What sort of City do we want to live in?

St Georges Hall

Join us here at St George’s Hall to proclaim your faith in a multi-cultural, outward looking European, modern Liverpool

On Tuesday 5th July I will be addressing a meeting on the steps of St George’s Hall with the Mayor of Liverpool and other community, political and faith leaders. The event was originally called by some young people appalled by the BREXIT vote and its consequences to Liverpool both externally as part of Europe but also internally as a collection of people from all faiths, countries and backgrounds. The council have taken it over for logistical reasons but those people will stay play a major part.

This ‘Stay Together’ event will look both internationally to the World and internally within our boundaries to our City’s future.

Externally, we will talk about the need for Liverpool to maintain its place in the World and especially in Europe. Europe will not disappear because we are no longer in it. We are a major European City and must remain so. Our Port has been expanded on the basis that it will provide a rapid two way transfer of goods to and from continental Europe. Our City Centre has been transformed by Objective One money as Europe has spent money here that we would never have received from any Westminster Government. That money is under threat up to £1 billion worth of capital and revenue programmes either directly or indirectly. We have people from most European Countries living here. We must find ways in which they can stay and continue make their contributions to our City.

Internally, we must express our concern at the anti-immigration and frankly racist events that are occurring after the vote. It is absolutely true that the vast, vast majority of people who voted to leave the EU are not racist but it is also clear that the minority that are have been emboldened by the vote and think that the 52% agree with them. Only to a small extent in our city but to a much greater extent elsewhere the far right have been emboldened. Foul racist language has appeared; mosques and synagogues have been attacked.

So that raises to my mind the key question as to what sort of City we want to live in and what sort of society we want to build.

Firstly Liberal Democrats have no intention of giving up on our internationalist principles. That is why I am delighted that Tim Farron has made clear that we will make a return to the EU our number 1 policy at the General Election whenever it is called. Every vote that we get will be a vote for the EU and for wider internationalist principles. We recognise that our Country is too small to stand alone. Much was made of the fact that we are the 5th biggest economy in the World. We are now, as a result of BREXIT the 6th. But it depends how you measure it. If you look at GDP per head – measure of personal and not gross wealth we are the 25th largest economy. That means that on average people in 24 countries are wealthier than us.

We still need friends; we still need trading partners and our fellow Europeans are still the most obvious choice.

Secondly we are also absolutely convinced that we must be comfortable with the multi ethnic, mufti-faith city and Country that we have become. People from other Countries are no stranger to Liverpool. The first Chinese Community in Western Europe; the first Mosque in the UK; large contingents from the African Countries we sailed to; the Jews who fled from the pogroms of Eastern Europe; the Poles who came from their country in World War II and turned to fight their enemies; the Kenyans who keep our NHS going. They are all welcome to be here because the City that we have is the City that they have helped create.

The most successful societies are those which have adapted to and indeed embraced change. All those immigrant peoples have brought their knowledge and skills with them and contributed to our City. We have relatively few problems here because Liverpool is an inclusive city; a tolerant city; a city where hard knocks have been so many that we band together to help anyone in misfortune.

That must not change. We must not succumb to those who have a view of society far removed from ours. I don’t care whether the intolerant person is black, white or brown. I don’t care if the intolerant person is a Christian, Moslem or Jew. I will fight them and I will help expose their evil. I am in the Liberal Democrats because these are parts of the fundamental beliefs of my Party.

That’s why I and many of our Lib Dem members will be outside St George’s Hall on Tuesday at 5.30pm. So what about you? Where do you stand on the great issues of the day? Are you worried about how our society will develop? Are you worried about the slump in our fortunes that will flow from Brexit? Well now is the time to do something about it. Tweeting; Facebooking and all the other social media will change little. That’s largely talking to the converted. They are just a means to an end.

We need to be out in the streets talking to the unconverted. We need to talk to the many people who had no real idea about what Brexit would mean. We need to talk about the problems faced by so many living in the margins of poverty and who voted out of desperation or did not vote at all. Doing nothing is not an option we must act – you must act.

Obviously as a Liberal Democrat I would like you to join us. More than 14,000 have done so since 24th June to add to the more than 20,000 who joined in the aftermath of the election. Some of last year’s intake will soon be adopted for the wards that we will be fighting to win in 2018. Our membership is now twice what it was in May last year and is as big as it was when we controlled the Council. We trebled our vote in the Mayoral Election and doubled our number of councillors. You can join us at http://www.libdems.org.uk/join.

You can help a wide variety of groups that fight for greater equality; for peace in our society; for better environments; for stronger economies; for better housing; for a whole range of good causes.

But perhaps the first step that you can take is to join us on Tuesday at 5.30pm at St George’s Hall. We need thousands of people there to say by their presence that we will stay together; to say we will stay with our European ideals; to say we will stay with the spirit of togetherness in our society. Join us and proclaim your faith in the future of our city.



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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