Wednesday, May 22, 2019
It won’t come as a surprise to any regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Blogger) that I think you should vote Labour tomorrow (if you haven’t already done so because you have a postal vote).
I vote Labour because, as my old friend and comrade from the UNISON NEC, Paul Holmes, used to say of solid Labour voters, “I am Labour”. I stuck with our Party through the worst of times because it is the Party of the working class, and I would no more leave the Labour Party than I would leave my trade union (which is affiliated to the Party).
I observe that today the collective relationship between workers and the Party, mediated through trade unions, is greatly weakened and that many people – including radical and progressive voters – treat electoral politics as if it were an exercise in consumer choice.
Therefore, I will say something about why a Labour vote tomorrow is the right choice for those who think that voting ought to be a matter of choice.
First, if you approach the European elections as being about what they ought to be about – the election of Members of the European Parliament – then it makes sense (if you are a decent human being) to cast your vote to elect more members of the Party of European Socialists, the only group which could possibly beat the European People’s Party (the Christian Democrats - European mainstream Tories) to being the biggest group in the European Parliament.
If the Socialist Group is the largest group in the European Parliament that will be a good thing for the whole of Europe – and almost certainly the best hope we have of trying to reverse the reactionary “populist” tide which is rising across the Continent.
Secondly, if what you want to do with your vote had nothing to do with the composition of the European Parliament but is instead about “sending a message” to Westminster parties in connection with Brexit then what you should do obviously depends upon the message you want to send.
If the message you want to send is that you want our politicians to “get on” with Brexit then I can only suggest, in the nicest possible way, that you are in the wrong place here. My advice to you would be to vote Labour as a way of making up to the rest of humanity for the damage you have probably already done.
But if you want to “send a message” about a second referendum or about remaining in the European Union (the two not necessarily being the same of course) then I can see why you might – superficially – be tempted to vote for one of the parties who have morphed into single-issue campaigns for the purposes of this European election and class themselves as “remain” parties.
However, the MEPs your votes will elect tomorrow have no influence over any votes on Brexit and, neither the handful of Liberal Democrat (or “funny tinge” Party) MPs, nor my own constituency MP can possibly deliver either of those outcomes in the Westminster Parliament. Labour – before or after a General Election – can do this, and indeed our Conference policy now calls for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal (since every other option has been exhausted).
The more (remain supporting) Labour MEPs are elected tomorrow the stronger the voices within our Party who are opposed to Brexit will be.
So, tomorrow, vote Labour.
If I had had any doubts about the joint announcement yesterday by Labour Council Leader, Nancy Platts and Green Leader of the Opposition, Phelim McCafferty, about how the two parties will aim to cooperate for the benefit of the people of Brighton and Hove, such doubts would have been chased away by the risible commentary of former Tory Group Leader, Tony Janio in today’s Argus.
Mr Janio, recovering from having led the Tories to their worst ever result in Brighton and Hove (and from his subsequent resignation as Group Leader) is not at his most lucid or persuasive. He harbours an obsessive fear of “extremism” and is certain that Labour and Green Party members will be disappointed at failing to turn the City into a “hotbed of revolution”.
Any member of a Party led by the current Prime Minister is presumably already used to disappointment, and Mr Janio should probably get used to the feeling. When I was growing up in Brighton it was a Tory town, but now the Tories are very much the third Party on the Council, with two members on each of the main policy Committees (compared to four each for Labour and the Greens).
It’s kind of the Argus to give space to a former political Leader who is coming to terms with what has happened to him – and good of them to juxtapose his piece with another story about people who deserve to be taken just as seriously.
Monday, May 13, 2019
At the first part of the Annual General Meeting of the Labour Group on Brighton and Hove Council this evening, Nancy Platts was elected as Leader of the Group. Nick Childs was elected Deputy Leader; Daniel Yates was elected Deputy Leader (Finance) and Clare Moonan was elected Chief Whip.
This is a strong and balanced leadership team, with a popular choice for Leader, bringing in an excellent newly elected Councillor as Deputy Leader whilst drawing upon the experience of a former Leader (to lead on Finance) and of a former Chief Whip.
Party members will appreciate that this leadership team also reflects the political breadth of the Group itself. The new leadership will need to hit the ground running both in order to respond constructively to the Green Councillors’ limited offer of support in some policy areas, and to ensure that, from the start, the new Group is integrated with the Party.
Most of all, Labour Group needs to implement our manifesto.
Good luck comrades!