Council said: “Our resolve must be to show defiant love in the face of hate. To refuse to stop loving, to stop dancing, to stop laughing.
“To love defiantly means also to be watchful and help people who may be targeted in the wake of this attack too. People who are Muslim are no more responsible for this attack than I am for the murder of Jo Cox.
“You cannot make sense of a senseless act of murder but we can fight back with love and remember Jo Cox’s words which murder could not silence: ‘We have more in common than that which divides us.’
“I am inspired by the simple yet beautifully radical act of our staff this morning in playing ‘the Stone Roses’ in our library.
“Turn your music up people and love defiantly.”
Elaine Ortiz from Hummingbird and Alex Davidson from the Trade Union Council also spoke.
Monday’s attack took place on the anniversary of the death of soldier Lee Rigby who was hacked to death on a London street four years ago.
After the rally, Brighton and Hove’s Christian community held two reflective vigils at St Luke’s Church on Old Shoreham Road and Hove Methodist Church on Portland Road.
Parliamentary candidates had until yesterday to withdraw from their selection to become MPs if they forged electoral alliances.
Here is the line-up of candidates and those who have stood aside across Sussex in 08 June’s general election.
In Brighton Kemptown, Conservative incumbent Simon Kirby is standing for re-election with a majority of 690 votes. Green Party Candidate Davy Jones stood aside in support of Labour’s candidate, Councillor Lloyd Russell-Moyle (East Brighton.) UKIP has stood aside in Brighton Kemptown to boost Mr Kirby’s chances of retaining his seat. Lib Dems have not and are fielding Emily Tester as their candidate.
In Brighton Pavilion, Lib Dem’s Paul Chandler stood aside because he did not want to split the vote and feared a Conservative gain. Mrs Lucas has a comfortable majority of 7,967 votes. Lib Dems may have had more impact if they had stood aside in Brighton Kemptown because it is marginal. However, Caroline Lucas is arguably the strongest candidate in Brighton and Hove, if not across Sussex, so Lib Dem members decided to support her.
In Hove Labour’s Peter Kyle is defending his seat with a majority of 1,236 votes primarily against the Conservative Party. Mr Kyle enjoyed a swing of +9.3 to win 42% of the vote compared with +3.2% and 40% share for the Conservatives. Hove is slightly less marginal than other Sussex parliamentary seats.
In Eastbourne, Conservative Caroline Ansell beat Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd by 733 votes. UKIP are not fielding a candidate. Instead they are asking their voters to support Ms Ansell.
UKIP are standing aside in Lewes in support of Maria Caulfield because of the threat posed by Lib Dem Kelly Marie-Blundell who is standing in place of Norman Baker. Mr Baker lost his seat at the last election to Ms Caulfield who was elected with a majority of 1,083.
Green and Labour candidates have formed an alliance to defeat Conservative Amber Rudd who was the sitting MP and is Prime Minister Theresa May’s Home Secretary until the election was called. The Green Party is not fielding a candidate. Mrs Rudd has a majority of 4,796 votes so it is unlikely that the progressive alliance will work there. But Mrs Rudd is a key player in the conservative government and therefore a target seat for opposition parties.
Worthing East and Shoreham is basically a safe Conservative seat held by Tim Loughton with 50% share of the vote but a full slate of candidates are standing against him. Most famous among Mr Loughton’s opponents is Sophie Cook, Latest TV presenter.
Parliamentary candidates have 18 days to battle for election and win the argument on the doorsteps.
As for the technicalities, polls will open at 7am on Thursday 08 June and close at 10pm.
If you are not registered to vote, you will need to register with the electoral roll online by tomorrow, Monday 22 May, to be able to vote in the general election. You can register to vote online here. Please note you can still not cast your vote online.
In England, Scotland and Wales, the deadline to apply t o vote by post at the UK general election on Thursday 8 June is 5pm this Tuesday 23 May.
If you would like to nominate a named person to vote on your behalf, you can vote by proxy here.
Music and mayhem will be the rhythm of the day in a street party at George Street between 12:30 and 2:30pm today. Peter Cook is using music as a vehicle for social change and urges people of all political parties and none to oppose Brexit.
You can join the Brighton and Hove for Europe Facebook group here.
Mr Cook’s street party is being held in the name of democracy, he said: “Democracy relies on a vibrant opposition and that the voice of the people be heard.
“These things have been sadly lacking on all sides in recent years, having handed our futures over to media giants. It’s time to restore the balance for the good of all and our children. Whatever your views on politics, come and have a beer and a chat with us.”
He is part of a movement to stop Brexit called “No 10 Downing Street Vigil” where he spends most of his time when not touring the UK. He has been featured on BBC’s Sunday Politics show and the One Show as well as in most national newspapers.
Mr Cook founded Human Dynamics that gives masterclasses in creativity and innovation and he has written a book. He also runs the Academy of Rock which was largely a tribute band until he found his voice since the EU referendum.
He said he has climbed out of the gutter in Medway (his words not mine) to forge a career in industry, academia and as a self-employed businessman. He won a prize from Richard Branson after his 45 year-old mother and 67 year-old father claimed his birth was a virgin birth. Actually, his parents had more in common with Sarah and Abraham.
Come to the street party in George Street if it tickles your fancy. After all Brexit is not going away.
Hundreds of Brighton residents gathered to discuss building a progressive alliance to help Labour. Greens and Liberal Democrats said it is the only way to get a fairer electoral system in future.
Sussex Progressives have been campaigning for electoral reform for two years and the meeting at St George’s Church, Kemp Town on Thursday 19 May was the latest, in an uphill struggle for a fairer voting system.
Brighton Kemp Town is one of several conservative-held marginal seats across Sussex. Simon Kirby was re-elected MP with a majority of only 690 votes last year, while in Eastbourne Conservative Caroline Ansell beat Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd by 733 votes.
Green Party Candidate Davy Jones has already stood aside in Brighton Kemp Town in support of Labour’s candidate, Councillor Lloyd Russell-Moyle (East Brighton.) Lib Dem Paul Chandler has stood aside in Brighton Pavilion as a mark of respect for Green Candidate’s Caroline Lucas who has been the MP since 2010. Women’s Equality Party did not field a candidate.
Mr Russell-Moyle explained that Labour Party rules do not currently allow candidates to stand aside. But he conceded that in a few parts of Britain, one could make the case for Labour candidates to withdraw. Brighton Pavilion elected Caroline Lucas as their only Green MP in 2010 and it’s in the Isle of Wight or Bristol where the Green Party think they are most likely to elect their second MP.
In Hove, Labour MP Peter Kyle, has categorically ruled out an alliance with the Green Party and decided to defend his majority of 1236 single-handedly, to give voters maximum choice out of respect for them, he said.
Making his pitch to become Brighton Kemp Town’s next MP, Mr Russell-Moyle said: “It is often a mantra of the Tories that only they can produce a strong stable government and only first part the post can achieve this.
Citing Germany as a country with a stable government and a strong economy, he said: “I believe our current electoral system is not fair or fit for purpose and I support a new kind of politics where single seat constituencies remain but no vote is wasted and all votes are represented.”
Co-convenor of Sussex Progressives Georgia Amson-Bradshaw explained why the current electoral system is unfair and undemocratic. She said: “Our dysfunctional, binary, first past the post system gave us the referendum vote. It meant that the Greens have one seat for one million votes.
“It means that in the recent local elections Lib Dem vote share went up, while their seats went down.
“It is the reason that in Scotland, Labour had 25% of the vote in 2015 and only one seat.”
Ms Amson-Bradshaw criticised the culture of “political tribalism” in the United Kingdom which she said undermines the common cause of progressive people because archaic, rigid party rules prevent candidates standing aside.
She said she is often tempted to despair: “But here in Brighton, I see glimmers of light. I see people on this panel with me, in the audience, who come to our meetings, people who have that courage, that generosity and that foresight.
“Make no mistake, this, here, is the beginning of something big. Here, in Brighton, and in certain other places around the UK, people are rejecting that status quo and are finding a new way.”
Green Party’s Davy Jones, who stood aside in Brighton Kemp Town to help Labour, criticised the national response from Labour and the Liberal Democrats and acknowledged some voters’ frustration when “their party” was not represented.
In his defence, he said: “It’s not the decisions of parties to stand down that restricts choice – it is our antiquated first past the post system. So if we want to change the voting system to a fair one, we have to vote out as many Tory MPs as possible.”
Conservatives were elected to govern the UK with just 37% of the vote. He said: “First past the post is a disaster for the left and centre because our votes are split while those of the right unite behind the Tories.
“With imminent boundary changes likely to give the Tories even more seats, “fair votes” is not just an issue for “sore losers.” It’s a basic issue for democracy and for ending one-party (Tory) rule.
“If we want a system that allows us to campaign against each other safely – without letting the Tories in – we need some form of proportional representation. And Labour needs to back it.”
Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign. People go to the polls on Thursday 08 June.
A penny on income tax would raise an additional £31.5 million with £20m for the NHS and £11.5m for social care each year.
This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services.
At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra penny in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, according to an ITV poll last October. http://www.itv.com/news/2016-10-17/at-least-70-of-brits-would-pay-extra-1p-tax-in-the-pound-if-it-went-to-nhs-poll-finds/
Hove Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Carrie Hynds said: “Right now in our city we are seeing patients lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need.
“The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all need to chip in a little more.
“A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and supporting our mental health services that are in crisis.
“This conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded – and while the crisis gets worse they just don’t seem to care.
“We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so.”
Speaking about the national picture, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:
“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.
“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.
“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term.”
Look out for the Liberal Democrats manifesto which will set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services.
Paul Chandler said income tax will include a 1% rise on the basic, higher, and additional dividend rates of income tax in the next financial year.
When asked about the £70 million deficit in the budget of Royal Sussex County Hospital, Mr Chandler said: “Yes, the local NHS trust is in deficit – like many other trusts and so our additional money (estimated to be £4 billion) is intended to be on top of any measures that need to be taken to reduce current deficits.
“I suspect those deficits will be written off in due course by using contingency funds. The money that we are raising via a penny increase in the basic rate of income tax (about £4 billion) will be a committed and ring-fenced amount that will be added to the NHS base budget for every year.
“This contrasts with recent Labour budget increases on those earning over £80,000 which the party estimates will raise less than £2 billion a year (and which Labour has committed to spending several times over!)
“Additional funding for Brighton and Hove is calculated by assuming an even spread of the extra revenue across all the NHS trusts in England.”
Mr Chandler stood aside for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion earlier this month and stood in Kemptown in 2015.
Reflecting on Brexit, Caroline Lucas said: “This General Election changes everything and the choices we all make matter like never before.”
On Tuesday 2 May the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats agreed to fight for Britain to remain part of the single market. Both parties want freedom of movement to become part of the Brexit deal.
For the Liberal Democrats, this means that Britain should be an open, tolerant United Kingdom where the rights of EU citizens are guaranteed and British citizens can live, work, study and travel freely in Europe.
Green Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, said she adds protection of the environment to Britain remaining a member of the single market and for continued freedom of movement.
Mrs Lucas joins Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, in announcing a new pledge to give voters a referendum to ratify Brexit that will include the option to remain in the European Union.
A Labour Voice
Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair agrees with Mrs Lucas and Mr Farron. According to the Guardian he said that while the final exit deal had yet to be agreed, the perils of a hard Brexit were clear: “The single market put us in the Champions League of trading agreements. A free-trade agreement is like League One. We are relegating ourselves.” Brighton and Hove Albion supporters know what that feels like and they know the triumph of victory.
In an interview with Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer on Sunday 30 April, Mr Blair said: “If we really do Brexit and we do Brexit with withdrawal from the single market, you can forget her ideas (PM Theresa May) of a more cuddly capitalism. A low-tax, light regulation, offshore hub economy, that is where you will end up. This is the right-wing fantasy. It’s driven by the right of the Tory party and the cabal that runs the right-wing media in this country…”
“It’s certainly true we don’t have a God-given right to carry on as a competing party of government. But there’s no reason why Labour can’t become the repository of that new coalition of progressive forces that is available to us in today’s society and which is basically the same progressive coalition that brought us to power in 1997.”
A Liberal Democrat Voice
Liberal Democrat Caroline Hynds, Hove Parliamentary Candidate, is also fighting hard against Brexit. She said: “The Liberal Democrat position is clear and consistent. We have long been calling for a referendum on the terms of Brexit and believe the people should have the final say on the deal.
“Our party believes in an open, tolerant and united future with the UK staying in the single market, guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK, and protecting our rights to live, travel, study and work in Europe.
“Caroline Lucas’ stance on this issue – fighting against hard, divisive Brexit, making the positive case for Europe and giving the people the final say – is an area in which we have much common ground, reflected in Lib Dem PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) Paul Chandler standing down in Brighton Pavilion.
“I’d like to see more from Labour on this as they are, after all, the official party of opposition, but Peter Kyle’s hands are tied by the policies of Jeremy Corbyn.”
A Green Voice
Mrs Lucas, arguing for public ratification of Brexit said: “This General Election potentially changes everything. We are at a crossroads – and the choices we make in the coming weeks will have huge consequences for the kind of country we’re going to be in the future.
“And the biggest choice we face is clearly about Brexit.
“Though my party fought hard for Britain to stay in the EU, and I voted against an unconditional triggering of Article 50, we accept, of course, that the referendum was an instruction to the Government to begin Brexit negotiations.
“We do not accept, however, that the decision should be irreversible. The referendum should be the start, not the end, of the democratic process.
“And it’s therefore right that people should have the right to a say on the final deal in a ratification referendum – with the option to remain in the EU if they so choose.
“There are those who will say that this is contrary to the ‘will of the people’.
“But the claim that the referendum produced an irreversible verdict is a sham.
“At a General Election, voters obviously have the right to revisit the choice of government that they made at a previous election.
“It would be ludicrous to suggest people couldn’t change their minds about which way to vote, as facts change, and experience becomes clearer.
“And in the same way, it gives them the right to revisit a referendum result, as long as the parties are clear about the options on the table.
“Whoever forms a Government after June 8 will have a mandate to negotiate with the EU on our behalf.
“But we live in a democracy and it would be deeply undemocratic to impose the terms of any deal on Britain’s citizens, on our communities, young people, and businesses. So let’s give people honest choices.
“Let’s be clear that there is a wealth of difference between a soft Brexit, with membership of the Single Market, and an extreme Brexit – the one our Prime Minister is hell bent on pursuing, where we’re out of the single market, out of the Customs Union, ending free movement, and with our key social and environmental protections at risk.
“The day following the EU referendum the Green Party called for the British people to have a further say on the details of any Brexit deal.
“We stand by that position and today we pledge to voters to go further.
“Our election manifesto will not only include a ratification referendum, it will also explicitly make the option to remain in the EU part of such a ratification referendum.
“Greens proudly and passionately campaigned to remain in the EU. And, unlike some, we’ve not changed our deeply held belief that we are better off in the EU…
“And while we’ve all learned to treat polls with extreme caution, it might just turn out to be significant that last week’s Yougov poll showed, for the first time, a majority of British people now oppose Brexit.
“And maybe that’s because the costs of Brexit are becoming clearer.
“Inflation is already rising as imported goods rise in price. Real wages are stagnating, investment is on hold. All these indicators will be worse by 2020 when the election was meant to take place.
“The referendum outcome last June was never supposed to be the final word. It was the beginning of a conversation.
“And this General Election is a chance to reflect on what we have learned since then….
“That Brexit is being used by the Tories to drive through an ideological agenda that champions deregulation and privatisation on an unprecedented scale. That people were lied to.
“That there is no £350 million each week for the NHS.
“That the PM has no intention of seeking to enable us to remain members of the Single Market.
“That immigration is unlikely to be controlled because, as David Davis has himself acknowledged, it’s necessary for our economy
“And indeed it’s become clearer than ever that immigration is not to blame for the lack of social housing, GP appointments or local jobs – government spending cuts are.
“What’s also become clear is that the official opposition has been no serious opposition at all. The Labour Party haven’t only given the Tories a blank cheque for a hard Brexit. They’ve given them a lift to the bank and helped them cash it in.
“If Labour had made the case for staying in the Single Market, they could have made common cause with other opposition parties, and together we could have had a chance to avoid this most extreme of Brexits.
“That was a tragically missed opportunity.
“Meanwhile their unconditional support for triggering Article 50 meant that the opportunity to secure some key safeguards was squandered
“Why would the Government listen to calls for an immediate guarantee for EU nationals living in the UK, or for a meaningful parliamentary vote, if the opposition had already made clear its intention to support Article 50 in any and all circumstances?
“The General Election makes a different bigger future possible and it’s crucial that voters are not lied to again.
“Brexit is not inevitable. The triggering of Article 50 is not irreversible. And we still believe we are better off as members of the EU. Greens see the bigger picture and what we stand up for matters.
“Not based on political expediency but based on principle and evidence.
“The Conservatives could have sought to unite the country by bringing leavers and remainers together.
“Instead they chose to sow more discord and division – they cannot be trusted…
“Our pledge is about standing up for young people too. For the generations that have most to lose if we cut ourselves loose from the EU.
“Greens want young people to have big opportunities and a big future. And that means the right to study, travel, work, live and love across the EU.
“A Green vote on June 8 is a chance to stay part of the EU because young people matter. A Green vote on June 8 is a chance to stay part of the EU because a resilient, diverse economy matters.
“And it’s a vote for the certainty that we will stick to our principles and use the negotiation period triggered by article 50 to fight for a deal that puts social and environmental justice first.
If the Government is so convinced that they’ll get a decent deal then there’s no reason that they wouldn’t trust people to have a final say.
“If the Government believes its own rhetoric about the will of the people they’ll respect that electorates are free to change their minds.
“This General Election changes everything and the choices we all make matter like never before.”
While Conservative MP, Simon Kirby, voted to trigger article 50 in February which gave the Prime Minister legal authority to leave the EU, Labour’s Hove MP Peter Kyle and Mrs Lucas voted against it.