The Greens defended their performance and criticised their political opponents during a debate on a motion of no confidence this evening (Thursday 30 January).
The party will continue to run Brighton and Hove City Council even though Labour and Conservative councillors combined to pass the motion by 29 votes to 21 with 2 abstentions.
In the debate at Hove Town Hall council leader Jason Kitcat said: “This is a vacuous empty gesture from a minority party. At least the Conservatives have been honest enough to admit that.
“What do Labour support? We don’t know.
“This lame one-liner motion is the sum total of their response, within minutes, to our serious budget proposals to help protect social care.
“We listened to the feedback in the budget consultation and put forward a practical, principled way to address the acute funding pressures that social care is under.
“Labour’s only alternative is this petty move, rushed out without consulting their party membership.
“Our citizens deserve a greater level of deliberation and consideration than this.
“The irony is if Labour hadn’t said no to our 3.5 per cent tax proposals in 2012, we probably wouldn’t be here as the council would have been millions of pounds better off.
“But they just couldn’t resist the short-sighted freeze gimmick from the Tory minister who hates local government.
“It’s a trend though, Labour pursuing a short-termist tactical stance over the greater good for the city.
“This performance has revealed to us Councillor Morgan’s true identity.
“Just like James Bond had to face Dr No, before us we have Councillor No and his red merchants of doom – never positive, always negative.
“Councillor No says
- No to trusting the people to decide on the future of social care
- No to seafront regeneration and the i360
- No to road safety such as in Stanford Avenue
- No to being world’s first One Planet city
- No to energy and water metering
- No to equal pay and allowances
- No to expanding Stanford School
- No to funding the Eco-Tech Show
- No to Old Town improvements
“No! No! No!
“I warn you – beware having good, positive ideas for this city because Councillor No and the reds will strike.
“This is a grubby little motion seeking to distract from the real, serious challenges this city faces.
“It belittles this chamber.”
Councillor Lizzie Deane said: “I look at Councillor Morgan’s vote of no confidence and wonder where has this come from?
“Surely not our request for a referendum to ask the city’s residents for a rise in council tax?
“Not after Labour themselves raised council tax by a whopping 12 per cent and 14 per cent when they were running the city – and that was in the boom times!
“Councillor Morgan certainly hasn’t stated any reason for his actions – the supporting documentation in their notice of motion is a blank.
“This is a vacuous motion, a piece of empty political gesturing with no legal mandate to oust the city’s leadership as they themselves know only too well from the many occasions hat their own leader faced exactly this situation – and lived to tell the tale every time.
“But if Councillor Morgan were to get his way – and I would urge him and his group to be very careful in what they wish for – what would this mean for the people of Brighton and Hove?
“Would Labour enter into an unholy alliance with the Tories and join them in doling out more savage cuts to the city?
“How would they make ends meet when the cuts cut even deeper?
“Warren Morgan stated only this morning that Jason Kitcat is a magician who is deploying tactics he has never seen in 25 years in local government.
“I say, aw, Warren, what a lovely thing to say!
“Since coming into administration, and in the face of the most savage of local government cuts inflicted by central government in living memory, getting the books to balance has often seemed like pulling rabbits from out of a hat.
“So thanks for acknowledging that.
“I look back to last year’s budget, for example, and it does seem like a feat of magic that we Greens faced down the government and succeeded in protecting vital services.
“Keeping children’s centres and the libraries open, maintaining the criteria for elderly and disabled care – and this is what we continue to fight for.
“Bucking the national trend requires and tactics that aren’t always seen elsewhere – best ever GCSE results, unemployment rates lower than the national average, more shops open and the region’s most thriving economy.
“In performing these feats of magic, I heartily thank our fantastic team of officers in helping us to achieve all this.
“If the Greens were so incompetent it would be interesting to see how many Green achievements they chose to keep in the future and what they might unpick.
“Would they undo the living wage, for example, and push the poorest back into poverty?
“Would they undo the fair and transparent system of allowances? Would they bulldoze the cycle lanes?
“Would they create a free-for-all on our roads, allowing dangerous speeds and a free-for-all in parking?
“How would they pay for pensioners’ bus passes or explain away the rise in air pollution?
“Would they hand back the certificate that was awarded to the council within the past hour – the one acknowledging the council as the world’s first in sustainably managed events?
“I think you will agree that if Labour think they can run the city any better than we have, they are going to need a lot more than a touch of magic.”
Fellow Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Shall we talk about confidence?
“Given the two years in succession that the previous Labour administration running the city had no confidence motions passed against their leader Councillor Ken Bodfish – and did nothing – I have no confidence in you Councillor Morgan or the Labour Party.
“It’s funny how one rule is supposed to apply then and another now.
“Given the years of student loan debt that I will be in because I dared to go to university and educate myself while Tony Blair claimed to be obsessed with ‘education, education, education’, I have no confidence in you, Councillor Morgan, or the Labour Party.
“Given the years in which bombs rained down on Iraqi children while your party inflamed racism throughout the Middle East and let a war criminal walk the streets freely, I have no confidence in you Councillor Morgan or the Labour Party.
“But let’s get to the nub of why Councillor Morgan is putting forwards this motion and let us be under no deception about his risible claim that in 15 minutes he was able to contact all 13 of his colleagues to ask their opinion.
“Councillor Morgan is putting forwards a no confidence motion to attempt to draw a smokescreen over his own party’s failures, repeated failures, to fight austerity.
“Only this week we were reminded at a national level that Labour agree with the Tories on austerity and they agree that the poorest should pay the most to pay for the fat cats messing up our economy.
“Labour’s continuous refusal to oppose what this government is doing is telling – a good example being that if enough Labour MPs had turned up to vote we wouldn’t have the bedroom tax or if every Labour lord had turned up to vote we wouldn’t have the ‘gagging’ bill.
“It is clear that Councillor Morgan would prefer to work with the Tories rather than fight their policies.
“Indeed as my mother turned to me during the week and said: ‘What is the difference between the Tories and Labour on anything any more?’
“Indeed that’s what we are seeing panning out tonight.
“Labour leader gets told something he doesn’t like, huffs and puffs and instead of joining us to protect our vulnerable communities decides he will put together a motion that will distract from his party and indeed his faction’s role in failing to challenge this government’s priorities.
“He should hang his head in shame as the real progressive wing of the Labour Party – rather than his faction, Progress, of which Councillor Morgan is a member – the really progressive wing of the Labour Party has saluted our stance.
“This is the politics of despair from a party that gave us so little to be hopeful about in 13 years of governing this country and taxed the residents of this city 14 per cent council tax yet have the audacity to talk today about 4.75 per cent as tantamount to the poll tax.
“The politics of despair and the politics of failing, once again, to join the progressive majority in this city.
“The politics of despair where I imagine Councillor Morgan and the Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown will be sending political Valentine’s cards to one another to match the political love-in that exists between the two already.
“Because the Tories and the leader of the Labour group have more in common with each other’s politics than they do with what is right and that is to stand up and fight for people who have no voice.”
Fellow Green councillor Christopher Hawtree accused Labour and the Conservatives of political twerking and Councillor Morgan of doing Eric Pickles’s work for him.
He said that the Greens’ approach had been supported by Labour elsewhere.
Councillor Christina Summers, a former Green who now sits as an independent, said: “While I do agree with a lot of things that opposition members have said … it’s not binding so it’s pretty much a nonsense.”