Let the Bodies Pile High

Boris Johnson and Joe Anderson are really mirror images of each other. Both are mired in sleaze, both have had improper contacts with contractors, developers and suppliers. The solution to both is simple – vote them out and change system.

Did Boris Johnson say this? Did he say something like it? The jury is out but there is mounting evidence from within the Tory Party that he did indeed say it. The problem that Johnson has in denying it is that most of the people of the UK can well imagine him saying it because of his background. An Old Etonian, Oxford and Bullingdon Club person. A father who bends the law repeatedly. A man who is known to wing it and do anything to get elected and get what he wants. A man in whom self-entitlement is manifest and looks down at most of as mere chavs. Yes, we can imagine him saying it.

If the question had been raised about John Major or even Theresa May we would have been far more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt. Yes, they are Tories but most of us believe that they had a strong element of self-deprecating decency inside them and sense of loyalty and dedication to the people of the Country.

All this comes on top of a huge number of allegations about the Tory Party most centred around the Prime Minister. Who paid for the fitting out of his flat at Number 10, which Tory donor had access to which Tory Minister; how did James Dyson have the PM’s phone number; why did we spend £20 million with him to develop a new ventilator (which he was unable to do) instead of giving contracts to existing UK manufacturers of ventilators? Why has so much been given to companies like SERCO who have made a complete mess of ‘track and trace’ whilst not funding properly the NHS which has done most of the hard tracing work?

Ironically, for Liverpool, the man responsible for ‘putting right’ our City Council, Robert Jenrick, himself is tainted with sleaze. He tried, against official advice, to bend planning rules for a Tory donor which would have deprived Southwark Council, by any stretch of the imagination an area in need of money, of due planning gain cash. A mistake he had to both rectify and apologise for.

It has been interesting to me to see that what is happening in London has been replicated at a lower level here in Liverpool. Contracts and development opportunities have clearly been awarded at ‘mates rates’ to a charmed circle of developers and contractors. People had the Mayor’s phone number and could make a direct approach to him about contracts and opportunities. His influence caused officers to skip due process for care of the Council’s income and assets and ensure that the ‘right’ answer was given.

There is a huge similarity into how this has happened. Arrogance and self-conviction that the people at the top must always be right. They then surround themselves with crawlers who will do anything to remain in the favour of the one with the power. Proper overview and scrutiny of decisions is removed and the ‘Wild West’ prevails. A further similarity is that the best way to deal with these people is simple. Either let the law deal with them or just vote them out of office!

I can’t talk about Westminster but I can talk about Liverpool. I have never known such anger in Liverpool in all the years that I have been a councillor here. I have called at 100s of doors in the past 4 weeks and people are very, very angry about what has happened here. Yesterday alone I was told by 4 Labour MEMBERS that they would be voting for me because, although they still considered themselves to be Labour, there was no way that they could support Labour in Council or regional elections here.

So many Labour voters are either going to vote Lib Dem, many of them for the first time, or not vote at all. They know that £100,000,000+ has gone missing; they know that there are 16 people arrested on suspicion of a wide range of potential charges including witness intimidation, bullying, bribery and malfeasance in public office; they know that  outside the Council £100s of millions have been lost by small private investors from around the World who invested in dodgy schemes because of their belief that Liverpool was a good place to invest.

Knowing what is wrong is not enough. We need to know what to do about these problems. In principle these solutions are very simple:

  1. Be open and transparent
  2. Obey the law
  3. Properly record everything
  4. Have a proper system of scrutiny of the politicians and officers who make the key decisions.
  5. Have a medium- and long-term vision for the City in the post-Brexit and post- pandemic world.

Lots of people who have watched the mayoral hustings have told me that they think that there is a huge policy vacuum in what is being presented to the people of the City with only the Lib Dems having a  detailed manifesto and showing the competence and capacity to deliver the needed change.

That is not my decision to make but the decision of the people of Liverpool. Lots of people have already voted by post. I understand that they have been flooding back to the Cunard building and lot’s of people have told me in the past three days that I was wasting my time at their door as their vote for me was already in.

If you haven’t voted yet you will see that the ballot paper looks a bit different this year. You have two votes. One column is for your first choice and the other is for your second choice. The second will come into play if no candidate gets 50% of the vote on the first-time round. Anderson only got 52% of the vote last time and Labour will get a lot less than that this time. So those second votes will be important.

I know that lots of you have already done the calculation and thought through that I am the most likely candidate to beat Labour so have put me as their first choice. But whatever you do put me as your second so that will be added to my vote on the second ballot.

Together we can return the real political power to the people that it belongs to YOU and your neighbours. We politicians have no power of our own – we just have the power that voters choose to lend to us. Use your power to change the people and the system on May 6th.

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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