Reflections on Brighton

After a short period at the Lib Dem conference I am still in Brighton for a couple of days. Brighton is quite a good place to reflect on the state of the UK.

Thinking back, Brighton used to be in much better nick than it is now. Many pavements are cracked and broken, many of the houses and hotels look run down and in need of repair and renovation. The seafront is not particularly special and the West Pier is still a burned out shell. Here, in one of the UKs premier resorts, there are many homeless people on the streets and many beggars as well. Hardly the sort of Britain that we Liberal Democrats want to see!

Recycing largely takes place by means of unsightly bins strewn around the streets and the former green-run council’s recycling policies made a mockery of recycling anyway.

I suspect that much of this is the result of austerity, especially the massive cuts to the finances of the local council that no longer enable it to respond to the needs of the Brighton and Hove Community.

Brexit will hardly improve matters, because hotels and restaurants here rely heavily on European workers and they may not be available after March 2019.

Although I have no direct information, I suspect that housing is expensive and that many people, especially the young, have no hope of getting on the housing ladder and live in the private rented sector with its high prices and insecurity of tenure.

Brighton is not a place where the Lib Dems do well, given that it is the parliamentary seat of the UKs one Green MP, Caroline Lucas. It is a long time since 1962 when a young Navnit Dholakia won a seat here in the post Orpington surge that saw so many Liberals elected to local councils.

Far too many people are now living in a state of fear: fears about the post Brexit world in which Liberal ideas are crushed by the ideologues of right and left; fears about money and whether food and essential supplies will be available; fears for the future of our children and grandchildren. It used to feel good to live in the UK and now it doesn’t anymore.

So how do we Liberal Democrats offer hope to Brighton and the rest of the UK?

I suggest that it isn’t by being moderate or centrist. Rather we need to offer a peaceful revolution that changes the face of the UK. Radical and progressive policies that devolve power, create proper democracy both at work and in the community, policies that really tackle the huge disparities in income and wealth that are the cause of so much discontent, develop a caring welfare system that gives everyone a decent minimum income and builds lots more houses that people can afford and ensure the finance and continuing existence of the NHS. Oh and stops Brexit. Not to mention a humane immigration system that enables families to live together and welcomes people to our country.

I think the Liberal Democrats have the policies that could bring about this radical transformation. I am much less sure that we have the capability, the money and the numbers to persuade enough people to back it. Are we all prepared to devote the time, the energy and the cash to ensure this happens?

* Dr Michael Taylor has been a party member since 1964. He is currently active in the Calderdale Party.

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  • “Many pavements are cracked and broken”

    Fancy a Lib Dem naming this first among issues!

  • William Fowler 21st Sep '18 - 1:51pm

    Again, another place where there are lots of British homeless on the streets and immigrants working in hotels (that often provide accommodation for their workers)… so add up the dots, guys, post Brexit should see the homeless taking up these jobs.

  • No William. Many of those who live rough on the streets of Brighton have drink and drug problems. They would not be able to hold a job until they have been treated and are free of their addictions. Others have mental health issues and have been failed by the NHS.

  • Mick Taylor 21st Sep '18 - 4:26pm

    @David. I just wrote as I saw it
    William Fowler. The jobs were always available if people wanted them. EU workers only come here to fill gaps that UK workers can’t or won’t fill. Of course Brexit will most likely destroy the other S Coast big earner, English language teaching. Brighton really will have no way to earn its way out of the mess.

  • Some valid points Michael but I still like the feel of the place. Brighton is a place which seems to welcome open minds, alternative lifestyles and all kinds of diversity. The bus services are good and the station is much friendlier than London Victoria (where the lifts are closed “for engineering works”). My appreciation may be affected by my being able to come out of the Premier Inn, go to the co-op for the Guardian and then to Wetherspoons next to the co-op to read it over breakfast!

  • Michael is spot on about the rubbish, and Geoff about the open mindedness and diversity. Brighton has many of the same social problems as other seaside resorts such as Bournemouth but overall has a more optimistic and upbeat sense about it. My guess is that it has a lower rate of violent crime than many other cities of its size and that that might be related to the ubiquity of cannabis use.

  • Mick Taylor 21st Sep '18 - 9:36pm

    Geoff Reid. You still support Brexit loving Wetherspoons? Shame!

  • I was at conference too and had a good time overall, but one of the less appealing aspects of it was that I heard the word “moderate” far too often. Being “moderate” alone is probably not going to tackle some of the important issues you illustrated, if were going to persuade anybody I think we need a bold radical message, with the policies to match.

  • I went to Sussex University / College of Education in 1968 and Brighton was not a particularly appealing place then. But for old times sake I walked along the sea front towards the marina looking for the first place I lived in 1968. It used to be called a Terrace. Now it has been converted into posh flats and is called Mansions! Actually the further you go from the centre along the sea front in both directions, the better it gets so the homeless, filthy streets and overflowing commercial waste bins near the conference centre perhaps don’t do it justice.

  • 1 – you clearly don’t know what the ‘ burned out shell’ of the West Pier means to people here. It’s the most iconic and most photographed thing in Brighton.

    2. Thanks for highlighting all of the issues that Brighton is facing – most of which are a result of the austerity that the Lib Dems started.

    3. I would love to hear some examples of why you think this: ‘green-run council’s recycling policies made a mockery of recycling anyway’ – I don’t think there are any real concrete reasons to think this – If you understand the issues the Greens actually did well and the blame lies elsewhere – happy to inform you!

  • Richard Underhill 28th Sep '18 - 7:29pm

    Remember what new member John Cleese said at federal conference during the Ashdown leadership. Does anyone still have the speech? BBC perhaps?

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