Brighton Green Party votes for ‘no cuts’ budget
Ed: A fascinating new development in the city of the Greens’ only council, at a time when the party is surging.
Update: we’re now hearing that the meeting which passed this vote, while quorate under our pre-surge membership (55 members as 5% of local party membership), was potentially inquorate since the most recent #GreenSurge.
However, Paul in the comments (see below) notes that the meeting was quorate based off the branch membership at the time the agenda was sent out – which is what counts. Therefore this vote may still be something more than purely symbolic.
Nonetheless, Brighton Green Party’s constitution, which has been described as ‘authoritarian’ by even those on the right of the party, prohibits local members from instructing the local executive or councillors to act in a certain way.
A party source tells me: “Once they are elected, they are a free agent, unless there is something which comes under disciplinary issues.”
The story takes an interesting turn…
Update 2: The same Green Party meeting also demanded that council leader Jason Kitcat stand down to make way for someone who has a ‘stake’ in the upcoming elections – Kitcat is not standing again.
Reposted from Martin Francis’ Green blog Wembley Matters here
The General Meeting sets policy for the party, but cannot “instruct” Green Councillors. However, given that the General Meeting is “the prime decision-making and organisational body for the BHGP”, and has now made this vital policy decision, the party expect Green Councillors to abide by it, and if they feel they cannot, to step down.
It remains to be seen what will happen when the Budget comes up for decision in late February, but the local party has now made its position very clear – Green Councillors should not vote for any cuts budget or abstain so as to allow one to pass; and after this the party and councillors should lead a campaign of resistance to imposed cuts. If Green Councillors vote for a cuts budget of any kind, then they would be defying the clear and democratically expressed wish and policy of the local party.
The motion in full:
The cuts to local services required to “balance the budget” for 2015-16 are the direct result of massive and unprecedented cuts by central government to the local government support grant, cuts which could mean a further cut to the Brighton & Hove budget of over £100 million by 2020. This will effectively destroy local services as we know them.
The cuts required to balance the budget for 2015-16 alone would require a restoration of more than £20 million of government grant or a Council Tax rise of over 20%. The proposed 5.9% Council Tax increase is therefore not viable as a means to fight the cuts or defend the vulnerable. It is a regressive tax on the poorest, and it would hardly dent the massive cuts still required. To propose this rise in Council Tax in conjunction with a cuts budget would fatally undermine the Green Party’s anti-austerity stance locally and nationally. It is the worst of all worlds.
We are now seeing a “Green surge” and rising membership especially amongst younger voters, the primary reason for which is our inspiring anti-austerity message. If the only example in the UK of the Green Party in office were to implement a large cuts budget just before the 2015 General Election that would disillusion and alienate many of those new supporters. It is likely it would severely damage not only the local party but the national party’s prospects in the election. The Brighton & Hove Green Party will not support any Brighton & Hove Council Budget for 2015-16 that makes further cuts to local services. We support a no cuts budget identifying how much government grant now needs to be returned to Brighton & Hove to avoid horrendous damage to local services. It is therefore the policy of Brighton & Hove Green party that any budget that makes further cuts to local services should not be voted for by the Green Group of Councillors, nor abstained upon to allow it to pass.
The Brighton & Hove Green Party advocates a strategy of complete resistance to implementing further cuts to local services, including
- A massive communications campaign to explain a) why the Green Party is adopting this policy, b) the devastating effect of the level of cuts suggested for 2015-16 and the years beyond, and c) that Labour and the Conservatives will deliver those cuts because they have no policy or strategy to resist them.
- Refusal to assist any officials sent by DCLG to enforce a cuts budget upon Brighton & Hove, and wide publicity to explain this refusal.
- Working with the Brighton & Hove People’s Assembly, local campaign groups and trade unions to publicise and implement this strategy and to create a focus of resistance to cuts and the austerity agenda.