Brighton & Hove council has been led by a minority Green Party administration since 2011. They were honest before their election that they wouldn’t set an illegal budget to resist austerity. Only two of their candidates signed the pledge against all cuts that we in the Brighton Stop The Cuts Coalition sent to all candidates. But they continue to talk about being an anti-austerity and anti-privatisation party.
were led to believe would happen after their strike against the council’s attempt to cut their pay. (This was a strike that reinforced bitter divisions among the green group on the council reminiscent of the left-right split in Labour councils in the 1980s. Green MP Caroline Lucas, who supported the strike hilariously handed out kitkats to strikers on the picket line, a reference to Jason Kitkat, the much unloved leader of the green group.)
Approved Mental Health workers in Unison have also had to take strike action against management in the council. Many on the left seem to react with glee at every hint of “sell out”, even though they had no reason to believe that things would be any different. Even many of the Green councillors themselves knew running Brighton & Hove would be a nightmare, with one declaring that accepting office was going to be like accepting a “poisoned chalice”. But few of us expected a Green council to mimic the Tory & Labour mania for privatisation. Especially when our Green MP speaks so passionately about keeping the NHS public
But have the Greens really voted to privatise part of the NHS?
Sussex Defend the NHS is an excellent campaign bringing together the GMB, hospital staff and campaigners way beyond the usual suspects. One of their activists has asked me to post this on my blog, in order to help clarify the situation. They are absolutely not Green or Labour supporters. But in order to oppose any attacks on public services, locally accountable services or workers rights, we must be absolutely clear what we are fighting. Hyperbole and exaggeration play into the hands of politicians like Jason Kitkat as they make it easier for him to dismiss us. With more cuts and attacks on local democracy in the pipeline, we need to be able to take on all their arguments, however cleverly put.
“The vote was not to privatize substance misuse services. It was to award the contract to a 3rd sector provider. This is important, as insisting it was privatization merely allows Kitcat to wriggle off the hook by saying we are misrepresenting him and no privatization took place. However, what Kitcat & Co have done is to transfer a service out of the NHS and into the hands of a non-NHS provider who are in tandem with another NHS trust who are believed to be contemplating a move away from AFC terms and conditions and becoming a ‘social enterprise.’ The facts are thus- a service has been transferred out of the NHS. That transfer was against the wishes of the staff who work in that service. It was also against the wishes of the residents of Brighton & Hove, 1700 of whom had signed a petition opposing the transfer which was presented to the committee effecting the transfer. In completely disregarding this, Director of Public Health Tom Scanlon, Green leader of the council Jason Kitcat and all the others who either advocated this transfer, voted for it or abstained, have shown a complete contempt for democracy. It is shameful. Moreover, following the bin workers dispute, it must surely have fatally affected the chances of the Greens, who were elected on a ticket offering radical change from austerity and privatization, being re-elected”