Posts Tagged ‘Joe Anderson’

Firefighters are our unsung heroes. We need to stand with them against cuts

09/09/2018, 11:30:40 PM

by Joe Anderson 

Twice in the past year, the people of Liverpool have found themselves grateful for the professionalism and bravery of our Fire and Rescue Service.

As nine crews battled through last Sunday night to save the iconic Littlewoods Building from a savage blaze, my mind went back to the devastating fire at our exhibition centre car park fire on New Year’s Eve. Both these events underline the importance of having enough firefighters nearby when needed.

However, just like local authorities, the fire and rescue service has undergone savage cuts over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2015, budgets were slashed by 30 per cent. During this parliament, they will be cut by an additional 20 per cent.

As a group of workers, there are few higher in the affections of the British people. But this has not stopped successive Conservative ministers from making arbitrary and ill thought out reductions to the fire service’s budget.

The cold wind of austerity has blown in the faces of even these brave public servants. As a result, 11,000 frontline firefighter jobs have gone since 2010 – one in six. Stations, appliances and equipment have also been cut.

I cannot think of a clearer case when it comes to the sheer folly of austerity. Not least because the increasing demands on the service sees our firefighters provide a range of emergency responses to floods, road traffic collisions, chemical spillages, industrial disasters and terrorist attacks as well as fires.

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Labour should back a ‘cooling off’ referendum on Europe. After all we did it before

12/06/2018, 04:55:26 PM

by Joe Anderson

Armaggeddon.’ There’s not much ambiguity about the word.

That’s the Whitehall assessment if there is no exit deal or transitional arrangements as we enter the Brexit endgame.

Even on civil servants’ less cataclysmic judgment, there is a chance that the Port of Dover collapses on the first day we leave the European Union. Food shortages follow.

Is this what Brexiteers mean by ‘taking back control?’

Their starry rhetoric and inflated claims are dissolving day by day.

The boast that the US is poised to sign an early trade deal with us – always a wide-eyed assumption – has been utterly shattered by Donald Trump’s trade war – which now puts 30,000 British steel workers’ jobs at risk.

Now all the talk is that the Government’s White Paper setting out its final negotiating position will be delayed until after the European Council meeting at the end of the month.

Will the Prime Minister be applying for an essay extension?

The impacts of Theresa May’s rickety negotiation position will echo for a generation to come.

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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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