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.
“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.”
— Seema Chandwani ™ (@SeemaChandwani) July 11, 2016
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.’”