THE city’s Labour party has been suspended by its national bosses over safety concerns for its members in the wake of last week's executive elections.

Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party has been suspended and last week’s election results declared void while an investigation is carried out.

The National Labour Party said it was taking the action following “many complaints and reports of concern” submitted in the past seven days concerning alleged abusive behaviour and improper ballots.

A complaint has also been raised against council leader Warren Morgan who is accused of bringing the party into disrepute.

The suspension follows last Saturday’s AGM which saw hundreds more voters attend than expected and an overwhelming majority vote for Momentum candidates – the left wing group of the Labour party affiliated to leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Successful candidates voted on to the party’s executive slammed the move as an “undemocratic intervention” in response to “malevolent and unsubstantiated rumours and smears”.

Senior Labour figures warned the issue was likely to hang over the party for months and raised fears that the two diverging factions of the party could lead to a split.

The decision by the party’s National Executive Committee disputes panel chairman was announced late on Thursday afternoon.

A new vote is to be held at a re-scheduled AGM in either October or November following the conclusion of the party’s national leadership contest.

The Argus understands the complaint against Cllr Morgan was filed by a party member accused of spitting at a City College Brighton and Hove staff member during the AGM.

The party member has accused Cllr Morgan of making claims against him on social media which were damaging to the party's reputation even after he had contacted him to assure him the accusations were incorrect.

Labour Party member Greg Hadfield said there were “no raised voices, no arguments, no shouting” at the AGM where he was voted in as party secretary.

He said senior Labour figures took to Twitter following the result to tweeting "malevolent and unsubstantiated rumours and smears".

He added: “When I saw the letter, I was appalled that such an undemocratic intervention made at a time when we should have been celebrating what was one of the finest days in the history of our local party.”

A Labour spokesman said: “No abuse of any kind by Labour Party members or supporters is tolerated.

“Any complaints of bullying or intimidation and allegations of misconduct are always taken very seriously.

“We would encourage anyone who has been the subject of threats to inform the party and contact the police.”

Councillor Morgan said he would not comment while the investigation was active.


THE growing crisis with the city’s Labour party goes to the very heart of the battle that is raging over the future and control of the national party.

Brighton has always been home to passionate political radicals and the unexpected rise to Labour leader by Jeremy Corbyn has lit a spark leading to the creation of the country’s biggest constituency party of some 6,000 members.

But that influx of new members has created tensions with long- servers over the direction of the party and concerns about the loyalties of new members with recent affiliations to other parties.

One anonymous former member said he quit the party in recent months, disillusioned with the direction it was heading.

He said: “The local party has changed quite dramatically since Corbyn came in. I spoke to one guy who said he was a member of the Green Party and a member of the Labour Party.

“I left due to the increasingly authoritarian atmosphere at a local and national level, there has been a growing hostility towards those who I would consider are of a mainstream, reasonable, political persuasion.”

As with all battles in politics, the fight over the future of the Brighton and Hove Labour Party is a lot to do with politics and a bit to do with personalities.

Representing the more centrist faction of the party is council leader Warren Morgan who has faced criticism from more left-wing members for failing to take a more active role in opposing the Conservative austerity cuts.

Chief among those critics has been Greg Hadfield, now a leading Momentum figure in the city having briefly held the role of party secretary before the NEC suspension declaration, through a stream of articles in the Brighton and Hove Independent he edited for more than two years until last year.

The hugely-successful and combative journalist, who has held senior roles at the Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph and who sold the football website Soccernet he founded with his son Tom for £25 million in 1995, was particularly scathing of the Labour’s administration’s reduction in council tax support for the city’s poorest families.

Mr Hadfield, who was previously suspended from the local Labour party because of his conduct, has also been highly critical of the decision not to select councillor Leigh Farrow for re-election, which he labelled an “insult to democracy”, and the ousting of chief executive Penny Thompson from her role in June 2015 – all written in his own inimitable and unmistakeable style.

This week’s suspension is set to only increase tensions within the party as accusations and counter accusations fly.

Trade unionist Phil Clarke, who was voted on to the executive in Saturday’s vote, said he wanted to see the AGM election results reinstated, insisting that they were carried out properly and showed a clear majority for the “supporters of Jeremy Corbyn”.

He added: “The vote was carried out entirely properly so the only conclusion could be the decision is due to the fact the result wasn’t liked. I think the party can stay together if the democratic results are respected, results like the one we had in Brighton and Hove and the results of the leadership election.”

Another successful candidate, Simon Burgess, warned divisions within the party would remain unresolved for months and that a split from the party could occur after the leadership contest concludes in September.

He said: “No one would pretend that we are not a party with two very different points of view and until this leadership contest is over, I don’t feel the party nationally or locally can move forward.

“I never expected the party to be in this position again of the late 1980s and early 1990s and I don’t see how it helps that we have people attacking each other.

“I find the most frustrating thing is party members turning on each other, the real enemy for me is and always will be the Conservative Party and I am really disappointed we are where we are. To me [a split or breakaway in the party] is a possibility whichever end of the spectrum comes out on top.

“There is every chance of a split at the end of all this.”

In the background to all this infighting, the party will have to fight an important by-election in East Brighton in the wake of Maggie Barradell’s resignation last month due to family reasons.

The East Brighton ward is the Labour stronghold in the city and would usually be a shoe-in but could be sabotaged as part of a political protest.

Mr Burgess said he believed that the party’s candidate, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, had the backing of both factions to avoid this happening.

He said: “It is a shame that the by-election is being played out against this background and I very much hope that people would not throw it out the window because of what is going on within the party.”