by Josh Wilson
Dear Richard, Andrew, Elizabeth & Adrian,
I joined the Green Party 6 years ago, just before the 2010 General Election. Previously I hadn’t been all that interested in party politics, but when looking through the manifestos for various political parties I was immediately drawn to the Greens. The joining together of economic, social and environmental justice made sense to me.
On Friday at the County Council Annual General Meeting (AGM) you all abstained from the leadership vote, knowingly handing power from a Labour-led rainbow coalition to the Conservative Party.
As I hear it the reasoning for this was due to the Labour councillors’ “ardent support for constructing the Northern Distributor Road, (NDR) a dual carriage way around the north side of Norwich, and the shambles of the content of the devolution agreement”. I agree that the construction of the NDR is a serious blow to bringing down carbon emissions in the county but allowing the Tories to take power is a dangerous move to make if you are serious about achieving this goal. Yes, the Green Party stands for the protection of our environment, but this has to be in coalition with protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society through progressive economic policy and supporting liberation groups.
Environmental fundamentalism is futile. To create a truly sustainable future we need a sustainable economic system that reduces inequality both nationally and locally. I appreciate the Labour Party are not always the strongest advocates of progressive politics. Andrew, Richard – you both authored an article in this very publication just under a year ago condemning the Labour-led proposal to make cuts of 25% despite just 15% being required to make up the decrease of funding from central government. The additional 10% would cause unnecessary and disastrous damage to our communities, including savage cuts to council-provided adult social care – a move that would hit the elderly and the disabled the hardest. So yes, it is difficult to argue that the Norfolk Labour Party have a perfect record of protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society – but it is even more difficult to say that their actions are on par with those of the Tories. We must not forget that the cuts to local governments ultimately come from the Conservative Party. The Labour Party, for all its faults, will always be – at worst – the lesser of two evils, and at best a mitigating factor between the public and Westminster’s Conservative government. In allowing the Tories to gain power in Norfolk you have given free reign to a political organisation whose main reason for existing is to conserve the current reality of sickeningly high inequality, letting down the thousands of people who rely on county council services.
The Labour Party, for all its faults, will always be – at worst – the lesser of two evils.
This is why I wanted to openly and strongly disagree with your actions at the Norfolk County Council AGM. I understand it is difficult, and sometimes it can seem like Labour are the enemy. But Labour is still the party that was founded by and for working people and although they may lose sight of these roots from time to time and not always appreciate the scale of the environmental catastrophe we are heading towards, they should still be our allies. You don’t have to consistently agree with your allies, and I would encourage open disagreement on certain issues. But the Conservative Party is the party of the rich, the party whose leader recently joined in on one of the most Islamophobic campaigns in British political history, and the party who have slashed funding for renewable energy. This is why we should use the influence we have on Norfolk County Council to keep the dangerous, racist Tory Party out of power.
I truly hope the next year is not too bruising for the people of Norfolk and I sincerely hope that you appreciate my views on this matter.