Labour candidate selections to be taken out of local party’s hands to avoid repeat of anti-Semitism scandals

Posted On 09 Jun 2022 at 12:06 pm

Brighton and Hove Labour celebrates its 20 seats in May 2019. Three councillors were suspended for alleged anti-Semitism in 2020, and a fourth has since quit in protest at one being allowed back into the group. Picture by local democracy reporter Sarah Booker-Lewis

Labour candidates in Brighton and Hove wards for next year’s local elections will be selected by a panel appointed by the party’s HQ.

The city’s three local parties – Brighton Pavilion, Brighton Kemptown and Hove – were informed last month that they were being cut out of the selection process.

The move is being made partly because of the number of candidates selected in 2019 who were suspended over allegations of anti-Semitism – some after they had been elected, leading to Labour losing control of the council.

There are also concerns that black and ethnic minority candidates were not selected for winnable seats, instead being shunted to safe Green and Conservative wards.

Ivor Caplin, who sits on the Labour South East regional executive committee, said: “The Labour party has changed since 2018.

“One of the things Keir Starmer has been clear about is that we have to have a situation where people can be properly selected and at the same time we cannot ever, ever take for granted the public.

“On this occasion in order to get the right candidates in the right place, we want to be able to show the people of Brighton and Hove they will have a team of councillors which will stand up for them an ensure the services that we offer are the best.

“We are looking to win a majority of seats on the council and we will be doing that with a team of candidates who have gone through a proper process which will include the final selection.”

One of the 2019 candidates, Darryl Telles, said selections for the 2019 election had been effectively taken over by Momentum, a pro-Corbyn group within Labour.

Mr Telles, whose Asian family emigrated from Kenya to the UK when he four, said even though he was a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, this had not been enough for them to recommend his selection.

He said: “The selection process was awful. I was a candidate in Brunswick and Adelaide so I had no real chance of winning.

“Momentum were working as a caucus, which is against Labour Party rules, and they were very keen just to get Momentum supported candidates.

“I’m on the left of the party, Jeremy Corbyn is actually a friend of mine so I found it quite astonishing.

“I did win the selection but I wasn’t encouraged by those people to go to a more winnable ward. They really just in effect dropped me because I wasn’t a Momentum member.

“The anti-Semitism issue became much more apparent during the campaign.

“Alex Braithwaite, a Momentum member, was selected for a more winnable ward. I found that a surprise, when she had made those awful posts.

“I complained to the regional party about her and several other members who have since been expelled from the party.

“There were also some candidates who had stood for other parties before. ”

Mr Telles has since retired and moved to Hastings. He said: “I don’t know what it’s like in Brighton and Hove now. But based on last time around, I can understand why the NEC is doing this.

“Based on the fact you have the disgrace of three councillors being suspended, how can you suggest that you can continue with the same process?

“I complained after the election, but I should have complained at the time.

“I hope the lessons have been learned and I’m optimistic given what the NEC is doing. Hopefully it will get candidates who are more representative, particularly BAME candidate in winnable seats and ensuring we don’t have the stain of anti-Semitism.”

Two candidates were suspended for alleged anti-Semitism before the elections took place – and since then, three more were suspended, leading to the Greens taking control of the council.

Two of those, Councillors Nichole Brennan and Kate Knight, subsequently quit and now sit as independents.

The third, Councillor Anne Pissaridou, was allowed back into the party, but subsequently administratively suspended after new social media posts came to light.

All had been on Momentum’s slate – a list of potential candidates members of the group had been encouraged to vote for in selection meetings.

Another Labour councillor, Peter Atkinson, quit the party in protest at Anne Pissaridou being allowed back into the Labour group, before her administrative suspension.

The usual process for selecting council candidates sees nominees go through three rounds – approval via interview at an assessment centre, shortlisting by a panel made up of local party officials and finally selection via a vote of local party members.

  1. Nathan Adler Reply

    Good news. Far too many momentum councillors in post who are happy to cosy up to the Greens rather than be a progressive Labour Party that’s represents all of Brighton and Hove

    • Martha Gunn Reply

      A great opportunity to purge the remnants of the Corbyn cronies and Momentum morons. The last round of selections was totally stitched up.
      Let’s hope the party imposes a mainstream candidate for Parliament in Kemp Town as well.

  2. Mike Levers Reply

    Shame Labour no longer allows socialists into the party !

  3. Paul Peart Reply

    The Labour Party has created a false narrative that allows them to deselected and shut candidates based on their politics. It’s very easy for bad faith factional actors to accuse someone of AS in order to disqualify them from office. Labours internal warring has made a mockery of selection.

  4. Dr Valerie Coultas Reply

    What a scandal! Why is your paper so hostile to socialists in the Labour Party? This is a one-sided report that says nothing about the terrible attacks on democratic rights and free speech inside Starmer’s now increasingly Stalinist Labour Party… purging socialist voices will never stop people wanting a better society….

    • Phoebe Barrera Reply

      Are you the same “leading member of the International Marxist Group in the NUS” as detailed in https://labourlist.org/2019/03/labour-left-takes-over-at-streatham-agm/

      If so you may well be extremely biased in favour of Momentum and anti-semites controlling who is selected and your accusation of Stalinism is slightly ironic 😉

      • tony greenstein Reply

        Do you always investigate the background of someone who posts, like a nasty little McCarthyist? Or is it just those you disagree with because you know you don’t have the arguments to respond to them?

        • Adam Reply

          Sorry but some peoples background are worth researching, from fraudulent use of a credit cards to bankruptcy and being found guilty of antisemitism in court. I thought you would have realised that Tony?

    • Hove Guy Reply

      So you regard antisemitism as a democratic right and free speech. That just about sums up what is wrong with the Labour party. Thank goodness Starmer is doing something about it, which is more than your Marxist hero Corbyn made any effort to do, preferring instead to pretend that he knew nothing about it.
      Meanwhile, Cllr Pissaridou, Alex Braithwaite, Nichole Brennan and Kate Knight, and other racists, have managed to escape arrest for committing hate crime.

    • Chris Reply

      I think that the further lefter-leaning elements of Labour should go form their own party. Oh wait – didn’t they try that in the Blair years ?
      We Britons are a nation of moderates. We veer between slightly left and slightly right. We don’t seem to like extremes in either direction.
      The public has wised up to momentum and Corbynism, and the super left has lost its element of surprise.

    • Martha Gunn Reply

      And why is Dr Coultas so quiet about her long standing dedication to the Loony Left?

  5. Jozef K Reply

    There are so many Momentum fruitcake councillors currently installed within the Labour Party in the city . Thank you Greg Hadfield. Hopefully, normal service will be restored by the time of the May 2023 elections.

    • tony greenstein Reply

      well if there’s not one Black candidate as a Labour councillor that might be because the only Black woman candidate last time, Alex Braithwaite, was suspended for ‘antisemitism’ even though she’s not an anti-Semite.

      That was done by White Zionists like Ivor Caplin

  6. Tania Reply

    The local LP is racist, not one BAME person in the council. In a place like B&H there should be 5-6 at least. Its 2022!

  7. Sd Reply

    Can anyone share a link to the anti semitism social media posts made by the Counsillors?

    The messages must have been terrible and must be dealt with.

    Our own Prime Minister once referred to women wearing a veil as ‘post boxes’, so hate speech/thought is a widespread issue that needs a no tolerance response.

  8. David Holland Reply

    This is a very unedifying exchange. I have been an active member of the Labour Party for 45 years and knocked on many doors and delivered many leaflets in this time. If regional party officials think that they can build a vibrant and enthusiastic movement in the community by depriving local party members of any role in selecting candidates to represent their areas, on the basis of trumped up factionally motivated smears, then I think the 2023 elections will prove them wrong.

  9. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Mention Labour – and the automatic reaction is: close Hove Library

    • Phoebe Barrera Reply

      Great idea – much better to merge it with Hove Museum on that site and have a multi-functional site serving the entire community.

      What percentage of the residents extensively use the libraries for their intended purpose rather than as cafes, toilets, and somewhere warm to get free internet?

      And not just Hove Library but what about Portslade, Hangleton and Mile Oak?

      Seems Hove Library could easily be taken over by Wetherspoons.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Mention Greens – and the automatic reaction is “not another cycle lane” 😉

      • Hendrik Woolf Reply

        Or “not more student accommodation”.

  10. Lucy Graham Reply

    This is just another step along the path of destroying democracy in the Labour Party. The article features someone who was miffed because he didn’t get a winnable seat and with a grudge to bear.

    The confected ‘antisemitism’ claims are just that. Under Starmer, ‘rooting out’ antisemitism has mean that Jews are five times more likely to be expelled than non-Jews.

    Of course these Jews are anti-Zionists and that it really. Everytime Israel demolishes more homes or kills more kids the same old tired ‘antisemitism’ cry comes forth.

    So let’s get it clear – supporting Palestinians and opposing Zionism, the racist ideology and movement that created Israel as a Jewish Supremacist state, is not anti-Semitic.

    And when I hear thousands of Israelis in Jerusalem on the Jerusalem Day march chant ‘Death to the Arabs’ it reminded me of what they used to chant in Germany and Poland: ‘Death to the Jews’.

    Apparently the above comparison is defined as ‘antisemitism’ under the IHRA and that’s why the definition the Council adopted is so much nonsense.

    Point me to one antisemitic post made by Nikki or Kate, the suspended councillors?

    • Hendrik Woolf Reply

      Well, why were Nikki and Kate suspended, if it was not for antisemitism? Maybe you can explain that.
      Why was Cllr.Pissaridou suspended and then welcomed back by the council?
      From where do you get the evidence that “The confected ‘antisemitism’ claims are just that. Under Starmer, ‘rooting out’ antisemitism has mean that Jews are five times more likely to be expelled than non-Jews”?
      Do please enlighten us.

      • tony greenstein Reply

        Jewish Voice for Labour have done a detailed statistical analysis showing that Jews are 5 times more likely to be expelled for ‘antisemitism’ than non-Jews.
        https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-labour-antisemitism-accused-purging-jews-over-claims

        People like Riva Joffe, a White South AFrican Jewess who fought Apartheid in South AFrica at a time when most Jews there supported Apartheid.
        https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/riva-joffe-in-memoriam/

        As the first Jew to be expelled as part of the ‘antisemitism’ campaign the first questions I was asked were to do with Israel such as why I had described Zionism as a form of Jewish antisemitism or had alleged that Israel was waiting for its holocaust survivors to die so they could save on welfare benefits.

        My answer to the latter was to point to the front page of Haaretz, an Israeli daily!

        All of us – me, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth – who were expelled as part of the fake ‘antisemitism’ campaign weren’t actually expelled for antisemitism but things like bringing the party into disrepute.

        As for Zionism being a form of Jewish antisemitism it is a fact that those who welcomed the Zionist movement in its infancy were antisemites who thought it was a splendid idea to send their Jews away to form their own state.

        Even today antisemites such as Tommy Robinson, Trump, Steve Bannon, Richard Spencer (the founder of the alt-Right who declares he is a ‘White Zionist’) support Zionism.

        The allegations of antisemitism against Nikki, Kate and Anne Pissaridiou were false, fake, contrived. No one can point to anything they said. Instead the Israel lobby has redefined antisemitism. No longer is it someone who hates or dislikes Jews. Instead it is criticism of Israel. The IHRA definition.

        Comparing Israel or Israelis to the Nazis is apparently antisemitic. Do tell me why thousands of Jewish settlers on Jerusalem Day May 29 chanting ‘death to the Arabs’ are any different from those who, in Poland and Germany pre-war, chanted ‘death to the Jews.’

        The fact is that Israel is an apartheid state and ‘antisemitism’ is their only retort to the detailed Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and BTselem reports calling out Israeli Apartheid.

        • Daniel Sevitt Reply

          This is just utter nonsense. Anne Pissaridiou posted on Facebook about the Rothschild conspiracy. That is neither false, fake nor contrived you daft liar. Nor did it have anything to do with Israel.

          She has since acknowledged the hurt she caused the Jewish community and apologized. How come you ignore that inconvenient fact?

          Worth pointing out to any casual readers of these comments that The High Court have made it perfectly clear that Tony Greenstein may be legitimately referred to as a notorious antisemite.

          Anyone still listening to the words of a notorious antisemite who was expelled from the Labour Party for online abuse is getting exactly what they signed up for,

        • Hendrik Woolf Reply

          So you are happy to equate the evil work of the Nazis with that of the Israelis. Then would you please tell us where in Israel are the concentration camps, the tortures, the gas chambers, the slave labour (work until death policy), the starvations, the human experiments, the electric fences preventing the inmates from escaping, the numbers tattooed on the arms, the death marches, the use of newly born babies for target practice by the guards, etc, etc? Maybe you should studying history before making such ridiculous claims.

          And according to Mr Teles “Alex Braithwaite, a Momentum member, was selected for a more winnable ward. I found that a surprise, when she had made those awful posts.” Are you suggesting that he is lying? Why are we never told what those awful posts were? Why the cover up?

        • Hendrik Woolf Reply

          Perhaps you should read the article you quoted again. It states that “

          A new report says that Keir Starmer’s Labour “is purging Jews from the party” – with Jews almost five times more likely to face antisemitism charges than non-Jewish members.

          It states that British Jews are experiencing “discrimination, victimisation and harassment” inside the UK’s Labour Party.

          That is hardly a case of them being expelled for antisemitism.

          At the time of apartheid in South Africa, it was white people generally who were supporting it. So why do you single out Jews specifically?

          You write so much poisonous rubbish, I don’t feel inclined to waste time reading any more of your quotes or your nonsense. I am not surprised you were chucked out of the Labour party. You would have done them a great deal of harm if you had been permitted to continue with them. It is because of idiots like you, I decided not to vote for them, which is a pity as I regard the present Hove MP as being one of the finest we have had for many years.

    • Daniel Sevitt Reply

      It’s almost as if you have never even bothered to read the Labour Party’s definition of antisemitism and just decided to spout your poisonous nonsense regardless.

      There is nothing wrong with supporting Palestinians and opposing Zionism. There is nothing wrong with pointing out similarities between the nasty thugs who shouted “Death to Arabs” and thugs in Nazi Germany. Where such comparisons become antisemitic is the point where someone accuses the whole of Israel of being like Nazi Germany or suggests that Israeli policy is akin to the policies of Nazi Germany.

      Nichole Brennan resigned. She was not suspended. Following the accusations of antisemitism, Brennan issued this apology:

      “I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused to the Jewish community and I sincerely regret campaigning in this way…This happened two years ago, before I was a councillor. At the time I was not as knowledgeable about the [D]efinition of antisemitism as I am now. I do not seek to excuse my actions.”

      Kate Knight also resigned. She was being investigate for a series of antisemitic Facebook posts.

  11. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Very well done, Jo Wadsworth. Your straight reporting on this brought a lot of stuff out of the woodwork and a fair amount of the comments from persons like Tony Greenstein illustrate just why an average voter in B&H is totally hacked off with internal party strife – whatever party that may involve.

    • Martha Gunn Reply

      Indeed – Well done Jo!

      It shows you only have to give a gentle prod to that beastly little creature Greenstein and out he pops spluttering and yelping. In all the oddities Brighton politics has thrown up over the years surely Greenstein is the most curious confection of downright unpleasantness?

  12. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    I have always been totally bemused by people who seem to equate opposition to Zionism (in the context of Israel and Palestine) with anti-semitism. Anti-semitism is generally defined and understood as blanket hatred or prejudice towards all Jewish people as a religious or racial group.

    Anyone can dislike some or all elements of Israel’s behaviour towards Palestine, but, actually, Mr Greenstein & Co, that isn’t the issue here, on the local level, regarding the Council. The issue is what/how people, especially voters, in B&H feel about the city’s Jewish population and I would guess that regular voters view them as a normal part of the population, even if they are aware whether their neighbours or others are Jewish or not. Much of B&H was built and improved/developed by Jewish people – Goldsmid, Mocatta etc – and nobody seems to have issues about them. Anti-zionism is not at all the same thing as anti-semitism.

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