Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/13807
Brighton debate with Green councillor on fighting the government cuts
A Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition (BSTCC) debate on 2 February was attended by over 120 people. Green party Brighton council cabinet member for finance, Jason Kitcat, gave a brief introduction to the budget proposals, which was followed by a reply from Andy Richards, Unison local government chair (personal capacity), and Phil Clarke, National Union of Teachers (personal capacity), BSTCC and Socialist Party.
Councillor Kitcat described the situation the council has been put in by the Tory-Liberal Democrat government - a 33% reduction in funding from central government grants, amounting to £10.5 million for 2012, with an additional £17.7 million for 2013/14.
He explained that in response to this, 'tough decisions' had to be made by the Green councillors. Their proposals amount to £35 million of 'savings' over the next two years.
The impact of these cuts will see 120 posts axed, as well as funding reductions in a number of vital services.
Phil Clarke described "the biggest con in history"; where a financial and economic crisis of the banks and big business is being presented as the fault of public sector workers and service users, who are now being told to pay the price! While Jason Kitcat agreed with this analysis, it became very clear that words of protest are simply not enough.
Speaker after speaker agreed with Phil Clarke and Andy Richards who argued that a stronger fightback is needed from the Green council.
They pointed to the Green election campaign in May last year, which correctly called for opposition to the cuts, and highlighted the sheer hypocrisy of this government, but where is the fightback they promised? Even if, as the Greens argue, the main brunt of the cuts have been minimised over the next two years, the 'savings' they are handing to the Treasury will never again be seen by the city unless a fight is conducted to see funding returned.
Members of Brighton and Hove Socialist Party, along with others, argued for the council to campaign for a 'needs' budget; a budget that reflects the needs of the people of Brighton and Hove instead of the cuts dictates of the government.
If the Green Party was serious about resisting the cuts they would use the platform of their council leadership and also Caroline Lucas's seat in parliament, to demand that the government return the money stolen from the people of Brighton and Hove.
We explained that councillors' hands were not tied by the law, contrary to the Green Party arguments.
We also made it clear that a mass, working class political party is desperately needed as an alternative not only to Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats, but also to the Greens if they fail to take a stand.
A party that is built by and accountable to the working class is needed to genuinely oppose these government attacks.
Meanwhile, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is standing candidates in elections, helping to advance the fightback against capitalist austerity.
- The final budget meeting will take place on 23 February, 4:30pm, at Brighton Town Hall. The Socialist Party fully supports BSTCC's call for a mass lobby to take place to oppose the cuts.