Will Liverpool Labour now drop its ballot and impose a candidate?

The Labour Party have given an idea of why they have removed Cllr Rothery from the selection process but what about Cllrs O’Byrne and Simon. And their second shortlist currently being balloted on looks even worse!

Just when I thought that I could safely get on with our own Lib Dem campaign for the local elections I have again been inundated with questions and requests for comments from the media about the comrades in the Liverpool Labour Party. Let me deal with them in two parts. The first short list and the second short list!

We now know that Cllr Rothery’s legal bid to remain on Labours shortlist has failed. This raised three key questions;

  1. Why has a legal route been employed? In all my 54 years’ experience in the Lib Dems I have never known a candidate who was unsuccessful take legal action against the Party. We have strong mechanisms in place through our selection processes to try and ensure that they are fair. In fact, if there is only one candidate, as there is occasionally, the membership can vote for RON, which stands for Re Open Nominations!

Candidates have a right to two things. Firstly, as we check their suitability to be a candidate they have a right of explanation about why they have been rejected or recommended for training or waiting to get more experience. They usually accept the evidence presented and most come back later and are successful.

If they do not like the explanation they can appeal against the decision to a different group of people. All our selectors have strict guidelines of fairness and transparency to which they work and those within the appeal process use similar guidelines.

Are there really no such mechanisms within the Labour Party?

  • How on earth did the Labour Party run up £65,000 of legal costs defending their position about Cllr Rothery in just 10 days. Presumably she has her own legal costs to find as well. I know that the legal system can be expensive and is weighted in the civil courts in favour of those with money but £65,000!? I can only assume that the Labour Party has set out to deliberately seek high payments both to crush Cllr Rothery and to prevent others taking a similar line. Is this really the best way to encourage Party unity and get people of colour to stand for election?
  • What about the other two candidates? We now have some idea of why Cllr Rothery was pulled from the race. Apparently because of some of her behaviours within the Party and towards her opponents. I cannot comment on this as clearly, I have nothing to do with the internal actions of Liverpool Labour.

I would say, however that Cllr Rothery is a hard politician. Perhaps she has had to be as a woman of colour. In fact, at her inauguration as Lord Mayor she described herself as Princess Pushy!  However, she has always treated me properly as the Opposition Leader, called me appropriately to join debates etc. She even accepted an invitation from the Lib Dem Cllrs for Church Ward to attend a day of activities in our Ward when Penny Lane and Allerton Road re opened after the first lock down. She was gracious throughout the day and was well received.

The fact that we now know why Cllr Rothery was excluded leaves an even greater puzzle about the first short list. Why were the other two people Cllrs O’Byrne and Simon not allowed to proceed as being the two on the ballot? Either the Labour Party knows something that we don’t about the Police or Government Inspections given that both women were Deputy Mayor to Joe Anderson at crucial periods or they are worried that something might come our pre or post-election especially in the Government report which comes out at the end of March at the latest. What are the Labour Party keeping from the people of Liverpool?

We then turn to the second short list and what seemed like a short list of desperation has become a shortlist of despair.

Cllr Joanne Anderson has admitted to being a bankrupt twice. There should be no shame in being bankrupt. Many people have to seek this route but there are two further complications for her. Firstly, she has been bankrupt twice and secondly that she is a business advisor. I’m not sure that I would want to take advice on my cash flow forecast or balance sheet from someone who cannot manage their own affairs! This must raise the question of how she would oversee a gross budget in the order of £1,000,000,000.

Now its Cllr Anthony Lavelle’s turn to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Credible allegations have been raised by a national political website, that I don’t personally read but have been informed about. Cllr Lavelle is being accused of things relating to gender and disabilities which if substantiated should see him removed not only as a candidate but also as a Labour Party Councillor and member.

My understanding is that these items are now being followed up by the local media and there will be a number of local stories backing up the national website. I don’t at this stage know if they are true but apparently, they were known to the Labour Party when he was selected and elected as a Labour Councillor five years ago.

Only time will tell what Labour will do next. Whatever happens they are splintering into smaller and smaller groups in the City. They got really shirty at least week’s Council Meeting when I congratulated them on managing to stay united for a whole 3 hours!!

I do not see how they can proceed with two such flawed candidates. I can see that whoever is chosen their name will not be appearing on leaflets that are written, produced and paid for by the Labour Group. Or will the regional Labour Party suspend the Liverpool Labour Party and run things centrally?

I suspect that the Labour Party will be considering now to drop the whole process and impose a candidate from one of these frequently mentioned in the search such as Theresa Griffin. How can a major Party end up with no effective short list of credible candidates?

How will the people of Liverpool respond to this? The assumption ahs been that Labour would walk a Liverpool election with a donkey with a red rosette. Such people remember that Liverpool has been a two-Party City since 1973 and the two Parties have been Lib Dem and Labour. We controlled the City until 2010. We dropped out of contention because of the national coalition. We have steadily clawed our way back. And at the last outing took 21% of the votes.

The team I lead has a great mix of young and old but with a good number of people who have helped lead the City well. I am the longest serving Liverpool Councillor with local, national and international experience. I believe that lots of Labour voters will stay at home and we already have evidence of Labour members and voters moving over to us.

A few people will be beguiled by an inexperienced Independent and some by a Green Party who have few members and no experience of running things.

May 6th is a series of two horse races in Liverpool and it looks as though it might be a Lib Dem team of thoroughbreds against a Labour team ready for the knackers yard! We shall see!

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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2 Responses to Will Liverpool Labour now drop its ballot and impose a candidate?

  1. Henry Penshaw says:

    If you’re right and there is a candidate imposed in due course, it will be a fitting indictment of Liverpool Labour.

    That the party would subsequently expect people to vote for a placeholder who doesn’t even want to lead the city just another example of their sheer contempt and arrogance.

    I trust that Liverpool’s student population will be made aware of the above.

    Having spent the past ten years trying to build up their numbers, to take advantage of their blind loyalty, it would be nice for them to join their host city citizens in showing Liverpool Labour where the door is.

  2. Henry Penshaw says:

    Points on the publicly available judgement:

    Paragraph 23 acknowledges when Anderson was arrested (December). Coming of course after a string of arrests in the council.

    Para 41 goes on to say that the selection process was halted because “a number of concerns presented themselves, arising from material about which the Labour Party was, in some instances, previously unaware. One significant concern was that the government had instigated an inquiry into corruption in local government in Liverpool more generally (this is the Caller Investigation) and be sure that none of its shortlisted candidates for selection, including Ms
    Rothery, had been or may be involved in that inquiry to the Party’s detriment.”

    Given the circumstances of the need to run a selection process, and the litter of arrests that have occurred in Liverpool in recent times, what conclusion can we draw about this statement other than nationally the Labour party have such little actual time for Liverpool that they do not know about such seismic events, until it is pointed out to them.

    It would surely be plainly obvious to any idiot that questions would need to be asked of any candidate?

    Para 42 then says “The NEC decided to modify the selection procedure and to interview the
    candidates a second time, on 19 February 2021. Mr Barros-Curtis said that a particular driver for this was to ensure a vigorous review of each prospective candidate’s probity and integrity.”

    What conclusion can we draw from this statement, other than “probity and integrity” seeming, by their own words, only needing ‘vigorous review” when it is the Labour party’s reputation (rather than just Liverpool’s) at stake?

    Although I suppose it would go some way to explaining how we got to where we are today.

    Lastly, given their statements, what conclusions are we to draw about their party in the city when it would appear that the two on the shortlist are all they offer us?

    As for either of them being the cream of the crop to lead our city, can either of them – or their party – square the circle and answer why they didn’t make it (or stand) for the first short list then?

    Labour is right to fear losing Liverpool. To say they don’t deserve us is to point out the obvious.

    The question now is, despite the shocking and devastating revelations, arrests, investigations and so forth (representing in time, I would wager, easily the most difficult domestic crisis of its kind ever in the UK) – will a biased media have the bare faced gall to sit on the fence, and attempt to suppress much needed change?

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