Green Party councillors are making a big mistake by proposing and adopting a cuts budget in Brighton, where they are the majority party. The Green Party for some years now has been on the left of British politics, not only on issues regarding the environment but on a range of other issues as well. It has been anti-war, anti-racist and anti-cuts including playing a very positive role within CoR. Caroline Lucas has also played a good role since she has been an MP, and the Green Party has advocated policies such as the renationalisation of the railways and the utilities.
This role is placed directly in jeopardy by the decisions the Green Party has taken in Brighton. We agree with the approach taken by Green Left in their statement January 20 2012. As this pointed out, the Green Party had “an opportunity to put itself at the forefront of opposition to public spending cuts” and that the first Green led council “should be drawing up a budget which not only defends existing service provision but reverses the cuts made by previous councils and begins to develop the high quality public services that are required.”
Yet in Brighton Green Party councillors not only put forward a cuts budget of their own but in the end voted for the amended budget put forward by New Labour on February 23 at the budget making meeting. By freezing council tax levels for the coming financial year, this imposed still more cuts on the people of Brighton and in doing so won praise from Tory right winger Grant Shaps who made favourable comparisons with some Conservative authorities which themselves voted to increase council tax. Caroline Lucas and Green councillor Alex Philips made clear that they thought that the councillors should have bowed out of power on principle had the cuts been voted for by Labour and the Tories, allowing then to leave lead held high with a no cuts agenda on which to campaign.
What also of concern is that when Green Party conference took place a few days after the Brighton vote, it did not agree to debate an emergency motion which was critical of the Brighton position, apparently for technical reasons.
We agree with Joseph Healy who said in his statement of resignation from the Green Party: ‘The radical speeches of Caroline Lucas are not enough, she it was who called for a ‘different sort of politics’ at the Occupy Camp on the steps of St Paul’s. As Athens blazes and Europe is in turmoil, many of us, angry and disillusioned with capitalism and business as usual, looked to the Green for hope…
I salute all of those radical and progressive people who remain in the party, and they will always remain friends and allies. But the party is taking a wrong fork in the road and following the advice of spin doctors and careerists. It is in grave danger of becoming just another ‘grey party’ and part of the setup which has led us to the state we are now in.”