We should say what we mean and mean what we say

Too many people in the Labour Party say one thing here and then say they believe something else in social media and on their leaflets

Its amazing how people talk big on social media but don’t follow up in the real world. This occurred to me this morning when I read a Tweet that a Cabinet member in Liverpool, “said some time ago that the position of Police Commissioner should be merged with that of the regional mayor”. That’s funny. He voted against that proposition when we proposed it twice in Council.

All over South Liverpool Labour Councillors are putting stories on social media and in their tedious little publication ‘Labour Rose’ that they have always been against the development of green space and in particular against the development of part of Calderstones Park. One even claims that it was her that persuaded the Mayor to abandon the scheme. That’s funny we Lib Dems have given Labour Councillors 7 opportunities over 3.5 years to vote against the Calderstones proposals but not one of them on any occasion has done so.

A few weeks ago, a Labour councillor hinted on two occasions that he was considering taking legal action against the Lib Dems over an article in the Focus Newsletter in his ward. He hasn’t done so. Presumably because he was told that something that is true and provable is not defamatory.

In County Ward Labour are attacking my colleague Kay Davies over the investigations that she initiated because of the way that money has been spent with her area. The same sort of item which caused Cllr Frank Prendergast to quit Labour and sit as an Independent. The fact that her complaints have led to a new way for the council to sanction payments to community groups has hurt their patronage and they have lashed out.

Lastly, in my own ward the Labour Party are putting out their second (?) newsletter since last May and claiming that I have failed to respond to a challenge from them to run a clean campaign. The fact that they then admit that they have neither written to or emailed me with the idea does not seem to merit an apology!

Of course, we all make mistakes. In the past on two occasions Lib Dem councillors have had to pay compensation after a legal ruling on what they have put in a leaflet. That is why we meticulously fact check our leaflets. We may still get something wrong and when we do I will insist that whoever did it does the decent thing and apologises swiftly and clearly.

The situation with Labour, however, is of a different order. They scream liar and cheat and misinformation just because they don’t like something that the Lib Dems have said about them. They are, of course, taking the lead from Donald Trump who only allows one version of the truth – his. Anyone who opposes him is peddling fake news; lying or becomes the victim of a furious and unfounded attack. The fact that you do not like something does not mean that it is a lie!

There is always a simple solution to these matters. Be consistent and tell the truth. For any Labour councillor to claim that they have been a green campaigner and saved Caldies Park is just not true. Candidates who have not been councillors might have some justification but what they say is they got their Constituency Labour Party to oppose the plans. A vote of the CLP is totally irrelevant. Labour Councillors do what they are told in the Council Chamber which is where the only votes that matter take place.

The fact that Labour councillors are whipped to vote is a disgrace. As a Liberal I am free to vote against my Group unless what they are doing is against a fundamental principle of our Party. For example, if they wanted to vote for somethings sexist or racist. There are clear limits but we recognise that on some matters there are different ways to the truth.

If you want to vote against the Lib Dem Group you need to let us know in advance. We prefer you to abstain than vote against us. If you do either or both of these two things no sanction will be taken out against you.

At the end of the day we have a different view of the role of elected representatives than either Tory or Labour Party. We are elected by and responsible to our Constituents and not our Party. Our Party gathers together like-minded people and supports them in elections. We don’t mandate them to vote in a particular way. We haven’t had a split vote for years not because of fear but because we discuss things and agree a way forward.

So, let’s have some good debates about the future of Liverpool in the run up to the May 2 elections. Let’s base it on the principle of say what you mean and mean what you say. If we all do that, we might just reawaken people’s belief in the democratic process which is currently sadly lacking.

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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