North Lancashire Green Party Councillor Caroline Jackson has been elected as the first Green Party leader of the Lancaster City Council for the next two years. On May 28th, the Green Party announced its administrative plan with several positions yet to confirmed; on June 3rd, the new cabinet was announced.
City Council Cabinet
The cabinet positions for the Green Party, Liberal Democrats, Eco Socialists, and Morecambe Bay Independents have been confirmed. According to the press release published on the North Lancashire Green Party’s Twitter account, Caroline Jackson stated “I look forward to working with labour who will provide the valuable support for the shared administration.”
According to an article at LancsLive, former Green councillors Gina Howding, Tim Hamilton Cox, Dave Brookes, as well as Caroline Jackson will continue their cabinet roles. Tricia Health and Cary Matthews from Morecambe Bay Independents will have cabinet positions and Kevin Frea of the Eco-Socialist Group will serve as the Deputy Leader.
On June 3rd, Greens announced that their “shared administration” plan will include three councillors from the Labour Party: former Labour councillor Anne Whitehead and the former leader Erica Lewis will serve in the new cabinet alongside a new addition, Sandra Thornberry. This means that Labour councillors Jean Parr and Janice Hanson will not return to their previous positions.
The allegations of forming an alliance with the Tories
When the former leader of the council, Labour’s Dr. Erica Lewis, was voted out as the new leader by a difference of 12 votes, the support of the Conservative councillors was significant in successfully challenging the former leader. Lewis has claimed that there was a political deal, stating, “Our work is not done and much is at risk from the Green/Conservative collusion.” according to the Lancaster Guardian. However, North Lancashire Greens have denied the allegations of allying with the Tories.
Caroline Jackson denied the allegations in a statement to the Lancaster District Green Party. She said, “While we are looking forward to working with councilors across the political spectrum for the residents of our district we would like to make it clear that we are not in an alliance with the Conservative Party, as has been alleged this evening.”
In an interview with The Independent, when she was asked about uniting with the Conservatives, she replied, “We didn’t go round doing deals or touting ourselves. But we need a politics here that listens to everybody because it had become knock-about, and that’s not how you get things done at a local level. The leadership had become abrasive…and it was causing people to take away their support for the things we wanted to do. Like dealing with the climate emergency. You can’t alienate half the chamber and then expect them to work with you. When you’re dealing with something as serious as the environment, you can only make things happen by bringing people on board. But I’m no Tory. Tories don’t get arrested at anti-fracking protests.”
Councillor Jackson’s response
Councillor Caroline Jackson has been receiving backlash on social media about her new role as a leader after Greens take control over the Lancaster City Council. I had the chance to ask Councillor Jackson about the recent events.
Q: You have been recently elected as the first Green Party Leader of
Lancaster City Council. The cabinet positions for most parties in the
council are announced; however, the future of former Labour councillors
including former leader Erica Lewis remains unknown. Can you comment on
your shared administrative plan and the place of Labour councillors in
Caroline Jackson: “Greens took control of the city council at the end of the former leader’s term of office. Whilst sharing the priorities and ambitions of the previous Alliance, Greens felt a change to a more co-operative leadership style was needed in order to carry the council through the climate emergency work. The plan was always to offer the Labour group places in the Shared Administration. after a week or so of delay, local Labour Party members decided who would take the cabinet places offered and then waited for two other Labour Party bodies to agree to their decisions. Labour group members have taken Portfolios in Finance, Arts and Culture and Corporate Services. I hope Cllr Lewis will have a central cabinet role – we are currently discussing this together. When we put forward for Green leadership we made it absolutely clear that our corporate priorities would not change from those worked out by the Alliance of Labour, Greens and Lib Dem’s and published on the council website: action on the climate emergency, greater community engagement and the development of community wealth.”
Q: In an interview with the Independent, when being asked about the
rumours about forming an alliance with the Conservatives, you stated:
“When you’re dealing with something as serious as the environment, you
can only make things happen by bringing people on board. But I’m no
Tory. Tories don’t get arrested at anti-fracking protests.” Can you
comment on the process of bringing people on board that led to such
Caroline Jackson: “My comment in the Independent related to the future and moving beyond the relatively simple work of creating a net carbon zero council to bringing all of our residents on board. Every elected councillor is a community leader, respected in their ward. We need every councillor, whatever the party, to support and further the reduction of our carbon emissions. Greens offered respect and cooperation in a chamber that was becoming increasingly stressful and divided over party political opposition which had little relevance to our work of getting the best for our district. There was no alliance or deal with the Conservatives – the fact that this was put out over social media and continues to be said even now, after Labour have entered cabinet, is just a symptom of the way politics has gone. The use of social media to deter, mislead or frighten local councillors, especially younger members concerns me greatly. We are not going to create a just future for ourselves and our environment unless we reject the first past the post, winner take’s all mentality of current politics.”
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