By Kat Hopps
After angry protests at the recent budget meeting, the Green party is at risk of alienating its voters
It may have been their first ever budget, but it’s likely to be one they wish to forget. The Green Party suffered a humiliating defeat at Wednesday’s meeting, not just from opposition councillors who defeated a raft of green proposals, including a 3.5% council tax levy, but at the hands of vocal protestors both inside and outside Brighton Town Hall.
A range of individuals came along to voice their discontent: allotment owners; parents; and students amongst them. Outside, individuals waved placards; inside, there was a tense, and at times, hostile atmosphere during the five hour meeting as members of the gallery heckled Green councillors.
From speaking to people who voted Green in last year’s elections, it is apparent many are angry about the party’s rhetoric in recent weeks. Some have noted a whiff of hypocrisy from a party which purports a ‘green’ line on issues whilst simultaneously trying to raise allotment rates and cut community services such as the mobile library.
Graham Ennis, a retired research scientist and former writer for The Ecologist magazine, said: “The Green Party has lost contact with ordinary people…. and simply doesn’t seem to understand what it is doing or how ridiculous it looks. A bright 12 year-old can figure out that if you say you are a green party and say you like green things, you should support green things and not snatch it away from people.”
Despite the defeat of some of the Green’s proposals on Wednesday, some argue that the damage has already been done. Will Scrim, a Brighton resident and student at Sussex University said: “Although the Greens initially made a stand against cuts, it is now complicit. It is not just the Tory’s who are at fault, it is the people who implement the cuts at a local level who become part of that agenda. They should refuse to take money from the poorest in society…they should build a campaign to force the government to change.”
It appears then that the Greens have some work to do. With a tarnished brand image, they may now be at threat from Labour in future elections over broken campaign promises – something which Labour leader, Jill Mitchell, is all too aware. She declared: “They have gone from the protest party to the party most protested in this city.”
When asked if he had voted for the Greens at the last local elections, Graham Ennis said: “I did and I regret it bitterly.” Watch this space: he might not be the only one.