1 Mar 2013

Councillor Ben Duncan on why he voted against the Green Party Brighton and Hove budget

Morning all

Firstly, thank you all who came along to last night's budget-setting council meeting - and the kind and supportive words of those of you who were unable to come along - both make such a huge difference.

And well done to all the councillors who spoke: you are all inspiring and make us all so proud.

As most of you will know by now, the Green administration's budget was passed, and it contains loads of great measures: keeping all the city's children's centres open, almost doubling the homelessness budget, establishing a hardship fund for those city residents pushed to the wall by council tax benefit cuts, a 4% year-on-year reduction in the council's carbon emissions, to name just a few highlights. More info on full budget as adopted, for anyone interested, can be found here: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c1269134

But in the interests of accountability, I wanted to explain that I voted against it, and (briefly) why.

In a nutshell, this year saw a £10.7m reduction in government funding for locally delivered services in Brighton and Hove - one of the deepest cuts (7.6%) faced by any council in the country.

The budget approved last night puts these cuts into practise, and, coming on top of cuts to benefits, Legal Aid for immigration and benefit cases, support for victims of domestic violence, mental health services, the privatisation of much of the NHS, and so on, these cuts, to my mind, represent just another salvo in the Government's ongoing vicious war on the poor and most vulnerable - and, while I am full of respect and admiration for my freinds and colleagues who reached a different conclusion, I felt a vote for the budget was, in a meaningful way, a vote for this programme of cuts - and in that context I felt I had to oppose it.

I am really proud to be part of unwhipped and (with one or two exceptions) supportive and kind group of councillors, that allowed me to make this decision - and understood that it was about representing a large number of GP members' views, both here in Brighton and Hove and beyond.

I hope members will understand that my decision, which has already attracted positive overtures from some outside the party , was motivated by a personal decision about how best to oppose this nasty Government's programme of cuts to the most vulnerable - and not in any way a desire to see the Green budget fall, or out of support for the Tory's tax-cutting position (something which was hinted by T'Anus coverage last night).

I also hope the party will capitalise on the fact that this position is shared by many both within and beyond our ranks by publicising my position, both to Green Party supporters and to those involved in anti-cuts campaigns.

Lastly, to those party members who feel my position was unhelpful to the party, or an affront to them personally, I apologise: it was certainly never intended to be either of those things.



Jack Mcglen said...

Ben, please don't apologise. Your actions represent the views of a large swathe of Green Party activists and a growing anti-cuts sentiment amongst the public.

Anonymous said...

actually thats one of the most mature pieces of writing ive seen from anyone.its important that all against the cuts advocate to the public the alternative. and show opposition to them. we need to be respectful to each other because argueing over whether councilors should or should not set budgets is destroying the anti-cuts movement.

Jessica Goldfinch said...

I'm not sure if I agree with you or not, because I haven't seen the evidence.
It hardly matters, because it is clear that you and your colleagues care a great deal about what you do and the gravity of your responsibility.
We need more of this.
All best,

Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles

Derek Wall ’s article entitled  Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles , argues that Ma...