A Brighton and Hove Labour councillor has spoken about being appalled by anti-semitism among some in his party as he announced that he was standing down.
Councillor Tom Bewick has written to the members of his branch in Hove, informing that he will not stand at the local elections in May next year.
Councillor Bewick, 47, has represented Westbourne Ward on Brighton and Hove City Council since May 2015, having won the seat from the Conservatives.
He has recently been appointed chief executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB), which represents organisations that award professional qualifications.
In an open letter to Westbourne Labour Party members, he wrote …
I’m writing to let you know that I will not be putting myself forward as your council candidate in the 2019 local elections.
It has been a real privilege to have represented the ward since I was elected. It is the place I call home, with my partner and three young children, and the only seat in the city that we took from the Conservatives in 2015.
I’m proud of the work I have done locally with colleagues to secure the additional investment required in the new King Alfred leisure centre, working with passenger rail groups and our brilliant MP Peter Kyle to secure improvements at Aldrington Station (and) my ongoing work with the West Hove Forum to get a proper masterplan for the redevelopment of the Western Lawns and seafront from Sackville Road to Hove Lagoon.
As lead member for children’s services in the first two years of the Labour administration, I was able to protect the universal early years “sure start” centres, avoid compulsory redundancies and boost apprenticeships for young people and care leavers.
I opposed the temporary school catchment areas (now abandoned) and I continue to work with the unions to ensure world-class cultural icons like the Royal Pavilion and Museums is not hived off inappropriately or privatised.
My main reason for standing down in May 2019 is because of a new professional role that I have signed up to as the chief executive of a national representative organisation.
In coming to this decision, however, I have also had to reflect hard on the current state of the Labour Party.
Racial prejudice, intolerance and hate directed towards individuals or groups should have no place in our party or in wider society. Our party was founded to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
I am appalled at the cases of anti-semitism and the disgusting views posted by a minority of party members.
It is highly regrettable that swifter action at the national level was not initially more forthcoming to deal more comprehensively with the issue. Due process is key to the restoration of a more credible internal disciplinary regime.
Similarly, I believe it is incumbent on all of us to stamp out factionalism in the party. I have witnessed it myself and I deplore those members who use politically contentious issues to undermine the leadership of the Labour Party, often simply because they do not like the outcome of democratic elections, like that of Jeremy Corbyn’s in 2015 or the 2016 EU referendum result.
We will never truly fulfil our mission as a socially progressive political force (and) win the support of a majority of the electorate until such factionalism is brought to an end.
I believe Labour in the city is on course to win an outright majority in 2019. We have an energised and increased membership in Hove. I’m proud of what we can achieve as a campaigning force under Carolyne McKinlay’s leadership at branch level and Anne Pissaradou at constituency level.
As well as continuing to represent local residents until my term expires in May 2019, I look forward to supporting the two council candidates selected by you to fight these crucially important local elections.
We achieve more together through our common endeavour than we achieve alone.
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