Liverpool’s Council Chamber where Labour’s unity will be put to the test at the full Council meeting on Wednesday 18th July
Wednesday is council day in Liverpool when a full meeting of the council will meet to consider a range of issues. As with most Liverpool Council meetings most of the business will go through unopposed. We might huff and puff about some of the issues but basically, we come together to act in the best interests of the City.
However, there are three votes in the Council Chamber on Wednesday that might cause something to happen which I have not seen in 35+ years. Labour might actually split on at least one of the three votes. Amazingly, so naïve are the Labour Party that two of the issues have been put on the agenda by Labour themselves.
The first issue is a motion tabled by Mayor Anderson. It is a lengthy motion about Brexit and we Lib Dems agree with everything it. However, because it doesn’t actually say anything practical we will be adding to it with an addendum which reflects the Lib Dem call for a ‘first referendum on the Brexit facts’. We will also be suggesting that irrespective of Brexit the Brexit debate has damaged our economy. Therefore, we need to do something within the Liverpool City Region to work together for new economic, commercial, industrial and economic growth.
Locally, this call is being supported by 3 of Liverpool’s Labour MPs and opposed by 2 of them. The MPs for Walton and West Derby have slavishly voted to support the Corbyn line against this. They whistle and hope for a No job loss Brexit which just is not going to happen. The matter is complicated by the emergence of Momentum. As I understand their policy is that they too wish to see a people’s Referendum.
How will Labour vote on our amendment? We shall see on Wednesday.
The second issue is an absolutely half-witted motion from Cllr Barry Kushner. This motion is about the Mayoral decision to borrow £200,000,000 to spend on pothole repairs. There is absolutely no need for this motion to be put to Council. The Cabinet on the Mayor’s suggestion have voted for this and it will happen. So why have they put the motion down? Because of the fact that there is huge dissension in the Labour Group and wider Labour Party about this. We share those concerns.
The idea is really daft. Borrowing money to capitalise things that should be met out of annual spending stores up big debts for the future. As usual, of course, the Labour Party are trying to unite behind a motion which attacks what happened under Lib Dem control of the City. Let me let Labour into a secret. We haven’t controlled the council for 8+ years. Excuses based on what we did are getting very thin
The people of Liverpool know that the real problem is incompetence and lack of a strategy. Everyone who lives in Liverpool and reads this will know of at least one pothole which has been filled in 2 or 3 times over the last couple of years. As a Councillor I can show you hundreds in my ward alone. That’s the reason that our roads are so bad and unless Labour realise it they will simply squander much of the money they intend to borrow.
How will Labour vote on their own motion? We shall see on Wednesday.
Lastly, there is our motion which, if adopted, would lead to the abolition of the position of Elected Mayor. Some will see this as an attack on Joe Anderson and it is true that we don’t like him or some of the things that he does. But what we are attacking here is the institution itself. Lib Dems voted against the creation of the elected mayoralty here and everywhere else. We warned that it would not achieve its objectives and would create an Emperor and court situation with an all-powerful figure being surrounded by toadies. How right we were.
It is no secret that not only is Joe Anderson increasingly unpopular in the Labour Party but so is the position itself. We understand from what has been said in the media and to us as individuals that this issue was the key one which caused the walk outs in May. Mayor Anderson cannot understand that neither he or his position is welcomed by the people of Liverpool. He would not listen when Labour campaigners told him about what people were saying on the doorstep. Instead of listening he did the normal ‘Emperor thing’ and sacked the messengers! “The Mayor isn’t listening”, said former Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne who now, as Deputy Leader of the Labour Group resides on the back benches as far away from Mr Anderson as is possible and still sit in the Town Hall.
How will Labour vote on our motion? We shall see on Wednesday.
So, three big issues which really affect the people of Liverpool and three key issues on which Liverpool Labour are clearly split. Will there be a split vote on Wednesday which would be the first in living memory? I really don’t know although it seems more likely than ever before.
What I do know is that this situation is unsustainable. Liverpool cannot cope for more than a short time with a controlling group where there is clearly such self-loathing. We saw a long-term Labour councillor, Dave Hanratty from Fazakerley walk away in disgust before the election in May and more will either choose to go or will be voted out.
While Labour squabbles we Lib Dems will continue to come up practical costed proposals for the City’s future which puts practical solutions on the front burner and petty politics on the back burner.
If you want to help save our City come and join us at http://www.libdems.org.uk