Lib Dems & Labour – Our suggestions for working together in the City Region

Scouse BackdropSeeing the City Region as a ‘semi nation state’ is part of our offer. But Tom Maguire is already ahead of us!!

Strange times bring stranger activities. The severe difficulties which will affect our City Region must make make us all think again about how we work within the City Region. The Lib Dems were pleased to respond to a request from the Chair of the LCR Authority, Mayor Anderson, to work closely with the LCR in the short, medium and long term. We were pleased to accede to that request and attended a meeting with Labour leaders. As a result of that we have sent to the LCR Board a paper which outlines our thoughts on the way ahead. This does not mean that there will not be disagreements in future. It does not mean that we will not fight each other at election and oppose things within our councils. It does mean that wherever possible we will try and find ways of seeking compromise to move things forward.

Although small the Lib Dems are the biggest opposition party in the Liverpool City Region and are the only Party apart from Labour to be on all 6 councils. We will use that position to work purposefully on behalf of our constituents and the people of the LCR to try and develop paths to prosperity in these troubled times.

This is our offer to Labour which we hope to develop in coming weeks and months.

On 1st July  four of the 6 Liberal Democrat Council Group Leaders from across the Liverpool City Region attended a private meeting of the City Region Board at the request of the Chair of the Board Joe Anderson, the Labour Mayor of Liverpool.
At that meeting we highlighted that there were two areas of concern BUT that we would be prepared to work with the controlling Labour Groups on both of them.
We emphasise that we are the only Party apart from Labour on all 6 authorities and whilst our numbers may be small we are accustomed to working with each other and can give a coherent and cohesive view on behalf of our Party to events as they unfold.
Brexit has made a desire to improve the standard and work of the Liverpool City Region into a necessity. We can no longer look to Westminster or Europe for the resources that are still needed to improve the standard of life for some many of our citizens. That is an imperative which has brought us to work with all Parties and other Groups of good faith to deal with Brexit Consequences. That does not mean that we will agree on everything either at LCR level or inside our own councils BUT it does mean that we will seek to minimise our differences on all issues which relate to BREXIT and the ongoing work of the LCR.
Short and Medium Term
In the short term we must come together to fight for resources from Westminster to replace those being taken away. We must work with Europe to see what can be salvaged from almost a £1 billion of capital and revenue programmes when other support inputs are costed on.
To do this effectively we must conduct a full audit of what the LCR gets from the EU. We know how much the public sector and quasi-public sector get largely because our councils are usually the organisations at the heart of pulling these complex, ‘cocktail’, bids together.
However organisations like the Universities have access to research and other funds that do not require our involvement.
Some small funds are available to voluntary and community groups.
The private sector can bid to the EIB for projects outside the purview of councils.
If necessary we must change the priorities for the money that we have available to meet gaps and fulfil different needs than originally envisaged. We must also work together to find alternative sources of finance from Trusts, Charities and the Private Sector to replace both capital and revenue funding. In particular we would welcome:
• A review of the prudential borrowing capacity of the 6 authorities and other parts of the public sector. Whilst critical of some of the investment choices made by the Liverpool Council the principle of using our borrowing power to borrow money cheaply and then lend on at a margin can be attractive.
• A review of the investment strategies of the Merseyside Pension Fund in the light of suggested government changes to their terms of reference.
• A renewed bid to examine local banking mechanisms such as Peer to Peer lending and the expansion of the MSIF.
Medium to Long Term
In the longer term we need to up our game to create a Liverpool Assembly which meets the needs of our people and businesses. We believe that the City Region bid to the Government was mediocre and only accepted because the Government wished to support the concept of mayors.
Liberal Democrats do not believe in the concept of mayors and have consistently opposed them both in the LCR and nationally. But we recognise that in the long term we must accept the reality and work out how to make the Mayoral system work both internally and externally.
We believe that we are in danger of creating another local government type structure which will appear to be an anaemic county council. We feel that if this is to work the LCR must become much more visible and accountable. The model which we would suggest adopting, in so far as we can, is the London Model where the Mayor is publicly held to account through an Assembly.
In terms of policy and actions we now need to:
• Develop a long term vision and strategy for the City Region which realistically reflects its strengths and opportunities. Some of this must be done quickly but all sectors must be involved in its creation if they are to commit to its delivery. The starting point for this would be the baseline survey and report produced by the Heseltine Institute.
• Deliver the strategy by bringing together from all sectors of the Community; business; public and academic sectors joint actions to work together in a way never yet achieved to future proof our City Region and prepare it for tough times ahead.
• Harness the strategic thinking of the 3 Universities of the Region to develop a new range of products, actions and services which will make our communities and our businesses fit for purpose in changing times.

In terms of the development of the LCR we now need to:

• Seek external advice as to our structures, methodologies and direction from people with a wider experience. We would particularly like to see the involvement of people like Lord Gus O’Donnell and Lord Bob Kerslake both former heads of the Civil Service with a wide understanding of regional, national and international activity.
• Bring in to the officer team supporting the City Region expertise from the Foreign and Business Departments of Central Government. We do not believe that the current officer structure is adequate. If we only seek staff from local government we will simply continue to be local rather than regional government. The head of the paid service needs to be someone of ‘Permanent Secretary’ level with usable contacts inside the system.
• Upgrade our office in London and create one in Brussels so that we can continue to create strong links with our major economic partners in places that will continue to affect us.
• Review the governance structures of the proposed City Region to enhance transparency and scrutiny and involve as many people as possible in key decisions about the Region’s Future. In particular we would recommend:
o The appointment of a representative of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Parties as none-voting members of the City Region Board.
o The development of the scrutiny role of the LCR into a proportionately representative assembly based on the number of councillors across the LCR held by the political parties which can meet publicly to hold the Mayor; Board Members with the sectoral responsibilities; officers and partners to account.
Next steps
All 6 Liberal Democrat group leaders or their nominees will meet regularly to discuss and consider developments in terms of the City Region, its structures and activities.
We would welcome some help from the LCR Secretariat in arranging such meeting and delivery of relevant papers etc.
We will nominate the Group Leaders below to work with the Board on the key issues including public discussion of issues; private discussion of issues; representing the Party on delegations outside the LCR and meetings within the LCR to resolve the short medium and long term difficulties and opportunities outlined above.
Thematic responsibility*
Chris Rowe, Halton
Carl Cashman, Knowsley
Richard Kemp, Liverpool
Teresa Simms, St Helens
Sue Maguire, Sefton
Phil Gilchrist, Wirral

• Thematic responsibilities will be assigned when the LCR Board begins to allocate actions across the Region. In the meantime I will act as the link between the Chair of the City Region Board and the Liberal Democrats in the LCR
We would be pleased to discuss these issues either inside the LCR as a whole on the lines of the meeting held last Friday or to have individual meetings of political leadership groups inside our councils.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
On behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group Leaders of Halton, Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton and Liverpool

Posted in Liverpool City Region, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lib Dems adopt 5 Parliamentary candidates for Liverpool.

parl

Some of our team celebrating after the adoption of our 5 Prospective Parliamentary candidates for Liverpool Constituencies

Liverpool Liberal Democrats yesterday adopted their 5 Parliamentary candidates for Liverpool in the case of a snap General election.

The 5 candidates are:

Wavertree:     Leo Evans. Leo was the Party’s youngest candidate at the last General election when he stood for Wavertree. Since then he has achieved a first class honours degree in Politics at Liverpool University and now works in the constituency office of John Pugh the MP for Southport

Garston & Halewood:                        Paula Keaveney. Paula has fought the Constituency in both 20o5 and 2010. She is a former Leader of the Liverpool Lib Dem councillors and is a lecturer at Edge Hill University

Walton:          Kris Brown. Kris is a former Labour councillor who joined the Lib Dems in 2011. He is Chair of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats and is a care manager for a local organisation.

Riverside:        Joe Harmer.  Joe fought Greenbank Ward in this year’s local elections. Although he is a relative newcomer to Liverpool he was a long-standing Party worker in Birmingham where his father is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

West Derby:   Paul Twigger. Paul is a former Cabinet Member and Chief Whip on the City Council. He got married last year and lives in the West Derby heart of the Constituency.

Cllr Richard Kemp, Leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats said, “All my fellow members and I were delighted at the quality of the people that were put forward today under our emergency procedures. These candidates will fight hard for the next 12 months to achieve electoral success in the Regional Mayoral Election next year. The Party will re-open nominations after May next year if there is no General Election in the meantime although the timing of this is dependent on the boundary changes which will reduce the number of Constituencies in Liverpool to 4.

It was a particular pleasure for our Party to unitedly face the future whilst the other Parties look inward and fight each other. As we saw in the local elections in May Lib Dems are bouncing back across the City and we look forward to creating a bigger and stronger opposition Group before taking control of the City in 2020. In Liverpool as in the rest of the Country it is becoming increasingly clear that the Lib Dems are the only united, coherent and viable alternative to the Tories.”

 

Posted in Liverpool Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What chance a progressive alliance in Liverpool?

LpoolTH

This should be the home of the ‘Parliament’ for the Liverpool City Region

Tomorrow night I am going to a meeting to discuss the creation of a progressive alliance. I understand that it is one of a series that are taking place around the country. I cannot stay that long because we will also be having a #LibDem Pint to welcome many of our new members to the Party.

The idea of politicians working together is nothing new to me. As Group Leader at the Local Government Association we continually avoided our differences to work on the 90%+ that we agreed upon. As someone who advised many Lib Dem groups on council in ‘No Overall Control’ I continually suggested to them that their priorities for discussions with other Parties should be based on the following principles:

  1. That there was agreement on the scale and nature of the problems;
  2. That there were some areas of agreement on how to solve them; and only then
  3. What might the working arrangements between the Parties be.

In looking at any thought of a progressive alliance I shall follow my own advice! I strongly believe that the principles that the Lib Dems should advance are:

  • A fierce belief in internationalism. This might not always be my first priority but it will certainly be at the front in the immediate post-Brexit period. That means not just Europe but a concern for the rest of the world as well.
  • A belief in localism. Given the tenor of the Tory Government we need to make as many of the decisions which affect our lives here in the Liverpool City Region.
  • An environmentalism which recognises the importance of global warming (yes it does exist Andrea Loathsome).
  • An alternative economic and financial system which recognises the need to make greater use of our own money and services
  • A renegotiation of service delivery to provide for local suppliers to take the helm.

So I turn to people we could work with and ask them simply which of these do you agree with? If the answer is all of them I don’t want to be in alliance with you I want you to be in our Party! No other Party shares the same set of principles as these so there is no other home for you.

If you don’t believe any of them you might be progressive but you are not progressing in the way that I want. There is no pint in working with people with whom there is no meeting of minds.

So the degree of relationship with anyone else is in the same proportion of the things that we believe together.

In the Liverpool context I believe that this must mean doing things together in in the context of the Liverpool City Region. With a population of 1.75 million and three universities an advanced port etc we can and indeed we must make our own way in the world. BUT the LCR will not work unless we do things very differently. In terms of both the political and managerial leadership that is currently being proposed the LCR will simply be a second rate county council. Unless we change that then it is unlikely that other things we want can be delivered.

So how likely is this inside Liverpool and the wider LCR? In my view not very likely. Of course in our City there is no Conservative Party but there are a very few Conservatives here and in the Country with who we could work. The real stumbling block is the nature of the Labour Party here. The Greens are largely irrelevant. In 2018 they will be pushed back to the one ward of St Michael’s and will continue to put forward motions that seem good on paper but are largely either irrelevant or undeliverable.

So that leaves Labour where in Liverpool most of the Labour Party seems stuck in the 19080s (or earlier!) Motion after motion in the council seems stuck in cold war rhetoric. They have embarked on the sale of green spaces and have a centralist view of the provision of services. Transparency and scrutiny are the minimum that they can get away with in law. So in Liverpool as in the rest of the Country it would depend on which Labour members leave the Labour party (or the Labour Party leaves them), and for what reasons.

My door is always open to talk with people of a like mind. It is particularly open to discuss things with people who currently are not in a Party at all. Most of our new members are in that position. They preface their e-mails to me with, “I never thought I’d ever join a Party” or “I’ve always been a liberal but have never before done anything about it”. There are lots of people that we need to see more of in our City. Firstly, the civic and architectural groups who are desperately striving to save our urban built environment and its rich heritage. Secondly the people from the green movements who are doing so much to try and save our parks. Thirdly the people in social enterprises who are looking at new ways to provide services and keep our money in our city.

All these and more need to consider whether they move from advisory and pressure group mode to a place where they can strive for political power and control to actually deliver their beliefs. In Liverpool my Party has more than doubled its membership in 14 months and we are eyeing up seats throughout the city where we now have the people and resources to advance. That is an option but there may be others.

Liverpool and the Country need your involvement now more than ever before. A rudderless, inward looking, Labour party locally and a vicious Tory Party nationally means that circumstances call you to action. Take that action; begin that activism and we can work together in one way or another to create a new and independent Liverpool capable of taking its place in the World. Check out more at http://www.liverlibdems.org.uk

Posted in Liverpool Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Consult people on removal of elected mayor post in Liverpool”

LpoolTH

How this place is run should be a decision of the people of Liverpool

Liverpool’s Liberal Democrats will be moving a motion at the next meeting of the Liverpool City Council on July 20th.
The motion would be moved by their Deputy Leader Cllr Andrew Makinson who says, “In our manifesto in May we pledged to abolish the position of elected Mayor of Liverpool. Next May we will elect a new mayor of the Liverpool City Region which would mean three Mayors with Liverpool in their title. This would be confusing both inside and outside the City and is an unnecessary expense. £500,000 could be saved by abolishing this post”.
It is legally possible for the Council to vote to abolish the position after mid-February next year but the Lib Dems believe that this is not a decision that should be made just by politicians. Cllr Makinson continued, “We believe that constitutional changes and reforms should not be decided by those that will benefit from them but by the people that we serve. That is why we are asking for a full consultation on the removal with the people of the City. If Labour block this move we will campaign with a petition throughout the summer to force a referendum next May. We only need 16,500 names to ensure referendum and that is easy given the resentment that people feel about not having been consulted about the creation of the mayoralty in the first place”.

The resolution to Council:

Changes to the Governance Structure of Liverpool City Council

Council notes that from February next year the Council can vote to abolish the position of Elected Mayor.

It believes, however, that major constitutional change of this type should be a decision of the people of Liverpool and not just the politicians of Liverpool.
It therefore resolves to commence a major and meaningful consultation with the people and businesses of Liverpool and all interested parties to examine in detail the three potential ways for the Council to work in future namely:

• Continuation of the Mayoral model

• Replacement of the Mayoral model by a Leader and Cabinet System

• Replacement of the Mayoral model by a Leader and Committee System

It resolves to leave the details of the consultation to be determined as a matter of urgency to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and opposition Group Leaders.

Posted in Liverpool Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The last of the Brexiteers Buggers Off!

Rally

We”ll fight on the UK’s behalf even if the Brexiteers have buggered off!

So that’s it then. First Farage quits; then Johnson; then Gove gets eliminated; then Leadsom caves in; then Nuttall says he won’t stand. Cameron, whose weakness led to the referendum in the first place, was the first to disappear. So nationally and locally, the Brexiteers show that they had no understanding of the enormity of what they had proposed. They had no plan for what to do after BREXIT and they had no understanding of the forces that would be unleashed by a BREXIT vote.

It wasn’t as if they weren’t told. BUT every time that someone tried to give an educated commentary of what might happen the Leave group accused them of scare stories. Well the sad truth is that the stories were not scary enough! Just look at what has happened since BREXIT was voted on:

  • The £ has plummeted and is now 10%+ less against other currencies. In fact it is the worst performing currency in the World this year!
  • Pensions have gone belly up with already appalling annuity rates nose diving.
  • Major decisions to invest in the UK economy have been put on hold or cancelled.
  • Jobs have already been lost as overseas orders for services and goods has plummeted.
  • The FTSE 100 has improved because of the change in the value of the £ but the FTSE 250 which is more reflective of the UK economy has tanked and is currently below its June 22nd level by about 11/12%.

Let’s not forget that many of these positions had already weakened since the referendum was announced. Our currency etc. has been in a major slide since it was first announced.

So who is now going to pick up the pieces? The Remainers are because they are the one ones that both understand the enormity of what is happening and have the ability to deal with those problems.

Nationally it will be Theresa May and the big question for her is, “Will she trigger Article 50 at all?” The fact is that the referendum was not mandatory but advisory. I don’t know many exiters because this area was 70% in favour of staying in. But already a few people have spoken to me and have said one of two things:

  1. They didn’t think that that Leave would win and basically wanted to put two fingers up at the establishment; or
  2. They didn’t think that what has happened would happen. They thought there would be no consequences to a Leave vote because that is what the Leavers told them.

 

There are many people like them and I have no doubt that were another referendum to be held now Remain would win. May’s position must be to negotiate with the EU from a position of weakness. She has two choices. Either to find a way of not implementing the Referendum result or to minimise the difference between the current position and the position that could be. The intractable position is that there will be no free trade agreement with the EU unless we agree to free movement of labour and agree to pay substantial costs to the EU. You cannot have it both ways. Whichever way we have been severely weakened as a Country and have been shown to be a small-minded and inward looking offshore island.

 

That is not where I want to be and that is not where the Lib Dems want us to be. We believe that the UK could and should be a world leader. BY committing ourselves to appropriate strategic alliances like the EU; Commonwealth and NATO we can ensure that our values are the ones that are carried through. Dancing on the side-lines, as we have done for decades, leads us nowhere.

 

Locally the national situation is in part replicated. As I have documented elsewhere the Remainers will be the ones that will have to sort things out. Quite simply there are no exiters in elected positions here. UKIP have no elected representatives in the Liverpool City Region and got 2% of the vote in May. I don’t really meet Tories but the ones I have met are pro-Europe. The only so-called Party in favour is the little right-wing clique that the law allows to call itself the Liberal Party. Liberal they are not!

In the City Region up to £1billion is at stake and we need all the experience that we can muster to work out what to do next. We need to press our case jointly locally; regionally; nationally and internationally to deal with these problems. That is why the 6 Lib Dem Group Leaders from across the LCR have agreed to work with Labour on these pressing issues.

 

It would be easy for Lib Dems to gloat about the problems facing our opponents. Come to think of it I did in my last BLOG. But what is happening now is dangerous for our democracy and dangerous for our Country. The circumstances we face are the most dangerous for our Country since the end of World War II. Then there Country pulled together and although there was still appropriate political disagreement there was still a consensus on the way forward. That consensus included working with others inside Europe and NATO to build a new World together. That is the way to deal with this crisis as well.

 

The only Party that is up to this is the Liberal Democrat Party. I repeat my invitation to come and join us at www.libdems.org.uk/join.

Posted in International Activity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I need help with my Smugness

tim praying

Tim praying for a Leadsom and Corbyn fight at the next General Election. Good for the Lib Dems but bad for the Country!!

For the past two weeks I have been feeling something which I have never really felt before and I didn’t know what it was. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is smugness! Well I wouldn’t really understand that feeling too much would I having been in the Lib Dems for almost 50 years?

Yes I’ve had the odd twinge after some famous by-elections or when we went up to 62 seats in the General Election with Charles Kennedy as our Leader or when we came back from a near death experience in Liverpool but for years there have been far more thins than thicks in our existence but things seem to me to have fundamentally changed.

Let’s start with the Referendum. It was a bitter blow to lose it BUT it has provoked the most amazing affection for the EU. The largest demonstrations in favour of the EU have occurred here in the UK post 23rd June because many, many people have realised just how much they will miss the institution. Of course we are still in Europe. Of course we are still European, of course our major trading partner will be the EU. Our job now is to make the best of the pile of dog dos that Brexit was and maintain the strongest possible links with the EU.

So who will have to sort the mess out? Not the ‘Leavers’ as they have taken their own advice and disappeared. Cameron whose refusal to stand up to his right wing got us into this mess in the first place is going. Gove; Johnson and Farage the leading voices for Leave have gone. The only Leaver left is this Leadsom woman who must of us had never really heard of until a week ago. And what a frightful person she is. It’s bad enough for anyone to make comments about a woman’s beliefs and commitment on the basis of their fertility. Somehow it seems even worse when another woman does it.

So as I survey the field I see the wreckage of the other national UK Wide Parties.

The Tories are having a bitter election with blue on blue stabbings well to the fore. But do not under-estimate the ability of the Tories to come together. Their naked desire for power to preserve privilege is always the uniting factor.

Labour is engaged in fratricide. Whether or not there will be two Parties legally is almost irrelevant as there are certainly two Parties in practice. I’ve no doubt that Corbyn will energise the core 25% Labour vote but his appeal will reach no further than that. I literally knocked on thousands of doors during the local election and referendum. The marginal Labour voters who they need to win an election overwhelmingly voted for me in the Mayoral election when my vote was up more than threefold. They won’t all stay for a General Election but many of them will. Indeed I know that some of our new members here in Liverpool have come straight over from being Labour voters and in some cases Labour members.

UKIP will have some sort of contest but I doubt that it will end well for them. UKIP has been a one-horse party and the horse has gone. Commentators talk about the rise of UKIP in the North. Well not in Liverpool. In the local elections in May they couldn’t put up a candidate for either the Mayoral or PCC elections and scored 2% of the vote in the council election. They have no credible force here which is surprising as their deputy Leader and possible Leader is based in Bootle. In fact come to think of it UKIP have not a single councillor elected in the whole of the Liverpool City Region.

The Greens, bless them, are also having a leadership election. I hadn’t realised that until I was told as they seem to have sunk without trace over the past few months both in Liverpool and nationally. Apparently there is now another of their crackpot ideas that there could be a joint Leader position. So the woman no one had ever heard of might be replaced by half the woman that a few people have heard of and half someone else that no one has ever heard of. I couldn’t make it up!

So in the meantime what is happening in the Lib Dems? Well we are doing well. Not absolutely, of course, but certainly relatively. Nationally we gained 45 seats at the local elections of which 2 were in Liverpool and took 15% of the vote. Not bad for a Party that only 12 months before had been written off for ever by the political pundits. Nationally our membership has almost doubled and in Liverpool our membership has more than doubled. In fact we have more members now with just 4 councillors than we had when we controlled the Council with 60 councillors. Some of last year’s joiners are already being lined up for the 2018 local elections. Many newbies have joined us since the Referendum and what a pleasure it is to talk and correspond with them. They are:

  • Articulate and intelligent.
  • Committed to liberalism although their route to it has been primarily and in the first instance about Europe and Brexit.
  • Committed to doing something. They haven’t joined the Party to campaign for or against a Leader but to campaign for our basic beliefs. Already they are asking me, “now we are in what can we do to help?’

So we have been defining what they can do. At our meeting on Thursday we spent our time looking at how we will fight a snap General Election if there is one. We looked at our approach to the Regional Mayor election to be held next May and looked at our joint strategy with our 5 other Boroughs. We looked at the adoption of candidates in our key seats for May 2018. We did this without serious disagreement; respectful listening when disagreements arose and left our meeting united and went to the Pub!

On Tuesday at the event at St George’s Hall some of our new members came and the Lib Dems were the biggest Party represented there. Loads of members of the public came to talk to us afterwards and many of them are considering switching their vote to us because of the principled stand we are making on Europe and other key issues.

Of course I am not really feeling smug. I just have a rosy glow. There’s lots of potential out there for us. The coalition days are largely forgotten and forgiven and I am sure as are most people that a Lib Dem rebirth is on. It’s difficult to be smug when you spent all morning delivering recruiting leaflets in the rain. But the rosy glow persisted through the damp.

Come and help us. If you are instinctive liberal; if you instinctively believe in one world; one environment and the unity of people you cannot afford to sit and the side-lines. Tweeting isn’t enough! We need you in the Party and out with us developing policies and converting others to our beliefs. You can contact me at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk if you want to talk. You can see the speech I made on Tuesday at the Malcolm Kelly Woolton Facebook site. You can join the Lib Dems at www.libdems.org.uk. Come on in – the water’s fine!

MONDAY 11 JULY UPDATE. Apparently the Leader of the NHA Party has now also resigned because of irreconcilable differences on the National Executive!! Whatever is going around it’s catching everywhere except the Lib Dems

Posted in Liberal Democrat | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We are big hearted Scousers not small minded Little Englanders

Rally

Just some of the Lib Dems who came to the Rally at St George’s Hall on July 5th to express our faith in our City and its European future

Yesterday about 6/700 people gathered at an event at St George’s Hall. Its purpose was to reaffirm our faith in our role as a major European City and to the multi-cultural City that we have become. We did this because, like it or not, there are severe consequences arising from the BREXIT vote and because there has been a massive increase in the number of hate crimes since 23rd June.

Speaking on behalf of the Liberal Democrats what I intended to say what is below. Inevitably I extended it a bit and arm waved a bit more! You can see the speech that I made in a full video clip at the Facebook page ‘Malcolm Woolton Lib Dems’.

 “Last time I addressed a meeting on the steps of St George’s Hall it was with a crowd who had gathered at very short notice to reflect on the Paris massacres the day before. We met because we are a major European City wanted to show our support for another major European City. Nothing that happened on 23rd June changes that. We are still here; still European and still needing to trade and work with other parts of Europe if we are to prosper. Our job must be to minimise changes to protect the jobs and culture of our European City Region.

We must send the message out from Liverpool to the World that we are not a small minded, backward looking City but a world trader and a world entity that is open for business and looking for international partnerships

Whether you have come here from Paris or Berlin; from Spain or Italy; from Poland or Sweden if you choose to make your commitment to this City by working and living here we will choose to working alongside you and fight alongside you to remain here in our City.

But our message goes wider than Europe. For centuries people from other countries have come here, settled here and contributed to the development of our city. If you care about our City and want to live here and contribute to our growth and good fortune you are very welcome.

Our City has been enriched by the Jews who fled from the pogroms of Eastern Europe and provided us with 6 Lord Mayors; and by the Chinese who first came here as merchant traders 200 years ago. It has been enriched by the Doctors and medical professionals who keep our health services going from the Indian sub-continent and now from Africa. It has been enriched by the seamen from Nigeria and Ghana who liked what they saw and stayed. It has been enriched by the Irish who came here during the famines and at one time made up 40% of our City. It has been enriched by the Poles whose grandparents came here during World War 2 as they fled from fascism and turned to fight and die alongside the generation of my mother and father in the war in which we were victorious.

Internationally Liverpool must send out the message that we are open for business and are internationally minded. Inside the City we must send out the message that we are a vibrant and tolerant multi-racial and multi-cultural city whose communities will not be divided by hate crime against any group of our citizens all of whose individuals are welcome here in our wonderful city.

Our abiding message must be that Liverpool is not a City of small minded Little Englanders but of big hearted Scousers. We are open for business to any business or individual who wants to come here and bring their culture; their skills; their enthusiasm with them”.

One person joined us immediately last night after meeting us at the rally. I was also able to meet some of our new members for the first time both at the rally and over a pint afterwards. Many of our new members have joined us because for them the Europe referendum vote was the final straw. They have been liberals for a long time and decided to take that further by becoming Liberal Democrats. Internationalism is a proxy for compassion; environmentalism and an approach to life which recognises the contributions that all cultures and skills can make to our society.

More than 15,000 people young and old, but idealists all, have now joined us since June 23rd. I urge you to do so as well at www.libdems.org.uk/join.

Posted in Liverpool, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment