Posts Tagged ‘Joe Anderson’

We need a Budget for jobs, housing and stability

22/11/2017, 07:00:00 AM

by Joe Anderson

This is the eighth winter of Tory austerity and it must be the last.

The legacy of a decade’s worth of Tory public service cuts and rampant economic inequality is right there on our high streets for all to see.

Food banks, credit unions and pawn shops.

The poor have been abandoned in the clamour to clear up the mess left behind by the bankers and George Osborne’s ideological obsession with cuts.

His successor, Philip Hammond, didn’t even know the unemployment figures when he was asked on television on Sunday morning.

All of us dealing with the fallout of his disastrous austerity policies know only too well that we have 1.4 million people unemployed and as many again working in the ‘gig economy’ of insecure, part-time and short-term work.

Against such a backdrop, it’s no wonder that young people cannot get a foothold on the housing ladder.

Councils like mine are doing everything possible as a council to work with housing associations and developers to build homes that are so desperately needed, but we are doing so in the face of sheer indifference from ministers about the scale of the crisis.

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Gauke is tone deaf to the plight of UC claimants. He should resign

19/10/2017, 05:09:40 PM

by Joe Anderson

David Gauke had the opportunity to show that he recognised the problems with the roll-out of Universal Credit, specifically the appalling wait of six weeks – or often longer – than claimants face for payments.

But he fluffed it.

The Secretary of State’s ‘concession’ over the 55p a minute helpline at the DWP committee is small beer in the grand scheme of things. Frankly, the line should have always been free to use.

After all, the phone lines of the CAB, debt advice charities and the Samaritans will be ringing off the hook if this policy now proceeds unchecked.

Only millionaire ministers and salaried civil servants could be so tone deaf to the situation that poor and vulnerable people find themselves in, robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is no exaggeration to say that Christmas will be a misery for millions of families as a result of the botched implementation of Universal Credit.

Meanwhile Neil Couling, the DWP’s senior official dealing with the roll-out, added insult to injury when he told the DWP Committee that he wanted to make the appointments booking process for those struggling with their benefits akin to ‘when we book a holiday and reserve our seat’.

What part of this don’t they understand?

Leaving families and vulnerable people without money for weeks on end – all because Tory ministers regard them as the ‘undeserving poor’ – will lead to misery, debt and eviction in all too many cases.

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Labour’s internal democracy is rotten

19/05/2017, 02:28:56 PM

by Kevin Meagher 

You need to cast your mind back quite a bit to remember Liz Davies and the injustice she received at the hands of the Labour party.

She was, all too briefly, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Leeds North East ahead of the 1997 general election. A councillor in Islington, Davies had been properly selected by members for the marginal seat that, in due course, was to fall to Labour.

However, she was accused of disrupting meetings of Islington Council by three other Labour councillors. Their highly-disputed version of events was swallowed wholesale by the National Executive Committee and her candidacy was cancelled.

Handily, she was also barrister and later sued her accusers, who included James Purnell, an adviser to Tony Blair at the time and later and MP himself and Cabinet Minister.

The matter was settled out of court, with the three accused forced to make a donation to the election funds of local Labour MPs (benefitting Jeremy Corbyn).

Why this trip down memory lane?

I was reminded of this injustice after last week’s imposition of Dan Carden, an aide to Unite’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey, as the Labour candidate for Liverpool Walton – the safest Labour seat in the country – vacated by Steve Rotheram, the newly-elected metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region.

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Corbynites accused of trying to parachute loyalists into seats

24/04/2017, 03:52:02 PM

Speculation swirls that allies of Jeremy Corbyn are set to be parachuted into seats where the Labour MP is stepping down, bolstering support for the Corbynites in the event of a post-election leadership challenge.

Candidates for Labour’s vacant seats were asked to submit CVs by lunchtime yesterday and given the election campaign is already underway, the National Executive Committee can impose candidates.

Sitting Labour MPs are automatically reselected, presenting the temptation to parachute leadership-friendly candidates into seats Labour has a good chance of holding.

The Greater Manchester seat of Leigh, where Andy Burnham is stepping down to concentrate of the forthcoming metro mayoral battle, is a plum berth for someone, inheriting a 14,096 majority.

However Burnham has fired a warning shot to the leadership with an open letter, backing his constituency secretary, Joanne Platt, as his successor. The letter reads:

‘I am in no doubt that Leigh needs a Labour candidate with strong local credentials and that the best person to succeed me is Councillor Joanne Platt.

‘Jo is well-known and well-liked across the Leigh area. She is an excellent campaigner and has been the driving force behind the reinvigoration of Leigh Labour Party in recent years.’

Burnham warns:

‘Were the Party to opt for a candidate with no local ties, I have to make clear that this would not be supported by the vast majority of our members and would go down very badly with the Leigh public. This would run the risk of losing significant support at the Election and it is why it is my strong advice that this course should not be followed.’

There is a similar situation in Liverpool Walton, where Steve Rotheram is standing down to contest the Liverpool mayoral role. The seat – Labour’s safest with an impregnable 27,777 majority on 72 per cent of the vote – is certainly a prize.

Last week, Liverpool’s elected city mayor, Joe Anderson, announced that he was going for Walton, with rumours (now dampened down) that Jeremy Corbyn’s son, 25 year-old Seb, an aide to John McDonnell, was also set to stand.

As the NEC and regional boards begin the process of earmarking candidates for seats this week, they will need to tread softly in case they trigger a local backlash at any imposition of candidates.

Meanwhile, the left needs to be cautious having (rightly) complained about Blairite fixing in the past.  It would be a case of ‘two legs good, four legs bad’ if Corbynites now do the same thing.

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If we jump off the ledge on Thursday, we will fall hard

21/06/2016, 11:23:51 AM

by Joe Anderson

In 48 hours’ time we will take the biggest decision about our country’s future since we declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939.

Forget 1975. Back then the choice of staying in the (then) European Economic Community was a no-brainer, given we had barely been a member for three years.

This referendum on whether we stay in the EU or not is much more important and the impacts will be felt much more broadly.

We’re not declaring war on a country, but we are in danger of declaring war on the future.

If we decide to leave the European Union after 41 years as a key member, then we need to be prepared for what comes next.

It’s a grim future of neo-liberal economics, where we are buffeted about by global powers far larger and more powerful than us.

For Labour people, it means something else too. It will mean that the right wing of the Tory party has succeeded at last in its bid to get us out of Europe.

Margaret Thatcher will be jumping for joy from the afterlife at the prospect of Brexit.

Rights that have been hard-won will be easily lost. Social and environmental directives will be repealed, leaving workers, consumers and the environment at the hands of unbridled market forces.

Does anyone really think a Tory government will lift a finger to protect the working time directive when the deadbeat employers who want to sweat their workforces get into Number Ten and lobby Prime Minister Boris?

Of course they won’t.

What they call red tape, we call basic rights.

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We’re happy to dig tunnels in London, but not to properly connect our northern cities

25/02/2016, 09:54:56 AM

by Joe Anderson

On Tuesday, while her Majesty the Queen was officially naming the new Crossrail line, I was in Parliament, speaking at the launch of a major new report making the case for Liverpool’s key rail infrastructure.

A report I commissioned by the think tank ResPublica, Ticket to Ride: How high speed rail for Liverpool can realise the Northern Powerhouse, makes the case for extending the proposed HS2 line into Liverpool City Centre. Most people I speak to are amazed to learn that it isn’t already scheduled to.

But it isn’t (it stops at Crewe). Ministers, worried about the allegation of profligacy surrounding HS2 have tried to rein-in project costs, meaning that sensible, evidence-based proposals to extend the line to Liverpool, or to run it into the centre of Sheffield, have been ruled out by the timorous souls at HS2 Limited.

The contrast with Crossrail is instructive. Here we have a tale of two projects. On the one hand, the £14 billion invested in Crossrail has attracted few hostile headlines in our London-based national newspapers. (The same people, no doubt, who will make use of the line?)

Yet the case for HS2 – the single most important infrastructure project in the country – and a vital new economic artery for our Northern conurbations – has to be fought and refought with irritating frequency from ill-informed naysayers.

So much so, that we are left making what I believe is a compelling and vital case even at the eleventh hour, just months before work on the line is due to commence.

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Give me the power to ban hate march

15/08/2015, 08:00:24 AM

by Joe Anderson

As a lifelong trade unionist and anti-fascist, the right to protest is one that I hold dear. Even when those marching are doing so in a cause with which I don’t agree, I respect the principle of free speech and peaceful protest.

But like all freedoms, there are limits and I have just reached mine. Today, a so-called “White Man March” will come to the streets of Liverpool. It is being led by a rag-bag assortment of neo-Nazis spouting the usual, age-old drivel.

The group organising the march, National Action, sent a charming letter to my home claiming that if any attempt is made to impede their “chaos and mayhem” then Liverpool “will go up in flames”. It warns me that “we may even pay you a visit if things are played against us”, signing off with: “Only bullets will stop us!”

Its website claims the group holds “a monopoly on truth” and that its members are not afraid “to swing the bat at the enemy”. Of course it’s the usual Hitler-loving, race-hating garbage, but it’s no less shocking for that. Their views are so extreme and utterly noxious that they make the BNP look like Amnesty International.

The challenge for our society is to always stand firm in a spirit of solidarity against the hate-filled few whose sole interest is division and violence.

More practically, I have written to Home Secretary, Theresa May, asking that she urgently reviews the arrangements that currently stop city leaders like me from simply banning such groups from our streets. Currently, I need to appeal to her for the necessary permission. This is cumbersome and bureaucratic and often too slow.

I have asked her to consider using the current Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill to grant powers to city leaders like me to ban marches that are clearly harmful to the public good. Instead of councils and the police making appeals to the Home Office, why not make organisations like National Action appeal our locally-made decision?

This seems to fit with the current spirit of localism and allows the authorities to respond to the wishes of local people who are as sickened at the prospect of such blatant racist extremists on our streets as I am.

The time has come to stand up and change the rules to create a better balance between rights to freedom of speech and the right for people not to be abused and intimidated in their own city.  Our country has a long and progressive tradition as a place where protest and radical ideas enrich the fabric of our discussions and new ideas and opinions must always be heard.

But if the sole aim of such groups is to spread fear and intimidation then we should act and the government should give people like me the powers to do so.

Joe Anderson is Labour Mayor of Liverpool

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Members must be able to sack the leader before the next election if they turn out to be Ed mk 2

18/05/2015, 09:54:48 AM

by Joe Anderson

Two years ago, I was summoned to see Ed Miliband. He wanted to talk about my continuous public challenge for the Labour party to unequivocally promise to scrap the hated bedroom tax.

His answer left me speechless. He told me, “Joe, It is what we do in government that matters”.

I told him straight how wrong he was: “That it was “hope” people needed, if nothing else, a belief that Labour was the party that would speak out for all. Only by being bold would we ever get to be in government again.”

I also gave him some unsolicited advice:  ”Get out of the Westminster village, stop spending days preparing for PMQs , get out and see real people in real communities, visit the food banks, and visit the cities being  hardest hit by the cuts.”  And I again left him with a challenge:  “Make the news, don’t respond to it.”

The plea fell on deaf ears.

Soon after that meeting the same people who had led us to defeat in 2010 developed their 35% strategy.  Those same advisers and spin masters were making the same mistakes again based on the false assumption the Tories would win the election for us, all we had to do was sit back and wait.

The people who didn’t want  to talk about the bedroom tax or cuts to local services were the same ones who decided to give us the EdStone.

I had a similar meeting with Ed Balls months before the general election.  His attitude and approach was worse and I hold him responsible for much of the problem we faced. His “dead hand” hung over all our policy in relation to public sector spending. His approach of, “say nothing, offer little and wait to win” showed how arrogant and out of touch the leadership had become.

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Let’s face it – Thursday night was painful

11/05/2015, 08:28:06 AM

by Joe Anderson

In the last few weeks we have seen some of the strengths of our movement.  Hundreds of activists in every seat across the country – full of the energy and passion of our people fighting for our values.

But their efforts unfortunately weren’t enough to convince the electorate to overlook our weaknesses over the last few years; confused communications and policies which never offered hope against the onslaught of Tory cuts.  Our people and the institutions they depend on were suffering and we weren’t sure whether a Labour Government would save us.

We need to work out what the next five years will mean for us. And we should get it right.  This new Tory government will challenge us on a number of fronts. Our narrative on devolution (local and national), benefits and welfare, the need for economic growth which gives people security and countless other policy areas has all been tested.  It doesn’t seem like it now, but we will look back on some of these and be proven right. On others we are clearly out of step with the country.

We need to take our time and ask the right questions.  Do we really understand how the country (all four of them) feels about what Labour has to offer?  Are we offering the right things to both cities and rural areas?  Do we really understand how the wider city regions and counties feel about what we want to offer?

Scotland is a case in point. The SNP haven’t locked us out of government – we lost the keys years ago when the mistakes were made. And despite fumbling around in the dark, we still haven’t found them again.

We have to face the reality that we have a lot of thinking to do.  And we must do it together as one party.

Anyone who blames “new labour” or “compass” or any other grouping, is damaging the party.

We need to come together and forge a new cohesive force for the country, before deciding which person we invite to lead us.  We need voices from every part of the country to be included, not just those from the Westminster Bubble. We need to work out a policy direction which will give hope to every single part of our country.  And we need to take our time doing it.

We have five years.  Let’s get it right.

Joe Anderson is mayor of Liverpool

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Give our cities the tools to do the job and we will

20/02/2015, 05:00:45 PM

by Joe Anderson

The signing of Magna Carta 800 years ago was a demand from the provinces for checks and balances on the power of the centre. Then, it was about curtailing the rights of kings. Today, the focus is on limiting the power of central government.

Last week, leaders from our largest Core Cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – joined together to call for an irreversible transfer of control over tax and spending decisions. Power, in other words, devolved from Whitehall to the town hall – freeing-up locally elected and accountable councillors to shape the destinies of the places they represent.

The call coincides with a major new report from the think tank ResPublica: Restoring Britain’s City States: Devolution, Public Service Reform and Local Economic Growth’, which makes the case for cities being given new tax-raising powers, gaining greater control over business rates and even retaining a slice of income tax locally.

The report suggests a pilot project to allow a city-region to pioneer these ideas, becoming the first to be able to vary income and corporate tax rates and see if this helps with the task of rebalancing the UK economy.

Radical stuff, but long overdue. Too often in the past, governments have flunked the opportunity to devolve real power, leaving London to blossom, but manacling the capital with the weight of carrying the national economy as well. This is crazy.

We only need to see the state of London’s housing market to see how unbalanced our economy has now become – and how much potential across the rest of the country we are wasting as a result.

Although the Core Cities already deliver a quarter of the combined economic output of England, Wales and Scotland, much more can be done if we are given the tools to do the job. Remove the dead hand of Whitehall and let cities play to their strengths.

The outcome of the Scottish referendum on independence and the renewed focus on devolving extra powers means that the traditional foot-dragging about doing the same within England cannot be ignored any longer. The status quo is undemocratic and concentrates wealth, power and opportunity in the South.

Let the Core Cities now show what we can do.

Joe Anderson is Mayor of Liverpool

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