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Brighton’s Labour Party picks Purna Sen as candidate

This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner

Brighton is one of three Constituency Labour Party selection processes to attract attention in recent weeks. Falkirk caused a “falling out” between Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Len McCluskey over the role and influence of the unions in selecting candidates, a punch up drew attention to Glenda Jackson’s old seat in Hampstead and Kilburn and Andy Newman of Socialist Unity ran a witch hunt against Anne Marie Waters in Brighton because she dared to be a secularist.

The result of the Brighton selection process has now been declared. Ms Waters did not win, but the candidate selected seems to be a good choice for Labour. Brighton and Hove Labour Party report:

Purna Sen has been selected to stand in Brighton Pavilion as the Labour Party candidate for the 2015 general election, South East Labour can reveal.

Purna lives in the city and has campaigned for equality and justice in the UK and internationally for many years. Purna has a background in policy, politics, advocacy, campaigning and education. On top of that, she has worked with NGOs and advised governments on promoting justice for all.

Purna said: “Like many residents of Brighton Pavilion I am appalled by the damage being done by the Coalition government. People are struggling to make ends meet and those who need support are condemned as scroungers and cheats.

“I will fight for people who find it hard to pay their fuel bills, who are in danger of losing jobs, who find their rents are too high, who are turning to pay day loan companies – these problems stop people living full lives and taking care of their families.

“Labour leads the way and I will fight to protect their future as well as that of the planet where we live.”

Purna has some strong views with which most of us (Newman excepted) will support. She writes on Malala’s birthday:

I went to Kabul in 2004 to work with the Education Ministries and the Ministry of Women’s affairs on issues of gender and education.  The desire to undo the harms wrought by the Taliban was deep, the commitment to catching up was strong and we worked very hard to put together ways of moving forward in policy and provision for girls’ education.  At the end of a five day training workshop I was told that a hand grenade had been left outside my training room, I was told that the Taliban was watching.  I was glad not to have been told this during the workshop but I knew the sharp distinction between the ease with which I could walk away, fly home at the end of my work and the continued dangers faced by those who would stay.

Likewise, I know that many of us whose experience of school was not of abuse and whose daughters have had similar success will not turn our backs on girls who know abuse or who do not feel confident when they leave education.  For them and for all who follow, I take a few moments today to think about the girls who are on the front line and to commit to stand with them.

Purna is a strong supporter of Trade Unions. In commenting about the excellent work undertaken by Brendan Barber (who was also one of her supporters in this contest) she writes:

At this time, I want to note and promote the importance of trade unions, to which Brendan has given his working life.  Working conditions, levels of pay, health and safety are all areas in which they have fought for and won great gains but we would be fooling ourselves if we think that victories are secure.  Each victory has to be treasured and defended – especially so at a time when real wages are falling and a flat-lining economy threatens many with increasing hardship, especially the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers, many of whom are women.

We diminish or denigrate the value of unionisation at our peril. We all have a stake in a society where everyone who is able can work, where employment is in safe conditions, where pay is at a decent and knowable level (the living wage as a minimum), where national and migrant workers aren’t played off against each other in a race to the lowest wages and worst conditions of work. Unions are critical in this and, with over six million members, not only is the trade union movement probably one of the largest membership groups in the country but workers know that Unions matter.

A candidate who deserves to win and kick out the dreadful Caroline Lucas whose Green Party has undertaken such savage attacks on trade unionists in Brighton.

In the mean time I also hope Anne Marie Waters finds a seat to contest as we could do with a few more outspoken and independent minded women (and men) in Parliament.

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