It’s very interesting to read what Derek Hatton has to say about the Militant era. Most of it pure invention!
There are not many of us left in any Party that were active in the 80s but I was there and the story needs retelling because to some extent the current Labour Party in Liverpool is reinventing the Militant wheel.
Let’s look at the housing situation. Yes many people were reoused from tenements but most from the programme that the Liberal Party had left in place. Militant Labour stopped the cooperative housing programme which had been very successful and popular. This led to the Eldonians having to seek Tory support to build a replacement cooperative for the one that was taken away from them.
Militant Labour took over a new estate in Liverpool 8 that was going to be a build for sale estate. They managed it so badly that just 6 years after it was completed it had 20% vacants and had to be given to a housing association with a dowry of £6 million to put right major repairs. Whilst there were crudely more units of accommodation many of them were empty because the repairs account was raided to provide new build which created a massive repairs backlog.
How Mr Hatton makes light of the 33,000 redundancies. “We sent a letter explain it” he says. Well that’s not what it felt like at the time. Only the other week I spoke to someone who recalled with dread the feeling of opening the envelope! In fact it was a totally unnecessary gesture which led to no increased cash for the city.
They tried to sell off part of Sefton Park and Allerton and Kirkby Golf Courses. Does that sound familiar?
Has he forgotten his security squad? He and colleagues never went anywhere without his private army of security guards who were answerable only to him and his colleagues. A goon squad that intimidated Labour’s political opponents.
Has he forgotten that the only reason that he used Swiss Banks was that no bank in the UK would lend the council money. In fact the debts took a lot longer than 15 years to pay off.
Has he forgotten selling off many council assets at bargain basement rates to shore up the squandering of council on a range of ill thought out programmes.
Has he forgotten that the reputation he created for our city was so bad that there was next to no private sector investment in the city for almost 2 decades? 2 decades in which we slipped badly behind Manchester in a whole range of investments particularly in our retail centre.
Has he forgotten that our schools were performing so badly that it took a decade to raise standards to the levels of 1983 which were themselves nowhere near good enough?
The mid to late 80s cast a dark shadow over our City. We have at last town off that shadow but it is important that we remember the true feeling in Liverpool of that time to make sure we never repeat it.