A Labour councillor has urged the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council – his party colleague Warren Morgan – to resign.
Councillor Kevin Allen called on Councillor Morgan to stand down in an email after the council leader was made aware of criticisms aired at a ward party meeting.
The email reflects tensions in the local Labour Party between supporters of the national party leader Jeremy Corbyn and those who see themselves as nearer the centre of the left-right political spectrum.
These tensions were exacerbated by the row about anti-semitism during the Labour Party conference in Brighton last month.
Councillor Morgan wrote to the party general secretary warning that the party may not be welcome back in Brighton unless it dealt with the issue.
After the council leader received Councillor Allen’s email, he said: “This matter has been discussed with colleagues and Councillor Allen has been provided with a personal response.”
The email from Councillor Allen said: “You will have gathered that I made critical remarks about you at the Preston Park ward meeting last Wednesday (18 October). This is what I said, plus some additional reflections.
“Self-deprecatingly I began by saying I had nothing to report as I had ‘gone awol’ (absent without leave) for over two weeks.
“I explained that almost immediately after Jeremy Corbyn’s conference speech (which I watched on television) I left for a holiday in Germany.
“I arrived there a few days after their federal election, in which the Social Democrats lost yet another 5 per cent of their vote following a lacklustre campaign.
“What a contrast with our own general election campaign!
“I then referred to a front-page leading article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, the message of which was that if the Social Democrats had not been so busy licking their wounds they should have been in Brighton, where they would have learned a thing or two from the energy and enthusiasm on display.
“Then I said how shocked I was that instead of celebrating a wonderful conference in our city all we heard from you was the suggestion that you might stop the Labour Party conference returning to Brighton.
“I informed the members present at the meeting about the joint email from the three CLP (Constituency Labour Party) chairs and subsequent correspondence though there wasn’t enough time to quote directly from any of the exchanges.
“Referring to the general election results in Hove and Kemptown, I said it was clear there was a large reservoir of Labour votes, making a strong majority Labour administration in 2019 a real possibility.
“However, for this to happen there needed to be synergy between the Labour group and the party and I didn’t consider it likely to be achieved under your leadership.
“Basically that was it. I decided to speak out because the matter was already in the public domain (you had made sure of that) and members were talking about it.
“The issue of anti-semitism is a minefield. Usually I avoid it, as I do discussions about Israel and Palestine.
“In my earlier years I generally shared the pro-Israel position of the old Labour left. There were no stronger supporters of the young State of Israel than Nye Bevan, Richard Crossman and Ian Mikardo.
“Later I became more aware of the Palestinian cause. For over five years I lived in Israel. This gave me an insight into the complexity of the question.
“It also brought home to me what extreme anti-semitism can lead to. A large numbers of Israelis of my generation grew up without grandparents, left behind in Europe where they were slaughtered.
“I hope you will understand why I find the ease with which some people in our party make accusations of anti-semitism very distressing.
“Warren, the problem isn’t just the poor judgment you have shown on this occasion. The trouble is there is an accumulation of things.
“The role you played in getting the former district party AGM (annual general meeting) annulled has not been forgotten.
“Then there was your conspicuous lack of engagement in the general election campaign in your own constituency.
“Now the failure to say anything positive about conference.
“You simply don’t like what the party has become – and it shows. Nobody expects you to turn into a Corbynista but others, closer to your political position than mine, have successfully adjusted to the new political reality.
“The period ahead is bound to be challenging, with a new, no doubt quite assertive LCF (Local Campaign Forum), followed by selections and drawing up a manifesto.
“Getting through all this will be tricky, all the more so if those on the party side of the table have little trust in the leader, as is I’m afraid the case at the moment.
“Warren, you deserve a good deal of credit for the coherence of this Labour administration.
“However, to return Labour to a hegemonic position in the city is going to require a huge joint effort from councillors and the party base.
“There are several others in our group with the right combination of skills to lead us forward to this next stage.
“For the sake of the party you should make way now.”
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