The Ongoing farce that is Liverpool City Council

I shudder to think just how many council meetings I have sat through in Liverpool in the 30 years that I have been a councillor but I doubt that there there was one that could be counted more peculiar than the one we held last night.
The star performer was Labour who performed not one but two U-turns. They managed to do this whilst enveloped in a miasmic fog which divorced them almost totally from reality. The comedy turn (or was it the acrobatic turn) was the Green Party who performed so many flip flops that the rest of us were dizzy.
So let’s start with Labour. I won’t go on at length about one of them because I have already blogged about their u-turn on bin collections. A mayoral pledge, a Labour manifesto and a successful bid to the Government for £10,000,000 all went into the bin as Labour owned up to the fact that there bid to save money would actually have cost them more than doing nothing. They tried to say that the conditions were wrong but they knew all the conditions before they applied for the cash. I was in Whitehall on Tuesday and Liverpool is already being sniggered out over sending back £10,000,000 which Pickles will gratefully receive!
Their second u-turn was over council tax discounts. Lib Dems said clearly right from the start that reductions in council tax benefit should be limited to 8.5% and that £1.5million could be claimed from the Government for the next financial year to minimise hard ship. The Deputy Mayor disagreed with me and even wrote a letter to the Echo to say so. The whole Cabinet disagreed with me last Friday when they voted to reject the £1.5 million. However on Tuesday at 18.00 – 8 hours after I had submitted an amendment with Cllr Radford that the money should be accepted Labour had a change of heart. I am afraid I suspect low politics more than high principle in this matter! It’s just as well we don’t webcast the Council. The sight of the Mayor of Liverpool doing the Hokey-Cokey is not a pretty one!
Then what can we say about the 2 Greens? They were awful! They were the only Party not to support a clearly green measure to improve recycling. They moved an amendment on the budget which said one thing in the first paragraph but which was contradicted by what they said in their second paragraph. What else did they do? I don’t really know. Like everyone else I lost the will to live every time Cllr Coyne stood up to move a well meaning but half-witted amendment. It was like bear baiting at one time – we grew sick of the spectacle!
So how did the Labour Party try and cover up their U-turns? In the time honoured way they attacked the vicious Con-Dem Government. The Labour Party in Liverpool has two clear sections. The section that knows that very difficult decisions would have had to be taken whoever became the national government in 2010 and whoever took leadership of the council. These people just will not be honest about the reality facing governments local and national since 2008. The other 70 live in a la-la land unrelated to reality. They honestly think that there is no national recession linked to massive over spending and a failure to regulate the banks caused by their last Government.
The low point was a resolution which effectively linked increased suicide rates to the Government’s economic Policy. What a pity they did not notice that the study they were quoting with approbation was done in 2008-2010. Hello boys and girls it was the evil Brown in Number 10 then and he had just taken over from the dastardly Blair. But what’s a few facts doing getting in the way of self-righteous indignation.
So I sit there getting insult after insult heaped on my head as the Lib Dem Leader in Liverpool. But what the hell -anyone that can be equally loathed by Labour and Eric Pickles must be getting something right!! My colleagues and I sit there and take it. Then we go back campaigning on the streets of Liverpool where there is growing realisation that all is not well inside their Council.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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