Why is 70 the trigger age for the Coronavirus?

We silver surfers will just have to take it easy and moderate our contacts for the foreseeable future and that might mean many months

Three things have been making me think about the ageing process lately. Firstly, I’m getting old myself. Although this is at the standard rate of 24 hours a day, I have got a fair number of days under my belt (24,539 if you want to know!). Secondly, I keep getting asked why is 70 the key age for the coronavirus? Thirdly, I gave a talk about three weeks ago to a joint Centre for Ageing Well and Local Government Association event in Manchester.

Why 70? Well it is a fairly arbitrary number. As we all know there are people who are extremely unhealthy at the age of 60 and people who are extremely healthy at the age of 80. The fact is that the stronger and healthier you are the less likely that you will not easily or at all recover when, and there is almost an inevitability about this, the coronavirus reaches you personally.

What is killing most of those unfortunate to die because of the coronavirus are the underlying health issues that they have faced. Their bodies, and especially their respiratory systems are already weak and the response and immune systems are just overwhelmed. Of course, our bodies do become weaker as we get older. Bits and pieces give up or are slowed down. 70 is just an age when more and more people have some elements of debilitation. I listened to Dr Clare Gerada on the Today programme this morning. Clare is an East End of London GP and the former President of the Royal College of GPs. She really does know what she is talking about.

She has had the virus and believes she is now immune. Her description is that it was like the worst Flu she had ever had for 4 days. She dealt with it with paracetamol, lots of fluids and plenty of sleep. Others, particularly young people, may already have felt ‘a bit of a cold.’ But be warned this is neither flu nor a bit of a cold although that may be what it feels like. This is a virus that has a far higher death rate than either of those. It doesn’t kill everyone or even a majority but it is more likely to kill than any other virus we have seen probably since the Spanish Flu which killed so many people in 1918/20.

But you don’t try and stay healthy through your life because you want to avoid a virus that you had never heard of. You stay healthy throughout your life because you want to be fit and healthy because that makes you feel mentally and physically fit. The opposite of that, of course, is that if you are not fit you are prone to all manner of diseases, ailments and problems throughout your life and for many the key decisions about fitness have been made many years before.

In my talk to the Centre for Aged I started with the fact that the 3% of 11-year olds who are morbidly obese are almost certain to have poor health outcomes throughout their life and an early death. Their muscular/skeletal systems just won’t have formed properly. In fact, it starts earlier than that. If you are born to a Mum who drinks, smokes or takes drugs you will be born underweight with consequences for you throughout your life.

So is this all about the inevitability of ill health and early death. Not at all. There are two ways in which we can collectively and individually stave off the grim reaper.

Collectively it is the responsibility of central and national government to ensure that every one of our citizens, in what is a relatively wealthy country, should live in accommodation which is appropriate to their needs; is warm and weatherproof and set in a nice environment. The fact that not one government since 1973 has lived up to its own new build housing targets is a scandal which all politicians should take responsibility for. A good home provides the basis for a good life; for good education; for good jobs. We could, if we chose provide all these things.

Local Government can, if it were resourced and supported properly, do far more than that. It is the level of government which interacts with every single citizen and does so in a context not of big, high flying policies and programmes but at a human level to which all of us relate. We can, if supported, provide the basis in which people and their families can work together to build the self-supporting communities which enable people to thrive. Local councils manage to do much of this already. Look at our parks, bus passes, libraries, community centres, fitness centres, community grants and many other things. Relatively they don’t cost very much but millions of people every day take advantage of them.

Every single one of us can take lifestyle decisions that will improve their own fitness. If you go to the Park you will see many people who are physically and mentally fit; the libraries are used by people keeping their brains active. Both places (well not for the next few months perhaps) are places where people can chat and natter and engage in the type of social intercourse which keeps people active and feeling a part of a wider society.

It has been estimated that loneliness has the same health effect as smoking 25 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is something that we can all do something about individually and as a community.

So, I close by making a special coronavirus plea but one that I hope will not be forgotten when we pass though this terrible phase in our nation’s health history. Don’t let anyone in your street or community be lonely. In the short term make sure that they do have the essentials of life which appear to be food and bog paper!  You don’t have to embrace them but just watch out if single people are about and more importantly when they are not. Just the simplest human interaction and kindness can have a huge effect on people’s lives.

When we have got through this let’s take it a stage further. Take people for a walk in the park with you. Pop round to their house for a cup of tea. See if they want a library book. See if the reason they don’t go on a bus journey is that they have no-one to go with. If we are invoking a war time ‘blitz’ spirit that is surely for all of us the key message. Remember your neighbours, be part of a community and everyone, including you, will benefit from your actions.

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Government must announce public health grant amidst Coronavirus crisis

If our Councils are to undertake our work of fighting underlying health problems in light of the Coronavirus Crisis the Government must end the 6 month delay in announcing our Public Health grant for the financial year which starts n 2 weeks time.

Today I have joined fellow Liberal Democrats in calling on the Health Secretary to announce the public health grant for 20/21 amidst the Coronavirus crisis.

I have done this both as Leader of the Liverpool Liberal Democrats, and Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson at the Local Government Association and have written to him calling on him to announce the funding to ensure councils could fulfil our role as a “key part” in containing the virus.

In my letter to him I said:

“Having failed to tell local councils how much the public health grant will be, the Government has made it all but impossible for councils to ensure our communities have proper healthcare.

“Even if it was business as usual this would be shameful, but with the Coronavirus it is nothing short of an abdication of duty. 

“Public health information is vital to lowering the Coronavirus peak, but even more alarming is the inability for local councils to try and address the inevitable gaps in our social care sector getting worse.

“We estimate that up to 5% of the public health jobs in Council’s Public Health Departments are now vacant and programmes to deal with underlying health issues are coming to a halt.

“In Liverpool we have a new Director of Public Health arriving next month but there are a number of vacancies that we are unable to fill because of uncertainty about the funding package. We have no spare funds elsewhere to move around and are being extremely cautious with money because we may need to move money around the system to deal with growing social care needs.

“When you visited us at the Local Government Association in September last year you told us that a dispute between the Department of Health and the Treasury would be sorted quickly. We got 2 dates in February when we would definitely get the grant details and yet we still have no idea of the grant with all councils now having set our budgets and the new council financial year starting in just 2 weeks’ time.

Whilst the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are happily touring the TV studios, they are utterly failing at the most basic level to support councils in our vital work. A six month’s delay in getting our grant details is a disgrace at any time but in the present circumstances means that Councils are unable to do as much as needs to eb done to protect the underlying health of our communities.

ENDS

Cllr Kemp can be contacted on 07885 626913

Notes to editors


The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to urge you to immediately announce the public health grant for local authorities for 2020/21.

The unacceptable delay has made it extremely difficult for local government to plan health services in the community such as sexual health services, the NHS Health Check programme and public health advice to NHS Commissioners.

With the coronavirus, this delay has become even more serious.

Public Health funding is a crucial component for ensuring public services work together to issue advice and information, but also plan for knock on effects on the social care workforce for example.

The delay has also compounded the severe reductions in local authorities’ public health grant funding – over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20 – which has left councils under incredible pressure to deliver vital community health services.

“We estimate that up to 5% of the public health jobs in Council’s Public Health Departments are now vacant and programmes to deal with underlying health issues are coming to a halt.

“In Liverpool we have a new Director of Public Health arriving next month but there are a number of vacancies that we are unable to fill because of uncertainty about the funding package. We have no spare funds elsewhere to move around and are being extremely cautious with money because we may need to move money around the system to deal with growing social care needs.

“When you visited us at the Local Government Association in September last year you told us that a dispute between the Department of Health and the Treasury would be sorted quickly. We got 2 dates in February when we would definitely get the grant details and yet we still have no idea of the grant with all councils now having set our budgets and the new council financial year starting in just 2 weeks’ time.

The Government has said on various occasions that the best way to reduce the peak of Coronavirus is to contain and delay it – public health information is a key part of that strategy and it must not be neglected by this government.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Richard Kemp CBE, Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Health & Social Care, Local Government Association

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Coronavirus Covid–19 Joe Anderson and Boris Johnson get it right!

We all need to work together and put Party politics aside at this time of national crisis caused by the Coronavirus Covid-19

Well there’s a headline I had never thought I would write  but as I have looked at the recent press and public relations work undertaken by both of them I not only think this but feel that we should all get behind them and leave party politics behind as we square up to the lethal virus which is currently invading our communities.

Last night, I watched the Prime Minister’s press conferences and for the first time ever my immediate impression of him was that he was both saying and doing the right things. He was laying out calmly and clearly what actions the Government was taking and was doing so based on the clear professional advice of the Government’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientist.

Two weeks ago, I was in attendance at the very public meeting of the Liverpool Heath & Wellbeing Board when Mayor Anderson did exactly the same laying out clearly and calmly the facts, as known, and indicating what our Council and its partners were doing to prepare us and our communities for the inevitable troubles ahead. Both these sets of actions were clearly scientifically informed and were being taken based on the best advice that was available to the political decision makers.

Since then I have seen a lot of political attacks on both these individuals which I believe are unfair. It may be, as some have suggested, that the decisions that they are making are wrong. However, I would be very concerned if politicians were making partisan and political decisions now and not doing almost precisely what our doctors, scientists and other professionals are suggesting.

Perhaps I have more confidence than many other people because I know what preparations are made on every day of every year by public agencies to prepare for the worst but hope for the best in situations such as these. The NHS and all its partners have in hand a regular series of exercises to prepare for pandemic situations. Those plans have to be varied as each pandemic or major emergency carries its own requirements but the basis is always laid in which the whole of the public sector gets together to maximise its joint working to take us through periods of stress.

The Government is absolutely right to move us to a delay phase which is exactly what other major democracies are also doing. Countries that spend more than we do on the public health services are taking the same steps because no matter how money we put into the health service it would be stressed by major events such as these. We need to delay the peak of infections until the summer to reduce the seriousness of infections and illness and to allow the maximum freedom for our physicians to be in place with appropriate intensive care services.

Some Countries are taking different decisions about issues like sporting events and school closures than the UK government is doing. That does not mean that those decisions are better than ours. Our epidemiologists have looked carefully at all the information they have about the dangers and have concluded that now is not the time to do things like this. They point out correctly that we may simply be moving people into more dangerous situations if, for example, children were sent to be looked after by grandparents if their parents are stopped from working. That’s putting the risk at a higher level in to the most vulnerable members of our community – the elderly.

It is also important that we consider how all of us behave in practice rather than theory. If too many restrictions on work and travel are put in place too early then people will either not respond at all or will initially respond but then their willingness to keep to a strict regime will diminish quickly. We will all start out with the best of intentions on these matters but many will quickly regress to behaviour as normal.

So, provided that our national and local political leaders continue to present scientific facts cogently and on the best scientific advice I believe that we should all work together with them to maximise our response to the virus. I don’t believe that this is a Tory or (in the case of America) Republican plot to get rid of nuisance people in our society such as the sick, elderly and vulnerable. I believe that some good may come out of this as society as a whole realises just how many elderly, sick and vulnerable people there are in our midst and resolves to do something about them on a long term and permanent basis.

In the meantime, there are things that we can all do. My Lib Dem colleagues and I are writing to all organisations in our Wards seeing what they are doing to help our needy citizens and if there is any help we can provide to them in carrying out that work. Are you checking that the elderly people that live near you are getting their medicines and basic supplies of foods? Have you checked the situation with your elderly relatives and just given an extra check so that needs and concerns can be resolved?

In Liverpool, in particular, these are things that I am sure is happening. We are one of the most community and family minded cities in the World. Liverpool can and will come through this. So, let’s all put crude party politics and Party based attacks on one side for now on this issue. If I think that Mayor Anderson is not doing the right things, I will tell him so first privately and then, if necessary, publicly. Until such time as that happens, he and our great Council and NHS staff are getting my full support for what they are trying to do to limit problems in the City. I hope that he has your support as well.

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Cut back ‘fancy pants’ jobs at the Liverpool Combined Authority

The creation of the Liverpool City Region was supposed to create a lean, mean and green team to pull forward the external work and strategic planning for the City Region. Instead it seems to have created a series of fancy pants jobs at a very high cost.

I’ve been asked many times recently what does the City Region Mayor and the Combined Authority actually do? So, I’ve done some digging around and now believe that an urgent review of the staffing levels and the wage levels of the staff of the Liverpool City Region Combined authority is badly needed. I’ve now got a full list of the people who work for the Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram and the Combined Authority and I’m appalled by what I have found.

It is quite clear from the report that whilst front line jobs in local government are being slashed and with councils forced to make huge cuts the number of highly paid back room jobs in the City Region Authority is booming.

If asked for their priorities the people of Liverpool City Region would not be the employment of a speechwriter for up to £35,000 a year or a political adviser for £48,500 a year but would be for the employment of people to keep our city clean and safe and the old and the young looked after.

There is clearly not enough attention being paid to this free-flowing gravy train. Before being selected and then elected to the position Steve Rotheram hit out at the staffing levels proposed by the Authority when it was led by Joe Anderson. These staffing levels are far higher than those suggested by Mayor Anderson and at much higher salary levels.

Other highlights from the staffing list include:

  • A Director of Policy and Strategic Commissioning for £124,848 a year which is a higher salary than Liverpool Council pays for Executive Directors with huge responsibilities.
  • A communications team of 11 people who seem simply to recycle press releases from the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
  • There are two heads of investment at £87,000 a go
  • A head of Government Relations at £87,000
  • Housing staff when housing is not a core function of the authority but a responsibility of the 6 Boroughs within the City Region.

Scrutiny within the Authority clearly is not working. The scrutiny committee has had to scratch around to get a quorum and sometimes has not been able to meet because of a lack of one. That lack of scrutiny by politicians, the press and frankly people like me has meant that the staffing levels and rates of pay have grown enormously from those originally planned.

Back room boffins are being paid for by taxpayers when what is needed is enhanced front line staffing levels. £99,555 for an assistant director of research is ludicrous when we have three universities in the City with a huge and relevant research capability.

The Regional Mayor’s remuneration at £93,000 is approximately 3 times the median wage within the City Region. Nice work if you can get it and very good money for an organisation which has few delivery functions outside transport for which there are separate budgets and staffing levels.

All the Authority has done is to spend money which had been applied for and agreed when the Combined Authority adopted the Mayoral model. So what do the Regional Mayor and Combined Authority actually do? The answer appears to be relatively little as the key headlines that Steve Rotheram will campaign on for re-election such as a new Ferry; bus regulation and a tidal barrage on the Mersey are the same ones that he campaigned on three years ago. In fact, the tidal barrage for power generation has been a priority since the 1970s.

The original idea when I supported the creation of the Combined Authority which needed a Mayor in the model that the Government proposed was that there would be a merging of teams and not the creation of a new one. By now all strategic economic development activity should be being undertaken by one team not 6 separate ones for each Council. The big stuff should be done centrally while the small-scale stuff continues to be done by each council.

The housing work relating to rough sleepers should have been handed direct to the 6 Councils who are the strategic housing authorities and could have been merged effortlessly with the existing anti homelessness work of those councils.

We could have entered a much more effective system of providing back office work together across the City Region. Why do we have separate Directors of Public Health, legal teams, revenues and benefits teams and tax collection teams when they are all doing basically the same thing but costing money to do them separately.

The Mayor of the City Region needs to get a firm grip on spending and ensure that next year there is no levy for fancy pants jobs on the hard-pressed taxpayers of the Liverpool City Region.

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Poor Thinking from Layla Moran

At a time when our Party should be looking outward in advance of the May 7 elections we should be avoiding the temptation of internal elections and concentrate on gaining more seats and more influence in the local elections

So, Layla Moran has announced her candidacy for the Lib Dem Leadership in advance of the Party’s Spring Conference at the coming weekend. I am frankly saddened by this. The Party has deliberately put back the formal elements of the electoral process until the week after the local elections on May 7th. This is exactly the right thing to do and all potential candidates should have respected that.

Internal jockeying within the Party is nowhere near as important at this time as gaining seats in the local elections. In some ways these are not the biggest set of elections in England (there are none in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) but because there are Police Commissioner elections everyone in England will have a vote either at those elections or with the Regional Mayor elections, or ward council elections or in the case of Liverpool a City Mayor as well.

In fact, in Liverpool we are blessed with being the only part of the Country which will have 4 local elections on the same day! In the last three sets of local elections we did incredibly well and we want to continue this trend. In England alone there are about 50 Councils where the Lib Dems Control, lead or are in shared administrations. Carrying on that trend is of vital importance to the Party.

Controlling councils does two things:

Firstly, it expands our campaigning base as strong local councillors work tirelessly within their community to showcase local causes and needs. We know from past experience that local success then leads to parliamentary success.

Secondly, it allows us to showcase our national policies by delivering them in practice at a coal level. When, for example, I look at the great work being done in Torbay by our new Lib Dem led Administration I can see Liberal Democracy in action. Taking over from a poorly run Independent Mayor/Tory coalition they have prioritised the care of children and the elderly, championed new investment into the holiday industry in the Borough and introduced real efficiencies to enable them to direct the people’s taxes towards the people’s priorities.

I am sure that the same can be said for the other areas where the Lib Dems moved up following our 700+ gains last year and our 150+ gains the year before. Every Lib Dem councillor elected moves the Party forward and helps the delivery of policies that are greener, people centred and visionary.

So, the last thing we need to inhibit our moves forward is the inward-looking chatter which inevitably flows from an internal election. It’s true that there will not be the sort of debacle which is happening within Labour at present. The fault lines in Labour run deep. Two opposing camps are seeking control of the Party. Whatever the result about half the Party will be dissatisfied with the result.

Already I can see in Liverpool the knives being sharpened and the excuses being laid out. If Starmer wins half of them will not submit to becoming the second level SDP that he espouses. If Long-Bailey wings it will be the final straw for the moderates in the Party who have kept the Party going through thick and thin and provide much of its practical muscle and resource.

Such fault lines do not exist in our Party. We are reasonably united around a core set of principles and the policies that flow from them. Of course, there are some policy differences. Without differences there cannot be an advance in our policies. But in the Lib Dems disagreements are dealt with courteously and other views are listened to. Within the broad parameters of our principles dissent is not only allowed but encouraged as we strive to find new solutions to the problems that our society faces.

Nor is there personal disagreement within the Party. I have always been able to say that although I preferred one candidate in our elections, I had a lot of time for the other one. My thoughts have never been about the disaster avoidance needs which is where the Labour Party is at but in terms of who would be best to positively move our party and its ideals forward.

So sadly, I am forced to conclude that the decision by Layla Moran to announce her candidacy before the vital local elections and in advance of the official timetable for the Leadership election is a critical misjudgement of where the Party needs to be and what it needs to be doing.

I won’t even be thinking about the Leadership election until May 10th. I encourage all my Lib Dem colleagues to do the same and get on with task of increasing the reach and influence of Lib Dems throughout England by campaigning on the local elections and not the internal one.

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Liverpool Council’s budget

There was more hot air than enlightened debate in the Council Chamber yesterday when we considered our budget. The only way to avoid more cuts in our front line services is to change the way we do things across the public sector in the City not just City Council.

Yesterday we had a budget meeting of the Council when our Council tax went up by an inflation busting 3.9% for the 7th year running.

The budget meeting is always something of a formal farce. We all know that a budget is not for one day in the year but for every day in the year. If you don’t take intelligent decisions about how to use your money throughout the year you cannot rectify the problems created on just one day.

In our opinion there is a lot of money wasted within our local government system in the Liverpool area. Yesterday I pointed out yet again that we would take urgent moves to ger rid of the positions of Police Commissioner and City Mayor. These moves along would save £2.3 million which could either be used to reduce your tax levels or to provide services that you think are needed.

These positions are the tip of the iceberg. Liverpool still wastes money. As just one example we are now spending a total of £1.9 million to provide a new home for Calder Kids Adventure Play Ground for disabled children when their former building, on the Harthill Estate which Labour wanted to sell to Redrow, when their existing place could have been renovated to a high standard for just £100,000. In addition, they have not yet been able to move into the new accommodation so the Labour controlled council have given upwards of £150,000 to the organisation not to provide a service to disabled kids!

I can give so many more examples of paying senior staff like our former Chief Executive, not to work and money spent on road resurfacing which had to be redone after just three months!

So, we voted for the budget because on the day no other option was really possible. To keep council tax under control we need a root and branch change in the way that things are done in Liverpool.

In doing so we also voted against the Green amendment which was frankly dreadful. They put forward a motion that would have spent £120 million over 4 years on a list of undefined and uncosted environmental issues. Most of the areas that they want to spend money on are, in the view of Lib Dems, the right ones but the way they went about it was just plain wrong. We will not give the Council a blank cheque to spend on uncosted programmes with no implementation plans prepared.

This is a point we made last year when they did much the same thing. In addition, the amendment would have reduced our grant from the Government to be spent on road resurfacing programmes by up to £30 million this year alone. It really is about time that the Green Party in Liverpool understood how national and local government funding work and interweave.

The sad thing is that everyone agrees that big change is necessary but Labour seem to eb unable to actually do anything about it. In September we had a special Council Meeting to consider the desperate straits that the Council is in. We agreed then as a Council that fundamental change is necessary. We not only passed a motion but have challenged the Tory Government to work with us on a value for money agenda.

I have offered both publicly and privately to work with Joe Anderson and the Labour Party to look at ways in which the changes might be achieved. In the 7 months since the September Council meeting, we have not had one single meeting together about these potential changes.

Of course, one of the principal reasons that we have these problems is huge cuts in local government rants started by the Gordon Brown Government, continued by the Coalition Government and pursued with ever increasing enthusiasm by the Cameron/May and now Johnson governments.

But we should not use that as an excuse for inaction. No matter how much we get from national or local taxation or the provision of services we should be using the money in a cost-effective way. The breaking up of our services into competing silos is not only wasteful; in cash terms but is also wasteful in the way that people are looked after by the system. The bureaucracies have few joint objectives and compete against each for resources for their bit of the work stream. People have to find their way through our complex systems and often have to give the same information to staff from a range of agencies who then spend a lot of time collecting and collating it. People are driven from pillar to post within the system especially when they are in acute need of scarce resources.

This joining up all seems to be too hard for the Liverpool Labour Party who prefer to keep their privileged and well-paid positions in place. Notably last night several of them felt obliged to come out with the same Corbynite clap trap which ahs just cost them their third General Election defeat in a row.

In our manifesto for this year’s local elections we will be making a number of strong suggestions about public sector reform in Liverpool and linking up the spend and actions to the needs of the people and not the desires the politicians.

Watch out for it and then vote in a new Lib Dem administration that will give Liverpool the value for money that the taxpayers deserve.

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What does British Citizenship really mean??

These three lads from 3 different African countries became UK citizens today and as they chose to do it in Liverpool have become Scousers as well. They are intelligent, bright and committed. Just the sort of people we need in the city if we are to grow in the difficult times ahead.

I am sure that many of us have been thinking this recently. The fact that we have left the EU institutions; the fact that a customs border will be put between Northern Ireland and Eire which may leave to NI becoming part of the Republic; the renewed calls for Scottish Independence after the fact that Scotland voted to remain in the EU etc.

These discussions are taking place all over the World. Belgium is always discussing the relationship between its Walloon and French speaking parts. The Basques want independence; the Kurds want freedom from Turkey; various parts of Africa are still working out what to do with straight line borders created by colonial powers which ignored natural tribal geography.

What has brought my thoughts to a head today was the fact that I have presided over the citizenship ceremony for the latest group of people becoming British Citizens. I haven’t done this for years but was reminded today what a great and important event it has been in the lives of the 26 adults and 10 children who became citizens today. They came from Syria; Pakistan; the Philippines; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Poland; Cyprus and many other places as well.

As I pointed out to them much more important than being a UK citizen was the fact that they were now Liverpool citizens. Our new generation of Scousers who will provide the skills and enthusiasm that our City and indeed our Country needs to move forward in these uncertain times. I think all of them were Reds. Certtainly no one admitted to being a Blue when I talked to them about the real religion of Liverpool!

I was able to spend time talking to them about the journeys that they have made to get here; physical journeys; in some case dangerous journeys; and always mental journeys. Giving up your homeland to come to a new one is never easy. I talked to people who had been persecuted because of the sexual orientation; or religion; or political beliefs. Some were here because they had fallen in love with a Scouser. It happened to me so that I know that this happens!

Some had been here 5/6 years. One man had been here for almost 50 years, had paid his tax all that time and brought up his children. One of them came with him and his Scouse wife today and was doing very well in banking!! Most of them were professionals either when they came or had become professionals whilst they have lived here. Every single one of them had a job or were married to or the child of someone who had a job. Not one was a scrounger or the benefits cheats that popular mythology has them to be!

When I watched them during the ceremony I was so pleased with their enthusiasm. They stood up straight when they spoke the oaths of allegiance to Her Majesty and the UK. They bellowed out the National Anthem. After the formal bit I even got some of them to sing “You’ll never walk alone” with me. A very appropriate tune I thought given the fact that they had often walked alone to get here but were now walking alongside the other 60,000,000 of their new brothers and sisters.

I spoke to them about their obligations as a citizen to be a part of society; to pay their taxes; to obey our laws and to vote.

Just contrast that with many of our natural born citizens who believe that living in the UK is about taking not giving. The ‘born with a silver spoon brigade’ who try and avoid taxes at every opportunity; the lazy and idle, and there only a few of these, who feel that the World owes them a living and refuse to get a job. The drug dealers and others who exploit our least resourceful citizens. As the Mikado says, “I have a little list of society offenders who might well underground they never would be missed”.

Unfortunately, we cannot do a straight swap because no one would take some of the people that I have in mind!!

So why is it that we still have so many ‘little Englanders’ who came out in force since the referendum who believe in some sort of white utopia that never was? Ever since Liverpool was founded it has been a place of migration both in and out. When I first came to Liverpool in 1974, 40% of Liverpool’s population had arrived in the City were from Ireland. If you live in a pre-1919 terrace in the City it was almost certainly built by Welsh building companies and Welsh builders.

We have had Afro-Caribbean communities here for 2 centuries with some of the original settlers being freed slaves. The African communities from Ghana and Nigeria were founded by former seamen. That great Greek Orthodox Church in Liverpool 8 and the marvellous Princes Avenue Synagogue opposite were founded by seamen in the former case and people fleeing religious persecution in the latter.

These are the people who have made Liverpool the great city it is today. A city which is not without racial or other inter-community problems but which, nevertheless, is one of the most tolerant cities in the World. A city where different cultures have come together and brought their arts; customs and cuisines to the City to make it the exciting place it is today.

Our City will never ‘walk alone’ when we have people of the vigour, enthusiasm and intelligence of those that I met today wanting to be its citizens. The more that we are a liberal and liberating City the more we will attract to us the people we need to build the vibrant city we all want. When it comes down to it, none of us are just ‘English’ citizens. We are all citizens of one world and the sooner that we all realise that the sooner we can together tackle the global problems of climate change, intolerance and poverty which hold us all back.

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