Labour council leader speaks out after ‘takeover’ of Brighton and Hove party by Corbyn supporters

Posted On 12 Jul 2016 at 12:30 pm

The Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council has spoken out after a “takeover” of the local party by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

Councillor Warren Morgan said in an email before the local party’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Saturday (9 July): “Our city Labour party faces a takeover by a group of individuals from Momentum, TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), the Alliance for Workers Liberty and other left-wing groups, including people who have repeatedly run against Labour candidates.”

Yesterday (Monday 11 July) after Momentum-backed candidates were elected to four out of the five key posts on the Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party executive committee, Councillor Morgan said: “I have never met or spoken to the new chair of the party so can’t comment on his election.

“I understand that, like many others at the meeting, he joined within the last year to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, having previously belonged to smaller, fringe left-wing organisations.

“The new secretary has been a long-standing personal critic of Labour members and councillors over the past few years through his former newspaper column. His issues are well known.

“As leader of the council and the Labour and Co-operative group, I have a mandate from almost 3,000 voters in my ward and over a 125,000 votes for Labour candidates across the city last May.

Councillor Warren Morgan

Councillor Warren Morgan

“My colleagues and I will continue to lead the city council in the best interests of everyone, ensuring all have the opportunity to benefit from the city’s continued prosperity.

“We are elected by residents, we make our own decisions and we will continue to work as we have done for the past 14 months, as a credible, responsible and mainstream political administration.

“Only the Labour and Co-operative councillors can change their leader, only the 54 members of council can change the administration and only the voters decide who is elected in 2019.

“I am sorry to hear that our local MP (Peter Kyle) was subject to abuse by some of those attending, and that a member of venue staff unconnected with the meeting was spat on.

“This is not behaviour we should tolerate in local politics or our city and I expect the new executive officers to identify and expel the individual concerned swiftly.

“I look forward to the forthcoming Labour leadership election nationally and I am hopeful that an electable alternative to the Conservative government will emerge from that process.”

The new party secretary Greg Hadfield, who was interviewed on The Vote on Latest TV yesterday (see above), said that he had not received any formal complaints about incidents at the AGM.

But there was a procedure and, if he received a complaint, an investigation would take place according to the rules and following the proper process.

The Times carried a report today, headlined: “Left-wingers take control of party’s biggest branch.”

It said: “Two pro-Corbyn activists who travelled from London to a rally hosted by Momentum, the left-wing network of the Labour leader’s supporters, were allegedly branded ‘scum’ and told to ‘get the fuck out of Brighton’ by local members.

“Seema Chandwani, the secretary of Tottenham Labour Party, told the Morning Star that she and a colleague had been threatened with violence by two moderates in a pub.”

The Times also said: “A moderate local Labour member at the Brighton meeting on Saturday said: ‘Somebody was spat at, a staff member who was in the building we hired the hall from.’”

  1. Daniel Harris Reply

    There is a lot of Propaganda at the moment, what we need to be focusing on is the fact that we had 3 times as many people come to the AGM and provide a democratic voice as to the direction locally people and members want the party to be.

    We have had over 600 new members join the Brighton and Hove District Labour Party since the EU referendum, that takes the local membership to over 6000 now.

    People have had enough of austerity and locally we want change, I’ve been focusing on Housing specifically and those in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation, these are policy areas the new exec will be focusing on, including many others to ensure residents voices are again heard.

    I wish Mr Morgan focused more on taking the fight to the tories, instead he focuses on a incident with has received no complaints, members were unhappy with the stance Peter took against Jeremy, but I was at all three meetings held on Saturday and saw no incidents. If fact the mood was for a change quite respectful.

    The Councillors may elect the leader, but members of the party do select councillors and I think Mr Morgan should be concentrating on working in unity and not trying to influence politics locally, thats what the exec is for, he should be focusing on the policies and taking the fight to the Tories.

    As my ward councillor, I would like to see Warren focusing on the issues in East Brighton, and ensuring we are protecting the vulnerable, many of whom in his ward feel let down and left for private business to profit from the worst periods in their lives when they need support, not to be exploited.

  2. Sandra Tolley Reply

    This report doesn’t seem to give a truthful representation of the AGM I attended. I don’t know Mr Morgan but I didn’t think he was at the meeting. Was he at the meeting? The members I saw were polite and ordinary and sincere Labour Party supporters.

  3. Cllr Warren Morgan Reply

    Firstly I was at the meeting, yes, despite requests to stay away.

    The incident happened. I’ve spoken to three Party members who spoke to the staff member who was spat on. CCTV is likely to have covered it. Complaints have been lodged with our Regional Office regarding conduct and I’m not going to comment further.

    Despite Mr Harris’s veiled threats of deselection: “The Councillors may elect the leader, but members of the party do select councillors and I think Mr Morgan should be concentrating on working in unity and not trying to influence politics locally” I will not be silenced on my views about the Party leadership which any member is free to express. And it is Councillor Morgan not Mr Morgan, at least until I’m purged by the Corbynites in 2019.

    • Simon Raven Reply

      Cllr Morgan, from your perspective, was the meeting mostly polite and respectful, as has been maintained by other attendees posting on this thread? It is outrageous for anyone to be spat at, but it would be equally outrageous to use an isolated and misrepresentative incident to slur the majority of decent Labour supporters in attendance.

  4. martin lawrence Reply

    Not often I agree with you Councillor Morgan but these people seem hell bent on to borrow a phrase from that Green councillor “causing havoc” as opposed to any progress for OUR city

  5. libby barnes Reply

    Accusing someone of veiled threats is very serious. I see no threats veiled or otherwise. Daniel is speaking about his experience and encouraging Mr Morgan to come together with all party members for unity. I see that as peaceful behaviour, not threatening at all.

  6. Sandra Tolley Reply

    Councillor Morgan I am glad you were at the AGM so you will have seen many OAPs such as myself (recently moved to Hove to see more of my grandchildren). I listened to the speeches and it all seemed quite moderate.
    Anything wrong in supporting the elected leader of the Labour Party?

  7. Daniel Harris Reply

    Thanks Libby and no there is not Sandra, although the inflation from £3 to £25 supporter inflation in price, and 6 month membership rule, means the party are trying to stop Corbyn. This is a disgrace and the media haven’t reacted well.

  8. Spiro Agnew Reply

    Labour will split and a new party that represents the moderate majority of socialists in the country will be formed. The wee smelling leftie loons are welcome to the scraps left while they fight like rats in a bag.

  9. Jacqueline Madders Reply

    Leadership is defined by the behaviour of the individual, the poverty is growing alongside the rising wealth of the elite..the ignorance in procurement of services in housing and health is paramount to criminally negligent, this is simply due to inefficiency at the top. New team needed at the council. Brighton Council’s abject cruelty towards vulnerable people has gone on for far too long, regardless of political party.

    • Daniel Harris Reply

      Its a shame such negative media toward progressive politics is being thrown around, there are massive issues as Jacqueline says above at the council and councillors are there to hold them to account.

      They are a low upon themselves and with the recent sacking of the head of housing and impending police investigation for fraud, we need an independent review, which I have called for in the Housing Department. They are leaving the vulnerable high and dry whilst helping business profit.

      I would like to see this and soon.

  10. Will Reply

    It is terrible what is happening to Labour. It is a takeover by people who do not care about being elected, but just protesting. They do it through bullying and intimidation and then attempt to act all innocent when challenged.

    It is not good and will leave Labour unelected for decade. Fight back against these members, fight back against Momentum, fight back against Corbyn. The country needs this fight to happen to ensure Labour can win elections and have a chance of repairing the damage the Tories do.

  11. Richard Delacour Reply

    I have previously been unable to join any political party as I was a serving police officer but I retired late last year (after the Labour leadership election) and I am now free to display my political persuasion and join a political party. I chose Labour and I am fully and firmly committed behind Jeremy Corbyn.
    Since doing so I have been called a ‘commie twat’ (A new one for a police officer – normally I’m a fascist!) and accused of being ‘brainwashed’ and in a ‘cult of personality’.
    Although I have previously been unable to join any party, I have been keeping myself fully up-to-date with the political scene.
    My own take on the situation is that the members, like me, wanted someone different, a real human being, with flaws but someone with high principles and integrity – A signpost to a kinder politics and not a manufactured career weathervane politician who appreciates the value of spin and themselves spinning with which ever way the political tide is more favourable.
    To my mind the party is (or should be) based on a series of socialist principles, ideologies and values to, among other things, support every human being in this nation who find themselves in need of help at any time.
    As such, the party is a cooperative and belongs to all its members.
    We who subscribe to these ideals all have a say in who we want to represent us and, provided those are the ideals we signed up for, it doesn’t matter if we have been a member for 5 minutes or 50 years!
    For those who say that the party is more important than one man/woman, I agree wholeheartedly.
    This is not about Jeremy Corbyn, he just so happened to be the person who encapsulated the qualities I was looking for.
    It would appear that the members have told the PLP in no uncertain terms that Jeremy is our chosen leader and they should have accepted that and got on with the job of getting Labour into government at the next general election.
    It is they who have undermined him at every turn and it is they, no-one else, who are making Labour unelectable and they who are responsible for this debacle.
    Those who have turned against him need to look in the mirror and asked themselves whether their own views really fit within the Democratic Socialist Labour Party or whether they would be better suited elsewhere.
    To have the current situation where people like myself (we are not all extreme left wing militants) who have been galvanised into action by a new (in some cases ‘renewed’) vibrant and infectious interest in politics, are having their democratic voices silenced is what one would expect in the Communist USSR.
    I’m so very disappointed that such enthusiasm is being crushed.

    • Sue Murphy Reply

      Extremely well said and for the record, I was at the Brighton AGM and witnessed only ordinary people behaving perfectly well. The three Corbyn supporters I spoke too there, were all retired and ‘respectable’.

    • Heather Reply

      Thank you for putting that so well. I entirely agree with you and joined the Labour Party recently for exactly the same reasons as you. Jeremy Corbyn is a man I can believe in. Although perhaps an idealist, he has ideals that I agree with and wish to support.
      It seems to me that the labour party is destroying itself from the inside though. With every passing day they have less chance of being elected because of that. So we may never see Corbyn be able to run the country peacefully and with integrity. Just the same old same old ego centered self-important people. So sad

  12. Angela Elliott Reply

    Seems a few that are too comfortable are so worried about losing the gravy they make up horror stories and lies! Only to be expected, but it’s time for change ladies and gentlemen! It’s coming, and you may not like it! 🙂

  13. Chris Reply

    I cannot speak for any incidents that may have occurred at the Brighton & Hove AGM, as I was not present. However, speaking with regards to the general situation of upsurge in support for Corbyn, there seem to be many myths bandied about regarding the kind of people who make up the ‘Corbynariat’.

    The following survey by Prof. Tim Bale of QMUL, of new Labour joiners since May 2015 is informative reading.

    In brief:

    – Mostly middle aged and middle class (average age is 51)
    – 60% graduates
    – Only 10% ‘Momentum’
    – Majority don’t go to meetings or do activism
    – 31% previously belonged to Labour but left, and have now rejoined
    – Rising to 40% returning to Labour for the over 50’s

    Something I will add. My personal assessment of the political positions of Eagle and Corbyn (I haven’t yet looked at Owen Smith in depth), based on following their output and researching their voting records, is that there is no substantial gulf between them on most issues; the main difference is their approach to defence and foreign policy, with Eagle being pro-Trident and more willing to support military action. There are a few other differences, of course, and I won’t list them all but my point is this: On the political spectrum, if you actually examine their policy positions, Corbyn and his supporters in the PLP, and the 172 rebels, are all centrists, occupying the ground between Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy. (Hopefully readers will know the difference between these). Corbyn and his supporters are more towards the DS side of the spectrum, while many in the PLP are more towards the SD side. All concerned are a long way to the political right of Michael Foot’s ‘longest suicide note in history’.

    And as such, this internal conflict within the Labour party, is like the World War I of politics, and in metaphorical terms, similarly tragic. Massive political bloodshed over a few yards of ground.

  14. Anon Reply

    Will, the only bullying I see in these comments is coming from Spiro Agnew on the anti-Corbyn side.

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  17. nick sopocleous Reply

    Who recorded the minutes? Is there CCTV or phone camera footage? Can those who were there make personal witness statements somewhere or to someone?

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