Green calls for a “progressive alliance” in the city fail to acknowledge a number of facts.
Last week’s Brighton and Hove Independent carried a view on the Labour conference by a number of leading Green figures in the city. Once again, their calls for a “progressive alliance” in the city fail to acknowledge a number of facts.
The first is that the Greens lost the elections in May. They were rejected by the electorate in a big way, losing half of the seats they won in 2011, a dozen of them to Labour - leaving them with fewer councillors than they have had for almost a decade. Even those who backed Caroline Lucas gave a resounding “no” to a Green council with six Green-won seats in Brighton Pavilion being filled by Labour councillors. The Greens have to acknowledge, as Labour has done nationally, that they were rejected in May.
Residents in Brighton and Hove did not believe the Greens were competent to run the council; they saw them as divided and not in tune with voters' priorities. They elected Labour to run the city council instead. Time after time on the doorstep, I was told “just get the Greens out”. And that is what we did. While we will work with all parties on the council in the interests of the city and forge a cross-party consensus wherever possible, we are not offering the Greens a route back to power via any behind-closed-doors deals.
Of course, the Greens talk about co-operation in public, but their views in private and their actions in the council chamber show a different approach.
Days after the election, Green councillors were pledging to “create havoc”; they have tabled motions critical of Labour from the word go, and much of what they do is aimed at portraying us in a bad light. The Greens’ actions need to match their words. Even the Tories are giving the Labour administration the benefit of the doubt, suspending judgement until we have started enacting our policies in earnest.
The Greens are very worried. They have seen their remaining members and activists, who stuck with them through the debacle of the past four years, haemorrhage to Labour in the city. Labour’s membership across Brighton and Hove has grown from around 1,500 in May to over 4,000 now - far more than all of the other parties combined. Evidence from polls and by-elections in recent weeks suggests a collapse in Green support. The prospects for a Green revival seem slim, so it is no wonder they now seek to jump on the Labour bandwagon.
We will get on with the job we were elected to do: getting basic services right, bringing investment into the city, boosting jobs and apprenticeships, building new and affordable homes. We will deal with the tens of millions of pounds in cuts being imposed on us by government in the fairest way possible and will fight for a fairer settlement at every opportunity. We won’t repeat the gesture politics mistakes of the Greens and ignore the realities of the situation we, as a council, face.
The city voted for realism not idealism in May and there is no going back.