Cllr Tony Janio is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove Council.
The latest news from Brighton and Hove is that, despite the political scene descending further into an abyss of Momentum inspired craziness, which I described in July, we have had a glorious summer.
One highlight, for me, was observing the Pride March atop a bus for the first time. Receiving thousands of welcoming smiles and enthusiastic waves along the journey, it was only as we were approaching the final straight, when a cabal of youngsters recognised me, that I received a torrent of screaming full-on vitriol: Yes, I am the Conservative Group Leader in the ‘Socialist Republic’ of Brighton and Hove.
Given the abuse seen across the city, which was last turned up to these levels in the 1980s when Militant was in full-flow, I have nothing but respect for the 50 per cent of Labour councillors thrown onto the scrapheap after many years of loyal service: whether ‘encouraged’ to do so, or via a cruel deselection process. Momentum’s malignant influence over Labour is causing paralysis across the council and being a responsible Opposition Leader is becoming increasingly difficult.
In the 1980s, Neil Kinnock attacked Militant saying, “I tell you – you can’t play politics with people’s jobs and people’s homes and people’s services.”
But Neil Kinnock retained control of the Labour Party – that is now lost to Jeremy Corbyn and his groupies in Momentum – and I now need to consider what I can do to prevent a Momentum-induced ‘failure’ of Brighton and Hove.
In secret discussions with local Labour “grandees”, we agree that our two “great” parties are defined by a two words: Brexit and Corbyn. I am hoping that Brexit will soon be a distant, happy, memory for the Conservatives, but Labour Party moderates are now trapped in a miserable party, and quite lost on how to remove the stain of the ‘Cult of Corbyn’?
But not Warren Morgan, the former Brighton and Hove Labour Leader of the council, who has clearly had enough and has courageously called for the Labour Party to split.
Before this happens, however, I am receiving increasingly frequent pleas from Labour moderates “demanding” that I assist them in driving through their policies before Momentum take over next May. They won’t declare publicly, of course, but in their hearts they know that their ‘Leftie Colleagues’ are irredeemable, and they fear what this will mean for the city. Really, I am not making this up. We live in a strange yet beguiling world.