Labour’s wilting Rose in Liverpool

So many of Labour’s problems started when Corbyn became Leader. The experienced people who have kept the Party going are being replaced by people who are more interested in dogma and the rhetoric of protest than practical delivery of real services.

On Wednesday night I sat contemplating some of our Liverpool Lib Dem team as they started stuffing envelopes, having just come in from door knocking or delivering. Most of our councillors were there and some of our key target ward candidates, other members were working just as hard.

We made fun of each other, joked about each other’s competence or other attributes and although we were working very hard there was a great sense of both fun and purpose in the air. We don’t have factions; we don’t have splinter groups but are just one great team who enjoy each other’s company and want to succeed as a team for our Lib Dem Party and then as a team for our much-loved City.

I then looked with interest at the Liverpool Echo Twitter feed the following day and within about 2 minutes I saw two stories about Liverpool’s glorious Band of Brothers AKA Liverpool Labour Party.

The first was about a very public spat between Cabinet Cllr Jim Noakes and his former friend and colleague the former Deputy Mayor Cllr Nick Small.  I am not at all surprised that there are differences of opinion about environmental or other issues. There need to be differences of opinion in a political party or there will be stagnation of policy making. What shook me was the venom with which they battled it out on Twitter. Their public exchange of invective revealed what appeared to be a deep hatred.

This is not an isolated case. The Labour Group leaks like a sieve so I get a blow by blow account of the lengthy and deep arguments at their meetings. But Liam Thorp gets even more leaks than I do so we can read all about it the next day. Particularly upsetting to me was the revelation of the way that Cllr Clare McIntyre was treated by her fellow Wavertree Councillor and candidate for this year’s elections Dave Cummings.

The second was the article that the erstwhile Labour councillor for Cressington, Mr Sam Gorst, was under investigation by the Labour Party for posting anti-Semitic tweets which related to the furore with which Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party two years ago. Mr Gorst has offended even more recently being a signatory to a letter asking for the lifting of the suspension of the ever-loathsome MP Chris Williamson. His suspension being, yes you guessed it, anti-Semitism.

Again, this is not an isolated case. Just two weeks before the erstwhile councillor for Riverside, Sarah Doyle, also came under the Labour Party’s disciplinary procedures for anti-Semitic tweets. This is a real theme. 8 weeks ago, Luciana Berger was forced out of the Labour Party by, according to Tom Watson the Labour Party’s Deputy Leader, “racist thugs”

Interestingly, both did exactly the same things when challenged. They deleted their social media accounts. One can only assume they were worried about other things that they have tweeted or put out there in other social media routes.

So out of 30 Labour Candidates for this year’s local election one is being looked at for bullying and sexism and two are being investigated for anti-Semitism. Not exactly a vintage crop being presented to the City.

When I was chatting this over with two long-serving Labour councillors yesterday they made clear that the Labour Party that they have served with and for over many tears was changed beyond recognition. Their opinion was that Momentum are even worse than the Militant Group who wrecked Liverpool’s reputation and finances for two decades.

Of course, every Party has problems from time to time with members saying and doing inappropriate or absolutely daft or even having complex and large legal problems. We have had to deal with these issues in the past and will have to do so in the future. It’s just that I have never so many cases like this in one Party at any one time and I have never since such a pathetic attempt at dealing with the people behind the issues.

The anti-Semitism only seems to have come about since Corbyn became leader and a whole load of people from the hard left entered the Party and transformed it from a social democrat style Party to one that borders on the fringes of extremism and Marxism. To such people there is no differentiation between the Jewish faith and the only nation led by a majority of Jewish people – Israel.

Why should I care about this? Why should you care about this?  In many ways this is so good for the Lib Dems. When your opponents squabble other Parties reap the benefit from the voters. But now it is so bad that I even feel sorry for Joe Anderson as he tries to deal with this bunch.

My fear comes for our City. These Momentum people threaten our City. They may take over the Labour Group who at present control the City. They sound as if their policies are the same daft nostrums that we saw in the 80s. Indeed, some of them are just Militant with bus passes. We live in uncertain times. We have no idea how much money we will get next year because of changes in the Government’s funding formulae. We have no idea of the stresses and strains that the City as a whole will be placed under whether or not we leave the EU.

At this point in our history we need sensible politics and sensible policies. That is why Mayor Anderson and I have agreed to recommend to the Annual Meeting of the Council that there should be a different type of Council meeting where we can look in detail at major issues like climate change and housing rather than daft motions which seem to bring out the worst in councillors.

In the meantime there is something that you can do next week – on Thursday to be precise, and that is to increase the number of Lib Dem councillors who will stand as a bulwark against anything. We are fighting hard in places lie Wavertree and Cressington with experienced former councillors who know what they are doing and know how to behave. I hope that you will support Graham Hulme in Wavertree and Norman Mills in Cressington.

All our polices can be seen as can the full list of our candidates at www.liverlibdems.org.uk.

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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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