Labour Brighton And Hove: The Meltdown of Democracy

There have been many reports in the local and national press in the last week or so in relation to the decision to suspend the Brighton and Hove District Labour Party.

Keep Corbyn Rally

Organised by Momentum, the rally had over 600 people in attendance, not all were labour members, on the day there were people from all aspects of life who all came together for Jeremy Corbyn.

On the day I was volunteering, the event was really busy which meant we overflowed into outside area, Jon Rodgers, and Executive Committee candidates Greg Hadfield and Kate Knight were the billed speakers as well as Seema Chandwani, Secretary, Tottenham Labour Party.

Following the appalling treatment of our democratically elected leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Keep Corbyn rally was organised to galvanise support for Corbyn candidates at the AGM.

There was no defiant march from the rally as reported, simply a large number of people leaving one venue then travelling to the next a few hundred metres away.

The Historic Brighton and Hove District Labour Party AGM

I decided that I would put my hat in the ring for one of the 10 voting Executive Committee places, when I arrived I was a little nervous, since joining Labour last year, I have experienced hostility and kindness at the same time from members to the right of the party.

But spirits were good, as I got there I was shocked to see all the members old and new queuing, we have one of the largest CLP’s in the country in terms of membership numbers, 6000 in the Brighton and Hove area alone. People simply wanted to come out and exercise their right to vote, in total we think there were 700 or so that arrived.

I ensured anyone with accessibility needs were taken in first so they didn’t have to stand for long periods, the stewards on the day did an excellent job and members slowly filled up the venue.

As a candidate I would have been able to speak, but we all agreed prior to the meeting taking place that just the five Officer’s would speak. This was fine and agreed with everyone.

You could feel there was a pro Corbyn membership in attendance, the Corbyn candidates spoke well and at point the room erupted with cheer, however I heard just one heckle through the whole three sessions.

I saw no violence, votes were cast and then placed into buckets.

The AGM count

After the three sessions had concluded we started the count, there were ample counters and observers, there was tension in the room but people were professional and got on with the job at hand.

Councillor Emma Daniel and Mo Marsh were counting votes cast, I personally observed, there were no problems with the counts that took place on that day, when the results started coming out and it was clear that pro Corbyn candidates had over 65% of the vote share, some in the right of the party left the count.

We then went for a celebration drink locally, on the way out I spoke to staff who mentioned no incidents and said it went well, so you cannot blame me for questioning the reports of violence and spitting.

I Got Elected

On the following Wednesday I had heard that I was elected on to the EC, I was elated! People had told me before they were going to vote for me, but I was shocked at the number of votes that were cast for me.

Living in Emergency Accommodation in the City, being a previously looked after child and having bipolar I see as labels, what this result meant was that finally the vulnerable and voiceless had a member elected on the EC who could represent their needs within the local party and help to organise campaigns and get these disenfranchised people back into politics.

I have been fairly successful campaigning and highlighting Issues locally, yes I have disagreements with people, but thats politics.

Then I Got Kicked Off

On the Thursday It was all over, there had been some negative press put out by the right of the party, the Momentum candidates came under constant attack, which I believe to have been deliberately orchestrated to deny democracy, at the time of writing this there has been no allegations made to the police.

We they told me I was out, my heart sank, I thought it was all a joke, the elation lasted just 24 hours and was over, reality set in and I suddenly realised what people were saying was true, they said expect a fightback.

I just think of those care leavers who are living in Emergency Accommodation in the City, Kids abandoned by parents, often failed by their corporate parents and now left in what is like a prison to rot, I think about families who are on the breadline having to rely on food banks.

I think of the recent victims of LGBT hate crime in Brighton and Hove and those who are marginalised by employers for having a mental illness, these are the people who suffered on that day, not me.

What Next…

There is a leadership contest coming up within Labour, I will be supporting Jeremy Corbyn, he is the only candidate who I trust and believe can govern the country, he is bang on the money in terms of what he wants a labour governement to achieve and I feel the other candidates are simply there to take back control from the party elites.

Over the Next few days there will be an opportunity to Join the Labour Party as a supporter, there is a disgusting £25 to have a democratic say in this leadership contest and I fear the poor and vulnerable are priced out this time, just the people who Jeremy Appeals to, but this decision may be overturned and common sense prevails.

I will also fight to reclaim my election win and be a part of the administration which will energise people locally to reclaim the Labour Party as the peoples party, in recent years we have failed and lost core Labour supporters, I was brought up in Whitehawk, I lived in a council house and I had opportunities people today wont get, its those people who motivate me to succeed.

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