Whither (or wither!) Liverpool Labour Party?


Cllr Frank Prendergast who was Labour’s Council Leader and a Former Lord Mayor now sits as an Independent not Labour Councillor

Its not often that I get surprised about political events after 51 years as an active Party member but when I got tipped off by my Labour mole to have a look at the Council’s web site you could have knocked me down with the proverbial feather! A new political grouping has been entered onto our website. There is now an Independent member of the Council and that person is no less a person than Cllr Frank Prendergast.

Frank is not, in any way, a political colleague of mine. We have been on opposite sides of the chamber for all that time and his tenure as Leader of the Council between 1996 and 1998 was a low point for the City. But I do respect him as a person of commitment and integrity. I have no idea what made him quit the Labour Party after 28 years as a Labour Councillor but I believe that it must be more than straw in the wind.

At the same time another good person announced that he is quitting. Dave Hanratty has been a Councillor for 23 years and has made quite an impact as Chair of the Fire Authority when he has led the Authority well in difficult times. When the Labour Party was selecting candidates for 2018 last year he was standing again. Now with just 6 weeks to go before the election nomination day he has pulled out.

In my own area we have 3 Labour candidates in adjacent wards pulling out of the fight and who are not prepared to face the wrath of the South Liverpool electorate. In Church Ward Cllr Wenstone is disappearing and in Mossley Hill Cllr Foxley. They are both just one term wonders. In Allerton/Hunts Cross Cllr O’Byrne is standing down although she has been around a little longer.

Over the City there have been may more changes with the result being that Momentum is clearly gaining ground. Momentum supported candidates are adopted for at least 6 wards although not all of those 6 will win. I was talking to my mole about this. My comment was that, “I would love to be a fly on the wall in Labour group meetings when the small Momentum caucus take on Joe Anderson as a “right wing Tory Government supporting appeaser!” My mole’s eyes turned to the ceiling and he said that Labour Group meetings are not much fun now but that they will inevitably get even worse.

In the meantime, Labour’s standing in the community is going downhill faster than the Jamaican Team on a bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics! The latest mess up that has been revealed is the ‘Pound for a House’ scheme. Excellent in conception but fatally flawed in execution. Last night’s television programme about the project could NOT have put Liverpool in a worse light. As usually happens an officer of the Council was set up to be attacked and politicians did not defend the council’s position.

Mayor Anderson now presents himself as the Saviour of the World Heritage Status which apparently is a vital status for our City but fails to mention that he put the Status at risk in the first place.

Mayor Anderson now presents himself as the Saviour of Sefton Park Meadowlands without revealing that it was his crass decision to involve Redrow that imperilled it bin the first place.

Mayor Anderson now presents himself as the saviour of St Johns Market although it was a Cabinet decision that he presided over that introduced a both regeneration programme which actually made the Market worse at a cost of £2.5 million.

I could go on. For more Anderson cock-ups just read through the back issues of this blog.

The fact that the Labour machinery within the Council lacks transparency has been revealed by my fellow blogger and reviewer of Liverpool life Peter Kilfoyle. This ex Labour MP and Minister revealed that what Mayor Anderson told us in Council about the absence of the Director of Finance is not true. Sources in the Labour Party (and he obviously has more than me!) must have told him that she is not returning and that her solicitors are trying to negotiate a settlement. She has been a good finance officer. I do not know why she is going and I suspect that I will never find out. An outside and experienced officer has been brought into the Council using LGA help to look at our finances and what now needs to be done.

Our scrutiny function is useless. I missed a Select Committee last night because I was meeting the CQC who are doing a review of Adult Social Care in the City (not just of the Council but for the NHS as well). But I know what will have happened. After 5 ‘interesting discussions’ the chair would have thanked the presenter of the report noted it and moved to the next item. What a waste of time.

Of course, Labour breaches the whole principle of scrutiny established by laws introduced by the last Labour Government. All members of Council irrespective of Party are supposed to hold the Executive (Cabinet) to account. Not in Liverpool where no Labour Councillor can put down a motion without it being approved by Mayor Anderson!

Labour used to taunt the Lib Dems before an election about how badly we would do. They are strangely silent now. They know that we are looking forward to the elections on May 3rd because, at minimum we will double the size of our Group and probably do even better than that. We will still be small but will once again be able to work across every committee of the Council and increase our effectiveness inside the Council and inside our communities.

We are the only coherent and credible alternative to Labour. The Greens will be lucky not to lose both of their seats up for grabs this time and will certainly lose one of them. Steve Radford’s group will never gain a seat outside Tuebrook and the Labour Party seem to be flinging everything they’ve got into it to try and gain a seat as respected Councillor Kevin Morrison stands down because of ill-health.

We look forward to May 3rd and we eagerly await the election in 2019 and 2020 as well. By the end of this cycle of elections Liverpool will have a large, experienced and effective opposition. Given the direction of travel we might have a Mayor as well (whose first job would be to start the process of abolishing his or her own job!)

We now have more members than ever and more activists than we have had for many years. If you want to help our team in any way you can find out how by going onto our website www.liverlibdems.org.uk. Come and help us rid Liverpool of this dreadful administration so we can proudly hold our head high as a City as we did when 10 years ago we were in the eyes of people across Europe as that year’s Capital of Culture. See you on the streets with leaflets in hand!!

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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3 Responses to Whither (or wither!) Liverpool Labour Party?

  1. Rob Paige says:

    Whilst I admire your passion and conviction, the same, alas, cannot be said for your writing skills; the sub-heading in bold makes no grammatical sense and requires two commas and two parentheses to read as it was intended. There are also many errors within the text proper, which makes the reading of it somewhat of a chore.
    Please, I implore you; always proofread before publishing.

  2. John Brace says:

    Ahh yes, Cllr Frank Prendergast who in April 2014 as I think Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel decided along with the whole Panel that I couldn’t film a public meeting of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel (on the advice of a Knowsley Council employee of course).

    His (Cllr Prendergast’s) rationale at the time was that what is discussed at a public meeting is confidential! 😀

    Three public meetings later, the law had changed and you could film public meetings of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel (starting with its meeting on the 4th September 2014).

    He (Cllr Prendergast) even had the audacity to refuse a short interview afterwards saying he was too busy and had other more pressing things to go to!

    I notice his fellow ward councillor is asking Liverpool City Council to excuse his absence from public meetings.

    Presumably if permission wasn’t given and he didn’t turn up for meetings for 6 months, it would trigger a byelection.

    Which makes me feel a bit sorry for Councillor Jane Corbett with all that going on!

    Cllr Sharon Sullivan made some comments at the last public meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority about the Labour Group on Liverpool City Council which would suggest that not all is well!

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