Posts Tagged ‘Joe Anderson’

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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Merseyside row overshadows Combined Authority launch

03/04/2014, 04:10:25 PM

Word reaches us of a serious family squabble on Merseyside.

This issue of contention is over who should chair Merseyside’s new Combined Authority -designed to pool responsibility among local councils over transport, economic development and regeneration and receive new powers from Whitehall.

Liverpool is clear it should be Mayor Joe Anderson. Most of the other councils disagree, citing the example of Greater Manchester, where Wigan’s council leader rather than Manchester’s chairs the body, avoiding the impression of Mancunian dominance.

Matters came to a head on Monday at a meeting of the six Merseyside leaders representing Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, Wirral, Halton and St Helens. With rumours that Anderson and Sefton’s leader, Peter Dowd, were boycotting the meeting in protest at the job not going to Anderson, a vote was taken by the remaining leaders and Wirral Council Leader Phil Davies was duly appointed.

Anderson and Dowd then turned up after the vote had been taken. The mood, say insiders, was sub-Arctic.

There are two structural problems being played out here. First, there has long been a debate about what exactly constitutes ‘Merseyside’. Scousers argue that it’s really nothing more than Liverpool plus satellite areas and therefore it makes sense to play their strongest card.

(more…)

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NICs currently penalise 3.4m of the lowest paid workers. This must change.

27/01/2014, 12:51:14 PM

by Joe Anderson

The rise in zero-hour contracts since 2010 is well-documented. The ONS estimates that the percent of people in employment on zero hour contracts has increased from 0.57% in 2010 to 0.84% in 2012. Ed Miliband is therefore right to call for a ban on their exploitative use. What, however, has not been often discussed is how the National Insurance system inflicts extra hardship onto workers on zero-hour and many other flexible contracts.

Unlike income tax, class 1 National Insurance contributions (NICs) are calculated on a weekly—rather than annual—basis. Whilst this may seem like a subtle difference, it has profound effects for those whose earnings vary significantly on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis, such as those on zero-hour contracts.

The class 1 NIC primary threshold in 2013/14 is £149, meaning employees earning over £149 in a given week are liable to make NICs. Yet, a significant number of people earning less than £7,775 per year (the annualised equivalent of the weekly primary threshold) will still be compelled to pay NICs. The reason for this is because if they earn more than £149 in any week (or £646 in any month, if paid monthly), they will be required to pay NIC, regardless of their annual income.

To illustrate the perverse effects of this anomaly, consider our conjectural protagonists, Jack and Jill.

(more…)

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Labour should properly embrace elected mayors, says Andy Westwood

11/10/2010, 09:00:52 AM

Back in 1997 Labour’s big idea for local government was the election of city mayors. But it appeared and then disappeared in an instant. After creating the office of mayor of London (and then a few others in places like Middlesborough, Newham and Hartlepool), Labour enthusiasm quickly waned as an independent Ken Livingstone fought and won it. After a second term as the Labour candidate, he lost it again. But Ken has been rehabilitated once more and has been selected to fight again in 2012. Does his return suggest that we should take a moment to rethink our rather lukewarm attitude to mayors in England’s other larger cities? Mayoral elections are now in the pipeline with the government committed to introducing the offices in England’s twelve largest cities.

But we should pause and take a breath. This is far from a popular idea – among many in the Labour party and perhaps even more so in the wider electorate. Some readers will already be writing their comments – and they won’t be positive. Most local councillors in cities across England are not keen. National politicians have been happy to drop the idea given the degree of opposition from some town halls. Even Eric Pickles has been lobbied by Tory and coalition councils to back off. And perhaps they all have a point. After all, we’ve started to win back many of the city councils that we lost during our time in government. But we really should think about it more deeply – not least because we will need to fight any mayoral elections every bit as hard as we plan to do to in London. (more…)

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