Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cuts....don't vote for them. Don't implement them!

As I write Labour and the Greens have published their "alternative budgets" for Brighton and Hove City Council. There are some positives in there - not blowing a million on removing a cycle lane and not making a gimmicky 1% cut in council tax, and putting some of the money into services. But it is really about moving some money about - it is not going to stop £26 million of cuts.

Although Labour and Green councillors talk about opposing cuts (well a bit, in the case of Labour), in reality they won't VOTE against them.

The Green Party councillors unfortunately buy into the notion that they cannot resist. Both Bill Randall and Jason Kitcat say they "have to" set a "balanced budget".

Essentially this is because the Greens and Labour do not have a perspective of building a national movement linking up with service users and council workers to refuse to implement cuts being imposed by a weak coalition government which has no democratic mandate for what they are doing.

Instead these councillors see their role as "social workers" making the best of things, trying to mitigate the worst effects.

What are they going to do when the ConDems come back for more....and more...?

The picture above shows the Wisconsin workers occupying the state Capitol - what an inspiration. But even the Democrat members of the State Legislature there are taking more direct action than most English councillors who identify themselves as on the left. They have left the state so that they cannot be forced to attend meetings to make them quorate so that Walker's cuts and union busting get voted through.

The "left" councillors here are not being asked to leave Brighton - just to put their money where their mouths are.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

Cllr Jason Kitcat said...

Dear Andy

These are tough issues and they weigh heavy on us.

If there was a clear, strong national movement of councils resisting cuts that would be one thing, however in recent weeks we have seen a raft of councils (including many Labour-led ones) approving cuts budgets.

One council here or there is not going to overturn the constitutional power that Westminster has in imposing massive, unnecessary, ideologically driven cuts on our budgets.

The other factor is the change in the law since the Thatcher years. If we just never set a budget then the finance officer will do it for us - which is hardly likely to be more accountable or fair than what councillors can achieve.

So yes, the role of the councillor has been diminished, as has that of local government as a whole. Again this is what MPs in Westminster need to change.

Our alternative budget does the best we can in the circumstances, which is surely better than doing nothing.

Still who said we weren't going to vote the budget down on Thursday? We will decide tomorrow.

All the best,