Brighton and Hove Labour councillor blasts anti-semitism in resignation letter

Posted On 03 Apr 2018 at 12:14 am

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

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.

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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.

Peter Kyle and Tom Bewick and Aldrington Station campaigners

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.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Cllr Bewick upset staff and residents by a bizarre speech which he gave, at the Library, in support of closing down Hove’s Carnegie Library. This was the talk of the pub afterwards.

    Labour’s obsession with closing down the Carnegie is all very odd.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Christopher – the only one “obsessed” with the Carnegie is yourself.
      Other people could see the benefits of combining library services with the museum site only 400 yds away, but you seemed to be more worried about “mahogany hand rails”, and as a result several people at the museum lost their jobs and the Carnegie is still inadequate for 21st century library services.

      So well done Christopher and well done the Greens – I’m please Tom has pointed out the misinformation that you spread.

  2. Cllr Tom Bewick Reply

    The only obsession is that of Mr Hawtree – a former Green councillor – whose propaganda and misinformation campaign in 2015 is the reason why families in Hove are not now enjoying the combined modern facilities of a library and museum. If there was ever an example of why the cranky politics of the Green Party is completely unelectable west of Sackville Rd., the antics of Mr Hawtree is surely why.

  3. Niall Barley Reply

    I’m extremely glad Christopher Hawtree has tirelessly campaigned for Hove Library. It’s a wonderful building and a joy to visit. The thought of a combined facility in the museum still makes me shudder. The Hove community dodged a bullet there. I’d rather see the museum shut if local finances mean something has to give.

    Thanks to Tom Bewick for his work as a councillor. I still cannot get my head round his unequivocal support for Brexit which is already the biggest waste of time and money for a generation and will be judged harshly by history.

    I hope Westbourne ward can get a good new candidate because (as a resident) I feel the Conservatives are far more visible and responsive in the area and we need a dynamic councillor to replace Tom.

    Wholeheartedly agree about anti-semitism in some parts of the Labour Party. Zero tolerance is the only way to deal with any form of racism.

  4. Bingo Little Reply

    Well said Niall. I agree with everything you’ve said there. I didn’t realise Tom Berwick was so in favour of the misguided combined library/museum proposal. The museum is clearly unsuitable as a library. The Carnegie building is my favourite building in Hove and is a fantastic library. I hope we can rely on our council to protect and cherish it. We owe it to future generations.

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