I have really lost the plot. You shouldn’t read this blog. There are so many reasons not to. The latest reason is my praise for the Green budget. I seem to have lost any sense of balance. Well, that is how some people, including Valerie Paynter, Linda F, and some others see it.
If you were to look at my post about the Green budget, I hardly mentioned anything about the content, what is being protected, what is being cut. I rather looked at the politics, and I stand by what I said. The Greens, and Jason Kitcat in particular, have produced something exceptional and done so in an exceptional way.
Let’s face it, under the Tory-led Coalition, ably assisted by their lapdogs in the Lib Dems, no budget set at this time would be anything but incredibly difficult to set, and cuts are inevitable.
Over the last ten years, the budgets set by previous Labour and Tory administrations would have looked not too dissimilar had they been set by the other party, with marginal changes in emphasis, and the addition or removal of a cycle lane or two.
So, too, it is with this budget. I doubt whether either Labour or the Tories will come up with anything really substantive by way of an alternative. I hope they do, but many of the cost cutting measures, perhaps with the addition or removal of a Super Director or two, would be the same.
The Greens have said that they want to protect the young, the elderly, and the very vulnerable. It appears that, largely, they have achieved this. But the content of the Budget is not my area of expertise and I have left it to Jason Kitcat and Steve Bassam to joust through Twitter on the merits or otherwise of the budget itself. How Labour in Brighton and Hove need someone like Lord Bassam to lead their recovery.
But back to the politics. The approach taken by the Greens, the inclusive approach adopted by councillor Kitcat, the assertive way in which the budget-setting process has been led, is an example of a genuine wish to involve those from other parties and from none. And an unintentional consequence (probably a very intentional consequence, come to think about it) has been to neuter the opposition.
The approach has, genuinely, been an open one. Opposition councillors have been invited and welcomed into the ‘star chamber’. There is an ‘open book’ approach. This approach, politically, puts opposition groups on the back foot. They cannot make complain about the process, and it forces them to focus on the issues.
The challenge for the opposition is to come up with an alternate budget. For the Tories it won’t be enough to harp on about a Council Tax freeze. They are the party of cuts and austerity. Let’s hear something positive from them now.