Johnson’s plan to send in commissioners for three years to deal with the alleged corruption in the City Council has nothing to do rooting out corruption. The Labour Council antics and, above all, their pro-business and implementation of austerity since 2010 has opened the door. Nothing like this has ever happened to a city the size of Liverpool in the UK since the WII.

By ISL Liverpool Branch

Government commissioners step in

Secretary of State Robert Jenrick said on March 24 in parliament that government intervention is required at the Liverpool city council and will appoint commissioners.

The intervention is based on a scandal that goes back to December 2019, when police officers arrested Nick Kavanagh, regeneration chief at Liverpool Council. Kavanagh was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in a public office. The senior Liverpool authority official was arrested alongside £1bn city developer Elliot Lawless as part of the corruption investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool.

Both men have protested their innocence, and neither has been charged. On March 22, 2021, it was confirmed that Liverpool Council had dismissed Nick Kavanagh.

On December 4, 2020, Joe Anderson, Liverpool’s elected Labour mayor, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation. Four other arrests were made on the same day.

The Labour Party suspended Anderson. He denies all wrongdoing, describing the case against him as “bizarre” and has pledged to clear his name.

On March 23, 2021, it was confirmed that Merseyside Police had withdrawn its application to extend the bail of Joe Anderson.

In the wake of the scandal, Robert Jenrick ordered an emergency inspection of Liverpool Council, and from that, Jenrick ordered commissioners for Liverpool for three years.

Liverpool does not have Tory MPs nor Tory councillors. The hatred against the establishment runs deep here. The city’s last Conservative councillor was elected in 1994. But now they have the Tory government aiming to run the show.

Labour’s compliance with Jenrick

But an equally great scandal in this is that Starmer (Labour leader) and his parliamentary party agreed with Jenrick and voted with the Tories.

Left Foot Forward [1] received a statement from Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He said,

We support the Secretary of State’s intention to appoint commissioners, not to run the Council, but to advise and support elected representatives in strengthening the Council’s systems. This is a measured and sensible approach.

We would never support a Tory takeover. It’s about the government appointing independent people of the highest professional standing to help the Council improve as quickly as possible, and intervening directly only if the Council’s elected leaders fail to implement their own recovery plan.

Reed fails to mention that Jenrick’s plan includes a review of Council assets. Who voted for that? But Johnson proposes, and Starmer agrees. They will reduce the numbers of councillors by 66% with single councillor wards for whole council elections in 2023. Nowhere in England are there single councillor wards.

As compliant as for the last 11 years, Labour councillors and local Labour MPs reiterate Reed’s comments. So, no Labour leaders locally or nationally have anything to say about this offensive against Liverpool.

Only the people of Liverpool can work out how to deal with a Labour council that has mismanaged the city for so long. A first step is that all city accounts must be made public so that the population, not the Tory government, take the steps needed to address the problem.

Part of the Tory Offensive

Recently there have been many demonstrations  (and many arrests) led by Kill the Bill. The bill in question is Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill. But the police are out of trouble. [2]

The proposed legislation, which has been pushed back from becoming law by the protests, also gives police more power to deal with static protests such as sit-ins or occupations – it referenced the Extinction Rebellion protests. The bill states cost £16million to police.

There are also proposals to impose start and finish times on protests and “maximum noise limits”. The bill states police will be able to intervene in a protest where noise impacts those around it. The bill will also make it easier to convict protestors as it reinstates the offence of creating public nuisance into common law.

There are demonstrations mainly of young people every weekend, and there have been many arrests.

Building the resistance

Only the workers, oppressed and people of Liverpool can defeat the Tory invasion because this is an attack on Liverpool’s democracy. The Tory dictate is an attack of national significance. If they can get away with this in Liverpool, they can get away with it anywhere.

The proposed emergency city meeting for March 30 called by Liverpool TUC reached 100 attendee list by Sunday night (24 hours after it was published); it has been extended to allow up to 500 to join.

Liverpool TUC is contacting Merseyside trade union branches, Merseyside BLM Alliance, United We Stand, Liverpool NHS Workers Say No and many others. The March 30 will decide some kind of protest will take place on April 3, Saturday, to be decided on March 30.

All union branches in Liverpool must discuss the situation that Liverpool is threatened with. No compliance with Tory dictate. As their attacks over the next three years would hit not only council workers and residents but hit all workers in struggle.

Say NO to The Tories!

Unite the unions, residents, and social movements!

Unite the resistance against their attacks!

Notes:

[1] – https://leftfootforward.org/2021/03/a-crime-against-democracy-outrage-from-labour-movement-at-news-starmer-will-back-whitehall-control-of-liverpool/

[2] – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/27/boris-johnson-bristol-kill-the-bill-protest-violence-is-disgraceful