Post-Truth Politics

Friday lunch time was spent listening to Roger Phillips’ phone-in on Radio Merseyside. I made a point of it as I knew that Mayor Anderson was his guest. There was the usual range of questions, familiar to anyone elected as a political representative – dog-fouling, run-down areas, alley gates – the everyday issues which grab the attention of voters.

Then came a question from Roger to the mayor, on the role of metro-mayors. I was quite taken with the mayor’s response, that he would be working hard for the successful election of Steve Rotheram as metro-mayor when the election is held in May.  Indeed, he sounded enthusiastic about the prospect. This surprised me, given the email which the mayor has sent to members of Liverpool Labour Group, and an open letter which he has written to the Liverpool Echo. These centred on an article in the Liverpool Echo.

In his email to councillors, the mayor admits to “openly criticising Steve”, calling Steve’s comments “truly ignorant”. The mayor’s basic complaint is that Steve had made “an implicit attack on the work of (Liverpool) council” in the Echo, quoting a headline as “unforgiveable and suggests no interest in your election as a councillor”.

When I read this, I was truly flabbergasted.  Firstly, anyone who knows anything about the media knows that journalists write headlines, not interviewees (By the way, the offending headline said, according to the mayor – “I will build homes for the city’s homeless”. The actual headline online was “New homes for rough sleepers pledge from metro-mayor candidate”).  I have carefully read the article in question, and could see nothing to which ANYONE could take exception. In it Steve praised the “excellent” work of the six local authorities. There was NO reference at all to Liverpool specifically.

In fact, what Steve was saying was entirely in line with the national Labour Party policy and campaign set out by parliamentary spokesman, John Healey. It was also entirely consistent with the responsibilities and competences of an incoming metro-mayor, with a remit across all six local authorities in the city-region, not simply Liverpool.

Having misled Liverpool councillors in his email that they were somehow being maligned by Steve, the letter to the Echo takes the mayor’s imagined grievances to a wider audience. He wrongly accuses Steve of “ignorance”, lacking “understanding”, and being plain “wrong”. He goes on to charge Steve with “gesture” politics, prescribing “an overly simple solution”.  All this because Steve echoed national policy whilst praising all of our local authorities for their excellent work!!

I am sorry to say that the mayor’s reaction to a perfectly reasonable interview – in which Liverpool was not even mentioned – is, at best, knee-jerk in nature, rebutting charges which have not been made; and claiming insults neither uttered nor implied. His final slander, suggesting that Steve was a man to “jump on bandwagons that criticise the city’s hard work”, was a fabrication too far.

The only conclusion to be drawn is that the mayor – well known for his vindictiveness and his ego – is still unable to come to terms with the fact that Labour Party members overwhelmingly preferred Steve to him as Labour’s metro-mayoral nominee. The mayor has done his best to date to tie in the future metro-mayor to an agenda constructed within the city-region’s Combined Authority by the mayor and his confederates. It seems as if he now wishes to set Labour councillors and the wider public against the selected Labour candidate in the run-up to the election.

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3 thoughts on “Post-Truth Politics

  1. Peter, can the Labour party do anything about this man? Surely, attacking the Labour party candidate for an upcoming local election is injurious to the party’s interests. Anderson is doing it for the same reason he does everything – because it’s in his own personal interests. He is city mayor and doesn’t want there to be a successful metro-mayor as a rival power base to him. If he’d got the metro-mayor nomination, he’d reportedly planned to get rid of the city mayor and have the council return to a council leader system for exactly the same reason. It’s all about Joe Anderson. But his attacking Rotheram harms the Labour party and also our city. An excuse given for why the government is always planting stuff into Manchester and ignoring Liverpool is because Liverpool in fights whereas they work together. That’s an exaggeration but in this particular case it’s correct. The city mayor is – rather viciously – attacking the metro-mayor candidate openly and in public. Just the excuse the government means to carry on with its planned decline agenda, which has been ongoing in one way or another for decades.

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  2. The houses that are being built are to bring in Council tax. Big houses – big council tax bands. When he stood on the steps of St George’s Hall in 2011 and said he was going to build houses, call me naive if you wish, but I did think he meant homes for people in need. How wrong I was.

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  3. I’m no fan of Anderson but many more modest houses have been built around the city since he has been council leader and then mayor. The council does not build houses itself but it has had a role in facilitating housing schemes around the city. It is the current council’s only significant achievement. As regards the executive-style properties, yes the council wants to encourage these (in the city’s most desirable) areas because they do bring in more council tax but not many of these have been built. The most controversial example of this sort of development, the Sefton Park Meadows has been handled with typical political incompetence by Joe Anderson (abuse of well-meaning opponents wanting to preserve that attractive green space, antagonising people by taking pictures of his grandson on it although, always a hypocrite, he attacks others for bringing his family into political arguments) that the development hasn’t now even started. Anderson always at all times acts to preserve his hide and cling onto his highly remunerated job rather than do the right thing. I expect that once the controversy over Sefton Park Meadows started he held the development back. So he doesn’t even have a courage of his convictions. He’s wrong but if it were the right thing decision to develop Sefton Park Meadows a better politician but have pressed ahead with it.

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