The Militant of the 80’s which so badly damaged Liverpool has become the Momentum of the 10’s
As most people know I’ve been around a long time! I was a Councillor here in the 80’s when the Militant Tendency rose to power. I saw the destruction of the Labour Party and the destruction of the City. I watched as 32,000 people were given redundancy notices. I watched as housing maintenance budgets were stripped to provide new housing whilst existing housing went to wrack and ruin. I watched while the Swiss Banks cleaned up with exorbitant interest rates and the council failed to collect vast amounts of rates from taxpayers.
Of course, as a Liberal then Liberal Democrat I fought them with my colleagues with everything that we could. It took 2 years for the Millies to be got out with a brief period of Liberal Control and a longer period of stolid and unimaginative Labour control. It was only in 1998 when the Lib Dems retook control of the council that we could begin to put right the appalling education problems of the City; pay off the banks and, in the long term more importantly, to change the image for the City and attract inward investment.
For the decades of the 80’s and 90’s there was no inward investment of the city from the private sector and precious little from the public sector as the competence of the Council and the direction of the City were doubted.
And now Militant has returned. Of course, not quite the same people. Many of the people who have joined the new Militant – Momentum – were not born then. But some are the same people with less hair and even less imagination!. I can see old (literally) Millies across the City Region urging on a new generation of their brethren. But young or old the preaching is the same. A false hope that ‘tooth fairy’ economics could link with ideology of the extreme left to create a latter-day Utopia. Regrettably in Liverpool what was created was a modern-day dystopia. That is happening again and will, again, have terrible consequences for our City if it is not stopped.
You might think after all I have read about the present Labour administration that it could not get worse. The way Labour runs Liverpool is a disgrace which more and more people are becoming aware of. It:
- Lacks transparency and openness
- Has an unsafe relationship between Officers and Members
- Does peculiar deals with developers who aren’t quite top notch
- Has no scrutiny
- Refuses to bench mark itself against other similar councils
- Is failing to contribute to the wider actions of councils across the Liverpool City Region
- Has no due process of scrutiny
- Is racking up increased borrowing
But if you don’t think things could get worse I certainly do. My latest musings have, of course, been set off by the takeover of Wavertree Constituency by Momentum. I watched the gloomy faces of Liverpool Labour Councillors at the LGA Conference who had been thrown out by an almost complete takeover. 9 out of 10 positions now occupied by Momentum supporters.
The first thing they did was to challenge the local MP. According to the Daily Mirror a statement was issued that she was responsible to them not the electorate of Wavertree. This is, of course, a perversion of parliamentary democracy. Only in totalitarian regimes such as fascism and communism is the rule of the Party of paramount importance. In our democracy Parties exist to get people of like mind elected. Those people are then the servants of the people they represent and not the Party that put them there.
The things that Momentum are proposing are in essence the things that the current Greek Government said BEFORE they got elected. They were going to take on the capitalists, the financiers, refuse to pay back loans, nationalise this and privatise that. Well that’s what they promised but those ideas collapsed within weeks. In the end, the deals that they got were worse and more costly than the deal they could have had. They realised, too late, that there is no tooth fairy and father Christmas who will pay for these things and that to progress there needs to be pragmatic policies not empty slogans.
Having said that Lib Dems agree with many of the objectives of Momentum
- We believe that owners of businesses have too strong a hand and that there need to be moves towards principles of co-ownership which recognise that there can be no profits without workers.
- We believe that our society is too materialistic and greedy. People earn vast amounts of money that they cannot possibly need and chuck away on conspicuous consumption whilst others lack the necessities of life.
- We believe in internationalism although of a type very distinct from theirs
- We believe that we have to safeguard the planet
- We believe that everyone has the right in the UK to love in a warm, safe, appropriate home in a safe, clean and green neighbourhood.
Above all we believe that the people of Liverpool need to be given a hope for the future that will not be delivered by the Labour Party which currently controls the council. In some parts of our City there is understandable despair for the future. New ways; new techniques; new employment patterns are leaving behind too many of our young people. The jobs that they could have gone to just a decade ago are disappearing or have already disappeared. The education system in large parts of the City Region is not supporting them or others who have already left the formal education system into good, new reasonably paying jobs.
But the way forward is not y extremism and militancy. It is by setting a long-term future for our City Region. It is by assembling partnerships who support that vision. It is by making our public services fit for purpose and adapted to the new pressures and opportunities. It is about involving the people of Liverpool in taking control of the levers of power and not by concentrating power in the hands of a narrow cadre.
Only the Lib Dems can do that. As I have door knocked around South Liverpool since the General Election it is abundantly clear to me that many people are looking to us to take on incompetent Labour next May. That is what we will do. That is the way forward for Liverpool.