Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/769/16884
Brighton: Green council continues to carry out Con-Dem cuts
Real anti-cuts opposition needs to be built
Brighton Socialist Party
The Green Party won control of Brighton and Hove council as a minority administration in 2011, with voters looking for an alternative to the pro-cuts main parties.
The Socialist Party called for the council to set a 'no cuts' budget: opposing all cuts, not selecting some against others.
This could only be achieved by building a movement, involving the council's workers and residents, to demand central government funding is returned to the city.
Without such an approach the Greens are forced to carry out the Con-Dems' cuts - but not without facing resistance.
GMB union binworkers voted by 96% for strike action against cuts to take-home pay of up to £4,000. It has been reported that the council is planning to use agency workers to break this strike!
The Greens pledged not to evict victims of the bedroom tax. That promise has now crashed to the ground.
Threats of eviction have been sent to tenants in arrears across the city. Non-payers of council tax face £100 fines while the Green council shrugs in sad resignation.
However, the binworkers' strike has further heightened divisions within the Greens. The Brighton Green MP Caroline Lucas has supported the two-day strike and visited picket lines - against her own party's cuts!
A Green councillor approached the Labour group leader for assistance in ousting Green council leader Jason Kitcat. But, instead, Labour published the communication and refused to get involved!
The tensions inside the Greens are a reflection of the support it gained in Brightion by being seen as a vehicle to oppose austerity.
Some Green members want to, or feel pressure to, seriously fight at least some of the cuts. But they are in the wrong organisation to fight that battle.
The Green-led council has shown it is not prepared to fight for a needs-based budget, unlike the 1983-87 socialist Liverpool council that linked up with the Liverpool working class and won £60 million from Thatcher' s Tory government.
Where's our voice?
The working class needs a political voice - but the Greens cannot fulfil that role - neither in the party's programme nor social base.
Though the Green Party is a broad church with a radical wing, its programme does not go beyond the confines of the capitalist system.
Yet challenging the capitalist system, which prioritises profits for big business, is key to opposing austerity.
Fundamentally the Greens are not based on the trade unions, key organisations of the working class. The trade unions do not have any role in determining policy.
The Greens have appealed to trade unionists for support, but do not see the workers' movement as central to changing society.
Its 2010 election programme even spoke of the "corrupting effects of big private and trade union donations" - as if a donation from a millionaire is the same as being backed by money from millions of workers.
On 11 July, Brighton's Hanover and Elm Grove ward faces a byelection following a Green councillor's resignation.
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate Phil Clarke will be contesting the election.
Phil is a secondary school teacher who has lived locally to Elm Grove for many years. He is the secretary of Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden National Union of Teachers and also Brighton, Hove and District Trades Union Council.
He is a longstanding member of the Socialist Party and helped win the campaign in 2006 against the transfer of council housing management to a private company.
Phil has been a key anti-cuts activist in the Stop the Cuts Coalition and organised many events against the cuts locally, including coordinating the 10,000-strong pensions strike day demonstration on 30 November 2011.
TUSC has a 'no-cuts' platform, and calls for councils to use their reserves and borrowing powers to prevent any immediate cuts while fighting for the needed money from central government.
In The Socialist 12 June 2013:
G8 Summit protest
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review