No-one was more shocked, saddened and disappointed by the news on Monday night that Paul Brant had resigned from Liverpool Council than me.
I don’t know why he felt he had to resign and I have no intention of speculating on his reasons. I have always found Paul to be a man of utmost integrity and possessing a faithful commitment to the City of Liverpool. Although I did not always agree with his reasons and arguments – let’s face it for 17 years we have sat on opposite sides of the Chamber – I have never once doubted his motivations.
Paul Brant was a star on the Labour benches, knowledgeable, committed, able to put forward arguments in a clinical way; able to disarm people with a sharp reply but more likely to do it with an unthreatening joke or a whimsical query. Politics generally does not have enough people of Paul’s calibre. All Parties struggle to find people with political commitment; community commitment and intellectual capacity. Paul was one of the few in Liverpool who ticked all those three boxes. I know that he will be a particular loss to the Labour Group but Liverpool as a whole will miss his sharp brain in the current financial difficulties.
He has resigned for person reasons – I don’t want to know what they are. However, perhaps the departure of such a star will remind the sneerers and jeerers of the price that people of Paul’s quality pay to be a councillor. Paul has rightly been paid to be a councillor and to be the Deputy Mayor. Outside the council, however, he is a successful barrister. Every day- even every hour – that he spent on council business cost him money. I am sure that he did not look at it that way anymore than I do but it is a fact.
Too many people sit on couches; don’t lift their backside from their seat for a moment and feel able to comment on the integrity of those people who do commit themselves (and their families) to political life. We don’t get vast amounts of cash, we don’t get a lot of perks, and local government in the UK is magnificently free of corruption.
We do get evening after evening spent away from our families; continued criticism of what we cannot do; no credit for what we do achieve; personal vilification from some people and a continued chorus “You are only in it for yourselves”.
Most councillors I know are not stars but go about their work with great commitment and sacrifice. Being a councillor is not a good career choice; spouses are rarely delighted with the idea; children (and now grandchildren in my case) suffer.
I have had great satisfaction from being a councillor. I have friends from all parties in Liverpool; the UK and latterly across the World. I can show you things in my ward and my city which happened because I helped them happen. I get a tremendous kick out of helping people achieve things for themselves and their communities. I know that such satisfactions are the same for 99% of those that serve in elected office.
So please remember the difficulties that we face in carrying out our duties. We are not in it for ourselves but choose to serve our communities by seeking and maintaining elected office as our way of contributing to the common good.
Paul I hope things work out well for you and yours. Come back to us all as soon as you can.