How do political parties best work together for Liverpool?

Liverpool could and should be the best City in the North of England and one of the best in Europe. It has a great location, physical environment, strong universities and innovative business people yet it ahs been badly let down by its politicians. How do we work together to change that?

In fact, no-one had approached me and had they done so I would have discussed it with our Party’s Liverpool Executive and Council Group as it would not have been my decision but our decision.

Yesterday I was approached by the Liverpool Post to comment on a suggestion that I was blocking an anti-Labour electoral pact in the City. Some people might not have heard of the Liverpool Post and assume that it is a follow on from the Liverpool Echo’s sister paper the Daily Post. In fact, it is an entirely separate online news service.

They also did not approach me about the joint motion which the other three opposition Groups put to Council connected with the Council’s budget.

This is how the Liverpool Post reported the discussion:

As a matter of pact: “Richard fucking Kemp won’t fucking budge,” one ex-councillor told The Post last week in what wasn’t a line from John Cooper Clarke’s Evidently Chickentown. It was, rather, a reference to the leader of Liverpool City Council’s Lib Dems, who was accused of putting a block on an election pact between non-Labour parties, where it was suggested opposition parties may not stand candidates against each other in some areas to give the best chance of unseating incumbent Labour councillors. Kemp rejected those suggestions entirely, telling The Post he has not been approached regarding any pact. “You can only have a pact around an agreed set of principles,” Kemp said. “I’m prepared to sit and talk to other parties about what we can do together, but just being anti-labour isn’t enough.”

My recommendation to the Liberal Democrat Group and Executive would have been to discuss any approach we received but it would be unlikely that we would recommend a way forward based on such discussions.

Firstly, we would need to have something more in common than hating Labour. There is no point in helping get people elected who will then want to do different things than you would, based on their beliefs.

The only Party we might be able to do something with are the Greens where we can, at least understand their policy. A lot of it we agree with because we are a green party with a better environment at the top of our list of concerns. I did meet with them about 5 years ago in a coffee shop on Lodge Lane, but they failed to follow up the meeting.

The Liverpool Community Independents are Corbynite by admission. Mostly they are good people, but we have little in common with their ultimate aims apart from general ones in that we both seek to ensure that everyone is decently housed, paid, fed and educated.

The so-called Liberals have no discernible principles or policies. They are a local cult as distinct to a national party.

The new ‘Liberate Liverpool Party’ which may not be a Party at all are just rabidly anti-Labour but are really quite peculiar people if they think Cllr Dave Cummings is a suitable role model after his two criminal convictions and expulsion from the Labour Party for misogyny.

Not only are the policy similarities hard to find but so is their approach to running the Council. We are all in favour of having a clean, green, transparent and honest council which spends taxpayers’ money well but only the Lib Dems are working with the controlling Labour Party to make huge changes to the system to reintroduce the processes and procedures that were ripped apart in Joe Anderson’s time as Mayor.

All the other opposition Parties are effectively compartmentalised into different parts of the City. Liverpool Independents, Liberate Liverpool and another grouping which might fall behind Cllr George Knibb are mostly fighting each other in places we cannot currently reach.

Even the Labour Party cannot campaign across the City and are only making token showings in about 20 wards where the Liberal Democrats are clearly becoming entrenched. In areas like Penny Lane and Gateacre, Childwall and Woolton, Calderstones and Allerton they have yet to put a leaflet or at most only one leaflet and door knocking is none existent.

The Liberal Democrats cannot reach every ward either so in reality most parts of the City are already two-Party fights but with different parties being one of the two.

But, in principle, I do believe that Liberal Democrats should put up as many candidates as possible. We want to give everyone in Liverpool, and indeed the Country, to have the chance to vote for the Party they believe in. We have an imperfect electoral system which means that not every person’s vote will go to elect a candidate of their choice but who knows that someone might be inspired in some parts of the city not only to vote for us but to start to campaign for us in their own community.

For the last five elections in Liverpool, we have been the only Party to issue a manifesto which tells people what we want to do if we take control of the Council. I challenge the other Parties in Liverpool to do the same. If after the election there is a need for Parties to work together it can be done on the basis of ideas, principles and policies and not a grubby horse trading for seats and positions that takes place in other councils post-election.

Liberal Democrats have shown over the past two years our willingness to be a  constructive opposition, opposing Labour when we need to but supporting the often officer led changes to improve the council when we can.

That is what the people of Liverpool deserve. Political cooperation in a transparent and open system. Ideas coming forward to creates opportunities for our citizens and not advantage for ourselves. That is what the Liberal Democrats want as well. We will work with any Party and organisation which shares those beliefs and ambitions because that is what we are telling Liverpool people that we will do.


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 How do political parties best work together for Liverpool?

  1. Zapre says:

    The factual inaccuracies in this are hilarious.
    You sound a bit rattled Richard… Is the grave train coming to an end?

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