Green Politics

The outright lies and slander of TUSC and the Socialist Party

The Green Party is often criticised from the more traditional far left parties for not being consistent enough in opposing austerity in local government.  To be clear here in Bristol the Green Group of Councillors has opposed every ‘austerity’ cuts budget, and the majority of our Councillors have voted against almost every budget.  However, in previous years our Green Councillor Gus Hoyt when serving on the mayor’s cabinet has voted (as an individual) for a cuts budget; as he had personally overseen a lot of the work trying to minimise the impact of said cuts.  Having done so much work on the budget Gus felt it would have been silly to vote against it; whilst the rest of the Green group voted against it on principle.   These cuts budgets are centrally imposed by Westminster leaving local politicians with few options.  They can either attempt to mitigate their impact on local services as much as possible, or refuse to set a legal budget and force central government to do the dirty work themselves.  There are legitimate arguments for and against both courses of action.  Whilst we would debate criticisms based around these decisions, they are at least valid in that they actually happened.

This is not the criticism TUSC through the Socialist Party is making.  Instead they are resorting to outright lies and deception to try and smear the local Green party.  In an article from the 25th of February entitled ‘Bristol Greens back ‘shocking’ austerity policies’ they contrast our strong anti-austerity message with increasingly contentious claims (that partially distort reality) that they believe show we do the opposite.   These then descend into outright fantasy in the finally paragraph:

“At last week’s budget-setting meeting – which is a year into a three-year cuts package of another £83 million – the Green councillors once again stayed silent while voting for it. Their behaviour continues to be a shocking slap in the face to those who looked to them to bring a fresh approach to local government.

TUSC will contest every seat this year, going head to head with Green councillors in some cases. Our message to Bristolians yearning for an alternative is: a vote for the Greens is a vote for the same old tired status quo that has decapitated jobs and services.”

Once again all of the Green councillors present at the budget-setting meeting voted against the ‘austerity’ cuts budget.  Far from ‘once again stay[ing] silent while voting for it’ Green councillors gave compelling speeches condemning the austerity budget in no uncertain terms, and then (along with some Lib Dems – but for very different reasons) were the only councillors to vote against it. Not a single Green Councillor voted for the budget this year (cabinet member or otherwise).  As austerity is supported by all the other parties the budget still passed, but this is not our fault; and is obviously the complete opposite to how TUSC are reporting the meeting.

Here’s a flavour of the speech from Green Group leader Charlie Bolton:

‘The cuts are not an act of necessity: they are an act of ideology.    They victimise those who did not cause the crisis in the first place, and discriminate disproportionately against the poorest and most vulnerable in society.     Some cuts are quite simply vicious:  55% of recipients of Disability Living Allowance have either had their benefit cut, or seen it entirely removed.’

The full speeches have been reproduced here http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/green-group-statement-on-bristol-councils-austerity-budget

Surely TUSC should be able to differentiate themselves from the Green Party without resorting to outright lies and deception.  That they can’t speaks volumes for the state of their party.  This kind of outright lying and distorting the truth for personal gain is exactly the worst kind of politics, of the type that fuels general disengagement. I can understand that some local people opposed to austerity are reticent to support the Green Party, but I implore you not to lend your support to a party that would resort to such dirty, cheap and underhanded negative politics in the promotion of their own self-interest.  All parties and papers will colour their reporting with their own bias, but to completely fabricate events like this is the kind of thing we’d only expect form the likes of the Daily Mail, or the Sun or Express, etc.  Politics doesn’t have to be done this way, as is demonstrated by the extremely positive recent announcement by Left Unity that it seeks to work with all candidates (be they Green, Left Labour, SNP or Plaid Cymru, etc) opposed to austerity in the general election.  If we want to end socially destructive and economically illiterate austerity we need to work together, not resort to petty back stabbing and lying like TUSC have decided to do.

Here’s the bile TUSC and the Socliast Party are spewing if you can stomach it (I wonder if they’ll change it) http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/845/20161/25-02-2015/bristol-greens-back-shocking-austerity-policies

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12 thoughts on “The outright lies and slander of TUSC and the Socialist Party

    • whquick says:

      Ha ha, I knew they’d change it…. Though the rest of the article is still pretty inaccurate, and their *correction* is quite misleading, in that the Green Councillors abstained on the 3-year capital budget plan (so they could vote for amendments) and voted against the 2015/16 budget – the main thing – (because it was a cuts budget).

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      • whquick says:

        Well I am complaining that you’ve changed to a less factually inaccurate but still very misleading statement. But I am glad it’s now a less crass distortion of reality, and flattered that it’s changed as a result of my blogging

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  1. Matt g says:

    Ok the article is factually incorrect to say they voted for, but yours (and the green party) report is equally incorrect. They did not vote against like the lib dems, they abstained! I wonder if you’ll change that.

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    • whquick says:

      No the Green Councillors all voted against the budget for 2015/16 (which is the vote the SP article was saying they silently voted for).

      They abstained on the on the 3 year capital budget plan so they could vote on amendments, it would have been clearer if they’d just put the three votes together and voted against them all (as the lib dems did) in principle but they voted against the important bit and that’s the main thing that matters. I could have gone on to stress that in the post above, but it would make it longer and more tedious to those unfamiliar with the budget – if anyone particularly cares they can see that in our comments now, so thanks for helping with that.

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  2. Matt G says:

    The important thing will depend on your view, librarians under the threat of job losses will see support for the cabinet as more important that protest abstentions or votes against. This whole thing proves its easy for some to say they are against austerity, and in some cases extremely difficult to even find out what that means.

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    • whquick says:

      As a public sector worker myself, on the sharp end of austerity (slightlt) I can tell you the important thing to me is that the coalition imposed cuts are making people like me and the librarians you reference pay for a financial crisis we did the least to cause.

      You seem like a fairly politically engaged guy. As you’ll know the cuts to council budgets and to public services and benefits nationally are all implemented by the conservatives and their Lib Dem enablers at the national level in Westminster. That’s why we consistently oppose them at the national level. We only have one MP (the amazing Caroline Lucas) so it doesn’t make much difference, but if people don’t want their local services cut they need to focus on electing MPs who won’t cut national spending come May. So long as the Coalition (or even Labour) are in power after May, cutting council budgets from parliament, it won’t really matter what we do in local councils as all the protest abstentions and votes against (as you say) won’t change the amount of money councils are given by the government. I think even TUSC and the Socialist party must know this.

      If you’re finding it extremely difficult to find out what it means when we say we oppose austerity can I suggest you just need to do some more reading, as it’s all out there for you to find. For example my previous post on this blog ‘why we oppose austerity’ sets out just that and what our alternative is

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      • Matt G says:

        I’m talking about seeing what opposing austerity means in practice – for the Greens, evidently very little!

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      • whquick says:

        In practice we oppose austerity by working with groups fighting against privatisation and cuts to public services like Protect Our NHS and the People’s Assembly, or with tenants rights groups like ACORN the community union. We also support workers engaging in industrial action as they attempt to resist the attacks to their working conditions underway to implement austerity. That’s what got me involved, unlike TUSC the Bristol Green Party came to support me and my fellow NHS workers at Southmede hospital when we struck in October. After that I joined and we’ve organised SolidariTea for the NHS strike in November and the FBU strike at the end of last year. Oddly I again didn’t see TUSC at either of these. Though I suppose as you think our practical moves to help in the fight against austerity means very little you must not think supporting strikes is a meaningful activity – I guess thats why I didn’t see TUSC at the aforementioned actions.

        In local government our councillors have lobbies against austerity and either adopted a ‘Dented Shield’ approach like Gus Hoyt (a position i oppose) or they have been unequivocal in their opposition by voting against every single cuts budget, like Rob Telford. We’ve also done things like got the Bristol Council to have a ban on giving contracts to construction companies implicated in the blacklisting scandal.

        What has TUSC done? Remind me again how many TUSC councillors have voted against Austerity budgets in Bristol? I’m sorry that’s unfair as we both know TUSC still articulates itself in the radical idiom of generations long since deceased that is completely unrelatable to the ever day life experience of ordinary people so has no electoral support or councillors. But seriously what do you guys do to practically oppose austerity that means so much and allows you to get so high and mighty?

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  3. Pingback: Bristol Councils Austerity Budget and media silence | A Green Trade Unionist - In Bristol

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