Category Archives: Politics

Zippos Circus moves to Hove Park this week

Zippos Circus returns to Hove tonight (Tuesday 11 August) but in a different location to usual to make it easier for people to keep to the coronavirus social distancing rules.

The circus is due to throw open its doors at 7pm in Hove Park rather than on the Hove Lawns where the circus has traditionally come to town.

In previous years seating capacity was 1,000 people per show but this has been reduced to 400 this year because of the coronavirus.

The show complies with all the familiar covid-19 health and safety measures, according to Zippos, including seating in household or party “bubbles” in the big top, enhanced ventilation and random non-invasive temperature checks for selected visitors.

Staff have personal protective equipment (PPE) and deep cleaning is routine. The wearing of face coverings is voluntary as the audience will all be facing in the same direction.

Martin Burton, the founder and director of Zippos Circus, said: “I cannot tell you how pleased we are to be back on the road again. We have worked tirelessly with the government and public health authorities to get the show back on tour in line with official regulations and guidance and are now confident that we can do so in a covid-secure manner.

“The outdoor nature of the circus and well-ventilated big top plus socially distanced seating and a range of new hygiene and safety measures will all help ensure that Zippos Circus will be a safe place for both our performers and families to enjoy and we look forward to welcoming everybody to our new show.”

Zippos has someone new holding the ring, with veteran ringmaster Norman Barrett, 84, taking a break for this season “due to covid-19.”

Zippos circus
“Ringmistress” Tracy Jones

In his place, Zippos has its first “ringmistress”, Tracy Jones, who promises to present a fast-moving spectacle like no other as astonishing acrobats and aerialists, comics and daredevil motorcyclists come together for this year’s colourful production.

Among those appearing alongside her are the Brazilian showman Paulo Dos Santos – a multi-talented comic, acrobat and martial artist who stands at just over a metre tall and the Globe of Death, with its team of motorcyclists performing high-velocity stunts.

The line up includes “amazingly elastic” tumblers from Kenya, French funnyman Emilion, knife-throwers from the Czech Republic, foot jugglers from France, a “wheel of death” and an upside-down “skywalk” act.

Hove is the second stop for Zippos Circus which started its tour in Southsea and will be in Blackheath, London, for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

All tickets will be £8.50 tonight, which is the first night, with an upgrade available to the ringside for an extra £3. Doors open at 7pm and tickets must be bought in pairs to help meet social distancing rules.

From tomorrow there is a matinée and a 7pm show. Tickets cost £13 for children aged two to 14 years and £17 for adults. Children under two can attend for free providing they sit on a parent or guardian’s lap.

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News today.

Hundreds of Brighton nurses rally for a pay rise

Nurse Kelly Robbins organised a march for nurses from the Royal Sussex County Hospital through Brighton to the Level today, Saturday 08 August, alongside a wave of protests across the UK including London. Ms Robbins wants change, that is, a pay rise and recognition for nurses and other NHS workers who served the country so heroically during the coronavirus crisis.

Almost 900,000 public sector workers, including senior doctors, will be given an above inflation pay rise backdated to April. However, more than one million NHS staff such as nurses, cleaners and care assistants are excluded because they are on a different contract. Nurses want a pay rise planned for next April to be brought forward in recognition of their service fighting coronavirus.

Ms Robbins thanked in particular intensive care unit and high dependency unit staff and paramedics who were redeployed to Covid-19 wards. She also thanked students who stepped up to help fight the coronavirus.

Kelly Robbins

Ms Robbins said: “In responding to this pandemic, NHS workers have demonstrated their grit, tenacity and courage. They have demonstrated exactly why they deserve change. Many staff were redeployed to areas they’ve never worked in before, including some who hadn’t worked clinically for some time or were newly qualified. They were faced with looking after multiple critically ill patients many of whom required complex levels of care…

“Many NHS workers didn’t make it home at all, forgoing seeing their own families and living elsewhere in order to keep the people they cared about at home safe. Patients too were kept from their families and those who died, often did so without their own families by their side.

“NHS workers instead became their family, holding their hand as they took their last breath, making sure they didn’t die alone. While I am proud to work for an organisation that cares so much for those who need us most and has gone above and beyond during this pandemic, I am also angry that NHS workers sacrifice so much of their own physical and mental health but are recognised so little by our government.

“I know the public recognise us. I know they see us and I know they are proud of us. And we are grateful for the support the public has shown us. But we need that support, that pride, that recognition to be converted into policy. We need that belief in our NHS to lead to change that recognises our value and recognises us fairly.

“NHS staff have had their wages frozen, capped and cut for the last ten years and are being told they don’t deserve fair pay because this is a ‘vocation.’ NHS workers are leaving due to huge workloads, unsafe staffing ratios, low pay and lack of support.”

Gary Palmer who is a GMB Union regional organiser urged nurses to vote for and take industrial action which he said was the only way to force the government to listen.

Phelim MacCafferty, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council read a statement from Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP.

Mrs Lucas said: “Over the last few months NHS workers have shown us the very best of this country. Your perseverance, commitment and dedication in the face of this global crisis has been an inspiration to millions, including me.

“I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, the incredible nurses, doctors, NHS support staff, carers and domestic services staff who are still working flat out to continue to provide care and support to those most in need.

“But this context makes the pay rise snub for nurses and other NHS staff from this Government even more gut-wrenching.

“We know from recent polling that an overwhelming majority of the public think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise before the end of this year. The same research showed that two thirds of the public believe a wage increase for employees – including healthcare assistants, nurses, hospital porters, midwives, paramedics and cleaners – should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have long lobbied and campaigned for proper funding for the NHS, and last month I co-signed an early day motion calling for an early pay raise for health workers before 2021. This Government must urgently recognise the extraordinary commitment and sacrifice of all NHS staff throughout the Covid-19 outbreak and the depth of public gratitude for this work must now be reflected in concrete policies.

“It is time the Government showed its support for the NHS and workers by turning warm words and applause into a firm commitment to bring forward NHS pay talks and to fund an early and meaningful pay rise.

“Whilst I can never say thank you enough for everything that you have done and continue to do, especially in the current circumstances, I will continue to fight your corner in Parliament during this crisis and beyond.”

Nurses

Green Councillor and Leader Phelim MacCafferty said: “A decade of cuts, deregulation and the dismantling of the social fabric has left the vulnerable, public services and public sector workers exposed to the worst of this pandemic.

“Health workers have paid a heavy price for continuing to put us first. Over 540 health workers have died in the pandemic while far too many have been left exposed with no access to WHO-standard PPE.

“The past decade of Tory austerity, has seen NHS staff pay cut by 20% in real terms – just like that of local government workers. Both NHS and local government staff have kept our city with a low R and surviving the pandemic. And yet when push comes to shove, we have the nauseating sight of Tory MPs clapping for key workers on a Thursday night while they stick a knife in the back of public sector workers the very next day.

“This public health crisis has seen millionaires like Richard Branson bailed out while things many of us campaigned for years- the renationalised railways, rough sleepers accommodated- both of which have happened during this crisis- because none of these are impossible. They are about political priorities. So is fair pay for NHS workers.

“The pandemic is sadly very far from effectively suppressed. But having seen how poorly wave one has been handled by the Brexiteer buffoons, we can’t afford wave two. Figures published from the World Health Organisation only weeks ago affirm that the UK not only has highest number of deaths but the highest number of excess deaths per 100,000 people.

“We just don’t know what is going to happen next, and we have seen what incompetence we are up against in central government, but in spite of Tory Ministers, we owe it to the memory of the 161 people in our city who have died from Covid-19 to do everything we can to keep our communities safe.

“Nurses, Care workers, hospital cleaners and porters:

“You have been there for us through the terrifying dark days of the pandemic, when we are unwell, and when our loved ones enter and leave this world so now we are here for you. We stand with you as you continue your battle for fair pay. Solidarity.”

coronavirus

Brighton Kemptown’s MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle also sent a statement of support. He said: “This Government has treated NHS workers with disrespect for ten long years. They have degraded professions and undervalued staff.

“Ten years of pay being frozen or below inflation increases. Ten years of undermining, under resourcing and outsourcing.

“Then after all this time, it is the brave NHS workers who have saved so many lives in the midst of a global pandemic. We have all relied on you over the last five months more than ever.

“You even saved the Prime Ministers life, something he should recognise now with a decent pay increase.

“Clapping for carers and key workers showed the overwhelming support the community has for the NHS but you can’t pay your bills or your rent with claps.

“It is time the government steps up and shows true appreciation with a pay increase.

And I will continue to fight in Westminster to achieve this aim. Thank you all and keep up the struggle.”

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News on Saturday.

Labour loses control of Brighton Council to Greens because of antisemitism

Antisemitism is Labour’s Achilles heel and the Party needs to stop fighting itself and unite. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leader, settled a legal claim on Thursday, paying six figure sums in compensation to Labour Party staff tasked with investigating complaints of antisemitism. The High Court upheld the claim that staff efforts to deal with specifically antisemitic complaints were blocked by senior party members within the Labour Party.

This case is an important step towards eradicating antisemitism which has blighted the party for at least twenty years, if not more. But the counter-allegations are coming in thick and fast from Mr Corbyn and his supporters on the left, many of whom support the Palestinian cause. Tragically, Labour continues to fight itself, not the Conservatives and it’s the Labour Party who is paying the price.

A Labour government set up the independent Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) back in 2007. It’s currently investigating the Party’s handling of antisemitism complaints but the leaked internal Labour dossier into antisemitism has not been shared with EHRC – a grave mistake.

On Thursday 23 July, Labour lost control of Brighton and Hove City Council to the Green Party following the resignation of two Labour Councillors because of antisemitism. In the last week, Councillors Kate Knight and Nichole Brennan have both left the Labour Party and are now standing as Independent Councillors and Councillor Pissaridou has been suspended.

It means the Green Party currently form the largest group on the council with 19 seats, Labour hold 18 seats, the conservatives have 13 seats and there are four Independent Councillors. No party has a majority on Brighton Council and, as is often the case, there is no overall control. It was the Conservative Group that called on Councillor Nancy Platts, to resign as Leader.

antisemitism
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown

Cllr Kate Knight resigned from the Labour Party last Monday 20 July after sharing posts on social media that accused Israel of campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn. She will continue to sit as an Independent Councillor representing constituents of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.

Secondly, Labour Councillor, Nichole Brennan, was under investigation since April for demonstrating in 2018 against the party’s adoption of a wider ranging definition of antisemitism and then describing criticism of her actions as “white supremacy.” She too resigned from the Labour Party earlier this week and is standing as an Independent Councillor.

Eleven days ago, Councillor Anne Pissaridou was suspended on Tuesday 14 July but she has not yet resigned the Labour Party whip. She has resigned as Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

Ms Pissaridou posted antisemitic content on social media from conspiracy theory websites. The cartoon implies that banker Sir Jacob Rothschild is behind the impending collapse of the world’s bank while Germans are told to stockpile food.

She also shared another conspiracy theory post in August 2018 with the headline: ‘Jewish Israeli journalist claims pro-Israel propagandists have ‘taken out a contract’ to stop Jeremy Corbyn being elected.’

Councillor Pissaridou has apologised to the Jewish community for her posts and said the posts, which she did not read properly before sharing, do not reflect her views.

All three of these councillors were Momentum supporters although they were all selected by Brighton and Hove Constituency Labour Parties.

Even Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour’s MP for Brighton Kemptown stood down from the Shadow frontbench ten days ago following a comment in a letter written in 2009, before he became an MP, that Zionism was, ‘a dangerous nationalist idea.’

He said when this comment came to light, it led to a torrent of right-wing online abuse and harassment by telephone against him and his staff which made his position as a shadow minister untenable.

Support Sussex Police on Super Saturday

As lockdown tentatively eases, this Saturday is ‘super Saturday.’ It means the pubs are open to residents of Brighton and Hove. It’s a significant step towards normality, almost four months after Mr Johnson, our Prime Minister, belatedly closed the UK for business.

Thanks to Mr Johnson, Britain has the second highest number of deaths from coronavirus after America, although we may tragically be taken over by countries from the ‘developing world’, like Brazil.

Brighton and Hove isolated the person who brought the coronavirus to our city and successfully contact traced and shielded everyone, primarily the children he played football with. We closed our doors to tourists. Brighton is a town that makes her money through tourism but the Police, the NHS and politicians have successfully contained the virus.

Gay pride is just around the corner but Brighton and Hove saved lives by closing her doors. As a city, Brighton makes more money over Pride weekend than any other weekend in a year and it has rightly been cancelled because it will result in over-crowding, it will bring millions of people into Brighton from across the UK and beyond and social distancing will not be maintained.

However, we are turning a corner and Super Saturday is upon us. Brighton’s Fringe and Festival will go ahead in September or October and people will be able to socialise and party again as long as they socially distance. Churches and choirs may be the last groups to reopen their doors but, in time, they will.

Super Saturday
PCC Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne with suicide volunteers

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has released a statement ahead of Super Saturday which will see lockdown restrictions loosened with pubs, bars, restaurants and some leisure facilities reopening for the first time since the end of March.

Mrs Bourne said: “We are now benefiting from the sacrifices we have made to curb the spread of the virus and are slowly able to return to some normality.

“I understand that people will want to take advantage of the opportunity this weekend brings to meet up with friends and family at their favourite restaurants or pubs that they have not visited in months.

“However, it is still important that we do so safely with social distancing in mind at all times.

“We have come so far already and, in order to keep progressing in the right direction, we must all be sensible in our decision-making. If you arrive somewhere and notice that social distancing isn’t achievable, then please reassess your plans.

“Police officers will be out and about across Sussex this weekend helping to keep us safe. Please ensure you show them respect and know that any assault on an emergency service worker is unacceptable and will be treated extremely seriously.”

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team (BHCT), an Eastbourne-based charity providing dedicated support for people in crisis, has received new uniforms today jointly funded by Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Brighton’s Chief Constable, Jo Shiner.

Some of their team met with PCC Bourne and CC Shiner today at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes to accept their new police standard uniforms costing just under £1,000 each.

Often this team, made up of 26 volunteers, are one of the first respondents to emergency calls located at Beachy Head.

BHCT volunteers selflessly give up their time to patrol a 5-mile search area on foot and by car and, in doing so, they brave all weather conditions in isolation. These new cargo trousers will ensure they have the right protection to do their vital work.

Police uniforms cost £1000. I am sure they can be sourced locally at cost. BHCT’s suicide volunteers should be publicly funded by the Council Tax precept. Uniforms are not enough.

Suicide volunteers at BHCT work alongside police officers and other emergency services to safeguard those in distress or who are suicidal. Using their skills in crisis intervention they offer supportive listening and start a dialogue to alter the outcome of the situation.

Since 2004, BHCT’s volunteers have responded to over 11,500 incidents. They are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, working in isolated conditions, saving lives and their service is valued highly by Sussex Police.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “We work very closely with the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team and so can see first-hand the amazing work they do.

“The chaplains are there for people when they are at their lowest point. Their compassion and support have helped guide many people away from crisis and it has saved many lives.

“We are incredibly grateful for the volunteers who give up their time, day and night and in all weathers, to ensure there is always someone available to listen to and help those in need.”

PCC Commissioner Bourne said: “Each year, we see many hundreds of people come to Beachy Head in crisis, needing help.

“The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team is always on hand to reach out to these people, supporting them to see clarity in their situation and get the vital help they need at a time of greatest distress. In short, they save lives.

“I have, and will continue to, support this truly amazing team and help them carry out their vital work in whatever way I can.”

Chief Executive Officer of BHCT, Gerry Howitt: We value and appreciate the support and generosity we have and continue to receive from our colleagues at Sussex Police. It is an honour and a privilege to work alongside such a dedicated and skilled team.”

The charity also actively promotes suicide prevention and works with partners, including The Samaritans and should receive Police funding through our Council Tax.

Anyone can contact Samaritans at any time including day or night on Super Saturday for free from any phone on 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill. Grassroots trains organisations, groups and individuals in how to keep people at risk of suicide safe and how to alert the Police in an emergency.

 

C of E accused of racism in spite of backing black lives matter

BAME vicar and trainee priest claim racism has blocked their church careers.

Church of England bishops have been accused of “utter hypocrisy” for publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement while failing to address racism in their dioceses.

Two men from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, a vicar and a trainee priest, claim discrimination has blocked their efforts to advance within the C of E hierarchy.

The Rev Alwyn Pereira was rejected for seven posts as a vicar in the diocese of Bristol before he discovered a letter on his personal file saying there were “cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity.”

 

racism
Reverend Alwyn Pereira

Augustine Tanner-Ihm, a trainee priest who applied to become a curate, received a rejection email that stated “the demographic of the parish is monochrome white working-class, where you might feel uncomfortable.”

Both men said they were angry that C of E leaders had voiced support for the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while failing to act on systemic discrimination against BAME people within the church.

Pereira said: “This is utter hypocrisy. Our church offers hope, and it is right that our bishops speak out against injustices, but it is a concern that endemic racism persists within. Over 30 years have elapsed, and our church is still ‘discussing’, still ‘listening’.”

On Monday, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, tweeted that “the racism that people in this country experience is horrifying. The church has failed here, and still does, and it’s clear what Jesus commands us to do: repent and take action.”

Following the tearing down of the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol on Sunday, Vivienne Faull, the bishop of Bristol, said Floyd’s death had “brought the issues of racism, oppression, inequality and injustice once again into the spotlight, where they should be. These are issues that the diocese of Bristol, like many organisations, has been aware of, discussed and attempted to address. However, while we have taken some positive steps, it is clear that we have not done enough.”

Pereira launched a discrimination case against the diocese of Bristol after discovering the letter on his file. Michael Hill, the bishop of Bristol at the time, wrote in July 2016: “I think the other thing I need to say, having worked closely with people from the Indian subcontinent in my past, is that I think there are cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity.”

Church of England

Pereira, who is now a vicar in Aldershot, Hampshire, is not from the Indian subcontinent. He is of Indo-Portuguese heritage, was born in Kenya and educated almost entirely in England.

In a preliminary hearing, an employment tribunal heard that emails dating back to 2014 showed several bishops had blocked Pereira’s job applications, one citing “cultural eccentricities”.

The employment tribunal dismissed the claim last month on the grounds it was out of time. Pereira made an internal complaint that was also ruled out of time by the C of E’s clergy discipline commission tribunal, a decision he is appealing.

He said: “I suspect my journey [in the church] has been impeded by systemic racism, because of my skin tone.”

The support by bishops for Black Lives Matter felt like “PR spin”, he added.

In a statement, Hill said he had used “racial stereotypes which were unacceptable and offensive” in his letter. “I deeply regret the incident and I wholeheartedly apologise.”

Faull said Hill’s comments had been “unacceptable”. She added: “I have made the commitment to address institutional racism and to recruit and support more BAME clergy. I stand behind these and my other commitments. This work won’t be easy but I will be relentless in my dedication to bringing about change.”

Tanner-Ihm, a black American who is training to become a priest at Cranmer Hall in Durham, said he was shocked and angry to receive a rejection email earlier this year saying he “might feel uncomfortable” in a white working-class parish.

When he challenged the view, pointing out that he was adopted by a white working-class family and had previously worked in predominantly white inner-city areas, “I got a response along the lines of ‘sorry you took it that way’.”

He added: “I felt broken down. The church has said they are investigating but I don’t know how. No one has formally reached out to me.”

The C of E said the letter was “plainly unacceptable” and it was seeking clarity from the diocese.

The church’s director of ministry, the Rt Rev Chris Goldsmith, said: “We fully recognise that the C of E has a lot more work to do to become a place where our leadership is representative of the rich heritages of all the people of England.

“We reject racism of all kinds so we must not only root out discrimination but recognise and correct the unconscious biases which each of us carry and which can undermine our intention to recognise the gifting and calling of everyone equally.”

He added: “We need to be both humble and determined as we strive for the goal for full equality in our shared life.”

You can read the same Guardian article here.

Police Crime Commissioner creates new Safe Space for victims in ‘lockdown’

In 2016, Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne launched ‘Safe Space Sussex’, the first online directory of local victim services, so that people could easily reach out for support. In response to the ‘lockdown’ and concerns raised around crimes like Domestic Abuse, Mrs Bourne has upgraded this site and started an online campaign today (11th May.) The campaign will help victims covertly reach out to the Police for help while they are stuck in isolation – #SafeSpaceSussex.

With the entire country still in lockdown, many services have expressed concerns about victims of crime not feeling able to safely reach out for help.  Some services have seen a decrease in engagement from victims and reports of crimes (like domestic abuse) made to Sussex Police, have reduced by approximately 4% at a time when they may be expected to be on the rise.

Detective Superintendent Steve Rayland of the force’s Public Protection Command said: “We know it can be more difficult than ever for people to report abuse that’s taking place at home at the moment. With no escape from their abuser, a victim’s opportunity to reach out to people who may previously have been able to help them is greatly reduced.

“But there are options available to make contact discreetly, with Police and their partners. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the police, we would urge you to contact one of the support services listed on the Safe Space Sussex site.

“It’s really important people know that we will continue to respond to domestic abuse as normal, arresting perpetrators and protecting vulnerable people.”

Safe Space Sussex

The Safe Space Sussex website has been equipped with a new search tool so that within an average of 10 seconds, victims of any crime can find the service they need. It also has a ‘leave site now’ button that users can press to quickly exit the site.

As part of the relaunch campaign, tailored guidance will also be shared across social media on how victims can access the new website covertly, using incognito tabs, as they may be living with their perpetrators during ‘lockdown’ and their search history may be monitored as a result.

Sussex Police have also issued advice, which will be shared this week, on how a victim of crime can covertly let a call handler know they are in danger. The ’55’ technology is in place for those too scared to speak to the Police. Instead victims can alert a call handler to the fact they need help by pressing 55 on their mobile phone once they’ve dialled 999.

Mrs Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner said: “While we are all deeply affected by this ongoing pandemic, those who have, or are still experiencing crime may well be in a heightened state of anxiety and distress.  We may be in lockdown, but they must not feel locked out.

“Just because we are seeing a decrease in reports does not mean that these crimes are reducing. So, it’s now more important than ever, that people who feel threatened and vulnerable have someone who will listen and help them. 

“We have relaunched Safe Space Sussex so that we can continue to do everything we can to ensure that critical and confidential help remains available to those who need it.

“I understand that it may be difficult for many victims at this time to reach out but I’m hoping that, by sharing ways they can do this more covertly, we will see more people coming forward and getting the help they need.”

Local independent domestic abuse service, RISE, has observed a worrying decrease in referrals from Police in the first few weeks of lockdown but noticed an increase in calls to their helpline, showing that many are still suffering at home but may feel unable to reach out safely to the police.

“Our message to survivors has always been to call 999 if you are in immediate danger,” says Jo Gough, CEO of Sussex domestic abuse charity RISE.

“However, we know that when women are isolating in close proximity with their perpetrator, it isn’t always possible to speak. Using the ‘silent solution’ after calling 999 by pressing 55 on a mobile phone can literally save lives, and the new #SafeSpaceSussex website contains vital safety resources for survivors.”

You are not aloneFollowing extra investment this year, Sussex Police has introduced new ways that victims can reach out to them covertly. A new specialist unit will now be able to deal, by appointment, with non-emergency cases through new video conferencing technology.

Officers obtain a safe contact number and send a onetime text message to the caller’s smartphone. Activating this link puts the caller into a virtual waiting room where an officer will be able to see and talk to them so that an investigation can take place.

The caller is then told to delete the text, which is disguised in the first place to hide any links with the Police.

As part of this interaction they will also be putting victims in touch with local support services like RISE to increase referrals and ensure people get the support they need.

Everyone is going the extra mile to ensure that nobody suffers in silence during the coronavirus crisis and lockdown that has followed. If you find yourself in an emergency where you think you or others may be in immediate danger dial 999. Sussex Police are always there for you when you need them. Don’t suffer in silence.

If you would prefer not to contact the police you can report a crime anonymously via Crimestoppers online or by calling: 0800 555 111.

www.safespacesussex.org.uk has all the information on support services who can help any victim of crime across Sussex.

Food distribution at charity FareShare Sussex doubles

Since Boris Johnson announced lockdown in the third week of March, Fareshare Sussex has been swamped with new people and projects requesting food.

The number of vulnerable people thrown in to food poverty because they have lost their jobs is greater than anyone at the charity foresaw. Residents of Brighton and Hove have watched helplessly as their regular income dries up. They have no money for food, rent or other essential items and there’s often a delay receiving benefits.

Many of the community groups and charities that FareShare Sussex supplies with food have stepped up to deal with the situation. Multiple new organisations have been set up by concerned local residents in direct response to the needs of their local communities. One thing they all have in common is that they need more food. They have asked FareShare Sussex to supply them with extra food and the charity is determined to rise to the challenge.

Rob Orme, Chief Executive said: “In response to this crisis we have streamlined everything we do in order to get the maximum amount of food out to the most vulnerable in our communities.

“We have been inundated with surplus food – as the hospitality industry was closed down and some shops had to dispose of their food, we stepped in to bring that food to our warehouses and avoid it being sent to landfill. We knew we had the resources to get this surplus food to the people who needed it most.”

“Our dedicated team of volunteers and staff have never been so busy. We are all determined to respond to the need that this crisis has identified.

“Five weeks into the lockdown, we have developed sustainable, safe systems that mean we can continue to provide those who need it with good quality food.

“We don’t expect this crisis to end anytime soon so we are planning to keep on doing what we do best – ensuring vulnerable people are fed.”

Fareshare Sussex

Food donations from the food industry and from the general public have kept coming ever since. The demand for this food by vulnerable people is ongoing. FareShare Sussex are sending out an additional 9 tonnes of food to vulnerable people every week, on top of the 12 tonnes a week they were distributing before the coronavirus hit the South East, 21 tonnes of food to feed 12,000 people every week.

FareShare Sussex operate in three warehouses in Moulsecoomb, Brighton. They are now looking for a fourth warehouse in which they can store their food. If you would like to help them raise funds to do this, you can make a donation here.

FareShare Sussex redistributes surplus food to charities and community groups who provide frontline services to vulnerable people. We do this with an army of 150 volunteers who sort and deliver the food using refrigerated vans. The charity operates across Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey.

Labour leadership candidates make their bid to party members in Brighton and Hove

Hundreds of members of Brighton and Hove Labour Party gathered on Saturday (29 February) to question the Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates about their vision and the policies at the Grand Hotel, Brighton.

Three MPs remain in the race for the Labour leadership: Sir Keir Starmer (who does not use his title), Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy. They all talked about the need for unity to enable the Labour Party to build a better, fairer and more equal society.

Mr Starmer said: “We need to bring our party together. We lost the trust from the British people as a party of a change (at the last general election.) Mr Johnson is dangerous; he is no clown. We need to be relentlessly focused on winning the next general election.”

Ms Nandy, who represents a constituency in the North of England in Wigan, said nurses and ex-miners voted for the Conservatives, having returned Labour MPs for one hundred years. She blames unemployment, high house prices, debt and air pollution and said: “People need to believe in politics that will transform their lives again.”

Mrs Long-Bailey highlighted how the Labour Party rebuilt Britain after the second world war and introduced the NHS. She said we need to build council housing now and stop privatisation. Labour’s ‘guarantee’ she said if she wins the Labour leadership, is that “your children’s lives will be better than yours.”

Mr Starmer said: “We need to win back the trust of the public. People in their hearts know inequality has gone too far.”

Labour leadership hustings

Mrs Long-Bailey said the essence of human nature is a decent standard of life and the green industrial strategy. She said: “These are not radical policies. They are good enough for our European neighbours and they’re good enough for our country… We must empower our members to be our cheerleaders in our communities. The Labour Party is about realising aspirations wherever you’re from.”

Mr Starmer and his London constituency voted remain but after the referendum, he spent a lot of time with leave voters to understand their point of view. He said people told him they wanted better infrastructure and transport, jobs that had dignity and decisions made closer to home. He said: “It’s a compelling story about change that, I think, takes us a long way forwards.”

All the candidates were concerned about press freedom and smears against the Labour Party. Mr Starmer thought the press needed to diversify because independent journalism is under attack. He said there is a high risk that Britain will follow the American model which will have a negative impact for Labour at the next general election. Ms Nandy thought the BBC should be mutualised to make it more accountable.

While Labour leadership candidates agreed that the Labour Party will not be able to win an outright majority in a general election without winning seats in Scotland, Ms Nandy argued most strongly to keep the union together. She said: “The SNP fought a ‘once in a generation’ referendum and we need to hold them to that. We want to see a party that stands up for working people. We need to fight for the UK. People in Scotland need far more power far closer to home.”

Mrs Long-Bailey said she would campaign vigorously against Scottish independence but couldn’t guarantee the outcome. Mr Starmer said he would work with Scottish Labour and not impose policies from Westminster. He thought the campaign should be about social justice, not constitutional arguments and independence underpinned by radical devolution and a federal system.

Candidates also discussed the economic settlement as a means of explaining inequality in our very wealthy society including homelessness and waiting times for child mental health assessments. Mr Starmer said: “We need to have the courage to say our economic model is busted, it’s not delivering and we need to change it for a different economic model.”

However, it was Ms Nandy who came up with a solution. She said: “We may not be in power but we should never believe we are powerless. Do not sign trade deals with countries who don’t sign up to the Paris agreement (about climate change.)

Mrs Long-Bailey summed up discussion at the hustings by saying for many people pay is too low, bills are too high, housing is too expensive and homelessness is getting worse. She said: “The solution is not to retreat and despair. It’s to offer hope: Aspirational socialism, an industrial revolution… We forge our path to power not by weakening our aspirations but by realising them.”

Brighton Kemptown and Brighton Pavilion endorsed Rebecca Long-Bailey as their Labour leadership candidate. Hove and Portslade chose Keir Starmer.

After lunch there was a hustings of the deputy leadership candidates: Angela Rayner, Dawn Butler, Rosena Allin-Khan, Richard Burgon and Ian Murray who is the only Scottish MP sitting in Westminster since last December’s general election. Here is just a taster of what they said.

Deputy Labour leadership hustings

Mrs Rayner said Labour needs to talk about everyday socialism, promote peace not war, save the planet from climate change and she said: “We don’t have to pander to the racists to win in Northern seats.”

When asked who was her most inspirational figure, Mrs Butler said her late father who worked on the railways. He could not be an official trade union steward because he was coloured. She said her father told her, ‘never walk on the other side of the road.’ She said: “I am exhausted when I stand up for my own rights and empowered when I stand up for other people’s rights.”

Mr Burgon promised as deputy leader to be campaigner in chief and organiser in chief. He said there would be no return to immigration controls, Tory austerity, strikes, Labour would be democratic, member-led, internationalist and anti-war. Mr Burgon made a peace pledge.

Mr Murray said the Labour Party is an internationalist party. He said: “Let’s not throw our principles away. Scots don’t want another referendum. Why should we facilitate the means if we don’t agree with the ends like Mr Cameron did when he called for the EU referendum?”

Dr Allin-Khan said Scots are divided and agreed with Mr Murray that Scotland should remain part of the UK and make the case for people in Scotland to vote Labour.

Mrs Butler won the nomination for deputy leader from Brighton Pavilion and Hove and Portslade constituencies and Dr Allin-Khan was nominated by Brighton Kemptown.

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton and Hove Labour leadership and deputy nominations show Labour is undecided

In Hove and Portslade Keir Starmer MP was nominated as leadership candidate after two rounds of voting and Ms Butler was elected deputy leader after four rounds of voting in the Labour leader and deputy nominations.

Hove MP Peter Kyle supported Jess Phillips and has not yet said publicly whom he now supports. Former Labour Councillor Emma Daniel organised the meeting with Mr Starmer.

Penny Gilbey, who was Labour Councillor for North Portslade until she retired last year after the May elections said: “All the candidates are excellent candidates but whoever is elected as leader, it is important for the party to unite behind him or her.”

Hove and Portslade Labour Party leadership and deputy nominations in brief

Hove and Portslade CLP nominated Mr Starmer as their Leadership candidate and Mrs Rayner as Deputy Leadership candidate. Carol Sewell was nominated as NEC BAME representative.

Third round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Rebecca Long Bailey +9 70
Keir Starmer +20 56

Third round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Rebecca Long Bailey +9 70
Keir Starmer +20 56

Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan were nominated as National Executive Committee Constituency Labour Party representatives.

Brighton Kemptown Labour leadership and deputy nominations in brief

Rebecca Long Bailey MP is the clear winner for the Brighton Pavilion nomination. She got 36 more votes than her nearest rival, Sir Kier Starmer MP yesterday (Saturday 09 February, 2020.)

In Brighton Kemptown it took three rounds of voting for Ms Long Bailey to win although she had the endorsement of Brighton Kemptown’s Labour MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Third round of voting – Brighton Kemptown CLP

Candidate Swing Result
Rebecca Long Bailey +9 70
Keir Starmer +20 56

Mrs Long Bailey was nominated as Brighton Kemptown’s leadership candidate after three rounds of voting. She beat Mr Starmer by 14 votes although the swing to Mr Starmer in the third round of voting was 20 percent compared with nine percent to Mrs Long Bailey.

Dr Allin-Khan, who may like to be known simply as Doctor Khan, beat her closest rival, Richard Burgon by 57 votes because she came to the meeting in person to canvass support. There was only one round of voting for the deputy leadership candidates in Brighton Kemptown CLP.

Only Labour members who attended the three constituency Labour party meetings (CLPs) could vote.

Brighton Pavilion Labour Party leadership and deputy nominations in brief

Less than seven percent of the Brighton Pavilion Labour membership voted and 190 votes were cast. Labour members were not allowed to vote by post or by proxy. They had to vote in person at the member only Labour Party meeting.

Mrs Long Bailey is the Brighton Pavilion nomination for Labour leader. She won in a single round of voting by 36 votes which is 19 percent more than her closest rival, Mr Starmer MP.

For the deputy leadership in Brighton Pavilion, voting was less straightforward. However, when votes from other candidates were transferred to Dr Khan and Dawn Butler MP, Ms Butler was the clear winner with a majority of 25 votes.

Third round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Rebecca Long Bailey +9 70
Keir Starmer +20 56

The devil is in the detail

Here is a full breakdown of the results:

Brighton Kemptown CLP Labour leadership and deputy nominations

First round of voting

Lisa Nandy 16

Emily Thornberry 32

Keir Starmer 30

Rebecca Long Bailey 54

No vote 1

Second round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Emily Thornberry +2 34
Rebecca Long Bailey +7 61
Keir Starmer +6 36
No further vote +1 2

Third round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Rebecca Long Bailey +9 70
Keir Starmer +20 56

Deputy Leadership

Rosena Allin Khan 77

Richard Burgon 20

Dawn Butler 15

Angela Rayner 17

Ian Murray 2

No vote 2

Brighton Pavilion CLP Labour leadership and deputy nominations

One round of voting

Rebecca Long Bailey 99

Kier Starmer 63

Lisa Nandy 22

Emily Thornberry 5

Deputy leadership

Dr Allin-Khan Richard Burgon Dawn Butler Ian Murray Angela Rayner
First round of voting 47 43 54 8 38
Second round 50 43 54 Eliminated 42
Third round 69 49 67 0 Eliminated
Fourth round 75 Eliminated 100 0 0
Result Eliminated NOMINATED

There will be a Labour Party hustings in Brighton on Saturday 29 February.

 Hove and Portslade CLP Labour Leadership and Deputy nominations

Keir Starmer was nominated as Leadership candidate, Angela Rayner was nominated as Deputy Leadership candidate. Carol Sewell was nominated as NEC BAME representative.

Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan were nominated as NEC Constituency Labour Party representatives.

Labour Leadership Candidate

Rebecca Long Bailey Lisa Nandy Keir Starmer Emily Thornberry Spoilt ballot papers
Round 1 69 62 108 4
Second preference 14 Eliminated 51 Eliminated 1
Round 2 83 0 159 0 1
NOMINATED Eliminated

Labour Deputy Leadership Candidate

Dr Allin-Khan Richard Burgon Dawn Butler Ian Murray Angela Rayner Spoilt
Round 1 39 24 39 66 72 3
Second preference 0 Eliminated 17 1 5 1
Round 2 39 0 56 67 77 4
Third preference Eliminated 0 6 23 10 0
Round 3 0 0 62 90 87 4
Fourth preference 0 0 Eliminated 5 44 13
Round 4 0 0 0 95 131 17
Eliminated NOMINATED

243 members attended the Hove and Portslade Constituency Labour Party meeting and Labour members can only vote if they attend in person.

An edited version of this article has been published today by Brighton and Hove News.

Coronavirus briefing by Brighton and Hove director of public health

Green Councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide ward, Phelim MacCafferty released a public health briefing about the coronavirus to councillors this afternoon. He said: “Last night Rob Persey who is the council’s executive director for health and adult social care briefed Councillors. I can raise queries you may have about the virus with Rob and with other council officials.”

Background

The 2019 coronavirus called Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been spreading since it was first reported in December 2019. Symptoms include fever and respiratory symptoms including coughing and shortness of breath.

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Standard advice to prevent the spread of infection is recommended, including maintaining good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene.

On Friday 7 February it was confirmed that the UK’s third positive case for 2019 Novel Coronavirus was a resident of Hove. Since then a total of five cases have been confirmed in the city.

Details of positive cases and their location can only be confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of England.

Latest update on the coronavirus

On Monday 10 February the latest cases were confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer in the daily updates. and we added the latest information to the council website.

This means that five out of the eight current confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the UK were reported in Brighton & Hove. All the Brighton & Hove cases are adults.

The new cases are known contacts of a previously confirmed UK case. The virus was passed on in France.

The latest patients from our city have been transferred to specialist NHS centres, and healthcare workers are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus.

Addressing the situation

The NHS and Public Health England are extremely well prepared to manage these cases and treat them. The organisations are working quickly to identify any further contacts the patient has had.

This latest patient followed Public Health advice by self-isolating rather than going to A&E. For the latest advice visit gov.uk/coronavirus.

The local NHS and Brighton & Hove City Council are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) to manage the situation and to ensure everyone remain as safe as possible, using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the coronavirus.

Some Brighton & Hove residents have been told to “self-isolate”, which means stay at home and not have contact with other people. They are being asked to take the same precautions that everyone would to avoid other people if suffering from a heavy cold or the winter flu – stay at home and not go to work or school/college.

During this time they will be supported by PHE, who are monitoring them and will undertake further testing if they show any symptoms of the virus, and provide any further care needed.

Health advice:

If you are feeling unwell and have not been contacted by Public Health England, then there is no need for concern.

You should continue to treat your symptoms as usual for seasonal flu or a common cold. If you feel unwell and do not know what you should do, then call NHS 111.

Coronavirus

Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel. Effective sanitiser gel should have a 60% alcohol content or higher.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel (see above) if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Information on individual cases:

The government’s Chief Medical Officer makes the official announcements about new cases of coronavirus and what details can be shared about individual patients.

Public Health England is the lead on providing health advice and actions.

Both the Chief Medical Officer and Public Health England have made it clear that clinical guidance and medical confidentiality comes first. They will decide when it is possible to release information.

While we have been waiting for official announcements, organisations locally are working round the clock to put measures in place to manage the situation and share as much information as possible.

The city council is pressing for information to be shared quickly to reassure the public of all that is happening behind the scenes. We have also asked for more flexibility on making local announcements to clarify the situation.

The Chief Medical Officer remains the only source for confirming updates on coronavirus. The council can only share information about individual patients after details are officially announced by the Chief Medical Officer.

School closures

Public Health England and the office of the Chief Medical Officer are clear in their advice that schools do not need to close. Headteachers with any concerns have been advised to speak with Public Health England if they have any specific worries.

The council’s school’s team is in regular contact with headteachers to discuss issues at individual schools. There is a high level of concern at schools and headteachers are being kept up to date.

You can collect relevant posters for you and resident groups from Mr Mac Cafferty at Hove Town Hall.

Where can I find more information?

Hate incidents
Hate incidents either relating to the coronavirus or about separate matters can be reported to the Community Safety Team at Brighton & Hove City Council by:

Hate incidents can also be reported to Sussex Police – go to www.sussex.police.uk/contact-us  for details or call 101 (999 in an emergency).

Some of the information in this article has been supplied by Sanctuary-on-Sea.

Brighton Pavilion and Brighton Kemptown Labour Parties endorse Rebecca Long Bailey

Rebecca Long Bailey MP is the clear winner for the Brighton Pavilion nomination. She got 36 more votes than her nearest rival, Sir Kier Starmer MP yesterday (Saturday 09 February, 2020.) In Brighton Kemptown it took three rounds of voting for Ms Long Bailey to win although she had the endorsement of Brighton Kemptown’s Labour MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Brighton Pavilion nominated Dawn Butler MP who beat Rosena Allin-Khan by 25 votes. Dr Khan attended the Brighton Kemptown hustings in person and won with a clear majority of 23 votes.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle who is Brighton Kemptown’s MP backed Rebecca Long Bailey and Angela Rayner. He said: “Rebecca will professionalise the operation, we have lost four elections, under Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband as well as two under Jeremy Corbyn.

“We need to be comfortable with the Labour Party’s history. Angie and Becky will do that very well. They will not be shy about celebrating the last labour government. In 2017 we got the biggest share of the vote and then we saw the magic wear off. But I will say all candidates will be very good. Everyone should be good.

“Rebecca Long Bailey pioneered our most popular policy, the green industrial strategy, she understands working class voices, she knows we have bridges to build, she’s loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and she was not involved in bullying.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle

“Rebecca is someone who understands the need for change.

“Whoever wins I’ll be incredibly proud of the Labour Party and our values.”

“Angela Rayner is a perfect bridge, she’s not taking policy positions, she’s a wing-woman. She wishes to serve with Rebecca. Rebecca and Angie wish to serve together. Angela benefited from Sure Start herself. She understands who we need to reach out to.

“I don’t know what Brighton Kemptown will do. I will host a joint rally very soon here in Brighton and Hove for Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner.” Full details to follow.

Brighton Kemptown constituency Labour Party results

Full results of the constituency labour party (CLP) vote are as follows:

First round of voting

Lisa Nandy 16

Emily Thornberry 32

Keir Starmer 30

Rebecca Long Bailey 54

No vote 1

Second round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Emily Thornberry +2 34
Rebecca Long Bailey +7 61
Keir Starmer +6 36
No further vote +1 2

Third round of voting

Candidate Swing Result
Rebecca Long Bailey +9 70
Keir Starmer +20 56

Deputy Leadership

Rosena Allin Khan 77

Richard Burgon 20

Dawn Butler 15

Angela Rayner 17

Ian Murray 2

No vote 2

Brighton Pavilion Constituency Labour Party nominations for leader and deputy

Less than seven percent of the Brighton Pavilion Labour membership voted and 189 votes were cast. Labour members were not allowed to vote by post or by proxy. They had to vote in person at the member only Labour Party meeting.

One round of voting

Rebecca Long Bailey 99

Kier Starmer 63

Lisa Nandy 22

Emily Thornberry 5

Deputy leadership

Candidate First round of voting Second round: Ian Murry eliminated Third round: Angela Rayner eliminated Fourth round: Richard Burgon eliminated
Rosena Allin-Khan 47 50 69 75
Richard Burgon 43 43 49
Dawn Butler 54 54 67 100
Ian Murray 8
Angela Rayner 38 42

For the deputy leadership in Brighton Pavilion, voting was less straightforward. However, when votes from other candidates were transferred to Dr Khan and Dawn Butler, Mrs Butler was the clear winner with a majority of 25 votes.

I very much look forward to hearing all the candidates speak in Brighton on Saturday 29 February at the Labour leadership hustings. I hope it will be a public meeting.

Hove and Portslade Constituency Labour Party Leadership and Deputy Leadership nominations

Keir Starmer nominated as Leader

Angela Rayner nominated as Deputy Leader

Carol Sewell nominated as NEC BAME representative.

Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan nominated as NEC Constituency Labour Party representatives.

There was 243 members at the Hove and Portslade Labour Party meeting.

Breakdown to follow.

If you like my journalism, you can give me an anonymous donation using the Patreon button below.

Valentine’s day is the first day of reckoning for Labour’s rising stars

Keir Starmer for leader – Hove and Portslade Labour Party hustings, 04.02.20

Keir Starmer addressed several hundred Labour members from across Brighton and Hove at All Saints Church, Hove.

“I have real enthusiasm to have a say on what happens next. We have 580,000 members which is our highest ever membership and we are the biggest political party in Europe.

Mr Starmer said the general election was devastating, devastating for the very brilliant Labour MPs that Labour lost, brilliant candidates, and even more importantly devastating for those people who desperately needed change. He said: “Now they are not going to get the change we all desperately needed.”

He spoke of the electoral challenges faced by Labour across the United Kingdom. He mentioned the ‘red wall’ in the north, known as Labour’s heartland of safe seats.

When describing the scale of the problem, Mr Starmer said: “If all we do is win back the seats we’ve lost, we’ll lose again. We’ve got to win in Scotland. In Scotland we have one MP. We should have been returning 27-30 MPs, we only returned one.” Labour has the same problem in Wales because of the nationalists. He also said you can draw a line from South West from Bristol where Labour needs to build support.

“We have lost four elections in a row. If we lose the next one in 2024, a whole generation will have been let down and not have the protection of a Labour government,” Mr Starmer said.

Labour’s frontrunner said health inequality was a huge issue and that there was a 10 to 15 year difference in life expectancy between his St Pancras and Holborn constituency and the one next door, I think in Hampstead and Kilburn, also in the London Borough of Camden. Here you can see how London voted in the 2019 general election.

Mr Starmer said he thinks people outside London feel: ‘I can’t affect change near me’ and he criticised brutal cuts to our public services. He said: “Our public services are on their knees, the health service is grossly underfunded. My wife works in the health service, teams are demoralised. They have more to do than they can possibly cope with. Social care. Mental health. Homelessness. The list is so long.”

“However, we feel, we’ve got to pick ourselves up. We need to unify as a party.

“All the time we are fighting each other, we are not fighting the Tories. With 580,000 members we have dedication, commitment and energy. It doesn’t mean everyone agreeing with each other. It means tolerant respectful decision-making.”

“Unity needs to come first and foremost from the leader of the Labour Party. We have to unite. We have to be a really effective leader.”

Kier Starmer

Mr Starmer said he had already served under three Conservative Prime Ministers. First there was David Cameron who couldn’t get his party in order and then abdicated all responsibility.

Second, there was Theresa MP who had a complete inability to lead her party.

Now, he said, we have Boris Johnson as Prime Minister: “It’s offensive. He has no moral compass. There’s little lies, then there’s big lies. About tariff free trade. He negotiated that exit deal with the EU. The document in front of him said there would be checks in the Irish Sea. Boris stood up at the despatch box and he said there will be no tariffs in the Irish Sea.

Mr Starmer is concerned that every MP who broke the Conservative Party whip has been replaced with a more right-wing candidate.

He criticised the government because they removed protection for unaccompanied children, some living as close as Calais in the middle of winter with no electricity and heating at night.

Mr Starmer said: “The only difference between my children and the children in Calais is where they were born.”

He predicted that as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson would attack Trade unions and restrict the right for collective action. He said: “We’ve got to take him on at the despatch box. He doesn’t like scrutiny. He barely turns up these days. That’s why he wouldn’t do the Andrew Neil interview.”

Mr Starmer said: “We need to win the argument and demonstrate that we are taking ground. Opposition is losing. You are shadowing the person who is making the decisions. I came into politics to change lives. You don’t deliver that in opposition.

“We’re in Parliament, we vote and we lose. Since we’ve been back we’ve lost every vote by 100 so we’ve got to win that election and we’ve got to press forward to do it.

“What’s happened in the last five years, we don’t walk away from public ownership etc. but you need to build focusing relentlessly on the future.

“You’re not going to deal with inequality by being timid. We know the founding principles. We stand up for the vulnerable. The free market model is busted, you wouldn’t have this level of inequality if the free market model worked. You need a moral compass. The Green new deal has to be hard wired into everything you do. If it’s bad for the environment it’s bad for the economy.

“Power needs to be closer to people. We need bottom up politics, in a town or city not in Westminster. It’s a very socialist argument.

Labour Party“The Labour Party needs to be much more supportive of our local councillors. We need to be brave enough to say we are a party that is internationalist, we need to have solidarity across borders and our values proudly on show. We know the principles. We do have to glimpse the future and persuade people there is a better future with Labour.

“There’s nothing like our health service anywhere in the world.” Mr Starmer gave the examples of Sure start, hospitals, schools and said they were impossible dreams made possible by a Labour government.

He said: “We have a choice. We can either spend the next four years, moping around or we can pull together. We can say the next leg of the journey is for us. We can change things. We can do the hard work.

How proud would you be to be part of a Labour Party that changes lives? We need to change our party, our movement and our country for the better.”

Questions from the floor

  1. The first question was about anti-Semitism: how did we get here and in practical terms, how do you expunge it?

Mr Starmer said: “If you’re anti-Semitic, you shouldn’t be in the Labour Party. I will ask for weekly progress reports. If you want things to change, you have to show that you’re personally committed to it. I will only feel I’ve dealt with it when people who left because of anti-Semitism, come back to the Labour Party.”

He said the anti-Semitism question is part of a wider debate about how I make this Labour Party more inclusive. In Mr Starmer’s constituency, there was one ward meeting where young people never came back. Our arguments put people off. We weren’t inclusive and tolerant enough. They didn’t feel we would make a difference.

  1. Electoral reform. He said: “It’s not right for people to vote in safe seats and feel their vote doesn’t count.” Mr Starmer said Labour will reform the house of Lords, create an elected senate and a regis of the nations. Wales and Scotland have different systems already as devolved assemblies. In Wales 16 & 17 year olds can already vote. The Labour Party will be producing a discussion document about electoral reform. In the meantime, watch this site: https://www.labourcampaignforelectoralreform.org.uk/
  2. Why does the Parliamentary Labour Party decide the names on the leadership ballot when the party has a membership of 580,000?

Mr Starmer said: “Whoever leads the Party needs unity in Parliament. If not, you have a flank open that you don’t want open. Having a leader that the team in Parliament don’t really want does bring problems. In the end now we have a shortlist, it is a very empowering thing for members. Whoever wins, we will support them.”

  1. Negative effect of the media on the Labour Party: Mr Starmer said: “Jeremy Corbyn was vilified by the media for years. Jeremy got more than his fair share of it. Media amplified Tory lies. Social media. Conservative Party HQ. I salute all the candidates putting themselves forward. This slide into abuse for the Labour Party needs to change. The lies interchanged with it are just making it worse.”
  1. Green new deal: Mr Starmer said: “Is it realistic to be carbon free by 2030? It’s really difficult. If we come in in 2024, will we be carbon free by 2030? We can be very upbeat in the Green Deal.” He mentioned biogass, (vehicle) batteries, insulation and said there are incredible opportunities for an explosion of opportunity.
  2. How do you hold the government to account on climate change? “We need to address the climate crisis and challenge the government internationally… There is a climate crisis. The Paris agreement is pretty weak. We need to take Mr Johnson on in that fight… Some of what we can do, we will do. We need clean air for people with respiratory problems.”
  3. Single sex exemptions in the 2010 equality act: Mr Starmer said rights for transgender people are very important. He said there needs to be a respectful discussion because trans people and those in same sex relationships need to be protected. He said their rights are not a political football. You can read more about gender reassignment discrimination here. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 along with eight others which are: Age disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.

Final reflections on the manifesto: Mr Starmer said in the 2019 general election people weren’t saying they don’t like your policies, they just thought the manifesto was overloaded. “We had a manifesto that no-one believed, they (the Conservatives) just had three words – “Get Brexit done.”

Labour leadership election

Personal Reflections

I think Jeremy Corbyn is a clear example of a leadership candidate that many in the Parliamentary Labour Party did not initially support and in the end he may have helped the Conservative Party to their landslide victory. I personally really like Jeremy Corbyn.

Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair also thought Jeremy Corbyn was the wrong leader and said so very publicly, as did many other Labour MPs. Mr Corbyn did not have much support initially in the Parliamentary Labour Party and in the end proved no competition for Boris Johnson, although against a weaker leader (Theresa May), he had some success. Parliamentarians probably really do know their leaders best because they work with them day in and day out in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

However much Brexit fatigue we are feeling, exploited by the Conservative Party during their campaign, Brexit remains the pressing issue for government and for all MPs over the next 12 months at least. Mr Starmer was the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union until we left the EU.

As a journalist I am not a member of any political party but I would want to elect the candidate with the best understanding of Brexit who can provide robust opposition to the Conservative government and most effectively hold Boris Johnson to account.

We need to tackle inequality, particularly wealth inequality, and acknowledge the accident of birth that determines every child’s future. We need to heal our nation and union as well as reaching out a hand of friendship to the EU and the Commonwealth beyond it.

We need to fight for the NHS and our other public services more than ever so that money is not just put into policing and prisons.

However, our clear mandate now from the electorate is ‘to get Brexit done’ whether we like it or not.

The Labour Party should elect the candidate best able to hold Boris Johnson to account in the House of Commons. In the next twelve months MPs must insist on accountability over Brexit and must build an alliance with other parties to scrutinise government negotiations.

Labour lost the election badly but she still has a very important role to play in Parliament and in the running of our country. The Labour Party is the opposition to the government and the government in waiting.

Brighton and Hove Labour Parties have up to four days to nominate their Labour leadership candidates

Brighton Kemptown’s Labour Party votes on who to nominate for the Labour leadership tonight. Brighton Pavilion and Hove and Portslade Labour Parties will decide on their nomination on Saturday.

Member only Labour Party meetings to decide on the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) nominations will be held this week across Brighton and Hove at the following locations:

  1. Brighton Kemptown, Wed 05 February, Dorset Methodist church, 7pm Dorset Gardens
  2. Brighton Pavilion, 08 February, Grand Hotel, Brighton Pavilion, 9:30am
  3. Hove and Portslade, 08 February, Hove Cricket Ground, 2pm

Four candidates who are still in the Labour leadership race are Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry. They have sufficient backing from MPs and MEPs to approach constituency labour parties for support. Jess Phillips has withdrawn from the race for leadership of the Labour Party.

Each candidate needs either five percent of Constituency Labour Parties (33) or at least three affiliates (at least two of which shall be a trade union) comprising five percent of affiliated membership to be successfully included on the ballot. The final date for the Labour Parties in each constituency across the UK, including the three in Brighton and Hove, and affiliates to submit their nomination is Valentines day, Friday 14th February.

Ballots open for voting by Labour Party members on Friday 21 February and close on 02 April. The result will be announced on Saturday 04 April.

At 10am on Wednesday 05 February 2020, the constituency nominations were still coming in and a rolling list of constituency Labour Party nominations for the Labour leadership is available that will be updated until Friday 14 February when nominations close.

Candidate Total Nominations

Labour Leader Candidate Union or affiliate support Constituency nominations
Rebecca Long-Bailey UNITE, BFAWU, FBU, CWU 70
Lisa Nandy National Union of Mineworkers

Chinese for Labour

GMB

28
Jess Phillips Withdrawn Withdrawn
Sir Keir Starmer UNISON, Usdaw, SERA, Community, Labour Movement for Europe, Labour Business, Socialist Health Association 154
Emily Thornberry No union support 12

You can read more about the Labour leadership selection process and candidates here and see how your MP and old MEPs voted when they declare.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is supported by the following unions: UNITE and the Bakers Food Alliance Worker’s Union. UNITE is the second largest union of British and Irish members who have successively elected Len McCluskey to run it. It was formed when Amicus merged with the Transport and General Worker’s Union.

Lisa Nandy has support from the National Union of Mineworkers, Chinese for Labour and GMB whose General Secretary is Tim Roache.

Sir Keir Starmer is backed by the Socialist Environmental and Resources Association, UNISON which is the largest and a public service union run by Dave Prentis and USDAW which is the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers. Mr Starmer spoke at All Saints Church, Hove this evening, Tuesday 04 February 2020.

Emily Thornberry will be relying on constituency support from constituency labour parties because she does not have union backing for her campaign.

Deputy Labour Leadership

For the deputy leadership of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner is the run away favourite. Here are how the figures broke down on the rolling list of CLP deputy leader nominations once again updated this morning at 10am, 05 February, 2020:

Candidate for deputy Unions or affiliates Constituency nominations
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan Labour Campaign for International Development 16
Richard Burgon UNITE, BFAWU, FBU 24
Dawn Butler Chinese for Labour 38
Ian Murray Labour Movement for Europe 27
Angela Rayner

 

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), UNISON, GMB, USDAW, CWU, Labour Business, Socialist Health Association 159

An edited version of this article was published today by Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton and Hove ‘shine a light’ for Europe

Brighton and Hove for Europe organised a vigil yesterday, Friday 31 January, next to the Peace Statue on Hove Lawns. It was a simple moment to remember Britain’s contribution to the European Union and a solemn moment where we came together to say goodbye.

We sang Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and held hands to sing Auld Lang Syne as they did in the European Parliament on Tuesday.

In a statement from Caroline Lucas, she said: “This is a historic day, whether you voted to leave the EU or to remain.

“And our future will be judged by how we respond now to this moment.   I want to be honest.  My heart is breaking.

“Of course, like all institutions, the EU has its flaws – but for me it has always stood for ambition, courage and vision.

“This is what helped us emerge from the rubble and destruction of the second world war into a country that’s been at peace with its neighbours ever since. A miracle few would have dreamed possible when the bombs were raining down.

“And ambition, courage and vision are what we still have in common.

“We will need them all to rise to the greatest challenge we face today – the climate emergency.

“Only by working cooperatively with our closest neighbours – as well as with those further afield – will we be able to take the urgent and ambitious action the science demands to prevent the worst of the climate crisis.  And we need the vision to completely transform our economic system.

“To work in harmony with nature. To leave behind a world where weapons and money can go anywhere, but refugees are vilified and compassion chased out of town. And we need climate justice to go hand in hand with social justice.

“The Leave vote was a howl of rage at a status quo in this country that is intolerable for huge numbers of people. The social contract is broken and the power game is rigged.  We need the vision to build a democratic consensus about changing that, together, for good.

“The potential power of our collective action demands that we reach out, with courage, to those from whom we have become so dangerously divided.  Bravely build bridges in our communities and around the world, not burn them.

“We live in turbulent times. The political tides are unpredictable. The real tides are rising. Far right populism is once more stoking fear, division and despair.

“The future has never felt so uncertain.

“Yet if Brexit has taught us anything, it’s that what we previously imagined unthinkable is in fact possible.

“We may have lost the battle to keep Britain in the EU but what kind of endings do we believe in?

“I believe in those that are also beginnings.

“And the struggle for a compassionate, fair, green, peaceful, future begins anew right now.

“In the love and sadness so many of us are feeling right now, we affirm, rather than deny our fellowship with Europe and the world.

“We begin again knowing hope is always more powerful than hate, that our common humanity matters more than what divides us.

“That ambition, vision and courage call.”

European Union

Hove MP Peter Kyle was unable to attend the Peace Vigil in Brighton said: “All of us are united in sadness just as we were united in our fight to remain in the EU.

“Thanks to you all I remain an optimist. Together we’ve seen too much of the good in humanity in our campaigning to emerge from this battle as pessimists!

“The political landscape hasn’t stopped evolving because we’ve now left the EU. Quite the opposite. The months ahead will give us so many opportunities to set out our vision for a better Britain. Better than the one Brexiteers could ever imagine!

“Please stay united. Please stay positive. And please let’s continue our campaign in new and exciting ways.”

Labour’s Tracey Hill, Councillor for Hollingdean and Stanmer ward said two flags were raised at the Town Hall buildings of Brighton and Hove City Council today – one British and the other European.

She said: “I am proud of being part of ‘the barmiest council’ in Britain. I can be British and I am European. I don’t think being British is the only thing about me.”

Ms Hill said she was pleased we gathered near the peace statue because it reminded her of the statue of liberty in New York which should have been a symbol of opportunity.

She said: “You give something and you get something back.” People often tell her that migrants only take something away. To Ms Hill, nationalism and populism has never made sense.

“You have to celebrate our differences instead of being afraid of them. We have to live those values and never shy away from having a difficult conversation. We should have talked about Europe, we should have challenged populism. If you do not fight for the things we love, you will lose them.”

Councillor Leo Litman spoke on behalf of the Green Party. He said: “So, it’s Brexit day. Britain has ‘taken back control.’ An easy slogan to shout but what does it mean?

“Even Brexit Party MEPs belatedly realised that without a voice in the European Parliament we are now simply rule-takers, no longer rule-makers. In other words, we’ve given up control we once had. But surely, now we can now control our own destiny? Hardly.

“The whole world knows the UK is negotiating from a point of desperate weakness. We literally cannot survive without trading with the rest of the world but the world can get along just fine without trading with us.

“Britain is almost certainly the first country in history to impose sanctions on itself…

“Britain alone cannot hope to stand against the ongoing climate and biodiversity crises. We need to work together.

“Britain alone cannot uphold worker’s rights, consumers’ rights, the right to free movement, the rights of refugees to reunite with their families, animal rights or the rights of the natural world. We need to work together.

“Britain alone cannot create a fairer world where resources are shared equally between people, nations and across generations, including those not yet born. We need to work together.

“Fundamentally, we need to take back control from those who have temporarily grabbed it and share it with each other, with our European cousins, with the rest of humanity and the rest of the natural world.

“Only that way can we be genuinely free and look to a safe future we can all share.

“The first step towards that is maintaining as strong a relationship with the EU as possible.

“The next step is, of course, re-joining and re-taking our rightful place at the heart of Europe.”

European

Susie Cortault is one of the organisers for Brighton and Hove for Europe. She said:

“So, yes, today we are desperately sad that we are being wrenched out of our European family against our will. Brexit has always been an ideological political project but it has had costs and for us it has been personal.

“Families are divided, friends have been lost. But coming together as a movement and sharing our upset and pooling our resources, has been incredibly healing and supportive.

“I would like to thank all those members of the committee of Brighton and Hove for EU who have helped these last three years – we have lost members – and we have gained members. Last week we had several new members. We know we are stronger and more effective if we are unified, rather than divided.

“Let’s shine a light tonight as a symbol of hope.  Let’s be proud of those progressive values that underpin the European project.

“So most of us agree that now is not the time to campaign to rejoin, don’t worry, but our work is not done.

“And when the time is right, we will return to be at the heart of Europe where We belong.

“Until then, let’s celebrate our ‘Europeanness,’ let’s get into our schools and try and influence the learning of foreign languages, exchange trips, pen friends, protecting and campaigning for Erasmus, and potentially twinning with a European city.

“Brexit is a political ideology but we are the people, and we can change things on the ground – in our schools, in our council, in all the places where we have a voice. Let’s reinvigorate our democracy…

“Before we sing our final song, Auld Lang Syne may I remind you to stay close to  your loved ones, allow yourself to cry, hug each other. Feel what you feel.

“We are a vibrant progressive city, let’s light a candle and put it in our window at 11, turn off the lights, and if you use twitter use the hashtag #still European.

“Or #Forever European. When the 50 coin comes out, just remove it from circulation. Put it in a jar and get Brexit gone!

“Auld Lang Syne

“Thank you for coming”

Wish Councillor Robert Nemeth who was the Conservative candidate at the last general election was approached and declined to comment. He was interviewed about his views on Brexit on Latest TV.

Government denies Parliament scrutiny over the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill

Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, wrote earlier in January in the Independent. She said: “Boris Johnson’s new Withdrawal Agreement Bill not only drives the hardest Brexit of all, it also excludes MPs from decisions over our future relationship with the EU.  The House of Commons will have no oversight on the Government’s negotiating objectives, no right to be kept updated on progress and no vote on the final deal.

“The right of Parliament to scrutinise Government policies and actions is being undermined on one of the most important issues facing our country.  Democratic oversight matters.  Trade deals have the potential to lower public standards, destroy jobs and restrict the ability to address social and environmental issues.”

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion

“Democracy dies in darkness, and Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill starts to turn off the lights.  He is using Brexit as an executive power-grab, side-lining MPs and evading parliamentary scrutiny.

Boris Johnson’s government brought the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back to Parliament after the general election and gave the House of Commons only three days to scrutinise the bill in order to fulfil the pledge to “get Brexit done.”

According to the Guardian,  certain key accountability provisions have been removed from the Bill passed since the general election:

  • the clause giving MPs the right to approve an extension to the transition period has been removed.
  • The clause 31 requirement for parliamentary approval for negotiations on the future relationship in the October bill has gone.
  • In the new bill clauses pledging alignment with the EU on workers’ rights has been removed.
  • Legal protections for refugee children reunited with family members in the UK have been watered down. The bill removes, via clause 37, obligations in regard to unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the EU with an obligation to make a statement within two months of passing the act.
  • The government no longer promises that its’ position on negotiating the future relationship will be in line with the political declaration that accompanied the withdrawal agreement when it was first drafted.

Mrs Lucas tabled an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in Parliament on 8th January which would have given MPs a vote on a future UK-EU deal as well as increasing transparency and scrutiny. It had the support of MPs from the SNP, Plaid, Labour, the SDLP and Alliance parties, although no Conservatives who hold a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons.

The amendment was therefore defeated and the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passed its second reading with a majority of 124 votes to the government. Mrs Lucas’ amendment was voted down by 347 votes to 251, effectively vetoing any vote for MPs on the final Brexit deal.

Hove MP, Peter Kyle, supported the Green Party amendment. He said: “I’m fully supporting this amendment – we cannot allow the Tory government to ride roughshod over Parliament and MPs who were elected to be a voice for our communities.”

From the Commons the bill went to the House of Lords where the Dubs Amendment about child refugees was defeated among other amendments. On 23 January the Withdrawal Agreement Bill received royal assent and became UK law and on 29 January the European Union gave their consent for the UK to leave the EU and ratified the British bill.

The EU Parliament sang Auld Lang Syne on Tuesday as a mark of respect for the significant role that Britain has played in the European Union since it joined the European Economic Community (EEC) which preceded the EU in 1973.

Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade

When asked what kind of trade deal Mr Kyle wanted post Brexit and with whom, Mr Kyle said: “We now need to ensure we get the very best for the country. I believe as a trading bloc we had that deal with Europe, but now we must work hard to minimise disruption and increased food prices and loss of business.”

In an effort to maximise Parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit negotiations, Mr Kyle said: “I am hoping to be elected on to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. As an active member on this committee I will have the opportunity to hold the government – and business – to account on the major issues of the environment, the Green Economy and business.”

I asked Mr Kyle if the Labour Party is succeeding in holding the government to account, are they working in coalition with anyone and if Labour does not feel it is succeeding because of the size of Boris’ majority, what can be done?

Mr Kyle said: “The 2019 election was a disaster for Labour and we are now rebuilding. Once the new leader is in place, in April, we will be much clearer as to how we proceed going forward.

“I’m hoping that we can begin to start talking to the public once more and to understand what they want and what their concerns are. We will then also have a new front bench team to challenge Boris Johnson.”

Wish Councillor Robert Nemeth who was the Conservative candidate at the last general election was approached and declined to comment.

A hard Brexit may beckon

Brexit and a no deal

Ollie Sykes, Green Candidate for Hove and Portslade Constituency said: “I think Johnson’s deal is worse than Theresa May’s because it has watered down social and environmental protections. It’s a trap door. We will revert to no deal by 2020 if the free trade withdrawal agreement is not agreed. Bringing the possibility of a hard Brexit closer.

“A border down the Irish Sea shows the duplicity and untrustworthiness of the Johnson administration, it shows how quickly they will ditch their partners, the DUP. It’s a step in the direction of breaking up the union.

“The Conservatives made a confidence and supply agreement with the DUP to form a government and then tried to push a border down the Irish Sea through Parliament.”

The problem is I don’t think there is an alternative to a border in the Irish Sea. Boris should simply give Northern Ireland a choice at the end of the transition period about whether to remain in the United Kingdom or join the Republic of Ireland and Europe. I suspect Northern Ireland will opt to remain in the union and then Ireland will be divided once again. (Roz Scott)

There may need to be a referendum in Northern Ireland, particularly if Stormont is still not sitting. We can only hope Stormont will be governing Northern Ireland again by the end of 2020 which is the default end of the transition period if no further arrangements are made. There may be a deal in sight with Sinn Fein to put Gaelic on a par with English. (Roz Scott)

Job losses and economic impact if we Brexit

Mr Sykes said: ‘The government rejected the impact on GDP of Brexit which is between 6.3% to nine percent. It’s slightly less with Boris Johnson’s deal,’ the Guardian predicts 4% by 2020.

He said there are projections for a no deal and a deal. There is a no deal impact study and that shows a decline in GDP. Mr Sykes said: “There will clearly be an increase in inequality if the Conservatives get in with any sort of majority government.”

Mr Sykes pointed to research carried out by Dr Serwicka and Alan L Winters at the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO.) It has calculated that workers in both East and West Sussex will lose 10,000 jobs meaning total job losses amount to 20,000 with a further 23,000 in Hampshire.

The report said the impact will be felt most strongly in the South East because the region is the most heavily engaged in cross-border trade exporting £45.3bn worth of goods last year (and £39.2bn worth of services in 2016) with nearly a half of these exports destined for the EU.”

Dr Serwicka said cross-border trade and high exposure to trade with the EU, means that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could be particularly disruptive to the South East’s economy.

She actually said: “This research makes very clear that both soft and hard forms of Brexit, but in particular, a ‘no deal’ Brexit, are likely to have a negative impact on the lives of many residents in Hampshire and Sussex.

“Of course, we cannot say for certain that this number of job losses will definitely happen, as employers may choose to reduce number of hours and wages rather than cut workforce numbers.

“But this analysis gives some indication of which places in our region may be most vulnerable to Brexit.

Government misinformation about their statistics

However, Mr Sykes is also concerned about the Conservative misinformation contained in their statistics. Misinformation stretches beyond the Prime Minister and his NHS claims on the Leave campaign bus.

For example, Nicky Morgan when she was cross-examined about 50,000 district nurses in the Conservative manifesto pledge, admitted 18,500 were existing nurses or those returning to nursing. Sajid David claimed rough sleeping had gone down under the Conservatives.

Mr Sykes said: “There’s no accountability. It’s sad and quite frightening that these lies, for example Boris and his Leave campaign bus during the EU referendum. The problems with the NHS, Nicky Morgan didn’t know the district nurse numbers. Sajid David said homelessness and rough sleeping declined under the Conservatives. It’s simply not true.”

Conservatives and the media

Mr Sykes said: “The responsibility partly lies with the media. One of our proposals in our Green manifesto, is that media ownership needs to be restricted.”

This means no media company can own more than 20% of a broadcasting channel. What I’m scared of in respect of the media is that there is no obligation of impartiality.” Mr Sykes gave the example of Fox News based in America.

I asked Mr Sykes what he thought of reporting on the BBC and he said he thinks the BBC feels under pressure. He said: “It has already been threatened by the Government with removal of the TV licence.” Boris refused to give an interview to Andrew Neil.

He criticised the Prime Minister for his lack of accountability, saying Andrew Neil did a three minute piece, outlining the challenges he wanted to put to Boris Johnson. Boris chose to give Andrew Marr the interview instead.

Mr Sykes said: “It’s the overt and covert threats that are the problem. The Conservatives pull in their horns to protect their public integrity.”

Green verdict on Boris Johnson’s government: “dishonesty, entitlement and impunity.”

Ollie Sykes, the Green Party Candidate for Hove and Portslade Constituency said: “When I think of Boris Johnson, three words come into my head: dishonesty, entitlement and impunity. This guy lied to the Queen as was verified by the Supreme Court Judgement and frankly I can’t believe a word that he says. And you know, the platform of Boris Johnson at the moment is: “We are the party that is best placed to sort out the mess that we created.” Frankly if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.” (Who you gonna vote for? Hove and Portslade 2019, The Vote, Latest TV, 29 November 2019)

I interviewed him about his position on Boris Johnson after he gave his verdict about the Prime Minister on Latest TV towards the end of last year.

Mr Sykes said: “I don’t trust Boris to do anything at all.” I asked him what the problem is with Mr Johnson and he said to me: “Impunity, entitlement and dishonesty.” By impunity, Mr Sykes means the Prime Minister’s apparent perception that whatever the Government does, they’ll get away with it including shutting down Parliament.

Finally, he spoke with deep regret about attacks on women MPs and the continuing downward trend of women leaving Parliament because it’s not a safe place to work. He gave examples of attacks on Hastings MP Amber Rudd and Labour’s Stoke Newington MP Dianne Abbott.

I approached Conservative Head Quarters and Councillor Robert Nemeth who is the Hove PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) for the Conservative Party to give them the right to reply and both declined to comment.

Migrants urge Brighton to consider “One day without us” if we leave the EU

As the exit polls predict a huge Conservative majority in the general election 2019, I am republishing a story written in 2016 before the EU referendum about what happens if we leave the EU. It has mysteriously disappeared from my website or at least, I can’t find it! I will miss my European friends very much if we do in fact leave the EU. I very much hope we don’t.

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday at Brighton’s clock tower and across the UK to show solidarity with migrants from around the world who are living, working and studying in Britain. The event was organised by Pip from Left Unity to commemorate the UN day of social justice. #1daywithoutus

Monday 20 February was an important day: United Nations World day of Justice and the day Parliament debated US President Trump’s state visit to Britain with Defend Migrants Stop Trump protestors outside.

Jane Allen said she was supporting valued friends, neighbours and workers: “People from all nations get on living together for a common cause. My dentist is Greek, my physio is German. I am not from Brighton, I left Norfolk when I was one year old. Does that mean I should go back to Norfolk?

“I voted against Brexit because I was worried about people who might want to come to the UK. It never occurred to me, I never had any doubt that people who have been here for 20 years could be under threat of having to leave.

“I don’t want them to have to leave. I am here today to show how much I value them.”

Jane Allen

Jane Matthews said: “The more people that stand up, the better, show solidarity, if only everyone came by for 20 minutes, we’re all a bit complacent, it is very easy to ‘sofa shout.’

“I don’t know when multiculturalism became such a dirty word. Cultural diversity should be something we want to bring richness into life, it’s completely bonkers that people don’t want it.

“I challenge you to find me an indigenous Brit. Scaremongering and xenophobia is just all wrong.”

leave the EU

Marta Mouzo Insua spoke at the rally on behalf of the Spanish collective Marea Granate. She said Spanish people have very precarious living and working conditions and because of that many young people are forced to emigrate:

“I am one of them. We come here looking for a job, we do not come here hoping to become rich, stealing from you or taking advantage of your people and country. We just want to live with dignity.

“In exchange, we offer a lot of things to this country:

  • “Our education and work experience. A lot of us have high academic education and or a lot of work experience from our jobs. We are professionals of every sector.
  • “Our hands and bodies to work. Most of us are young people, between 20 to 45 years old.
  • “And our culture. Our culture to share with you and learn about your culture.

“We are the nurses and doctors that look after you, we are the engineers that design your computers or buildings, we are the waiters and waitresses who serve your drinks and we are the kitchen porters that clean your plates.”

Marta Mouzo Insua

Dorothée Fritze-James who came to the rally with her daughter explained the impact of Brexit on her family, the devastating impact if they have to leave the EU and dislikes the dehumanising of EU citizens: “I have been here since 1979. Now I have no right to be here, I am desperate, depressed, the kids, including my grandchildren, are deeply affected. I can’t sleep.”

She said she is lucky that she can afford an immigration lawyer (many can’t) to help her apply for UK citizenship but resents the UK using EU citizens as a bargaining chip and ignoring their pleas for clarity and security. She has had a permit for 33 years giving her indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It may not be enough if we leave the EU.

Sign the permanent residency petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172343

Ms Fritze-James said: “My daughter, who was 10 months old when my ex-husband and I moved to the UK, must apply for Permanent Residency. This is her home, here. She has children and is married to a UK citizen. One of her children is no longer sleeping because of the anxiety, fearing that she’ll lose her mother. My daughter was educated in the UK and has never lived anywhere else.”

Angie Parker works as a special needs teacher is a German citizen carrying an EU passport and a Jew but has been a UK taxpayer for 30 years. She said: “I am going back to Germany because I don’t want to be a pawn in Mrs May’s stupid game. At least Germany is a positive democracy. I work in education but it is not enough to stay here. I am sick and tired of being told to pack my bags.”

Angie Parker

Councillors Phelim MacCafferty and Councillor Leo Littman attended the rally. Councillor MacCafferty urged people to directly promote the voice of the vulnerable and to become champions of compassion and concern.

He warned: “Ignoring prejudice of any sort has never made it disappear. We do not have the luxury of walking away from hatred anywhere in our city. We must be clear: we will oppose the growth of the far-right and will not allow the current climate of fear to go unchallenged. That’s because not just Brighton and Hove, but this country is better than this.”

“Ignoring prejudice does not make it go away. The call is to be better than this.” Yel Karavan’s father is an artist and she has been travelling since the age of three. She works as a dancer and physical performer and said: “It is beautiful when cultures learn from each other and open our minds. We all have a heart, we are all human, we are an organism and only when the organism works together, there is life.”

Greens and Lib Dems stand up to Labour over a proportional electoral system

I asked Hove’s Green candidate, Ollie Sykes, why he did not stand aside for Labour’s Peter Kyle in order to strengthen the ‘remain’ vote and form a ‘progressive alliance’ that mirrors a more proportional electoral system.

Mr Sykes, who served as a Councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide Ward until 2019 said: It’s because of a lack of reciprocation and because Hove is not a marginal seat. It’s extremely clear and it makes perfect sense because of the rationale and the nature of the seat.”

Later in the interview below, Mr Sykes said: “I think Labour and Peter Kyle personally support changes to our electoral system. If Peter Kyle had said he would support something proportional, I would have considered standing aside. In fact, I would have to think about that.”

In terms of a general election, Mr Sykes said: “All we can do is hope for is a hung Parliament.” Liberal Democrats have stood aside for Caroline Lucas from the Green Party in Brighton Pavilion in favour of a proportional electoral system but neither the Green Party nor the Lib Dems have stood aside for Peter Kyle in Hove and Portslade.

The reason this article matters is that a government majority of 66 sets a very dangerous precedent and will undermine Parliamentary scrutiny. I think our democracy is at risk and our constitution because of an unaccountable Prime Minister.

First Past the Post voting system

Mr Sykes said the problem with the British parliamentary system is it’s a two party contest, it’s a rigged game designed and maintained by two players.

“Despite the game being rigged when any other players do well, like the Greens are doing well in Brighton and Hove, the main players will still tell the smaller parties to step aside,” he said.

“Tactical voting is what people do to keep the Tories out. That contribution, that borrowed vote, is purely seen as a deserved, merited win. I think tactical voting causes long-term damage and the depression of the smaller parties.

“Evidently most people don’t spend their lives ‘doing politics.’ When it comes to elections, there’s always lots of discussion of tactical voting. There’s an impression that we do have a form of proportional representation (PR) because of the coalitions.

“But a local vote will have an impact on the vote nationally in terms of the nature of the next government.

“In a first past the post system, people are told a vote for the smaller parties is a wasted vote.

Green Position on Brexit

“The Green Party’s position on Brexit and wanting a People’s Vote has been clear from very early on. We think the only way out of this Brexit debacle is to have two options on the ballot paper, Leave and Remain.”

I asked Mr Sykes again why he did not stand aside like Lib Dem Paul Chandler in Brighton Pavilion to ‘stop Brexit’ and the Green Party Candidate said: “I think Labour and Peter Kyle personally support changes to our electoral system. If Peter Kyle had said he would support something proportional, I would have considered standing aside.” He then slightly retracted this by saying: “In fact, I would have to think about that.”

However, when they were both cross-examined at a hustings by the electorate according to Mr Sykes, Mr Kyle said that all proportional systems of government lose the geographical link.

Marginal Seats versus a proportional electoral system

I asked Mr Sykes what he thought of the Alternative Vote electoral system. He said in the marginal seat of Ceredigion in Wales where Gethin James was standing for the Brexit Party, 70% of votes cast were against the candidate that won the election. He said: “It’s possible in a multi-way marginal under the first past the post system.”

“In the 2015 and 2017 general elections, the number of votes that were effectively wasted were 64% and 71% respectively.”

Electoral turnout in Ceredigion, Plaid Cymru won by 0.2% with only 29.2% of the vote. None of the other votes were transferred from the losing parties so they were effectively wasted.

In a two party system, both the main parties want to win an outright majority. Mr Sykes admitted that in a proportional system there will be more extremists where parties are “forced to speak to each other, it’s just grown up politics.”

A proportional electoral system

The problem is a proportional system is not the way the political system in marginal seats works at the moment in the UK. In Britain the constitution which is unwritten works by a series of checks and balances between the executive i.e. the government, Parliament and the judiciary.

The power of a referendum or an election is to shift this balance of power by asking the people. The problem at the moment is that politicians can’t decide if and how to implement the outcome of the last EU referendum.

Labour’s Position

In response to Mr Sykes remarks, Labour MP for Hove and Portslade, Peter Kyle who has campaigned for a Confirmatory Referendum which is like a People’s Vote, said: “The Greens are obsessed with doing deals, I just want some common sense in this one-off Brexit election.

“I’ve said throughout this campaign that Labour supporters in areas we have no hope of winning, should consider voting for an anti-Tory party. Ollie is only interested in a deal that helps his party out, his first thought is ‘what’s in it for me and my party.’ This simply isn’t how I do my politics, I put our country first every time.

“The Greens and Lib Dems support a version of electoral reform that delivers for their party interests. I support a comprehensive review of what is wrong with our politics and finding appropriate ways of fixing it. Everything should be up for discussion including electoral reform but not limited to it.

“I’m sad that stopping Boris Johnson’s Brexit comes second to getting a vague commitment on proportional representation for Ollie, but it is what I’ve come to expect.”

Labour’s Jack Straw who served in Tony Blair’s government preferred an Alternative Vote system to Proportional Representation. The problem with PR is it has many electoral forms and tends to result in coalitions.

Liberal Democrat Position

Beatrice Bass who is the Liberal Democrat candidate is also standing in Hove. She said: “I am standing in this election to uphold the liberal values which the Liberal Democrats hold dear – equality, liberty and community.

“And I contribute to our aim of building a fair, fee and open society. I am proud to be standing on a fantastic manifesto with progressive policies and a comprehensive plan to tackle the climate crisis, improve health care and our education system, boost our economy and invest in our left behind regions and nations.

“In fact, the manifesto contains a policy that I introduced: to protect music venues in support of our vibrant music scene. And as a ‘Remainer’ and internationalist, I support the Lib Dems in our fight to stop Brexit.

“Hove is not a Remain Alliance seat because the Labour party is not part of the Remain Alliance, and Peter Kyle is standing on a manifesto to negotiate a new Brexit deal.

“Labour has been sitting on the fence for too long and has suffered under the antisemitism scandal.

“Many Labour members have ended their membership and have recently joined the Liberal Democrats (our local membership has increased significantly in the last few months and many former Labour members are now part of my campaign team.)

Liberal Democrat position on Brexit and a proportional electoral system

“People don’t trust Labour who want to negotiate their own Brexit deal and who continuously refuse to back Remain.

“The Lib Dems tabled People’s Vote motions 17 times in Parliament, but they did not pass because of a lack of Labour support.

“Increasing Labour MPs will mean we might have another delay whilst they negotiate a new deal and we’ll have further uncertainty over what that deal will be. There is also a high risk that this deal would win backing at a confirmatory referendum, which means we get a Labour Brexit after all.

“The safest way to stop Brexit is to vote for a party that is committed to fight for remaining in the EU.

“The Liberal Democrats are the biggest and strongest remain party and I am standing on a manifesto to either revoke article 50, if the Lib Dems gain a majority, or, if there is a hung Parliament, to continue our fight for a referendum, where the Lib Dems firmly, unanimously and unequivocally back Remain.

“Further, Brexit has changed the political landscape and people are moving away from the traditional right or left wing politics to voting either for an open, pro EU, pro equality party like the Lib Dems or Greens in the South East.

“Or they vote for a populist, protectionist and anti EU party like the Conservatives or the Brexit party.

“Many former conservative voters in Hove feel politically homeless. They do not support Boris Johnson’s protectionist Brexit direction. They also strongly disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left socialism.

“They are now looking at the Liberal Democrats and I would like to give these constituents a credible alternative and an opportunity to vote for a progressive party with policies fit for the 21st century.”

In Brighton and Hove we are beginning to see a progressive coalition on the left that may, win a People’s Vote that will help us break the Brexit impasse and could also herald in a proportional electoral system at Westminster.

Caroline Lucas launches her ‘new deal for nature’

During a frantic fortnight of this general election campaign, Brighton Pavilion’s Green Candidate for re-election, Caroline Lucas, launched a ‘new deal for nature’ last Thursday 5 December. She set out a range of policies to protect and restore wildlife and biodiversity in the UK.

Mrs Lucas has tabled a private member’s bill to take a ‘new green deal bill’ through Parliament. If she is successful as a private member (as opposed to the Government,) an announcement will be made in the Queen’s Speech which sets out the legislative framework after the general election. Hove MP Peter Kyle is also taking a bill through Parliament to outlaw domestic abuse and it has already been guaranteed a second reading.

Ollie Sykes is the Green Party candidate standing in Hove and Portslade. Newly elected MEP Alex Phillips is standing in Kemptown for the Green Party. You can find a full list of candidates for the general election here.

Mrs Lucas said: “We are not only running out of time on the climate emergency, there’s also little time left to reverse

Mrs Lucas said: “We are not only running out of time on the climate emergency, there’s also little time left to reverse the catastrophic decline in nature and wildlife.

“This election has to mark a turning point and the moment when people vote for nature.”

She said that in the last two centuries Britain has seen a catastrophic destruction of wildlife which is now one of the most densely populated countries in Europe.  Over the past 100 years, we have destroyed 99% of flower-rich meadows.  Just in the past 30 years, 44 million breeding birds have been lost because of habitat destruction.

As the foreword to the report says: “If we continue to trash our planet we will consign not only other species to extinction but, ultimately, ourselves. We must put the self-sustaining variety of life – biodiversity – at the centre of all work by government departments. This report provides a blueprint for how to achieve it.”

Caroline Lucas commissioned the report to assist her work as an MP, and to inform the Green Party’s own policies on wildlife and land use. Mrs Lucas also is taking a new green deal bill through Parliament.

Brighton’s one and only Green Party Candidate said: “While the climate emergency has rightly risen to the top of the political agenda, much less attention is paid to the crisis facing nature.  But it’s equally urgent that we address this too.

“The Green Party has the best and most ambitious policies on nature of any political party, as both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have recently concluded.  But we cannot be complacent. 

“It’s not enough to have strong policies: we need to be constantly challenged to go further, and I hope this new deal for nature will put our natural environment at the centre of public debate, so that MPs in the next Parliament take decisive action on what’s needed to protect and restore nature and wildlife in Britain.”

The Green Party’s manifesto already contains over 70 policies on nature and wildlife and a commitment to put the natural world at the heart of government decision-making.  Among the pledges are the introduction of a Natural History GCSE, a 10-year transition to agro-ecological farming methods, better enforcement, and a Sustainable Economy Act which sets new legally binding targets for biodiversity, soil health and water quality alongside other measures.

Their new deal for nature puts forward 80 policy recommendations in areas including national parks and other protected landscapes, farming, urban wildlife, schools & young people and biosecurity.

Among the recommendations are:

  • A new statutory nature framework to place wildlife at the heart of planning
  • A new goal to designate 20% of Britain as national parks
  • Support for farmers to devote at least 15% of their land for nature
  • One hour a day learning outdoors for all primary school children, in addition to break time
  • Re-imaging towns and cities as places for people and wildlife with pocket parks, rewilding of public land around hospitals and other public buildings and some brownfield sites to be allocated temporary SSSI status

Patrick Barkham who writes for the Guardian about natural history is one of the authors and he said: “We are one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet and still our wildlife declines. Policies for nature are too often seen as fluffy, inconsequential green window-dressing.

“We have a moral obligation to better live alongside other species but policies for wildlife are policies for people too. Our survival depends on other species and they enrich us all, wherever we live. A New Deal for Nature offers a mix of practical and inspiring ideas to show how we can revive nature in our backyards, neighbourhoods, cities and farmland.”

Another author, Helen Smith, president of the British Archaeological Society said: “Successive governments have regarded looking after our wildlife as a luxury, and as a soft target in hard times. This neglect has to end. Whether or not you have regard for the species with which we share the planet they, collectively, form our complex and fragile life support system – and the great weight of evidence shows that this system is crumbling.

The Green Party’s document ‘new deal for nature’ was written by a group of leading UK conservationists and nature writers, Mark Cocker, Jeremy Mynott, Jake Fiennes, Helen Smith and Patrick Barkham and commissioned by Caroline Lucas.

Fareshare Sussex calls for volunteers to feed people

FareShare Sussex urgently needs volunteers to help collect food from 21 to 23 November as part of this year’s Tesco Food Collection. The charity delivers surplus food to 122 frontline charities in Sussex.

Volunteers are required next Thursday to Saturday to encourage Tesco shoppers to donate vital store cupboard essentials, such as pasta, tinned food, tea and coffee. These will be redistributed by FareShare to charities such as domestic violence refuges, lunch clubs for older people, breakfast clubs and homeless hostels.

The Tesco Food Collection is the UK’s biggest food drive and last year the public donated enough food to provide 3.5 million meals to vulnerable people across the country. Customers doing their regular food shop at Tesco will be asked to buy an extra item to donate to FareShare. Tesco also tops up all customer donations by 20 per cent.

Fareshare Sussex

Farihah Choudhury, a volunteer at the last Tesco Food Collection, said: “I loved volunteering last year – it was great to speak with shoppers donating food and the kindness I saw was wonderful. I believe everyone should have access to good, healthy food and I’d encourage anyone who can, to give some time to help stop people going hungry this Christmas.”

Mark Richardson, Fundraising and Communications Manager at FareShare Sussex, said: “Charities and community groups can struggle to keep up with demand during the cold winter months so donations are needed now more than ever to help vulnerable people.

“The Deputy Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Alan Robins, will be paying a special visit to Tesco Portslade next Friday 22 November to encourage people to donate and tell them about the work we do across Sussex.

“Volunteers play a huge role in the success of the Tesco Food Collection each year – by giving up just three hours of your time, you can make a big impact in helping more people understand the importance of donating food. The donations will help to ensure more people get a hot, nutritious meal this Christmas.”

Food

FareShare Sussex is the region’s branch of the UK’s largest food redistribution charity. We save over 563 tonnes of good surplus food from right across the food supply chain and redistribute it to 122 charities and community groups throughout Sussex.

In 2018/19 Fareshare Sussex provided enough food for over 1,300,437 meals (worth over £963,800 to the charity sector in savings.) It was given food from 500 food companies right across the food supply chain

FareShare Sussex is part of the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, with 22 Regional Centres across the country. It takes food from the food industry that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors or a short shelf life or overproduction.

That food, which is the same as the food you’d eat at home, is then redistributed through a network of 11,000 frontline organisations, across the UK such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices. FareShare provides enough food to create almost a million meals for vulnerable people every week and it saved 74,171,500 kg of carbon last year.

If you have three hours to spare, why not volunteer at any Tesco across Brighton and Hove and encourage people to donate food this Christmas so that as many people as possible across the city get a warm, home cooked meal over the festive period?

Anyone interested in volunteering can find out more and sign up here.