Frustrated by a Labour/Tory alliance? No, the failure of the Greens is entirely of their own doing

In happier times: Caroline Lucas with Jason Kitcat and rebel Green councillors Phelim McCafferty and Ruth Buckley. Their petition to No 11 Downing Street was ignored.
Between two factions: Caroline Lucas with Jason Kitcat and Lizzie Deane on the left, and rebel Green councillors Phelim McCafferty and Ruth Buckley on the right.

As the Greens launch an election manifesto they know they won’t be in a position to deliver, they are at the same time busy spinning their own political obituary.

Greens supporters in Brighton and up and down the country are dismissing the appalling failure of the Green council in Brighton and Hove by saying “well of course, they didn’t have a majority”, implying that they would now be headed to a triumphant re-election had they not been cruelly frustrated by opposition councillors. It’s a line being pushed by the Green Party itself at every opportunity in an attempt to limit the damage to the re-election hopes of their only MP.

Let’s look at the facts. The Greens are a minority administration, as were the minority Conservative and Labour administrations before them, from 2003-07 (Labour, with 24 cllrs) and 2007-11 (Conservatives, with 26). There were never any discussions around a coalition or deal with Labour; they won the elections and were free to take all ten Cabinet posts vacated by the Conservatives. They held the two previous administrations to account, sometimes fairly but often unfairly, and never once said “but of course they didn’t have a majority.”

They were elected with 23 councillors (on 33% of the vote compared to 32% for Labour) and then had a year of unfettered power under a Cabinet system, which they surrendered entirely voluntarily. They lost two councillors through expulsion, and a third when one resigned and Labour won the seat in the subsequent by-election. Their leader Jason Kitcat has faced a knife-edge leadership vote every year, and been unable to unite his group around any of his administration’s Budgets. His leadership was fatally undermined when Caroline Lucas led protests against the actions of the Green council she helped elect and which he led. No wonder he is stepping down.

The facts are that the Green administration promised a thousand new homes, but failed to deliver with less than 150 being built. They pledged a “zero-waste” city, but have presided over a fall in recycling that has seen Brighton and Hove drop to the bottom of the table of local authorities. They pledged a new secondary school, but it was only this week, just 45 days before the election, that they reluctantly endorsed plans for a new free school. There were no grand plans or proposals from the Greens on any of these that were voted down by a combination of Labour and Conservative councillors.

It is true that Labour and the Conservatives did not support their Budget proposals to put up council tax by a referendum-triggering above-inflation sum last year and this, but that was no alliance – the Tory plans for a tax freeze were blocked as much by Labour and the Greens as vice-versa. Never, at any point in the past four years, has there been any arrangement, alliance or pact between the Labour and Conservative groups.

The idea that Labour and the Tories have ganged up on the Greens to frustrate them at every turn simply isn’t borne out by the facts – it was the Greens and Tories that voted through the i360 loan, the Greens and the Tories that voted through Valley Gardens, and the Greens and the Tories who took us to the brink of handing control of our city to Eric Pickles last month.

As we did during the Tory administration, we have backed measures that benefit the city put forward under the Greens. There has been cross-party consensus on many issues that never make the press. Where we have disagreed or thought the Green Party proposals are financially risky we have said so.

The Greens can’t rewrite the history of the last four years now. Their failure as an administration lies at their own hands; in the bitter division within their Group under the gravitational pull of Caroline Lucas, the “we know best” attitude that has seen them impose their schemes and views on the city, their city-centre focus that has alienated the estates and suburbs. The Greens have proven themselves masters of spin, but this is one disaster they won’t be able to spin their way out of.

As the winner of four elections in Brighton and Hove since the Greens came to power, the first to publish its manifesto and the party in second place in almost every Green-held seat, it is Labour who are best placed to defeat the leaderless Greens in May, though many might say they have already defeated themselves.


A Team That Will Work For You – Labour’s local candidates

Manifesto launchLabour has chosen its team of candidates to contest the local elections in Brighton and Hove on May 7th.

I’m proud to be leading such a strong team into the local elections, a team of local residents who will bring knowledge of their neighbourhoods and a wide range of skills and experience to the city council. We have people in our team with proven records in delivering major projects, employment and skills, the NHS, education, voluntary sector organisations and more who will run our city competently if elected on May 7th.

With the General Election on the same day, a vote for your local Labour council candidates will count in each and every one of the city’s 21 wards. Labour is best placed in the vast majority of them to defeat Green and Conservative councillors. We have won the last four elections held in the city, and only Labour can get rid of the Greens.

A list of Labour candidates is here:

Our candidates reflect our city:

  • Half of Labour’s candidates are women
  • A quarter are experienced councillors, three-quarters are new to politics
  • 10% of Labour’s candidates are drawn from the city’s LGBT community
  • There are several candidates in their 20s, and representation from the city’s BAME community.
  • Over two thirds of the current Labour councillors are seeking re-election.

Labour launched its local manifesto, “A City That Works For You” last week, pledging to deliver:

  • Improved street cleaning, refuse and recycling and an end to Green traffic schemes
  • Secure and well paid jobs, more apprenticeships and an end to youth unemployment
  • Work to tackle poverty and inequality across the city
  • 500 new council homes and measures to help tenants in the private rented sector
  • A new secondary school and excellent results for all pupils

Read the full manifesto here:

launch 2Labour is best placed to win, having won the four most recent elections in Brighton and Hove, and leads in the polls:

Labour was in first or second place in 18 of the 21 wards at the last local elections in 2011, and had near equal support to the Green Party winning 32% of the vote, just 1% less that the Greens and 3% more than the Conservatives.

Vote Labour wherever you are in Brighton, Hove and Portslade on May 7th, for a team that will deliver for you, your family and your neighbourhood, a team that will work for you.






A Council That Works For You – Labour’s Contract With Brighton and Hove

Campaign launch.3Today I am launching Labour’s manifesto for Brighton and Hove.

Our city is crying out for change. We need a city council that works, with clear purpose and strong leadership to make sure that basic services residents rely on are delivered.

We need a council that works for you and your neighbourhood, that works for you and your family, that works for you and your business. We need a council that works with the public, private and voluntary sectors to build a better Brighton and Hove together.

We need a council that delivers secure and well paid jobs, new and excellent schools, and many more truly affordable homes.

We need a council that works for every resident in every part of the city, from Portslade to Patcham, Hangleton to Saltdean, Westbourne to Moulsecoomb, not just the city centre.

The Greens have let the city down, and have proven they are not up to the job. No other party is offering the credible and sensible plan that we are setting out in our manifesto today.

Even in these challenging financial times for local councils, there is so much we can do if given the chance, and Labour has a strong and capable team ready to get to work for the city.

Vote us in on May 7th and Labour will deliver a council that works for you.

rosetteLabour’s key pledges include:

  • Ensuring cleaner streets, better recycling and a reliable refuse collection service.
  • Suspending and reviewing the traffic schemes started by the Greens, and returning to a more sensible and better managed approach to transport planning.
  • Ending youth unemployment in the city within four years.
  • Building at least 500 new council homes by 2019.
  • Delivering new rights for tenants and proper regulation of landlords.
  • Tackling poverty and inequality through a Fairness Commission.

You can read our full manifesto online here:  A City That Works For You

If you want to help us win in May and deliver this manifesto, visit our website.