Islington elections: Greens plan for life as Labour's opposition, promising 'we will make council better'
PUBLISHED: 12:28 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:32 09 April 2018
Ahead of the local elections on May 3, the Gazette is bringing you the manifesto pledges from each of the main parties: Labour, Green, Liberal Democrats and Conservative. After hearing from Labour and the Lib Dems already, James Morris spoke to the Greens ahead of the party's manifesto launch today.
It’s not often a party approaches an election accepting it’s going to lose.
But Islington Greens are realistic. They know there’s little chance of overcoming the mighty force of Islington Labour on May 3.
So the party is approaching the poll differently. It’s come up with a manifesto which explains how it would hold Labour to account as an official opposition.
Cllr Caroline Russell (Highbury East) has been the sole non-Labour member – and de facto opposition leader – since the last election in 2014.
Ahead of the manifesto’s release today, she said: “It’s a set of practical points demonstrating how Green councillors can make a difference.
“We’re realistic – in this election we are aiming to be a constructive opposition, which is absolutely essential to the running of Islington Council.”
The manifesto is a list of 10 challenges. They include improving accountability (such as providing online access to council meetings), preserving community assets (opposing the closure of facilities such as Sotheby Mews Day Centre in Highbury and Barnard Park in Barnsbury) and, of course, cleaning the borough’s digusting air (for example. calling for 10km of protected cycle lanes).
Speaking at Minomics cafe in Pentonville Road, the most Green Party venue you could ever imagine (it’s basically part of a movement to create currency out of the concept of time), Cllr Russell said: “More Greens in opposition will make the council better. And it needs to get better.
“Anyone on any estate will tell you how frustrated they are about failure to communicate over repairs, and failure to carry out basic maintenance. The council is not doing it properly and that has to be an absolute priority.”
Her colleague, Sebastian Sandys, who is running in the Bunhill ward, added: “This isn’t a programme for running Islington. If the electorate defies the odds and we run the council, we will quickly come up with a longer document! But our aim is to convey to people that it’s possible to have an opposition here.
“A culture has grown where any kind of questioning is seen as a threat by Labour. There are real questions about the Richard Cloudesley development [on the Golden Lane Estate] and Finsbury Leisure Centre. But any questioning is seen as an attack – and nobody gets listened to.”
The full manifesto is at islington.greenparty.org.uk/pledges/