City Council criticizes Brighton Labor for lack of diversity

BRIGHTON and Hove’s “only ethnic minority representative on the Council” has criticized the Labor group after it was stripped of the power to select candidates in next year’s local elections.

Labor candidates for the Brighton and Hove general election are now chosen by a panel chosen by the national party over concerns about anti-Semitism and ethnic minority representation.

It comes after several Labor councilors were suspended over anti-Semitism allegations. After one of those suspended was reinstated, Councilor Peter Atkinson resigned from the Labor Party in protest and sat on the Council as an Independent.

The national party also raised concerns that black and ethnic minority candidates were not elected to seats where Labor was likely to win.

In an article on the ConservativeHome website, Conservative Councillor Samer Bagaeen said: “The news that Labor Party selection for next May’s Brighton and Hove City Council elections has been taken away from the local party over anti-Semitism and a lack of diversity comes as No surprise.

“While the takeover was mainly driven by the anti-Semitism issues, it was also partly driven by concerns in Labor that black and ethnic candidates were not being selected for winnable seats, but were being relegated to safe Green and Conservative sections.

“In fact, the only representative of an ethnic minority on the Council is really one of you, a Conservative.

He also criticized the Greens and Labor Party’s decision to introduce ‘cooptees’ in some council committees, whom he described as ‘unelected activists’ who ‘provide a fig leaf for the problems of ethnic minority selection’.

Cllr Bagaeen said: “The city and its ethnic minorities would be better served if Labor and the Greens instead sought to diversify their candidates and stop pushing ethnic minority candidates into unwinnable seats.

“At the moment, Brighton and Hove’s UK Capital Council remains the least diverse – and that’s not good for our local residents.”

Brighton and Hove Labor co-leaders Carmen Appich and John Allcock welcomed the support of the national party to ensure the party has a “more diverse team, representative of the city we serve”.

In a joint statement, they said: “We have facilitated meetings between local Black people and ethnic minorities [Bame] Labor Party members and national party staff to share their experiences and feelings on internal selection processes.

“During our tenure, we supported the Black Lives Matter protests, began a review of plaques, street names and monuments, ensured closer scrutiny of the ethnic wage gap in Council, and conducted training on unconscious bias and anti-racism across Council and Council through curriculum .

“We aim to build on this work in the future with a more diverse team of councillors, so we are delighted that the national party has agreed to have Bame represented on the selection committee.

“Anti-Semitism is a scourge of our society and anyone who has ever breached our zero tolerance policy on it has rightly been removed from the Labor Group.

“If the national party can help us with a more rigorous screening and training program ahead of the next local elections, that can only be a positive thing and we wholeheartedly welcome their contribution.”

A Labor Party spokeswoman said: “We will take all steps to deliver candidates of the highest caliber and look forward to working with them to defeat the incompetent Green government in Brighton and Hove.” City Council criticizes Brighton Labor for lack of diversity

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