18 July 2013

Good, Bad and Ugly Council Meeting in Liverpool

This is a guest post from Cllr John Coyne, Green Group leader on Liverpool City Council, reporting back on yesterday's council meeting.

Firstly I'll start with the good. Liverpool Labour took three months to complete a U-turn on a decision they got wrong in April of this year, when they voted down our attempt to establish a no-eviction policy and to call for any future government to repeal the bedroom tax legislation. Both of the Liverpool Labour councillors (you know who you are) who spent a great deal of time berating us for "grandstanding" at the time, backed yesterday's motion from the Mayor and our final amendment to it. This is a good thing. Liverpool City Council's position lines up firmly against bedroom tax, and quite rightly, pressure will now build on the Labour Party nationally to move towards a commitment to scrap it. Why Labour in Liverpool took three months to come round to this position, I simply don't know, but they are here now.

Secondly, the bad part. We proposed our supermarket levy for investigation (a very mild proposition), summarised by this line in the motion:

"Council requests the Cabinet member for Finance and Resources to investigate the introduction of a similar [already running in Northern Ireland] scheme for Liverpool."

This was amended to something completely bland, Liverpool Labour's preferred method of voting against sensible motions. To not even investigate this possibility is very bad and it's a slap in the face to the independent shops that are struggling. The one positive is that we've seen them U-turn on the bedroom tax motion and we think they could U-turn on this. The biggest stumbling block to any Green motion being accepted seems to be the Mayor, who simply must be at the centre, in control of and take credit for any progressive policy in the city. While this remains the case, good policy will continue to be delayed.

Finally, the ugly, and there are two elements to this. Liverpool Labour have given their backing to Ed Balls' plans to freeze Labour's spending within the Tory coalition "spending envelope" in 2015/16. What this means is that the first year of any new Labour government will be barely any different from five years of coalition government. I think Labour has got this profoundly wrong.

The second ugly part of council is the incredibly hostile reception that Jake Morrison received from some of his former colleagues. This does the local Labour party no credit, but does make those who might not be entirely happy on the Labour side, think twice about ever leaving. That's one way of ensuring party discipline.

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