Vote of no confidence generated a lot of hype, but very little consequence

The Argus: Jason Kitcat Jason Kitcat

January has ended – and with it has gone two of the most over-hyped events of the year.

Now any football fan will know that transfer deadline day is a time when people get very excited for no reason in particular.

For a change, Albion had some interest as those in the boardroom did their best Harry Redknapp impressions in letting Liam go and dealing for Dale.

But most years, the day begins with hopes and dreams, levels out sometime about 2pm when you remember your club has no money, and ends in a depressive tone at about 11.05pm with only an excitable Scot bouncing around on TV for company.

A day earlier, at the other end of the city, we had another example of pointless posturing – only this time it was in the council chamber.

On Thursday night the opposition parties on Brighton and Hove City Council united and passed a vote of no confidence in the ruling Green administration.

Many residents saw it as a catalyst for the unceremonious removal of the party which has polarised opinion in its first stab at running a town hall.

A few hoped it would destroy the party forever.

But as Labour and Conservatives supported the motion, council leader Jason Kitcat just sat there seemingly oblivious to just what was happening around him.

The votes were counted, the city’s mayor confirmed the tally.

And then... well, that was that.

No fireworks, no explosions, no Armageddon – just a simple nod of the head and on to the next agenda item.

If anyone was looking for a reason why Ridley Scott had not been involved in a Hollywood blockbuster involving local authorities, here it was.

The moment could have had drastic consequences. But what was billed as Kitcat’s demise was less dramatic than a child snapping a chocolate biscuit.

And the reason for this damp squib? Because the vote of no confidence was a cynical political ploy to grab headlines but not power.

It meant nothing and everyone in the council chamber knew as much.

Today, unless Ridley Scott has intervened, life in the council’s HQ just goes on as per last week.

It is clear: this is a Kitcat that will not melt.

The Green leader has planted roots in the town hall and is refusing to budge for anyone.

As one member of the public said to me: “The only way we are going to get him out of that office is by going down there and dragging him out.”

The actual ramifications are simple – that two opposition parties put down on paper their disagreement with those in charge.

Next week, the Pope will announce Rome is where the heart is.

If there was a legally binding consequence following the motion then perhaps there would have been a different result.

But the truth is neither the Tories or Labour currently have the cojones or the talent to take over a year before an election.

And the notion of a caretaker administration involving all three parties is a bit daft, as the way the council currently makes decisions is by cross-party committees, similar to an informal coalition. So who came out best?

Well probably the Greens and Kitcat.

With decision-making in this city tough, a bit of obdurate behaviour from a politician is never a bad thing.

And now the Green leadership can focus on something that matters: the budget and a potential referendum.

As for the opposition, the Tories will be quietly happy that they put one over on the Greens without really trying.

Yet deep down they know they still have a lot of work to do before they can reclaim control of the council.

In the end it was the Labour Party – which put forward the no confidence vote – which came out of it smarting and looking the worse.

Being the smallest party on the council, they had to do something to get people to take note of them.

Two years of careful planning behind the scenes has put it in a better position to retake the council.

But Thursday’s motion has had the opposite effect of moving the party into power.

As it was debated, it was quite obvious that not every one of its 14 councillors sang from the same hymn sheet as group leader Warren Morgan.

In fact some appeared to be in the process of forming their own ensemble.

As it is, Labour’s credibility as the party which takes the tough decisions in the best interests of the city has been dented. Instead of looking like they are ready for power, they have just shown that they still lack the unity to really take it to the opposition.

A clearer picture of the state of the parties will be evident after the budget next month.

But for now, for the sake of all, let’s just leave the city’s decision-making in the Greens’ hands.

 

Comments (4)

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1:03pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Warren Morgan says...

The facts are that the Labour Group were consulted on the 16th January, and no-one expressed opposition. None have done since. We met on the following Tuesday and no one expressed opposition. Last week a letter was sent to the Argus signed by all Labour councillors supporting the position. At Council last Thursday all Labour councillors voted for the motion. Depsite being given ample opportunity to do so, no Labour councillor has expressed any disagreement with the Group position on the no confidence vote, the opposition to the 4.75% tax rise, and opposition to the £36m loan to the i360. So it is very hard to see where Tim Ridgway is getting his view that there is disagreement.

We put forward the motion of no confidence because it is the only tool in the council's constitution we had at our disposal to express the very widespread unhappiness we are hearing on the doorstep week in week out with Jason Kitcat and his Green council administration. If reflecting very strong public opinion is "pointless posturing" then Labour stands guilty as charged.

We were willing to take part in a non-party caretaker administration that would have put delivering basic services first. The politically cowardly thing to do is leave the Greens in office to become even more unpopular. The politicallly difficult thing ahead of an election would be to step in and take some share of the tough decisions needed.

We were not willing to prop up either a Green administration or a Tory administration which would have then been savaged by the other party - indeed there are constitutional reasons that coalitions can't happen even if there were political will to do so, which there is not. It's odd that Tim, given his time reporting on the council, doesn't understand that.

We will run the council if voters elect enough Labour councillors to do so in May 2015. We look forward to that challenge.
The facts are that the Labour Group were consulted on the 16th January, and no-one expressed opposition. None have done since. We met on the following Tuesday and no one expressed opposition. Last week a letter was sent to the Argus signed by all Labour councillors supporting the position. At Council last Thursday all Labour councillors voted for the motion. Depsite being given ample opportunity to do so, no Labour councillor has expressed any disagreement with the Group position on the no confidence vote, the opposition to the 4.75% tax rise, and opposition to the £36m loan to the i360. So it is very hard to see where Tim Ridgway is getting his view that there is disagreement. We put forward the motion of no confidence because it is the only tool in the council's constitution we had at our disposal to express the very widespread unhappiness we are hearing on the doorstep week in week out with Jason Kitcat and his Green council administration. If reflecting very strong public opinion is "pointless posturing" then Labour stands guilty as charged. We were willing to take part in a non-party caretaker administration that would have put delivering basic services first. The politically cowardly thing to do is leave the Greens in office to become even more unpopular. The politicallly difficult thing ahead of an election would be to step in and take some share of the tough decisions needed. We were not willing to prop up either a Green administration or a Tory administration which would have then been savaged by the other party - indeed there are constitutional reasons that coalitions can't happen even if there were political will to do so, which there is not. It's odd that Tim, given his time reporting on the council, doesn't understand that. We will run the council if voters elect enough Labour councillors to do so in May 2015. We look forward to that challenge. Warren Morgan

7:23pm Mon 3 Feb 14

anubis says...

Several weeks ago, the ‘Institute of Fiscal Studies’ reported peoples’ living standards are ‘dramatically’ down on what they were before the financial crisis began in 2008. These findings were highlighted by the accompanying Oxfam report, describing how the rich were getting richer – a bus load of 85 of the world’s richest individuals, are currently as wealthy as the poorest half of the world’s population. On the 1st of this month, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ headlined that “workers’ real salaries were suffering the longest decline for half a century” – and everyday, we read of the wealthy becoming wealthier, whilst the cuts are launched against the poorest amongst us. Parallel with this, everywhere one looks, the social services are being cut, cut and cut; the NHS will have ceased to exist, a decade from now, according to those objectively assessing the current developments – hardly surprising when one appreciates the head of that service was, a few years ago, authoring a pamphlet calling for the abolition of the NHS.

These measures aimed at destroying all the social benefits introduced after the end of the second ‘world war’ (set up at a time when Britain was REALLY ‘strapped for cash’) are going ahead with incredible lack of opposition from those with the most to lose. Cameron puts on the occasional; ‘sad face’ … and would love to say it’s the consequence of there being too many immigrants, Miliband, makes clear he ‘supports’ a system of ‘responsible capitalism’ … but is more interested in destroying what little strength the working class movement (that once upon a time, created his ‘party’ so organized workers could ‘have a voice’ in parliament) … so between them, they are happy with the status quo.

These national issues affect us all; yes, even here in Brighton. The cuts in social services, and the accompanying cuts in government funding to the local authorities, increasingly force the local authorities to severely worsen the situation – any independent observer, especially if he or she be on intimate terms with members of the two opposition parties, will be very aware Labour and Tory would-be councillors, are so pleased it’s the Greens in the firing line. They have no publicized ‘policy’ for action against these government cuts …. but do recognize they have a superb opportunity to ‘pass the blame’ onto the current administration (indeed the imminent crisis facing the disadvantaged in our community is seen as a vote-winning opportunity by both Labour and Tory) Don’t blame the millionaire government, catering for the super rich --- ignore these bandits …. Is all the fault of the incompetent Green administration; let’s have a ‘vote of no confidence’.

I am neither member nor supporter of any political party --- but on this specific question, it’s clear that Jason Kitcat and his colleagues are attempting to address what should be the central issue. Starved of sufficient moneys, either more of the essential services must be cut – or alternatively, if the government won’t give the necessary funding, perhaps the local community might choose to provide more. (Personally, I’d prefer a more powerful rank and file movement prepared to challenge the government and their stooges; tragically, the masses of people seem more likely NOT to ‘stand up and fight’) So the Greens suggest, well let’s ask the people -- a properly managed referendum, carried out when people will be voting anyway …. Sadly, possibly most voters might well decide, no, we are not prepared to pay more ….

Those councillors who voted ‘no confidence’ last Thursday deserve only ther utter contempt of the electorate!
Several weeks ago, the ‘Institute of Fiscal Studies’ reported peoples’ living standards are ‘dramatically’ down on what they were before the financial crisis began in 2008. These findings were highlighted by the accompanying Oxfam report, describing how the rich were getting richer – a bus load of 85 of the world’s richest individuals, are currently as wealthy as the poorest half of the world’s population. On the 1st of this month, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ headlined that “workers’ real salaries were suffering the longest decline for half a century” – and everyday, we read of the wealthy becoming wealthier, whilst the cuts are launched against the poorest amongst us. Parallel with this, everywhere one looks, the social services are being cut, cut and cut; the NHS will have ceased to exist, a decade from now, according to those objectively assessing the current developments – hardly surprising when one appreciates the head of that service was, a few years ago, authoring a pamphlet calling for the abolition of the NHS. These measures aimed at destroying all the social benefits introduced after the end of the second ‘world war’ (set up at a time when Britain was REALLY ‘strapped for cash’) are going ahead with incredible lack of opposition from those with the most to lose. Cameron puts on the occasional; ‘sad face’ … and would love to say it’s the consequence of there being too many immigrants, Miliband, makes clear he ‘supports’ a system of ‘responsible capitalism’ … but is more interested in destroying what little strength the working class movement (that once upon a time, created his ‘party’ so organized workers could ‘have a voice’ in parliament) … so between them, they are happy with the status quo. These national issues affect us all; yes, even here in Brighton. The cuts in social services, and the accompanying cuts in government funding to the local authorities, increasingly force the local authorities to severely worsen the situation – any independent observer, especially if he or she be on intimate terms with members of the two opposition parties, will be very aware Labour and Tory would-be councillors, are so pleased it’s the Greens in the firing line. They have no publicized ‘policy’ for action against these government cuts …. but do recognize they have a superb opportunity to ‘pass the blame’ onto the current administration (indeed the imminent crisis facing the disadvantaged in our community is seen as a vote-winning opportunity by both Labour and Tory) Don’t blame the millionaire government, catering for the super rich --- ignore these bandits …. Is all the fault of the incompetent Green administration; let’s have a ‘vote of no confidence’. I am neither member nor supporter of any political party --- but on this specific question, it’s clear that Jason Kitcat and his colleagues are attempting to address what should be the central issue. Starved of sufficient moneys, either more of the essential services must be cut – or alternatively, if the government won’t give the necessary funding, perhaps the local community might choose to provide more. (Personally, I’d prefer a more powerful rank and file movement prepared to challenge the government and their stooges; tragically, the masses of people seem more likely NOT to ‘stand up and fight’) So the Greens suggest, well let’s ask the people -- a properly managed referendum, carried out when people will be voting anyway …. Sadly, possibly most voters might well decide, no, we are not prepared to pay more …. Those councillors who voted ‘no confidence’ last Thursday deserve only ther utter contempt of the electorate! anubis

1:59am Tue 4 Feb 14

Eugenius says...

Warren Morgan wrote:
The facts are that the Labour Group were consulted on the 16th January, and no-one expressed opposition. None have done since. We met on the following Tuesday and no one expressed opposition. Last week a letter was sent to the Argus signed by all Labour councillors supporting the position. At Council last Thursday all Labour councillors voted for the motion. Depsite being given ample opportunity to do so, no Labour councillor has expressed any disagreement with the Group position on the no confidence vote, the opposition to the 4.75% tax rise, and opposition to the £36m loan to the i360. So it is very hard to see where Tim Ridgway is getting his view that there is disagreement.

We put forward the motion of no confidence because it is the only tool in the council's constitution we had at our disposal to express the very widespread unhappiness we are hearing on the doorstep week in week out with Jason Kitcat and his Green council administration. If reflecting very strong public opinion is "pointless posturing" then Labour stands guilty as charged.

We were willing to take part in a non-party caretaker administration that would have put delivering basic services first. The politically cowardly thing to do is leave the Greens in office to become even more unpopular. The politicallly difficult thing ahead of an election would be to step in and take some share of the tough decisions needed.

We were not willing to prop up either a Green administration or a Tory administration which would have then been savaged by the other party - indeed there are constitutional reasons that coalitions can't happen even if there were political will to do so, which there is not. It's odd that Tim, given his time reporting on the council, doesn't understand that.

We will run the council if voters elect enough Labour councillors to do so in May 2015. We look forward to that challenge.
Wow, this says so much about the depressive state of the Labour party in Brighton & Hove.
[quote][p][bold]Warren Morgan[/bold] wrote: The facts are that the Labour Group were consulted on the 16th January, and no-one expressed opposition. None have done since. We met on the following Tuesday and no one expressed opposition. Last week a letter was sent to the Argus signed by all Labour councillors supporting the position. At Council last Thursday all Labour councillors voted for the motion. Depsite being given ample opportunity to do so, no Labour councillor has expressed any disagreement with the Group position on the no confidence vote, the opposition to the 4.75% tax rise, and opposition to the £36m loan to the i360. So it is very hard to see where Tim Ridgway is getting his view that there is disagreement. We put forward the motion of no confidence because it is the only tool in the council's constitution we had at our disposal to express the very widespread unhappiness we are hearing on the doorstep week in week out with Jason Kitcat and his Green council administration. If reflecting very strong public opinion is "pointless posturing" then Labour stands guilty as charged. We were willing to take part in a non-party caretaker administration that would have put delivering basic services first. The politically cowardly thing to do is leave the Greens in office to become even more unpopular. The politicallly difficult thing ahead of an election would be to step in and take some share of the tough decisions needed. We were not willing to prop up either a Green administration or a Tory administration which would have then been savaged by the other party - indeed there are constitutional reasons that coalitions can't happen even if there were political will to do so, which there is not. It's odd that Tim, given his time reporting on the council, doesn't understand that. We will run the council if voters elect enough Labour councillors to do so in May 2015. We look forward to that challenge.[/p][/quote]Wow, this says so much about the depressive state of the Labour party in Brighton & Hove. Eugenius

9:32am Tue 4 Feb 14

Michael Inkpin-Leissner says...

Eugenius wrote:
Warren Morgan wrote:
The facts are that the Labour Group were consulted on the 16th January, and no-one expressed opposition. None have done since. We met on the following Tuesday and no one expressed opposition. Last week a letter was sent to the Argus signed by all Labour councillors supporting the position. At Council last Thursday all Labour councillors voted for the motion. Depsite being given ample opportunity to do so, no Labour councillor has expressed any disagreement with the Group position on the no confidence vote, the opposition to the 4.75% tax rise, and opposition to the £36m loan to the i360. So it is very hard to see where Tim Ridgway is getting his view that there is disagreement.

We put forward the motion of no confidence because it is the only tool in the council's constitution we had at our disposal to express the very widespread unhappiness we are hearing on the doorstep week in week out with Jason Kitcat and his Green council administration. If reflecting very strong public opinion is "pointless posturing" then Labour stands guilty as charged.

We were willing to take part in a non-party caretaker administration that would have put delivering basic services first. The politically cowardly thing to do is leave the Greens in office to become even more unpopular. The politicallly difficult thing ahead of an election would be to step in and take some share of the tough decisions needed.

We were not willing to prop up either a Green administration or a Tory administration which would have then been savaged by the other party - indeed there are constitutional reasons that coalitions can't happen even if there were political will to do so, which there is not. It's odd that Tim, given his time reporting on the council, doesn't understand that.

We will run the council if voters elect enough Labour councillors to do so in May 2015. We look forward to that challenge.
Wow, this says so much about the depressive state of the Labour party in Brighton & Hove.
I have to disagree with the post right above. The Labour Party is caring. The situation in the council is not funny at all but embarrassing. Tories and Greens are doing nothing but pressing their ideologies: The Tories in defending their ConDemned government, the Greens in ignoring the opinion of the majority of Brighton and Hove citizens to follow their radical ideologies.
The Labour Group's move of no confidence is reflecting the opinion of the majority of citizens. It should be recorded in the minutes of the council as it is now. A council has the task of listening to the citizens. The Greens ignore that with perfection. The installment of a questioner to praise Green achievements before the ballot on move of no confidence appears to be just cheap. As funny as Councillor Theobalds statement appeared, he did not focus on the needs of the citizens. I expected more of a former Mayor. And Councillor McCafferty used his time for a hate tirade on the Labour Party under Tony Blair's leadership. Fair enough, but what has that t do with the problems in Brighton and Hove. Get your priorities right. Councillors are elected to serve the citizens of Brighton and Hove. Now do your duty and govern this city for the benefit of all citizens, not just for Green voters!
[quote][p][bold]Eugenius[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Warren Morgan[/bold] wrote: The facts are that the Labour Group were consulted on the 16th January, and no-one expressed opposition. None have done since. We met on the following Tuesday and no one expressed opposition. Last week a letter was sent to the Argus signed by all Labour councillors supporting the position. At Council last Thursday all Labour councillors voted for the motion. Depsite being given ample opportunity to do so, no Labour councillor has expressed any disagreement with the Group position on the no confidence vote, the opposition to the 4.75% tax rise, and opposition to the £36m loan to the i360. So it is very hard to see where Tim Ridgway is getting his view that there is disagreement. We put forward the motion of no confidence because it is the only tool in the council's constitution we had at our disposal to express the very widespread unhappiness we are hearing on the doorstep week in week out with Jason Kitcat and his Green council administration. If reflecting very strong public opinion is "pointless posturing" then Labour stands guilty as charged. We were willing to take part in a non-party caretaker administration that would have put delivering basic services first. The politically cowardly thing to do is leave the Greens in office to become even more unpopular. The politicallly difficult thing ahead of an election would be to step in and take some share of the tough decisions needed. We were not willing to prop up either a Green administration or a Tory administration which would have then been savaged by the other party - indeed there are constitutional reasons that coalitions can't happen even if there were political will to do so, which there is not. It's odd that Tim, given his time reporting on the council, doesn't understand that. We will run the council if voters elect enough Labour councillors to do so in May 2015. We look forward to that challenge.[/p][/quote]Wow, this says so much about the depressive state of the Labour party in Brighton & Hove.[/p][/quote]I have to disagree with the post right above. The Labour Party is caring. The situation in the council is not funny at all but embarrassing. Tories and Greens are doing nothing but pressing their ideologies: The Tories in defending their ConDemned government, the Greens in ignoring the opinion of the majority of Brighton and Hove citizens to follow their radical ideologies. The Labour Group's move of no confidence is reflecting the opinion of the majority of citizens. It should be recorded in the minutes of the council as it is now. A council has the task of listening to the citizens. The Greens ignore that with perfection. The installment of a questioner to praise Green achievements before the ballot on move of no confidence appears to be just cheap. As funny as Councillor Theobalds statement appeared, he did not focus on the needs of the citizens. I expected more of a former Mayor. And Councillor McCafferty used his time for a hate tirade on the Labour Party under Tony Blair's leadership. Fair enough, but what has that t do with the problems in Brighton and Hove. Get your priorities right. Councillors are elected to serve the citizens of Brighton and Hove. Now do your duty and govern this city for the benefit of all citizens, not just for Green voters! Michael Inkpin-Leissner

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