On the issue of council-level versus Westminster-level issues there appear to be two schools of thought emerging. One approach, which Greens are taking, is to say that everything is connected. No matter what level the decision is taken at (Europe, Westminster or Brighton & Hove City Council) it affects people here in our city. So we work closely between all levels at which we operate. That’s helped by having two of our councillors being candidates (Ian Davey in Hove and Ben Duncan in Brighton Kemptown) and of course an MEP as our Brighton Pavilion candidate.
Regardless of specific candidates, in terms of policy and worldview we tend to take a big picture view. So for example on the issue of recycling we’d like national government to set ambitious targets, provide sufficient resources and adequate legislation. We also need local councils to use all of those to provide the most user-friendly and sustainable services to facilitate recycling. That’s a view which holds at all levels of the Green Party.
The other approach to council vs Westminster is to argue that they are different and separate. This seems to be very much what the Conservatives and Labour in Brighton & Hove are adopting. Neither party seem to be showing much co-operative working between their parliamentary candidates and their elected councillors.
This was brought to mind when I met the charming Conservative candidate Charlotte Vere for a Radio Reverb panel debate on Monday. Charlotte waxed lyrical about how easy food waste collection was once you had got used to it, how fortnightly waste collection should be looked at and so on. Naturally I was quick to point out that the local Tory councillors were very much against introducing such measures despite plenty of resident demand and the compelling sustainability plus financial arguments.
Charlotte’s response was I was making ‘typical councillor arguments’ and that she didn’t deal with council stuff, she was a candidate for Parliament. Maybe there’s a cultural divide on this issue between the Greens and the old parties, but I’m surprised. Perhaps Charlotte feels that way because there seems to be scant support for her from the Pavilion Tory councillors.
Either way I think we should be linking up all levels of politics and decision making, and that’s what Greens strive for.