When a Liverpool councillor, Steve Munby, sent an extremely negative email to his Liverpool council colleagues, it spoke volumes about the true state of Labour within the council. His sublime ignorance of the traumatic effect of the 1980s on the collective psyche of the city is perhaps forgivable. After all, he was not around for many of the key events of that decade, having come to Liverpool as an official of the dying Communist Party towards the end of the decade.
What is unforgiveable is the lack of discipline in circulating such an inflammatory email, and an attempt to subvert the campaign of the Labour candidate for metro-mayor, Steve Rotheram. This combination of ignorance, disloyalty and poor judgement by a cabinet member has become a metaphor for the cavalier way in which the city is being run.
This sad diversion was paralleled by a report published by, of all organisations, the Tax Payers Alliance. Remarkably, for a city under the cosh from central government, we have a clique of senior local government officers who are being paid what are, to the average citizen, astronomical salaries.
It appears that when David McElhinney left the failed Liverpool Direct, he trousered nearly £462,000. That cost was ultimately down to the Liverpool council taxpayer. At the same time – the year of 2015/16 – the council’s chief executive, Ged Fitzgerald, took away nearly £236,000. Not to be outdone, five directors were given more than £150,000 that year, followed by another fourteen officers receiving in excess of £100,000. All have since had more increases. Welcome to the trough!
Do you remember the Mayor discounting criticism of his planned bureaucracy for the Combined Authority as “only” £6 million? It might not be much to hizzoner and his familiars, but it is a huge amount to hard pressed, hard working council taxpayers. This disregard across the council for the sensitivities of voters is almost certain to create a backlash at some stage. For there is a real disconnect between headlines claiming massive investments across the city – often involving thoroughly disreputable individuals – and the repeated cries of poverty from the council when it comes to essential public services.
Joe Public – as opposed to Joe Anderson – does not give a toss for vanity projects, or the profits of those speculating in the city. He wants to see real improvements in his everyday life. Every time a new tower block of apartments is promoted, he rightly asks: “Who is going to live in them all?” That is, assuming they are not student flats. Where, he asks, is the social housing for people to rent – those with no hope of a house purchase?
One wonders who, in the cabinet, speaks for the real people of Liverpool? It is a certainty that it is not the likes of Munby, still lost in an obsolete politics dedicated to scoring foul political points, rather than advancing the case for the city’s silent majority. There must, as some point, be a restoration of their interests over those of the parasites currently bleeding the city dry.