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:
- That there was agreement on the scale and nature of the problems;
- That there were some areas of agreement on how to solve them; and only then
- 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