The Labour Party must unite to win elections

On Thursday 14 July the Labour Party suspended Brighton and Hove branch until after the leadership election according to the Guardian.

The Labour Party in Brighton and Hove held a momentum rally on Tuesday 02 August 2016 and members and supporters thought Mr Corbyn may come to speak.

At a Labour member only meeting after the rally on 02 August, I think in a recount, six “Keep Corbyn” candidates were elected to Brighton and Hove’s Labour Party executive committee and one position was declared later bringing the “Keep Corbyn” candidates to seven. Five candidates from the right wing of the Labour Party were elected.

Across the UK, this pattern was replicated with 82% (or 71 out of 87) Labour Party branches passing motions in support of Mr Corbyn.

His supporters and the Momentum movement took three of five key positions in Brighton and Hove: Chair, Mark Sandell, Treasurer, Claire Wadey and Secretary, Greg Hadfield.

The Labour Party
Standing room only at Brighton and Hove Momentum rally

Brighton’s Mr Hadfield said: “This is the biggest turnout of the biggest party unit supporting Jeremy Corbyn with the biggest majority in England. It has been the most exciting day of my political life.”

Other candidates already elected were Anne Pissaridou as Vice Chair (campaigns) and Christine Robinson as Vice Chair (membership.) Remaining posts will be announced on Monday including candidate Daniel Harris who said: “This is a turnout for democracy today.”

Just over 600 Labour party members (15%) from three constituencies voted for their national executive committee by a ratio of 2:1 in favour of pro-Corbyn candidates at City College.

At the AGM which followed the Keep Corbyn rally, voting did not finish until 6pm, three hours after members arrived to vote.  A planned two hour hustings for members at the AGM was compressed into three successive half hour sessions because of high turnout.

A pro-Corbyn “City Party” will now seek to hold to account the main reforming “progress” wing of the Brighton and Hove Labour Party pioneered by Tony Blair.

Nationally the Labour Party remains divided. Only 38 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party now support Mr Corbyn.

Without support from 51 MPs in Parliament, Mr Corbyn may not be able to stand as a candidate in the next Labour leadership election.

Hove MP Peter Kyle cast his vote in the ballot at the Brighton and Hove AGM last Saturday but did not comment at that time.

He has already said publicly that he does not support Mr Corbyn and will therefore back Angela Eagle MP to become the next leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party by default, unless other candidates such as Owen Smith come forward.

Labour’s National Executive Committee may introduce a cut-off point for joining the party, ostensibly to prevent vote-rigging by people from other parties joining the Labour Party, who may distort the result.

It is likely that only one candidate will stand against Mr Corbyn because the reform or progress wing within the party needs to unite their supporters. Two national contenders would split the reform vote.

Party Activist Kate Knight said: “I am incensed by what appears to be the contempt of the Parliamentary Labour Party for democracy.”

Ms Knight said seven hundred and fifteen new members had joined the Labour Party since the EU referendum two weeks ago from Goldsmid and Hove Park wards in Hove.

Danielle Spencer from Hove was a humanitarian aid worker in Somalia who returned to England specifically to get involved in Momentum.

As a labour supporter, she is very distressed by austerity and said: “People are oppressed by it, austerity is unjust, unfair and unwarranted.

“I came back very disillusioned with the way the Labour Party was progressing and not protecting the rights of the people that it was set up to protect and defend.

“I thought people would unite. The country is in the greatest need, now the Parliamentary Labour Party is not listening to Labour Party members.

“Labour activists are rooting for Mr Corbyn and the councillors need to dedicate themselves to the people who voted for them.

“The Parliamentary Labour Party has ignored the public feeling during the war in Iraq. The war created voter apathy, disaffection and distrust.

“Now people are interested in politics again but I am not sure the Labour Party can survive.

“Prejudice at the BBC is another issue. I used to work in communications there. It is not reporting Mr Corbyn fairly. It is confused and twisted.

“The BBC’s job is to inform, educate and instruct. It is not there to take sides.”

Hove’s businesswoman Jo Dance joined a political party, Labour, in the last fortnight for the first time.

She said: “I’m really saddened by all the anti-Corbyn feeling in the parliamentary party at the moment. I, like many others, felt the Labour party in recent years had become a kind of ‘Tory Light’. I was totally against the war in Iraq, and took to the streets in London at the time to protest against that.

“I feel at odds with some policies that Peter Kyle my local MP has been supporting, (Syria for example), and I really hope that this new momentum (of Momentum!) can carry Mr Corbyn through.”

Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership Labour membership has grown exponentially to 500,000 members.

MPs from the Parliamentary Labour Party ignore Mr Corbyn’s electoral mandate at their peril. To have any hope of electoral success, Labour reformers must argue about policies rather than personalities and win the argument, not just in Parliament, but in labour branches, unions and affiliated organisations throughout the United Kingdom.