Our new expanded team of 7 Lib Dem Councillors will find it it easier to hold Mayor Anderson and his team to account. A committed and experienced Group of people that I am proud to work with.
People always expect politicians to make the best of a bad job and there are many times when, as a Lib Dem, I have had to do that myself! However, there is no doubt that yesterday was a good day for us both locally and nationally. In Liverpool the three gains that took us to seven seats was a good result.
Of course, I would like to have gained more seats than this but there is always a reality check. The reality was that Liverpool Lib Dems have escaped from a near death experience. In 2014 when these seats were last fought we took no seats at all. In 2015 we were reduced to Erica and me so that in this context being able to lead a group of 7 is an absolute luxury. And what a team it is. In addition to our battle-hardened group of 4 (Cllr Mirna Juarez, Cllr Malcolm Kelly, Cllr Andrew Makinson and me) we now have:
Cllr Liz Makinson who joins her husband in my own Church Ward. Liz is a newcomer to the council as a member but not to politics or to the externals aspects of the Council. She has been an active member of the Party for 20 years and has lived in the ward since she married Andrew about 15 years ago.
Cllr Kris Brown, our Party Chair, took Woolton Ward comfortably. He joined us from the Labour Party in 2011 and has helped us tremendously in becoming more disciplined in campaigning. He is new to Liverpool Council but served for four years on a London Borough.
Cllr Carole Storey, of course, knows more about the Council than most as the wife of Mike who was our Group Leader and then Council Leader for more than 20 years. She is a former Councillor herself on the former Merseyside County Council so she is used to sitting in a small group in our Council Chamber!!
The three have already started work in their wards and next week we will work together to look at ways at using their knowledge and talents within the Council as a whole.
Being clearly the largest opposition Party has a number of advantages and for a number of reasons 7 is a lucky number! But the quality and experience of our Group is great and I am confident that we will be able to hold the Mayor to account much more easily with the replacement of three ‘Yes men’ by three probing, enquiring individuals.
But what happened locally also happened nationally. In fact, the only Party that had a real improvement in their size and control was us. It’s been along time since any of us could write that.
Just look at this table which is almost the final tally of councillors and councillors from the BBC.
|Councils Total||Councils Change+/-||Councillors Total||Councillors Change+/-|
|Residents’ Association||0||No results||46||-2|
|Liberal Party||0||No results||1||-1|
|ICHC||0||No results||0||No results|
|No Overall Control||21||-1||No results||Councillors Change—No results|
|After 149 of 150 councils Councillors change compared with 2014|
As you can see from this we gained more seats than Labour and the Tories lost seats. We gained control of 4 more councils and the Tories lost control of 2 and Labour lost control of 1 (one went to No Overall Control) Of course, I am not pretending that this means that we have swept the Board in any way but it does mean that we have turned the corner. To this tally of seat gains can be added the 20 that we had already gained at by-elections which puts us at 100 (ish) more than we had last year.
Just as in Liverpool every new Councillor will provide valuable service to their local community and bring a searchlight to bear on the power held by other Parties, locally, regionally or nationally. Just as in Liverpool every Councillor will fight for our place in Europe and our place in the World.
So, in my normal kind and generous way I have allowed the Liverpool Lib Dems to have the whole Bank Holiday weekend off!! In the next few weeks we will plan in detail our tactics within the City Council, the City and our communities to use the new leverage that we have obtained on behalf of the people we represent and the many more who wished us well.
So that’s what we are doing but what are you going to do to help? I received a number of e-mails during the election basically saying, “Why are you not trying to win my area?” My answer was always we would love to so will you come and help us?”. That’s my request and challenge to YOU. We could do so much more if more people joined us; helped us and donated to us. Although our membership is higher now than it was when we controlled the Council it is taking time to create a lean, mean fighting machine with them although many have learnt and seen much in this election which was, for many, the first from inside the machinery.
Can you help us in any way? I want even more Lib Dem Councillors next year, an ambition which is shared by so many in Liverpool that we were unable to reach. If you can help us in any way you can contribute cash; offer to join the Party or offer to help us at our website www.liverlibdems.org.uk. Alternatively, you can write to me at 16, Dovedale Road, Liverpool L18 1DW; or e-mail me at Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org.
I really do look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I am now going to join the rest of my Party in delightful idleness until Tuesday when duty calls me once again to London to appear before the Health Select Committee.