COLUMN: ‘It’s time to have a Labour MP in this vital Brighton seat’ Brighton News

It will come as no surprise to hear a Labour councillor urging people to vote for his own party, but I genuinely believe the time is right to elect a Labour MP in Brighton Pavilion once again. If residents are faced with a choice between a Green Party candidate parachuted in from London, only able to shout from opposition, and a progressive local Labour candidate who forms part of a government that builds a new economy and secures funding for the city, we would be wise to choose the latter.

The country is in a state and residents know it. Prices, rents and mortgages are going up while wages stagnate and public services crumble. Will Labour fix all our problems overnight? No. But every Labour government since the Second World War has improved the country for ordinary people and increased funding for vital public services. Think back to what Brighton and Hove was like under the last Labour government versus what we’ve experienced over the last 13 years.

Caroline Lucas has been a diligent and honourable MP but it is notable that her entire career in Parliament has coincided with a Tory government. Much of her prominence was built around strong and vocal opposition to bad Tory policies and the government’s slow progress in moving towards net zero. However, it now seems likely that there will be a Labour government elected nationally, on a platform that will include radical and meaningful action on climate change – like creating “Great British Energy”, a publicly owned energy company that will rapidly accelerate our investment in clean power and reduce energy bills for UK households.

In her resignation statement to residents, Caroline Lucas concluded that as the Green Party’s only MP she had “struggled to spend the time I want on this accelerating crisis” (ie tackling climate change). I agree with her – a solitary Green MP cannot build a new clean energy economy. We need a Labour government to do that and a local MP that can directly play a part.

The Green Party has chosen Sian Berry as candidate for the seat – someone with precisely zero connection to the city. Not only is she a Londoner who has never lived or worked in Brighton but she also actively serves as a London Assembly member and a councillor in the London Borough of Camden. Amazingly, she has recently announced she would seek re-election to the London Assembly in May 2024. Perhaps Sian could also run for the Welsh Senedd at the same time to ensure an even broader geographic spread?

Voters in both London and Brighton might wonder whether she is truly committed to either location or simply hedging her bets. Labour would do well to pick someone with strong connections to the city. We already have two excellent male Labour MPs here – I think it would be fantastic to elect a third one who isn’t a man.

Caroline has spoken eloquently against ineffective right-wing Tory governments. But it is often more revealing to look at what a party does when they take office. In Brighton and Hove, the Green Party record is far from progressive. Take two examples. The city was shocked to learn of the dozens of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children that went missing while placed by the Home Office in a local hotel. After winning the election this May, council leader Bella Sankey took the government to court and won a landmark ruling that the practice of dumping children in hotels was unlawful. Labour asked the Green council to do exactly this at a special council meeting back in March but they declined.

Then we have quadrupling parking fees around the hospital for patients and NHS workers. Labour inherited that from the last Green budget but took the decision to scrap the draconian rises when we got into office. Amazingly, the current Green leader voted to go ahead with the colossal increases even when we offered a chance to change course.

Compare the Green Party record to the action taken by our Labour council in the first 100 days. Public toilets reopened, lifeguards returned to service, Southern Water forced to fund year-round water testing for our seas.

As the general election approaches, I believe Brighton Pavilion would be best served by a progressive local MP, who can contribute to the turnaround of our country, and help secure support for the renewal of our city.


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This notice was published: 2023-08-26 04:00:00

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