There was a name that didn’t pass Starmer’s lips yesterday but his contempt and determination to deal with that name was apparent throughout. Starmer holds Corbyn in absolute contempt. If a so-called social democrat could undertake a Stalinist revisionist purge the name of Corbyn would be banned forever. His picture would be expunged from the record as happened with Tutankhamun’s father for preaching the heresy of the Aten.
However, Starmer cannot do that, so it is absolutely clear that Starmer who is now in control of the Party apparatus will wreak his revenge on the remaining Corbynistas. They are already losing influence across the Party. As happened 40 years ago with Militant, Momentum has come and is going. These extremist Groups have a shelf life of about 5 years when they cause chaos inside the Labour and then go on to cause havoc within the Councils should they have been elected.
Nowhere will Starmer’s axe fall more heavily and repeatedly than in Liverpool where the problems caused by Joe Anderson have given huge opportunities to the national and regional Parties to create purges of those that they find objectionable. In Liverpool, they have already taken control of the selection of all candidates up to 2025. This will mean that when there are all up elections in 2023, they will control the selection of all 85 vacancies that will ensue.
They will also control the nominations for the General Election which must take place by May 2024 but is likely to be earlier.
Whatever happens there will be huge upsets within the Party and a really big turnover of Councillors and MPs. Some will be glad to get out and some will go out fighting. Some big names will go and some big hitters from former years. Already there are fall outs coming. There was an unedifying squabble between Labour members in the Car Park of Everton Sports Ground after the debacle of the Arms Fair none-debate at the last Council meeting and the dreadful fact that one Councillor publicly said they agreed with me on something!
In terms of Councillors there are two types of people who will be getting the chop:
Clear Corbyn supporters. It is difficult to know how many there are because there have been so many extremists in the Party for so long. But likely evictees from the ‘Starmer House’ would include young people who have joined the Council over the past few years two of whom are already ‘administratively suspended’ because of anti-Semitic sentiments.
The other group must include mates of Anderson. If someone served in Anderson’s Cabinet, they either knew what was going on or should have known. Surely there can be no way back especially for the people who weren’t even allowed to stand in their internal Mayoral election. On top of these are other loyal Anderson acolytes, mostly from the North of the City, who formed a praetorian Guard around their Leader and supported him unequivocally whatever daft statement he came up with.
Their influence is still pervasive. Just look at what happened at the Springfield Park debacle on Tuesday. The spirit of ‘Redrow Joe’ and his penchant for building on green space has invaded the very spirit of Labour in Liverpool.
Why should I care about all this? Well in purely political terms I don’t! Having our opponents fighting like rats in a sack is good for us politically. We came out of the best elections with the best results that we have had for more than a decade into a new electoral system which we are opposing on principle but in practice will work well for us.
But our City will suffer in the short to medium term. It took us 20 years to pay off debts and repair the damage caused to the city’s reputation by Hatton & Co. We now have a ‘Babes in the Wood’ Cabinet exercising little direction within the Council and with budgets that are far more challenging than those of the 80s
Liverpool is getting little political leadership and direction. The recent debate on the so-called, ‘City Plan’ was a case in point. 7 two-minute speeches from the Cabinet which said nothing much; major items like social housing entirely missing; a total lack of passion and commitment and perhaps even less understanding of the gravity of the situation in which Liverpool finds itself.
So, the Lib Dems are now trying to do two things. My colleague Kris Brown is becoming highly respected for the way he is chairing the Independent Audit Committee and is getting plaudits all around for the big picture reviews that he is undertaking. I meet senior staff regularly and now the Commissioners as well. I try to be supportive wherever I can and oppositional when I need to be. Andrew Makinson is raising big issues around spending on the services of the Council and the waste inherent in some of the big schemes like the Strand and Lime Street (£13 million over budget!)
Meanwhile our Councillors both in Council Committees and our own Wards highlight the small things that make a big difference. Cllr Richard Clein last night made incisive comments about the need for more traffic attendants outside the City Centre as so many of our pavements are now an obstacle race for the disabled and people with buggies, prams and Zimmers because of inconsiderate parking.
So let me reassure the people of Liverpool. Liverpool Labour might be fighting each other but Liverpool Lib Dems will continue to fight for the people of Liverpool.