Being Heard

Because of concerns expressed within the borough, Knowsley Labour council decided on a review of its stated intention to sell off 10% of its parkland for new house building. I believe this to be practical local democracy. Even in these tough times of austerity where difficult decisions have to be made, it is entirely right to be seen as wholly transparent and fair in all council activities. There was a similar revisiting of a council decision in St Helens when there was a proposal to build on green belt land in Rainhill.

In recent days, there has been widespread publicity about an open meeting in Hoylake, organised by local Labour MP, Margaret Greenwood. The hot issue there is another local council proposal. Apparently, there is an intention by Wirral Council to develop a golfing resort which has aroused local opposition. Again, we see an example of local people calling local politicians to account as part of the accepted democratic process.

Next week, Liverpool Council, in the person of the mayor, will face a backlash concerning its fitness to manage St George’s Plateau in an appropriate manner. This stems from the failed Hope and Glory concert fiasco. Yet again, it is the right of citizens to express their views on any administration, regardless of its political persuasion. Administrations come and go; the people remain.

What is different about Liverpool’s predicament is that its fitness is being questioned by the members of the Wavertree Constituency Labour Party. This is very telling, especially given reports from the meeting where the decision to challenge the council took place. Even more revealing was the administration’s reaction to the Wavertree members’ decision – a reaction which took the form of an email to members of Wavertree CLP from Mayor Anderson.

Whoever has the privilege of running a council, must be prepared to face “the slings and arrows” of elected office as readily as they usually accept praise and weasel words for their efforts. Whatever their brand of politics, all citizens have a right to their views and to be heard – including Labour Party members in Labour redoubts like here in the Liverpool city-region.

On the occasion of the particular meeting of Wavertree CLP, the local councillors were vociferous in their opposition to the decision of their own party rank-and-file. Unfortunately for them, they were way out of touch with local Labour opinion. This of itself should sound a warning to local councillors who appear oblivious to the growing dissatisfaction of a wider public with the way in which the city is being mismanaged. The Hope and Glory debacle is only one example of this.

Needless to say, the mayor has waded in, in his usual “bull at a gate” style.  As he said in his missive to members “this is simply embarrassing”.  It is, Mr Mayor, it is.  He is an embarrassment to so many Labour Party members as he smears them, suggesting that those who are tired of the administration’s mismanagement are “entrists of long standing”.  He implies that these same people are against the Labour Party when all they are doing is making their views understood by an administration which denies them either transparency or accountability.

“I still have to call for unity”, wrote the man who insisted that he would not work with metromayor, Steve Rotheram; who also ranted that he would not have anything to do with Walton MP, Dan Carden; who took his ball home when he was not elected chair of the Combined Authority. By unity, he means doing as his whims dictate. Does he not realise that the Labour Party rank-and-file have memories, too?

It was simply insulting for him to tarnish those Labour members who oppose him as troublemakers – those who, he claims, “blindly attack this council (which is) to attack our values as a Labour Party”. Thus, in his arrogance, the mayor – for he effectively is the council – claims that he embodies Labour values! For me, nothing could be further from the truth.  For so many Labour members, he is the antithesis of Labour values, as his style and methods repeatedly illustrate.

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