Sian Berry: Politics needs 'fewer lies, stronger values'

Newham Council is changing its parking permits. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Over 70,000 families have sought help from councils after losing their homes - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another last-minute scramble to protect private renters: this time, the extension to the eviction ban came just days before it was due to expire. We also discovered last week that over 70,000 families have sought help from councils after losing their homes.

Despite all the known gaps and pressures in our housing system, the government has failed to make a secure home a right for everyone in this crisis, leaving campaigners to force each crack in the system closed, one by one.

Sorting it out this way causes worry and needless hardship. Providing real rights, help and resources for everyone from the start would have preserved vital staff time across government to help with the roll-out of vaccines that is so important to focus on.

We’re about to see the next round of budget proposals from councils and the mayor of London. Sadly, there are already signs these are being unnecessarily politicised. 

Sian Berry says tactical voting means Green Party will have best election result yet. Photo: Isabel

Sian Berry wants more unity in our politics for 2021 - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The crisis has hit council balance sheets hard. Extra spending on helping homeless people, lost council tax and business rates income, and the dramatic drop in fares income for Transport for London all directly resulted from the national crisis. Central government should be filling these gaps, but local authorities are being asked to put up council tax at the highest rate in years to make up the difference. 

The Conservatives in London are already issuing election-focused messages blaming tax rises on the current mayor and those running local councils. But this is the kind of politics people just don’t want to see right now. 

One lesson we must learn from the terrifying state of democracy in the USA is that you can never take the low road in politics without risking the rate of descent getting out of control. 

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We should change course now and aim higher. People want to see us working together in the face of a crisis, at council, London and national level. If there’s one wish I have for the new year, it’s that we see fewer lies, stronger values, more listening and more unity in our politics.

  • Sian Berry is a local councillor in Camden, co-leader of the Green Party and Green London Mayoral Candidate.

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