At the beginning of October I wrote a piece under the title of Eastbourne MP attacks Brighton and Hove in Parliament and at that time I assumed that Caroline Ansell’s criticism was an attack on our Labour Council because it appeared to have been based on what had taken took place in the first COVID Lockdown when Nancy Platts was our Council Leader. However her more recent attack this week is clearly focused on the Green Council which is led by Phélim Mac Cafferty that took over from Labour in July 2020. The first attack by Caroline Ansell was raised with Jacob Rees-Mogg and the first part of his response was to say “This is an example, is it not, of what goes wrong when the hard left are in charge?” now of course it is impossible to know if he was referring to the Labour Council or the Green Council which of course was in power in October. Clearly Jacob Rees-Mogg’s position is that most people are in the left or hard left compared to him including many people in his own political party.
The criticism this week was a similar comment but because it took part in the Prime Ministers Questions it was arguably raising things up a level. What was surprising then was how Johnson responded. Before I reproduce those words I would like to point out that when MPs use Parliament to criticise their neighbouring areas, even if those areas are led by a different political party that the risk is that the politician making the criticism will be upsetting people in their own setting who are aware of the need for all communities to work together and not stand at the edges and criticise others. I would also like to repeat the comment that Caroline Ansell made back in October earlier in the day before she criticised Brighton and Hove. She stated
My constituency thrives on hospitality, and many jobs are dependent on it. It is also low-incidence when it comes to the virus and high-compliance when it comes to the safety measures around being covid secure.
As this was clearly in conflict to what she was saying later on that same day and what she said last week here on Wednesday as reproduced below.
CA: There is no shortage of commitment or compassion in my town of Eastbourne for homeless people, who are vulnerable and need complex support. However, neighbouring Brighton continues to send its homeless to our town, and we do not have the resources to meet this need. Three homeless people have died, and I believe that there will be inquests. Brighton is not engaging with Eastbourne Borough Council in any meaningful way, and a further 51 placements have been made in recent weeks. Will my right hon. Friend join me in urging Brighton and Hove City Council leaders to engage on this as a matter of urgency?
BJ: Yes, indeed. I thank Brighton and Hove City Council for co-operating with Eastbourne Borough Council in getting this done. There must be co-operation. No one in this country should be sleeping rough or homeless as a result of this pandemic or, indeed, through any other cause. We have invested £700 million this year to help people off the streets, and it continues to be a national priority. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for what he is doing and the various taskforces that are currently at work to prevent people from coming out on the streets again as we lift the restrictions.
So Caroline, can I suggest that you send a message to Phelim and ask him to have a discussion with you via Zoom or something similar along with David Tutt who is the leader of your own Council and try to clarify what is needed and what is actually happening. Clearly David Tutt is not in the same party as you are and your party is in opposition to David’s Liberal Democratic Council. It may be that what your colleagues led by Robert Smart know is not the full story or indeed it may be that more work needs to take place by Phelim and indeed there may be some gain from you calling together these people. Equally perhaps the Zoom should include your Parliamentary colleagues, Caroline Lucas, Peter Kyle and Lloyd Russell-Moyle and once you have resolved or understood the issues regarding the homelessness issues between our two locations, that you can begin to explore how other themes could be worked on together by Councils and MPs. After all it is joint working that you seem to be asking for and I certainly agree with that. My history of knowing David and you from Eastbourne and all of these MPs and Councillors from my own city tell me that there is a lot more that could be done with the right sort of collaboration, than is possible without it.