Sometimes we get to experience politics as it should be – fun, informative, empathetic, deep and hopeful. Last night in Brighton and Hove was one of those moments.
It was the first public outing of the a new local Compass group and after 180 minutes of brief panel speeches and group discussion of the why and what of Compass in Brighton everyone left with a smile and a bit of spring in their step. Politics by the sea need never be the same again.
Brighton and Hove is of course a special particular place – home to the first, and we hope not last, Green MP – Caroline Lucas. Also on the platform was Nancy Platts – the brilliant Labour candidate for Kemptown who lost out to the Tories in a large part because of Green votes. Both Caroline and Nancy has recently written joint articles to the local paper saying Red and Greens had to cooperate more. But how?
Also on the platform was Luke Martell from Sussex University who spoke about ideas on which Greens and Reds could cooperate, such as the politics of less work, more redistribution and more time. More importantly Luke spoke about the free university he and others are establishing in Brighton.
The meeting broke up into small groups and then reported back on the three things that could be done in the City – there were so many ideas; a safe common space, coordination of activism, specific issue campaigns, even a rerun of the election in Kemptown under PR and more.
None of it will be easy. Brighton has been a tribal town. But tribes that aren’t open die. Things have to change. Last night in a room with a waiting list that could have filled it three times over, it didn’t matter if you were Labour, Green, of no party or any interest – what mattered was what was in your heart – a yearning for a good society and the determination to work with anyone who wants that too.
Brighton and Hove have set themselves a task – to become the first political pluralist city in the country. They are already planning a big event on 24th October. Watch this space and watch others do their version of pluralism in their towns and cities.