Magazine article The Spectator

A Warning from Brighton - Beware of the Greens

Magazine article The Spectator

A Warning from Brighton - Beware of the Greens

Article excerpt

Brighton council's disastrous experiments should serve as a warning to the whole country against voting Green


I have just moved back to Brighton, and I am happy to report that it remains as shambolic as ever. The estate agent said before opening the door to a prospective flat, 'I'm obliged by law to tell you that the previous tenant was an alcoholic and died here.' I replied, 'I am not surprised and that is not a problem.' No one who knows Brighton expects puritanism.

Unfortunately, we have grown to expect dreadful politics. Since 2010, both the MP and the council have gone Green, turning the town into a laboratory for their kooky ideas. Given that they are being called the Ukip of the left -- an outsider party on the verge of an electoral breakthrough that could make them bigger than the Lib Dems -- the Green experiment in Brighton ought to serve as a warning to the entire country.

There have been some silly gimmicks reminiscent of the 1980s loony left: a proposed 'meat-free Monday' in council-run staff canteens (reversed when the bin men demanded their bacon back), gender-neutral toilets, and allowing people to identify as Mr, Mrs or Mx on council forms (Mx means Mixter, meaning someone who doesn't define as male or female -- not to be confused with the MX, which was a nuclear missile in the Cold War). Many of their mistakes are due to naivety. Faced with cuts, council leader Jason Kitcat proposed a 4.75 per cent tax increase to be endorsed in a referendum. Labour called it a silly political stunt, as the cost of the vote -- estimated at £900,000 -- would itself plug many of the gaps. The idea was quashed.

Such is their incompetence that the Greens often hurt the very causes they push. While I was staggered to find that I might face a £50,000 fine if I put something plastic in the paper-only recycling bin outside my house, I was amused to discover that most people just ignore the warnings and dump away -- with the result that Green Brighton now ranks 302nd out of 326 councils for its recycling record. The problem is a mix of poor information, a strange recycling collection programme open to abuse, and ceaseless disruptions to the service that mean people have given up trying to do 'the right thing'.

Last year, the Greens failed to prevent a strike among bin men, with the result that Brighton underwent its very own winter of discontent. …

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