Another election, another opportunity missed. Elections are at the heart of democracy giving the people the chance to decide how they are governed. If there is election, there is democracy, right? Wrong.
Liverpool is the perfect example of the political perfect crime. The illusion of choice, makes the people think they made an impact. The metro mayor election on Thursday gave the Liverpool City Region an opportunity to choose a metro mayor. A position that hasn’t been fully explained other than to say “it gives a voice for the region.” Obviously all the councillors, MPs, mayors and Lord Mayors don’t have enough to say so we need another in the mix.
Less than 30% of the electorate turned out on Thursday. Maybe because people don’t care, maybe because people didn’t really understand about it.
There was never any doubt that Steve Rotheram would win. Not for his political prowess, not for his desire to make a change, not because he wants to unravel the corruption that has tied Liverpool in knots. No, because he is untouchable.
Don’t get me wrong, he pushed for justice in support of the Hillsborough campaign and he achieved what he set out to. He deserves the utmost praise for that. But does that automatically qualify him for the role. He’s been politically untouchable. He was always going to win.
The unfortunate thing is he is a part of the Labour Party. The party that has milked Liverpool dry, and particularly in recent times not delivered anything in return.
We have councillors who are cabinet leads on initiatives in sectors where they have their own business. We have a team who defines what culture is. We have a council that competes with local business rather than supports it. The council is too big and the root cause is in the corruption of the leaders.
Selling properties to friends. Blocking international investment. Having zero ambition to develop the city. Living off the risks taken by private organisations and claiming as their own success.
Liverpool One was a fantastic initiative by the council. They completed sorted the city centre out and created much needed retail, leisure and domestic space. Oh no sorry, my mistake, that was Grosvenor. But they made the deals and set everything up didn’t they? Or was that the previous Lib Dem administration. I have no political party bias, I like people who get things done, and Labour do not get things done.
Steve Rotheram wanted to give the city region a voice in Parliament by taking on the metro mayor role. Now Joe Anderson wants to give the region a voice by stepping down from his city mayor role and taking Steve’s old job as an MP. Bit strange that. Joe being in a rush to leave.
Maybe the Labour Party want to avoid the awkwardness if the darling of Liverpool, our Steve gets asked to look into the corruption of Joe. Steve can’t investigate his old mate, so let’s work this out and avoid this whole situation.
Joe is no Verbal Kint. He won’t limp down the Cunard steps then turn into a powerful stroll as he jumps into his chauffeur driven car. Actually he will do all of that except without the limp. He’s bold as brass, he’s untouchable, as least Dick Turpin wore a mask!
But it’s not just Joe. The council is rotten to the core. The soft property deals, the “£2.5million” spent on St Johns Market, all these things are too big for one person to entirely manage. The senior levels of the council must be complicit. How can this be addressed? By changing it from the top, changing the organisation that governs it. Changing the motivation. It needs to be taken down from the inside and exposed for what it is. Unfortunately Liverpool just threw away it’s best opportunity.
As of Monday normal service will resume. Joe will start preparing his personal items and wait for the chauffeur. One of his trusted cronies will fill the position for the rest of the tenure that he was meant to fill and the wheels will keep on turning.
French novelist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr once wrote “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
Liverpool has just proved this to be true this week. People thought they were making a change but all that has happened is to cement the status quo.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.