27 August 2013

Andrew Makinson Comeback and a Liverpool Politics Overview

It looks like Andrew Makinson, formerly a Lib Dem councillor in Picton, will be their candidate in Church in the 2014 local elections. He will be hoping to retain the council seat held by sitting councillor Tom Morrison. I draw that conclusion as he is the editor of the latest Focus that has been circulating in the ward. He has the benefit of previous experience as a councillor and he is a resident in the ward (I used to live on the same street as he does).

You might be wondering why this warrants a blog post, but it encapsulates a much wider issue here in Liverpool. In 2010 before the local elections, the Liberal Democrats controlled the council and held 46 out of 90 seats. They are now down to just 9. After the next local elections they could be down to just 3. Since the advent of the coalition in 2010, only the Kemps in Church have been re-elected until 2015 and 2016 respectively in Church and in 2011 Barbara Mace narrowly held onto her seat in Woolton. While the Lib Dems might talk up their prospects in Wavertree (arguing that the Warren Bradley independent candidature and Jake Morrison independent candidate for Wavertree factors might somehow help them), Woolton, Church and Cressington are really the only seats they could hold in the next local elections. A best case scenario then for the Liverpool Lib Dems is 6 seats in 2014. A worst case is dropping down to just 3 seats.

In 2014 Labour will obviously have to campaign in Childwall to win the final seat there, but it won't be tough. With the Sefton Park Meadows issue, the Lib Dems may hope to somehow hold Mossley Hill, although we are more active there than ever before. Greenbank is one of our two target seats, we finished 2nd there last time with the Lib Dems finishing behind Lawrence Brown in 2012. The political effects of the Save Sefton Park Meadows campaign are still being felt, we aim to get our first seat outside St Michaels. In St Michaels, the independent Sharon Green is up for re-election, but that makes no difference to the fact that it is a Green v Labour contest there. The only other ward in the city with no Labour councillors is Tuebrook and Stoneycroft. Unless Chris Lenton was to decide to defect to the Labour Party, I think we can assume that the Liberal Party will continue to hold 3 seats in the city until Steve Radford retires, which is a testament to his excellence as a ward councillor.

Labour will want to win everything possible. What is different from 2011 and 2012 is the number of seats they need to target. There are just four or five wards where there will be a serious contest. That means every Labour resource will be targeted into these seats. It will make it very tough for the Lib Dems to hold the three seats above. It also makes it tough for us to make gains but as in other Euro Election years, we actually experience a "Euro boost" in our local campaigns which we missed out on in 2009 as it was a non-election year in Liverpool.

So what do I think will happen in 2014? Labour will gain seats. I think they will hold 79 out of 90 seats in the city after the 2014 election. The Lib Dems will be reduced to just 3 or 4 seats. We will hold 3 or 4 and Steve Radford's Liberal Party will hold 3 as well. That will potentially leave Jake Morrison as the opposition kingmaker in the year of his electoral challenge to Luciana Berger in Wavertree. It makes for interesting political times in Liverpool but it also illustrates the severe limitations of First Past the Post as a genuinely democratic system. Combined with the Mayor's powers, it leaves democracy in a poor state in our city.

We have our Liverpool Green Party AGM tonight. There is a lot to discuss and a lot of work to do (as always), but we are ready for the 38 weeks until election day.

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