Jason Kitcat is condemned as a Dopeydrawers for his comments on Ania Kitcat

Some silly stories have done the rounds in the days since the Greens became the largest party on Brighton and Hove City Council and more will no doubt follow after they formally take over on Thursday. The Argus ran a sensationalist headline about traveller sites. Reference has been made about congestion charges (which, sadly, was not in the Greens’ manifesto and they are not, so I understand, intending to introduce such a charge).

This blog, though I hope not this Blogger, is guilty of scare stories, as this comment from Dr Faust shows: “The Green Party is committed to running services ‘internally’ whenever possible. Voluntary organisations and charities should be worried about that.”

But Green Dad is more measured: “I don’t think any charities or voluntary organisations need to worry about the Greens’ decision to review the Tory budget. The whole point of this is to avoid cuts to such organisations, who I believe have been invited to contribute to the review, as have Labour.”

I would imagine that the Greens, under the leadership of Bill Randall, are determined not to score any own goals, particularly in these first few weeks and months. Inevitably, mistakes will be made, but that is true for all parties. In fact, the Greens have made a misjudgement in their choice of Cabinet members, as pointed out by a new correspondent, Rosa’s Lovely Daughter: “I’d like your opinion. Unlike you I voted Green in the end, but I’m beginning to wonder whether I did the right thing. I like the fact they’ve got a female leader and a good one, but what do you think about this new cabinet? Ten cabinet places, with seven places for men and only three for women. And there’s only one woman in the three person leadership team. Amy Kennedy may be very competent as a deputy, but in a setup like this she looks like a token female. And why isn’t Alex Phillips there? She’s the one who won Goldsmid.”

Well Rosa’s Lovely Daughter (what on earth am I meant to call you, I can’t call you Daughter, nor Lovely, and you aren’t Rosa! Perhaps BPB will just call you RLD), my view is that Amy’s appointment is more that token, certainly there on merit. Alex Phillips’ omission is surprising, though not because she was the first Green councillor in Hove. That was an achievement in itself, but her omission is surprising since she is extremely bright and able. The gender balance is a disappointment and one that I would hope the Greens will reflect on.

RLD has a lovely take on Jason Kitcat: “He’s in the cabinet, but his wife Anya isn’t.. It wasn’t because she is a new councillor – new blokes were included. I’m told he appeared with her at the count clutching her hand like a Stepford husband. Anya got more votes than Jason did, but when the Argus asked him why he said it was because she is better looking. News for you Jason – we voted for Anya because we thought she’d be an excellent councillor…..sexist dopydrawers.”

I have no idea what a dopydrawer is, but I am sure that councillor Christopher Hawtree will enlighten me.

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17 Responses

  1. Alex P isn’t in the Cabinet in order to leave her free to stand for Parliament in the event of a snap GE.

  2. Hardly a scare story BPB – if I may quote from the Green Party manifesto – ‘Greens will ….. focus on returning services in-house wherever possible within financial and contractual limitations of exisitng provisions’. What does this mean if not that the Green Party favours internal provision of services over private and voluntary provision?

  3. the cabinet that have been chosen are all bright and able – as will be any candidates who put themselves forward for any parliamentary adventures – choices where many people of relevant skills and experience are looked at – even those currently outside Brighton and Hove – after all that worked for brighton pavilion post 2007 as CL among others will recognise ….

    BPB I’m sure knows that the greens he talks to aren’t the sole or necessarily most accurate sources

  4. Anybody who knows Amy Kennedy knows that she will bring an enormous amount of authority, common-sense thinking and political nous to her new role as Deputy Leader. I promise she’ll prove herself more than able to the task at hand!

    Oh, and I think Jason was allowed to take a step back at the count and show pride in his wife’s achievement – as well as a good natured bit of self-deprecation to the press! 😉

  5. Thanks for the plug, BPB. RLD will do.

    Blimey, your correspondents aren’t so hot on gender politics are they? I thought the Greens would know all about equalities.

    Stephen Wood says Jason’s comments were “good natured self deprecation”. I don’t think so. What he said was patronising nonsense. Ania got more votes, not because she is good looking, but because she’s a good candidate and because the voters like women candidates. They also like seeing women in positions of authority. That’s why I’m concerned about the make up of the cabinet.

    Fifty per cent of the city’s population is female. We need fair representation. Come on Bill. Sort it out.

    • One of the main reasons I am in the Greens is because Bill cannot sort it out! He may be convener of the Green Group and leader of the council but he has no constitutional power over the party.

      I think the lack of women in politics is a big problem though (partly because the reasons for it probably put many people of all genders off politics). I would say that the Greens are generally pretty good at attempting a balance though (I think the leader and deputy leader of our party have to be different genders for example).

      It is a shame that this group of Green councillors has a slightly lower proportion of women then the last one but its still at 40%, which is pretty good for party politics. I don’t know how the make up of the cabinet happened but I would be very supprised if it happened in any sort of discriminatory atmosphere.

      What do you think are the reasons that less women get involved in politics??? I’ve never seen someone really analyse that but surely those reasons need to be identified so that we can put the gender balance right.

    • As you have raised equalities RLD, well over half of the Labour Group 2007-11 were women, and over 40% of our candidates at the recent elections were women. Two of our five new councillors are women, so six of the 13 Labour councillors are women. Our Group Leader is a woman, the Chair of our Group is a woman and our new Mayor is a woman. We’ve been pushing equalities and representation in the Labour Party for a long time.

      • So in effect, Labour and the Green Party are broadly comparable locally with our representation of women in elected office, albeit with us ahead on seats. Around 40% is good, but as RLD says, this can and should be better.

        In my experience of it, the Green Party nationally is takes gender equity seriously as an organisation and is held to it’s principles by our membership. Additionally, we have a consistent and strong voice around LGBT issues. As Allie pointed out, until recently, we had both a male and female principal speaker and at many levels of the organisation (such as our Regional Council), elected positions are shared between a male and female officer.

        There is still much to do for all parties around equalities in general, such as broadening the demographic base of our supporters, something which I am particularly keen upon the GP engaging more pro-actively with. If the wrong impression has been given in a throwaway comment about our commitment to this, then I would apologise – and hope that recognition is given to the fact that we aspire to represent the rich diversity of Brighton and Hove’s population in how we conduct politics and open up political spaces. I’ve never thought that we had the monopoly on good ideas – if others are more successful at this, I’d love to collaborate to improve representation in public life.

  6. I did think Jason’s comments were a bit dopey and sexist. But give the guy a break, it had been a tiring 24 hours and he was probably knackered. I am sure he meant it as a bit of self-deprecating banter. And haven’t we really got better things to talk about. The Greens could make a massive difference to this city, they need just the co-operation of just 4 or 5 Labour councillors to do it. I am really far more depressed about the Argus billboards stirring up voter anger over travellers. Absolutely outrageous attack on the Greens to pretend that is their number one priority, when it was one of a number of proposals. The Greens should organise a boycottt against the Argus, shut that right-wing rag up.

    • That’s the first time I’ve heard the Argus called a right wing rag! Is this the same paper that had the Green Party emblem on it’s front page after the general election last year, with no mention that we had also won two of the city’s three seats!? As far as the issue over travellers is concerned, it really does show that the Greens’ priority appears to be some far left experiment rather than actually looking after the residents of the city. I’m sure that this is the first of a number of things the Greens will do in administration which will show people what they really voted for. Something many people will come to regret.

  7. Some of these comments appear to have strayed from the Argus readers’ slots.

    From the times that I have looked in at the Council HQ on the seafront, I sense excitement, an air of possibilities.

    • I think most people prefer their local council’s actions to be as devoid of excitement as possible – therein lies a caution.

  8. Weren’t the greens going to scrap the cabinet system and return to the much wanted committees????? Can anyone tell me if this is on the cards

    • As it stands the Government must pass the Localism Bill which will allow councils to choose the way they operate, however they are not meant to change systems mid-term but to do so after a set of local elections.

      This means Brighton and Hove will have to operate with the Leader and Cabinet system until after the next elections in 2015 unless the Government gives B&H special dispensation to adopt a committee system mid-term. That’s the legal/constitutional advice I was given a couple of months ago. Under the Leader & Cabinet system, the full 54 member council has no executive or policy making powers.

      So Neil, the Greens don’t need the support of 4 or 5 Labour councillors to “make a difference”, under our current system. The Greens will form a 10 member Cabinet on Thursday and will take *all* of the executive decisions within that body, without the constitutional need for any majority votes at full council apart from the Budget next Feb/March.

  9. Jason Kitcat was criticised for saying his wife was more attractive than him. That seems a storm in a d-cup to me. Any man could take pride in having a wife with two or three brains who also has supermodel looks. Good on you Jason, for being human.

    What is more substantive is having one gender in the majority in the new cabinet. It surprises me that Greens did not automatically require equality or a majority of female members but there does seem to be a preponderance of male Green councillors.

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