Two things have come to the fore this week in the Liverpool Echo regarding Liverpool’s Labour Party. The first was the disgraceful comments about a woman Labour councillor Kay Davies by another Labour Councillor and the second was the report that Momentum, on Militant as we should really know them, have now taken control of 4 Constituency Labour Parties and intend to change the councillors who currently represent Labour by moving their own people in through the selection process.
You might say that the first of these is absolutely nothing to do with me but you would be wrong. Sexism impacts on all of us. I had assumed that the sexist rantings of the Mayor were confined to his attacks on the Labour Party’s opponents i.e. us Lib Dems. In November Anderson attacked my colleague Mirna Juarez and called her a fishwife. He claimed that fishwife is not a sexist term and that he hadn’t directed the comment at a specific councillor. Neither of these stacks up. Mirna was at the time our only female councillor and the dictionary definition of fishwife is absolutely clear.
If it had come to the attention of our Party that a councillor (or anyone in the Party), had made comments such as those attributed to Cllr Woodhouse about anyone else we would at minimum have suspended them pending full enquiries. To call a fellow council a stupid c**t and a lazy b*****d is just unacceptable but no action appears to be taking place regarding it from the Labour Group’s officials. When we moved a motion in Council asking for gender language training to be given for all councillors and officials Labour voted against is to a man and woman.
In some ways the take over of the Party by momentum is even worse. There may come a time when the work of ‘Ramblin’ Joe Ando’ might be seen as a benign dictatorship compared to the damage that will be unleashed on the City by Momentum.
I have, of course, seen this before. Let’s remember Militant for a moment shall we?
- 3,500 new council homes built but the number of useable council homes decreased because they found some of the money for this by huge cuts to the repairs budget. This ultimately led to the council having to either find £1 billion or embark on a total programme of stock transfers. One estate of 350 homes was so poorly built and managed that 8 years after its completion it had to be given away to a housing association with a £4.5 million dowry to get it put right.
- Education standards in the City plummeted to the point were a decade later the Labour Government considered taking all powers away from the Council for education.
- Huge debts. It took us 20 years to pay off the debts which were borrowed at, what is for councils an exorbitant borrowing rate.
- 33,000 staff receiving redundancy notices by taxis ferrying the notices around the City late at night.
Above all the most damaging effect was the poor reputation that Liverpool got during that time. Government and private sector alike refused to put into a City which had no vision, no long-term plan and no track record of wise investment. For two decades the only cranes that were put up in the City had a wrecking ball at the end of the boom.
Momentum promises more of the same. Councils are not businesses and should not be businesses but should be run in a business-like way. Political Parties have an ideology behind them. That is why they are Political Parties. My own ideology of liberalism is one that fights centralism, wants to give power to communities; which cares for the environment; which wants to control the excesses of capitalism and believes we are part of the global community.
If we controlled the council we would want to move the council on those lines but the first thing you learn in politics is that you always have to compromise. Checks and balances are imposed on what we can do because we have to work with other organisations; the private sector; central government and other governments. If you simply try to impose an ideology in the Stalinist way that Militant did you simply cannot advance your ideology at all. Militant did not last long. Both nationally and locally they came and went inside 6 years and that is what will happen with Momentum but the damage that they did in the meantime lived on for at least 2 decades.
Momentum has nothing to offer our City or our Country. A group of inexperienced old hacks and children who are reliving the fights of the 60’s and 70s led by Jeremy Corbyn the inexperienced old hack of inexperienced old hacks. They want to fight neo-liberalism, nationalise this; spend money on that but these solutions will not deal with the problems that we are facing.
Let us look at the NHS. Momentum want to spend more money on it as do I. But they don’t want to do it by raising taxes and they haven’t said what the money they will spend will be spent on. Just spending more money in the way that we are currently spending it will simply lead to more and more problems. The Country needs to make a full analysis of how the NHS must react to the current pressures caused by increases in life-expectancy and new techniques and social pressures.
A Momentum controlled Council will be as bad for the City as a Militant controlled Council was. But, as in the 80s, there is an alternative. The Liberal Democrats. My Party is not yet in a strong position in Liverpool. We have just 7 members of the Council at present and will not be taking control of the Council in 2019! However, we are a strong, experienced and knowledgeable group who can and do unearth the appalling practices in our City. In fact, if we were in the Labour Party I would probably be Leader of the biggest faction!
Outside the Chamber we have more members than ever before and the new members are taking more and more leading positions within the Party not as a takeover of the more experienced members but in partnership with them We were the only Party at the election to put forward a manifesto (in fact we were the only Party to do this in 2016 as well!) Some of those new members have joined us because of Corbyn’s vacillation over BREXIT but others have joined us in despair about the way that Labour behaves in the City. We have no intention of trying to poach members from other Parties but we are prepared to talk constructively with any member of another Party who shares our common values.
In the meantime, why not join us and fight for our City and our Country inside a Party which fights for equality and a strong City from a base which combines liberalism with pragmatism. You can join us at www.libdems.org.uk or why not drop me a line for a chat at email@example.com. Liverpool needs all the help it can get to fight off the Momentum hordes. You don’t have to commit your entire life to political service but whatever time you have and whatever skills you have we would welcome you to join us in the fight for a strong, fair, safe city.