The student politics of Liverpool Labour

Amazing priorities for Wavertree Labour Party to choose in a week which has seen their MP resign because of bullying and racism

It is, regrettably, many years now since I was a student. I went to Leeds Poly already a committed member of the Liberal Party and felt I ought to take part in student politics. But I never did. They were dominated by various splinter groups of the far left always talking about the big struggle; the downfall of capitalism and putting right the problems of somewhere far away across the world.

I had no problem with the idea of helping poorer people and poorer countries acclimatise to democracy and feed themselves, but I didn’t see how a plethora of marches; angry speeches; demos and protests would even begin to achieve this. Fascist (it was always right-wing governments they didn’t like) Presidents just would not tremble when told that 100 20 year olds had met outside or inside a pub to condemn them. Soviet, Chinese and Cuban rulers could starve as many of their people as they wanted because of course their ultimate objective was THE REVOLUTION!

When I quietly suggested that instead of paying for banners, we could raise some money for the charities that worked in those countries I was treated with disdain. When I suggested that we might help some of the refugees from those countries who fled from totalitarian regimes I was ignored. That would have involved more effort and commitment. The flush of the splinter groups echo chambers were far more fun than real action. Smug self-satisfaction that the capitalist classes would be ground down and boring, predictable speeches were much more comfortable.

Communist flags being carried at a demonstration organised by Wavertree Labour Party shows how the Party has been taken over by extremists.

I revisited those thoughts this week when I was sent the above tweet from Wavertree Constituency Labour Party. Not one but two demonstrations and a march through Liverpool to connect the two! It’s not that I don’t have sympathy for either of their causes although I think that Corbynite Labour is entirely wrong about Venezuela. It’s just that I think this continual waging of flags and banners (especially the waving of Communist flags and banners) is a pointless waste of time. How many shoppers in Liverpool took any notice of the march? How many stopped what they were doing to take part? How many even noticed yet another demo of people noisily marching through the streets of Liverpool?

In the case of the Windrush generation I think they have been treated appallingly throughout the whole time since they arrived. They came to what they thought was the mother country and they thought they would be treated as equally British. But soon the, “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs”, signs were up in houses for rent. Too often to this day people of colour are treated by too many as foreigners and second-class citizens. There are many things we could to help correct this but standing outside Lime Street Station is probably not one of them.

On Venezuela, Corbyn and his cult members who now lead the Labour Party have got it wrong. They are supporting a ‘president’ who is in power because he fixed an election; in a country in which more than 3,500,000 are starving and from which more than 1,000,000 have already escaped bringing further problems to the poverty-ridden countries around them Venezuela has natural assets which should make it one of the richest countries on the South American continent. Instead, it is renowned for corruption; economic mismanagement and stopping aid convoys from entering the Country to try and feed the starving.

It’s not as though Wavertree CLP should not have had other things on their mind to distract them. If I remember correctly their MP quit their Party on Monday claiming that the Labour Party was institutionally anti-Semitic. Or racist in other words. She also talked about misogyny and bullying in the Party a claim that was picked up in the national newspapers by Cllr Claire McIntyre from Wavertree Ward who has been talking about her problems with misogyny and bullying for the past year.

Of course, there is also the little matter of Derek Hatton. Hatton rejoined the Labour Party on Monday, was welcomed in by Mayor Anderson on Tuesday as he now has ‘sensible economic policies’ and was chucked out again on Wednesday!

Meanwhile that there is much in Liverpool that they could be complaining about and doing something about. Perhaps, they could have gone and given out leaflets to encourage people to use St John’s Market which has been so badly abused by Labour. Perhaps, they could have gone to work with the resident’s groups all over the City trying to save the City’s green spaces. Perhaps, they could have just gone and spoken to ordinary people in the City and heard their concerns about the waste of money by the Council and the number of handouts being given to Labour members.

But of course, such practical and prosaic activities don’t give the same smug self-satisfaction as a good demo does. Talking to the tax payers of Liverpool might make them reorder their priorities; might make them realise that we need solid policies and practical programmes in this city and not demos, marches and protests. But this all too much hard work and is a major cause of the split which has already led 8 MPs and a trickle of councillors to leave the Labour Party.

Speaking as a politician I welcome their nonsense and the splitting and the infighting. Speaking as someone who loves this City and this Country, I am appalled that two of the three traditional Parties are now behaving like kids in a playground with their scheming and plotting.

What will politics look like in 6 months’ time? I don’t know. I do know, however, that the people of Liverpool are tired of it all and are beginning once again to put their trust and their votes with the Liberal Democrats. So, my firm prediction is that after the local elections there will be more of us and less of them. Now that’s something to wave a flag about!

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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