Sometimes it’s a case of “the less things change, the more they stay the same.” The political make-up of Manchester City Council (MCC) remains unchanged after the May 6th local elections, with Labour on 62, the Liberal Democrats on 33 and the Conservatives with 1.
The Greens failed to win their target seat (this would have taken them from 0% to 1% of the 96 seat chamber.) The Conservatives languish in richly-deserved irrelevance; pulling out of the debate on “Is Manchester City Council taking the right action on climate change” at the last minute tells you all you need to know about how much respect they have for local democracy, and how much concern they have for the key issue of the 21st century.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats will be telling themselves that they’ve done well by taking Chorlton from Labour and bagging the scalp of Richard Cowell, who was the Executive Member for the Environment. But climate change was not a priority in their manifesto, perhaps because they did not perceive it as ballot box boffo. And they are right- it isn’t a vote winner. The people of Manchester seem unaware of the need to cut emissions, and the need to adapt/create resilience. It is this status quo – far more than any political deadlock – that we will look back on with dismay a decade from now.
Given the mistrust the public has for politicians, the political parties cannot create the space for bold action. That’s down to ‘civil society’. Currently the self-proclaimed climate campaigning groups – Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Call to Real Action, Manchester Climate Action – are not doing a very good job of pressuring the Council and creating a groundswell of people for future pressure. Will that change, or will we have, a year from now, the status quo? For anyone who cares about the future, there’s plenty to be anxious about.