OPINION

Let’s set the record straight about the mayoral selection

Posted On 15 May 2022 at 2:10 am

I’d like to start this week by congratulating and welcoming Councillor Robert Mcintosh, who after his historic victory in the Rottingdean Coastal by-election last week, has become the first Labour councillor for the ward.

On other matters, I wanted to address the unseemly rumours and innuendos that have been swirling around the mayoralty of Brighton and Hove, and frankly set the record straight.

While the Labour group were happy to support Councillor Mears as mayor, are saddened by her illness and wish her a speedy recovery, we had concerns about Councillor Barnett taking on the role.

As a City of Sanctuary and a council working towards becoming an anti-racist city, we were unsure of the appropriateness of someone with a track record of inflammatory public statements about ethnic minorities, the homeless and LGBTQ+ people becoming the First Citizen of Brighton and Hove.

That said, we hoped to resolve the issue privately, without any embarrassment, so it’s a shame this was leaked to the press.

The Conservatives chose to announce Councillor Barnett publicly to the media before speaking with other groups on the council – a highly unusual move, likely taken to force us into supporting their controversial candidate.

Despite raising concerns with them early on, reports claimed Councillor Barnett had already been getting her robes sized up and was talking with charities.

If true, the question of why remains, since she had yet to be elected and the Conservatives were aware of deep unease about her nomination from across the aisle.

We approached them privately and asked if they’d be willing to nominate an alternative mayoral candidate better suited to serving our tolerant and diverse city.

They eventually decided they would prefer to step aside and offer the mayoralty to the Greens in 2022 and Labour in 2023.

This is a constructive solution – and we wish the best of luck to all our future mayors.

Less agreeable is the accusation that we had any intention of embarrassing Councillor Barnett at Annual Council.

We raised our concerns privately hoping the issue could be resolved swiftly away from the public eye. The Conservatives chose a different path.

Also unacceptable is the narrative being spun to make this a “class” issue. I am from a working-class background, as are many colleagues, and I resent assertions that being working class means you think it’s ok to defend “golliwogs” or agree homeless people should have “jet washers” turned on them.

We also do disadvantaged communities a great disservice if we don’t acknowledge the working-class backgrounds of ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ people and rough sleepers.

We asked for another candidate because we thought it important the “first citizen” of a city with the welcoming values of Brighton and Hove should not have a record of outrageous and offensive remarks in their recent past.

The Tories chose instead to step aside and offer the mayoralty to the Greens. There’s no conspiracy here, it’s just as simple as that.

Councillor John Allcock is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Nathan Adler Reply

    Interesting to note that Cllr Atkinson doesn’t dispute that Labour originally backed Cllr Barnet but only after a meeting with the Greens did they change position. I am really uncomfortable with opposition parties telling the nominating party who they can and cannot pick, its supposed to be a politically neutral position and this shenanigans has shown it to be something else.

    • ChrisC Reply

      When it comes down to it the election of Mayor is a decision of the WHOLE council and not just of one party whose turn it happens to be to nominate and the others just rolling over to accept that nomination.

  2. Phoebe Barrera Reply

    Has Dawn ever been found guilty of being racist or homophobic, or is it just that she expresses her own views on subjects that certain groups disagree with?

    If Councillor Allcock is so anti-racidm, why is Councillor Pissaridou still part of the Labour party or is anti-semetism approved, and how many BAME councillors do Labour have?

    Perhaps John should consider keeping his own house in order before attacking Dawn.

    • Daniel Harris Reply

      Alledged antisemitism. Slanderous comments here and a lot are getting sued and getting justice. shame on you. People have a right to raise genuine concerns with the Israeli state, I mean just last recently a journalist was shot dead by Israeli security forces. As we see with the Russian Occupation, these are often bloody. People have a right to boycott food and products produced on former Palestinian land, Lowkey has a right to raise issues and not be cancelled. So should anyone. Society will regret closing people down so much.

      On the point of Dawn though and whilst I have never agreed with Dawn I do think that if she was nominated, and is a close friend of Cllr Mears, who is I am told extremely unwell and I wish her a speedy recovery, then Dawn should be allowed to be the Mayor.

      We have a complaints process if she brings the city down or gets out of line, allow that process and reverse this silly decision. If Mears supports Dawn, who are the Greens and Labour to take that away.

      I have always had good communication from Dawn in email exchanges, and a few clients have said she has resolved local ward housing casework, so what is the issue exactly? Dawn is Dawn. But she will be The Mayor and with that comes responsibilities, so she can be held accountable for her conduct.

      We all need to calm down and focus more on the community, and challenges working on common ground areas to improve the city and make it a better place to live, work and visit for all.

      • StarDasher Reply

        ” I mean just last recently a journalist was shot dead by Israeli security forces.”
        Where is your evidence?

      • kevin k Reply

        In 4 yrs Labour and the greens will have spent leaving Brighton and Hove with bin strikes, rubbish roads and cycle routes that stop visitors being about to park here, I have lived here for 26 years and we have forgotten that we are a seaside city, without visitors this city will die.
        Students have no money and put nothing back into the city.
        I have just spent 23 hours in A&E Students do drugs, they made me a shamed of this city I call home.

  3. Some Guy Reply

    It having been left to this second opinion piece to provide links to Cllr Barnett’s actual previous conduct, we finally see the light. She’s ignorant of racial stereotypes, apparently hates the homeless, and a little extra digging unearthed that she’s been in the paper railing against pronoun badges.
    So, essentially, exactly the kind of dinosaur who should be mayor to some dying resort elsewhere in the country. Not here, where the 21st century is actually happening.

    • Alice J Reply

      Where’s the evidence that she’s ignorant of racial stereotypes? This is lazy and defamatory stuff. And why does wanting to hose away the mess, the excreta, left by those who were begging in tents in a square outside Brighton town hall equate with hating the homeless? It’s an illogical link. As for the illiterate pronoun badges given out by the Council, what an empty gesture they were! What’s truly offensive and ageist is to dismiss someone as a dinosaur because they’re 80 and old-fashioned. If only some of Dawn Barnett’s Council colleagues practised the tolerance they preach about diversity and different opinions.

  4. Steph Reply

    Cllr Barnett is probably not the most conventionally articulate member of the council, although there are a few challengers for that particular crown. She may not express herself as you or I might. She is not, though, some kind of uncaring bigot, as some on the Left seem to suggest. I used to live in her ward, where she is a hands-on, hard-working and thoroughly caring Councillor. She represents those who come up against the faceless bureacracies of the Council, Police and NHS, among others. She certainly isn’t in tune with the Labour anti-Semites, so bad that Cllr Atkinson walked out, rather than sit alongside them. And from what I can gather from her remarks about Travellers and the homeless, is Greens have made Brighton and Hove more attractive to those who the Council and local tax-payers owe no legal housing duty (not that she doesn’t necessarily sympathise with their plight), and she speaks up for all those local people whose tolerance is tested by squalid, illegals camps in public parks, when there is a proper site, enlarged at significant public expense. You or I might express ourselves in a slightly more decorous way, we might be younger and more liberal, and so on. None of it holds water, really. Greens and Labour have shown a spitefulness that is not progressive, liberal or remotely attractive. I had thought the Tories were the nasty party, but, first Corbynite Labour, and now this, suggest otherwise.

  5. Paul Temple Reply

    Ironically Cllr Allcock hints that the Tories were playing political games by nominating Cllr Barnet and if that is the case Labour walked right into it! They and the Greens come across as the intolerant and nasty ones it would of been far better just to have abstained at the vote and keep Dawn quiet for a year.

  6. Ann Tizzard Reply

    Cllr Barnett may not be articulate but she speaks her mind and is very caring of her ward and its residents.Both the Labour and Green party have shown their nasty side, our councillor is extremely long serving and devotes herself to her work. she visits the elderly and lonely in her ward and when my husband was dying visited on a daily basis, afterwards, she looked in on me on a daily basis to make sure i was ok, how many Greens or Labour did this… none.Dawn deserved to be recognised. Dawn has come from a carer’s background and has this compassion. and as Paul Temple said, the parties have lost the chance to shut Dawn up for a year..

  7. jjgoldsmith Reply

    Oh dear if Councilor Barnett’s comments were racist how come she has never been found guilty by the standards committee. Councilor Allcock should appreciate that at Eighty that generation may say some words that most would not use now – it doesn’t mean they are intolerant or racist just a little out of touch with what is correct now. If Labour councilors worked as hard as Councilor Barnett they wouldn’t find themselves getting beaten by the Greens. I am sorry but the Greens and Labour come across as classist, ageist and a pretty nasty in this whole sorry affair.

  8. Andy Reply

    Labour and The Green Party showing their opposition to democracy once again. They really make me sick. And the sooner they’re both voted out of power, the better off Brighton and Hove will be.

  9. Mike Beasley Reply

    May 2023 is when we have the opportunity to vote out these demented political ideologue councillors, who are not interested in the slightest, of doing what’s good for their ward or the city as a whole. They just want to impose their narrow minded dogma upon residents and taxpayers. Greens and Momentum out.

  10. Dave Wheels Reply

    It’s a pity Councillor Mears cannot serve as Mayor but it’s a shame Councillor Barnett has been so besmirched, having offered to step in at late notice, and the shame is on her petty and vindictive political rivals. Good luck to you, Councillor Barnett! Use your time well and see them off at the next election.

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