This collection of nodding dogs had more backbone than some of those in the Labour Party in Liverpool
On the last vote on the motion from us to start the process of abolishing the Elected Mayoralty more than one third of the Labour Group were missing. Well done to all 14 opposition councillors who stayed from the beginning to the end and put up, as ever, with abuse after abuse being poured on them.
Where did Labour’s rebels fail to rebel?
Well there were a number of key votes where spine was needed:
Cllr Andrew Makinson moved a vote to prevent Cllr Woodhouse becoming a Governor of a Council nursery. We find it amazing that Labour should put a councillor who they have suspended for profanity, anywhere near a nursery. Labour supported him.
Labour voted against an amendment that Cllr Kris Brown moved that appointments to the Board of a new company called Foundations, established to provide social housing in the City, should be chosen after public advertisement and a set of criteria which were agreed by Council. Instead the Chair that has been agreed is a councillor who was chucked out by the electorate in May and a group of people some of whom are good but with no full council backing because of how they were appointed.
Labour voted against an amendment moved by Cllr Carole Storey to add to the motion calling for a People’s Vote on Brexit. Of course, the Lib Dems, as the only united pro-EU Party, voted for the main motion but we felt that it lacked teeth. The real problem with getting this vote is that Corbyn and more than half the Parliamentary Labour Party voted against it on more than one occasion. This needs action inside the Labour Party. We also believe that new measures need to be taken now regardless of whether or not we stay inside the EU because business and commerce is already suffering.
I moved an amendment relating to the £200 million for potholes. Action must be taken on potholes because our roads are disintegrating. We believe that outside help is needed for the council. Potholes are being repaired time after time. Smithdown Road was redone twice in three years at a combined cost of more than £5.5 million yet work is now needed on it because of dangers that new junctions such as at Allerton Road and Penny Lane have created. The answer to today’s problems cannot be borrowing £200,000,000, paying back approximately £305 million. This calculation by Council officers is made before the anticipated rise in interest rates which is likely to start next month.
Lastly, we had the debate on the elected mayoralty. What did the whole of the Labour Group feel about this – we will never know. So many of them had disappeared by then in a way that I have never seen before. Even there, progress was made. Labour agreed that it would be appropriate at some time to have a review of the position. This was there way of papering over their own cracks.
The time for a review is now. The time for consultation is now. Decisions must be taken by October next year if the Mayoralty is to be removed and proper consultation with the people of Liverpool takes time. The Deputy Mayor (appointed by the Mayor) told us that no-one mentioned the Mayoralty on the door steps. She and the Labour Party cannot have been on many door steps. In house after house we were told that Liverpool has a spare mayor. Labour have denied the opportunity to the people of Liverpool to have their say on the spare mayor. This isn’t Labour’s City or the politician’s city. This City belongs to the people of Liverpool and they should be consulted and their voice respected.
All the things that Joe Anderson told us would happened with an Elected Mayoralty; more money; more powers; more visibility; more people voting have failed to happen. Well almost. We have to concede that no-one in the history of Private Eye has received more mentions in ‘Rotten Boroughs’ than Uncle Joe!
But behind all the disagreements there were many agreements. On issues like suicide prevention where Kris Brown made a powerful speech and attacks on the income of lower paid working families where Mirna Juarez made a powerful speech we supported Labour. Perhaps that is the key difference between us. To their credit Labour are all heart. We believe that the problems that we all care about can only be solved by practical and pragmatic policies and not just rhetoric and attacks on the Government of the day.
My colleagues may blush at this but when I joined them for a drink after the Council I told them how proud I was of them all. None of them missed a vote and we voted the same way for every vote. There were excellent speeches from Andrew, Mirna, Kris and Carole. Our passion for our City was clear but just as importantly was the way we were able to provide alternatives to Labour’s muddled thinking.
So, once again we will soldier on for the people that we represent. I was cheered up by the fact that 3 people had joined us over the weekend on a combination of local and national issues. We now have more members than ever before but we need more so my invitation is for YOU to come and join us. You can do this on line at www.libdems.org.uk or by writing to me at our HQ., 509, Smithdown Road, Liverpool 15.