The latest story going the round is that Joe’s office believed it would be a boost for the mayor to be seen in a locally produced car. They went for a Land Rover Evoque, but Joe was not impressed and had it returned, as he wanted a more “masculine” vehicle. As a result, it cost the council £4000 as a lease had already been signed.
Is the tale true? I do not know – I have not had the time yet to check it out. However, for an aspiring metromayor, it does not matter if the story is fact or fable. The reality is that people across the Liverpool City Region are prepared to believe this and a score of as yet unproven allegations against the mayor without much ado. It illustrates a profound lack of trust in him as a leader in the eyes of so many. Why is this?
Firstly, people see and hear non-stop spin claiming success after success, yet their everyday experience in the city of Liverpool tells them otherwise. The public are no longer prepared to buy into our local government leaders giving them a line, any more than they will buy into the same baloney at national level. It remains to be seen if Labour Party members on Merseyside are in tune with popular opinion on this. We will see in a week’s time.
Secondly, our fellow citizens have learnt not only how to ferret out the truth – as with Joe’s legal bills, and the shambles of Liverpool Direct – but how to disseminate that truth via social media. I never cease to marvel at how well-informed so many people are, despite the appalling failure of the local media to report on what is being done locally in our name.
Thirdly, there has been a massive swing in public opinion generally, and particularly on Merseyside. No longer will people tolerate their Labour representatives cosying up to either Tory ministers or to big business taking plenty out of Merseyside, but putting relatively little back in. If the mayor is to be believed, we are to be a tourist trap, bringing low-skill, low-wage jobs in its wake.
During the campaign for the Labour nomination for the metromayoralty, we have heard each of the three candidates setting out their stall. What this new post is intended to deliver across the city-region is economic growth. For most that means high-tech, high-skill, high-wage employment opportunities, especially for our young people. Delivery of this will require a trim, dynamic, and flexible operation across a whole raft of interconnected areas; and tough negotiation with both Westminster and Whitehall.
To achieve this, Joe has offered us a bloated, overpaid bureaucracy (remember his comment that it will “only cost £7 million”?). It shows both his limitations and his distance from current realities. He has poured money into vanity projects and into Everton’s training facilities – meanwhile, the city languishes at the bottom of the national list of cities recording economic growth. Indeed, Liverpool’s economy has shrunk on Joe’s watch, whilst all of the other city-region authorities have grown.
As the last selection votes go in, it is to be hoped that Local Labour has woken up to reality on this issue. If Joe was to be the Labour candidate, it seems certain that any half-decent celebrity candidate would have a walkover against him in 2017.