As councils across the country prepare their 2014-15 budgets and are confronted by the need to make savage cuts that will drastically affect the quality of their poorest residents' lives, Green Left has issued the following statement:
The Green party of England and Wales fought the 2010 general election in opposition to the savage public service cuts supported by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. The Green party offered a different approach to reducing the country’s debts, which included making the wealthy (people and corporations) pay their fair share of tax, investing in the economy to produce sustainable growth through the Green New Deal, some cuts for example to Trident and pledging to protect public services particularly for the most vulnerable in our society.
Unfortunately, we did not win the general election and so are unable to put these policies into practice, although Caroline Lucas has almost single handedly taken the opposition to the Coalition government cuts agenda. The ideologically driven shrink the state policies of the Coalition government aim to reduce public spending and turn most of the public services over to private corporations. Our elected representatives in local government are on the front line in the assault on public spending, with local authorities having their funding from central government cut by around a third since 2010.
Councils of all political stripes are hurting and they worry about whether they will even be able to fund their statutory duties in the future. Local government is under serious threat and everyone involved in it knows this to be true, despite the blithe statements about local authorities making efficiency savings and encouraging local business growth to pay for services, trumpeted by the Coalition central government. All the easy savings and many not so easy have been made now, and a future of even more of the same is daunting.
We in Green Left say enough is enough, and call on all of our existing elected Green party local councillors and any that are elected in the 2014 local elections, to firmly refuse to implement these Coalition government cuts to essential public services. If the government sends civil servants to carry out their dirty work then the responsibility for the cuts will be firmly in the public view, and our elected representatives can be in the forefront of a popular campaign against them. The time has surely come to make a stand, in solidarity with our communities that depend so heavily on the services provided and with the local authority workforce who have endured cuts in wages if not redundancy.