Are things getting worse by the day, or is it just me who sees Liverpool’s situation as “critical”? The craziness of the city council (more later) seems to be set to infect other local institutions in ways which, in turn, reflect fundamental change in a culture supposedly based on fairness and good old common sense. I refer in this instance to the decision of Liverpool University senate to change the name of one of its halls of residence.
I refer to the Gladstone Halls. William Ewart Gladstone was a Liverpool man who became Prime Minister. His family had made its wealth using slaves on their West Indian plantation. As prime minister, he made many remarkable changes for his day – the Victorian era – but nearly 150 years later, he is apparently condemned for being a man of his time. A politically correct university senate has now decided he must pay the posthumous price of his audacity for being the scion of a slave-owning family, despite the fact that he condemned slavery in his maiden speech in Parliament. Ah well, when did reason ever enter into such matters?
Meanwhile, Liverpool Labour goes from bad to worse. Firstly, we have a frustrated mayoral aspirant – Cllr O’Byrne – claiming that the “figures” she had, pointed to her victory had she been allowed to stand. We can all but dream, councillor. On the other hand, affronted Cllr Rothery took the Labour Party to the “capitalist courts”, demanding a review of Labour’s legitimate, if extraordinary, decision to disbar its initial shortlist. She was left with egg on her face as her case was thrown out, and a bill of £65,000 for Labour’s costs, which will be met by Unite, the union.
That leaves us with the two hopefuls for the position as Labour’s candidate in May’s mayoral election. I received today my first communication (no imprint, of course) from one of them, Cllr Lavelle. This ambitious young man believes that his experience as a play scheme worker and as a clerical assistant in Peter Dowd’s office, qualifies him to run a city as complex as Liverpool. His leaflet describes him as a “team builder”. One wonders at that, given the story of a fellow student of his who complained formally to both his student union and his university about his abusive and bullying behaviour. According to this young lady, Cllr Lavelle did not simply make an odd comment in the rashness of youth. He systematically made her life a misery for the whole of her time at university, targeting her disability for horribly vindictive behaviour.
On the other hand, we have Cllr Anderson, thankfully no relation to Mayor Anderson. Like Cllr Rothery, Cllr Anderson is a councillor in Princes Park ward, although the word is that the two did not get on at all. One wonders why she suddenly threw her hat into the ring from a position of political obscurity, given that she had already remarked that she would not stand again for the council at the end of her first term of office as a councillor.
Even stranger is her bankruptcy record – not once, but twice. You might recall that Mayor Anderson went bust in the only commercial venture he ever undertook – running the Munro pub in Duke Street. We have all seen how his brand of entrepreneurial activity has turned out. Do we want a repeat? The city itself teeters in danger of bankruptcy, and we would hope for a new mayor to turn this difficult situation around, in partnership with the chief executive.
There are increasing numbers of people who are recognising that the city’s needs and those of the political parties are not the same thing. It is why I believe that Stephen Yip – the only independent mayoral candidate of which I am aware – increases in credibility as a mayoral candidate by the day. The question for him is how he organises his bid for office, and how successful he will be in keeping the chancers and sycophants at a distance from his campaign. He could hole his campaign below the waterline if he is not careful, by the inadvertent involvement of the myriad of ne’er-do-wells ever eager to side with a political winner.