Dawn Barnett has been canceled as mayor.
An 80-year-old working-class woman, who has worked hard all her life and since being elected as a Conservative councilor has represented her constituents faithfully and well, has been shunned by her Green and Labor colleagues.
Against all precedent, they refused to accept his nomination for this apolitical role, brandishing the knife in the most brutal way.
Her opposition colleagues knew she had been nominated by the Conservative group. They knew she had to step in to replace her close friend, Councilor Mary Mears, who is ill and unable to take on the role.
They haven’t spoken to Councilman Barnett. Instead, as her friend was smitten, they allowed her to be fitted for mayoral robes and plan what charities to support, plotting the whole time to surprise her on mayoral nomination day, humiliating him in front of his family and friends.
Had it not been for the refusal to cooperate of a few principled individuals, this dreadful plan might have come to fruition.
Nevertheless, Councilor Barnett will always be opposed and therefore will not be able to hold the office of mayor. Given her age, it’s unlikely she’ll get the chance again.
The decision is extraordinary, not least because the Labor group originally planned to back his nomination, then were somehow persuaded to change their minds.
I often disagree with Councilor Barnett. She is a political “street fighter”, brutal and provocative, often very funny and always frank about what she thinks.
His ability to sway opponents and ridicule political pomposity and complacency is unparalleled. That and the respect she shows her constituents is why, despite her indiscretions, she remains hugely popular.
She has occasionally said things that I find offensive, but neither have the occasional intolerances expressed by some of her Labor and Green colleagues.
The difference is that the offensiveness of these individuals is expressed in the language of a progressive, college-educated elite, who tip their hats to diversity, inclusion and tolerance, while intolerantly excluding , and sometimes grossly insulting, those who do not correspond to its priorities. , for example because of their class, age or gender.
Graduates now dominate the cultural and political life of this city and are all too ready to berate those who don’t share their worldview.
I am very aware that when I moved to Brighton as an incoming student – like thousands of others who came before and after me – I benefited from an academic education paid for by work and taxes from local residents who often did not receive the same benefits. Councilman Barnett is one such person and as such deserves gratitude, not insults.
It is important to have a strong debate and to challenge points of view that we disagree with, but the town hall is apolitical. It might have been normal for the director general to discreetly remind the mayor-elect to avoid provocative remarks in her year in office. He should probably do this with all candidates. I’m sure Councilor Barnett would have understood that as well as anyone.
It humiliates the council to bar a working class, older woman from office. There have been many mayors, some recent, whose opinions and actions have not stood up to scrutiny. I don’t know of any who have been dismissed or removed from office.
I call on councilors to reconsider and remember the old adage that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Jean Calder is an activist and journalist. For more of his work, click here.