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.

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.