The State of Labour – the State of our City


Joe Harmer and I after he was selected as our Wavertree Candidate. He and Cllr Carl Cashman our candidate for Regional Mayor are the face of the political future in Liverpool and our City Region

The biggest political headline in Liverpool last week was the one about the Labour Party being split on the leaflet to go out on behalf of their hapless Regional Mayor Candidate. We actually knew about the e-mail from Cllr Munby to his Cabinet Colleagues because we had been sent it by first class post, to ensure it arrived quickly, to our Lib Dem HQ in Smithdown Road.

It’s a pretty torrid time when someone from a Labour Cabinet (and we don’t know who) starts leaking contentious information to the main opposition party. It must have been one of the cabinet members because they were the only ones on the circulation list.

But should we be surprised?  That’s what is happening nationally as well as locally. Two Labour MPs have disappeared from the scene to well paid jobs. Three Labour MPs are hoping to salvage their political careers by becoming regional MPs. 5,000 ordinary members have left Labour and joined the Lib Dems. 50,000 people in total have left the Labour Party.

The leaflet was all about the 80s in Liverpool. Well again that is just typical of the Party locally and nationally. Jeremy Corbyn and some of his TU acolytes and Momentum supporters are still fighting the battles of the 70s and 80s when people worked in large factories and large industries and the internet hadn’t been invented. Those days of union power in the old sense through mass labour support are gone forever. Tony Blair knew that as he tried, and succeeded for a while, in broadening the appeal of the Parry outside its traditional class roots.

Inside the council chamber Labour pushes motion after motion slamming the coalition government. They totally ignore the fact that there have been 3 budgets since the coalition ended and that the pace of austerity has been massively increased since then. Never mind that they still have a go at the Lib Dems because they have no positive answers either locally or nationally. They ignore the fact that the coalition that people are talking about on the door step is the one between Corbyn and May as they get together to hurtle the UK over the Brexit cliff with appalling consequences for the UK and especially places like Liverpool which rely heavily on international trade and the ability of our universities to work across Europe and indeed the World.

In Liverpool and nationally the Lib Dems offer a real alternative. On May 4 there are two votes in the City. Along with the rest of the Liverpool City Region we are voting for a Regional Mayor. Our candidate, Carl Cashman is a cracker. Yes, as has been pointed out to me regularly, he is young. But he is the Leader of the Lib Dems in Knowsley, has a first class brain and a first class manifesto. He is the only candidate who understands the importance of the EU to our City Region. As he says so acutely, “the EU didn’t forget us in the 80s and we are not going to forget the EU now”. His manifesto has strong ideas about transport, training; our place in the world and health which puts him as the only candidate who both understands the key issues and has policies to deal with them.

In Liverpool’s Wavertree and Wirral’s Claughton Wards there are council, by-elections. I am delighted that in Claughton it is the son of an old friend of mine Lord Evans of Claughton who is fighting to regain the seat from Labour. Gruffyd Evans was a Trojan member of the Party for many years on Birkenhead and then Wirral and Merseyside he led many initiatives and then brought his own Welsh/Scouse humour to the House of Lords.

In Wavertree it is a member, Joe Harmer, who only joined the Party 18 months ago who is fighting for us. His Lib Dem pedigree is longer than that however. His Dad, Roger, is the Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems on Birmingham Council. Joe has been delivering Focus with his Dad since he was 7! He has imprinted in his DNA the need to be out in the community; representing the community and fighting for the community more than pratting around in the Town Hall.

Like me he is appalled at what he sees in Wavertree. Erica and I represented about a quarter of Wavertree Ward until 2004. I was actually asked on Thursday whether I was still the councillor for the area. “We never see our councillors now like we did when you, Erica and the other Lib Dems were our councillor’s,” is something I pick up on door after door. Parts of the ward are filthy. So we have already made great strides in cleaning up areas, getting potholes fixed and dealing with rat infestations which should never have occurred.


Outside Wavertree there was an appalling article in the paper about the state of Kensington. Kensington has some deep rooted problems which cannot be fixed overnight. But many of those problems would have been fixed by councillors who were out in their communities. Cleanliness, street lighting, clean ups; potholes make a huge difference to people’s lives. Working with the police to deal with anti-social behaviour and crime. Labour of course, try to blame this on austerity because they have no answers to these problems. It is not money but attitude that will solve these problems. An acceptance by councillors, the council and local representatives that together these problems need to be worked through.


What was particularly sad was that Kensington residents turned anonymously to the Liverpool Echo for help because they did not know where to turn. When our Deputy Leader, Cllr Andrew Makinson, reposted the Echo’s shocking article he was instantly attacked by the ever comical Cllr Nick Small for ‘dissing’ Kensington. I had to point out that it was not our article but that of the fiercely independent Liverpool Echo and their political reporter Liam Thorp who had exposed these problems. The blame appears to be everyone’s and anyone’s apart from the Labour Party who have actually been running things for 7 years.


Whether you are in Liverpool, the Liverpool City Region or live further afield I hope that you will be giving your vote on May 4 to the Lib Dems, the only united party fighting the cliff-edge of Brexit and coming up with strong and hard proposals to deal with them. In our area Joe Harmer and Carl Cashman are in the vanguard of political change which is so badly needed. Only Labour or the Lib Dems can win here. You will either vote Lib Dem; or support the Party of Jeremy Corbyn and Joe Anderson or you won’t use your vote to fight the two J’s. Please think about it. See you at the ballot box!




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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