The following piece was published on 8th May 2023 in Brighton & Hove News. https://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2023/05/09/away-with-jiggery-wokery/
Labour have won by a landslide in Brighton & Hove’s recent Council elections
After years of quiet collusion with the Greens, Labour finally realised how deeply unpopular Green policies had become. Sensibly, though belatedly, during the election campaign, they placed some distance between that party and their own.
The most recent Labour local manifesto was a model of common sense, avoiding the wokeish posturing about diversity and inclusion that has become so widespread. It simply commits Labour to work with the people of Brighton & Hove to deliver basic services well, in an environmentally responsible way.
The Greens deserved to lose badly, and I thought they probably would, but did not anticipate how dramatic their fall would be. I feared they might be saved by the student vote they have so cynically deployed in previous years. However, if they attempted it this time, it did not work – something that gives me renewed faith in democracy, and students.
The Greens are ideologues, whose schtick when campaigning is to present themselves as principled, hard working environmental warriors, ‘different’ from other political activists. The difficulty with this, is that is that when councillors fall short of these high ideals, for example, by trashing the environment, or appearing self-serving, corrupt, discriminatory or simply lazy, voters will feel especially let down. They may give councillors the benefit of the doubt for a while, but once voter-scepticism sets in, political collapse is likely to be rapid and dramatic.
Individual Green councillors may indeed be principled and hard working, but overall their administration has failed the city in many practical ways, from closure of public toilets through to failure to get to grips with weeds and recycling, graffiti and street clutter, and neglect of parks and heritage sites. They have committed the city to costly vanity projects such as the i360, while fixating on transport decisions which often do not work, or benefit only young and able bodied people, and may discriminate against or endanger pedestrians.
They have neglected the needs of elderly people and actively undermined key women’s services in the city. In the name of diversity and inclusion they have favoured ‘fashionable’ protected characteristics (in some cases promoting policies and practices which do not have the force of law), while undermining the legal sex-based rights of women and girls.
Above all, they have failed to respect and learn from the local community. The Greens perhaps more than any other party, have encouraged the gentrification of our city which has forced out working class people and those on low incomes. They have greatly expanded their voter-base, by encouraging unsustainable expansion of our universities and ruthless development of student accommodation in target wards, frequently on sites which would have been more suitable for housing elderly and disabled people, or essential workers.
I hope that the new Labour administration, which does not have entirely clean hands in these matters, will firmly reject the Greens’ example, listen to local people and treat them with respect, not assume that if they disagree it is because they are bigoted, lack sophistication or need ‘re-education’.
I hope too that Labour will be prepared to work with all people of good will, whether or not they support or represent other parties, listening to all sides of arguments, not just the siren voices of powerful lobby groups. I hope they will challenge local health, care and criminal justice services to better meet the needs of all the community (including those with unfashionable characteristics), applying the actual law, rather than the made-up law and policy preferences of influential, well-funded campaigns.
Above all, I trust that the new administration will deliver effective basic services, bearing in mind, in particular, the needs of elderly and vulnerable people, those whose voices are rarely heard.