Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/661/11323
Brighton: Labour and Green Party councillors fail to stop Tory budget
ON THURSDAY 3 March, Brighton and Hove council passed a budget condemning the city to £24 million of cuts.
Peter Knight, Brighton Socialist Party and Clive Heemskerk
No one party has a majority on Brighton council. The 24 Tory councillors, as the largest group, presented a budget with £26 million of cuts.
But £2.7 million of these were defeated by the combined votes of the Labour and Green groups, with 13 councillors each. Nevertheless, the Labour and Green Party amendments still meant a cuts budget, with more than 200 council jobs to go.
On the final vote of the night - on their own amended budget - the Labour councillors abstained which, with the Tories voting for the 'reduced cuts budget', allowed the Greens to make a gesture by voting against.
Afterwards the Greens claimed that they could have wrung more concessions from the Tories "if Labour had held its nerve". But their own 'alternative budget' accepted that deep cuts had to be made, ruling out the idea of setting a 'needs budget' that would not pass on the Con-Dems' cuts.
It was a sham to pretend that the Labour Party, long-time bedfellow with the Tories in loyalty to the commands of bankers and the City, would attempt to prevent its own 'slightly less nasty' attack on our living conditions from taking place.
Labour leader Gill Mitchell tried to deny that Labour's previous administration had attempted to flog off all of Brighton's council homes. A magnificent 78% vote of tenants had defeated Labour's costly privatisation plans and many of those Defend Council Housing campaigners were present on Thursday evening in the council public gallery.
Earlier police cleared the public gallery at the Tories' behest after members of the public had demanded an apology, having been insulted by Tory councillor Maria Caulfield. A group of 20 campaigners refused to leave and sent out a call for others to join the protest.
Trade union reps were threatened with arrest for no reason and members of the public were denied entry to the public gallery.
In one moment of ludicrousness, Tory council leader Mary Mears forced a security guard to remove a placard from the public gallery she had deemed threatening, which simply stated the word 'Hope'.
And no wonder she and her Tory and Labour cronies are scared. A hundreds-strong trade union and Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition-led march had come to the door of Brighton council chamber, calling for an end to being punished for a crisis caused by the rich.
Socialist Party members alongside other 'stop the cuts' campaigners are preparing to stand under the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) banner in May's council elections to give working class communities the chance to defend themselves and build an alternative voice in the council chamber.
In The Socialist 9 March 2011:
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature