Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Green Party in Brighton Votes to Defy LibLabCon Austerity

BREAKING NEWS! Brighton Green Party passes motion supporting 'No Cuts' budget - Join the resistance
(Hat tip to Wembley Matters Blog)
Breaking news from Brighton

This is the full and final text (below) of the No Cuts motion passed by a large majority at a quorate and wellattended meeting of the Brighton and Hove Green Party today.  The General Meeting sets policy for the party, but cannot "instruct" Green Councillors. However, given that the General Meeting is "the prime decisionmaking 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.

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This General Meeting notes the Motion passed unanimously (with one abstention) at the December 2015 General Meeting that the Brighton & Hove Green Party supports the production of an alternative Budget for 2015-16 that would protect local services and employment, not cut them.

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 and 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 and 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 and Hove, and wide publicity to explain this refusal.
·         Working with the Brighton and 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.

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