Posts Tagged ‘liverpool’

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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Metro mayor candidate Steve Rotheram takes Thatcher’s “one of us” phrase for campaign strapline

25/01/2017, 06:57:14 PM

by Liam Murphy

Walton MP Steve Rotheram formally launched his campaign to become Liverpool city region’s metro mayor this week.

On Monday (January 23) he returned to his home town of Kirkby – one of Merseyside’s least well-off areas where his father had been a councillor and which is still a Labour stronghold – to lay out the policies which he hopes will ensure he is elected next May.

With six Labour controlled councils within the Liverpool city region Steve Rotheram is unquestionably the front-runner come the vote on May 4, but that is only his first hurdle. He will then chair a “cabinet” of local council leaders, controlling the combined authority and will need to secure their support for much of what he wants to do.

At the campaign launch Rotheram, who has been Jeremy Corbyn’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, was accompanied by many local (Labour) MPs and introduced his campaign slogan “One Of Us”.

Some might recall this was the title of the Hugo Young biography of Margaret Thatcher. The title phrase was said to epitomise that 70s/80s era. According to Young, Mrs T would ask “Is he one of us” (it was almost always a “he”) and through that query sought to seek assurance that potential recruits were ideologically sound and of the Thatcherite mindset before they could be accepted into the Iron Lady’s inner circle.

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Labour’s metro mayors will have to be the next best thing to governing

06/08/2016, 10:21:52 PM

As the Labour leadership race gathers pace, another party selection process enters its final week.

Labour members in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and a big chunk of the West Midlands are choosing candidates to fight next May’s first-ever ‘metro mayor’ elections.

These powerful new roles will create a cadre of directly-elected civic leaders, with direct personal mandates, who will take charge of economic development, strategic planning and transport in their areas. The Greater Manchester package also includes the £6 billon health and social care budget for the city-region.

Given the three conurbations are each strongly Labour, the party’s selection process will, in all likelihood, choose who becomes the eventual mayor in each area.

In Merseyside, the contest is a race between Liverpool’s directly-elected city mayor, Joe Anderson, and Liverpool Walton MP (and Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary private secretary) Steve Rotheram. Anderson, a powerhouse local government veteran who is well-regarded in Whitehall, is pitching himself as the candidate with a clear plan and a record of delivery and job creation.

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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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Corbyn at the Adelphi: Vintage 80s nostalgia that would deliver a vintage 80s Labour result

05/08/2015, 07:25:57 PM

by Richard Scorer

Liverpool, Saturday evening: 1100 people cram into the Adelphi ballroom to hear Jeremy Corbyn. My political identification is old Labour right, and I’m probably voting for Liz Kendall, but my Scouse in-laws are Corbyn supporters and invited me along. It was a good opportunity to see what a  Labour party led by Corbyn might look like.

First, the warm up acts, starting with the Liverpool Socialist Singers. The compere jokingly asked if anyone present wanted to sing the national anthem. This having elicited the intended booing, we were all invited to join in singing the Internationale. An interesting choice, I thought. The Internationale, not The Red Flag; at this rally, even traditional English socialism is seen as too tame .  Then we moved on to the speakers. The quality of oratory was high, the content unrepentedly hard left. The leader of the Bakers Union called for a general strike: wild applause. Paula from Unison quoted Blair’s “heart transplant” comment. Her answer to Blair:  “my arse”. It was amusing, and Paula was a powerful speaker.

Then Jeremy himself. He comes across as palpably decent, but with a touch of naivety, just like Tony Benn (who, you’ll remember, got through an entire interview with Ali G without realising that he was a fictional character). His themes were anti-austerity, anti-welfare bill and anti-war.

Austerity was never quite defined. I think in Corbyn’s mind it means any cut in public expenditure, unless it’s cutting spending on something he sees as bad, like defence. Corbyn sort of implied his economic programme has been costed: subject to bit more work by the guys in his policy team, the abolition of tuition fees would be fully paid for by an 0.2% increase in corporation tax. But really, he doesn’t think that costing a programme is necessary, because you can borrow more: “debt is now only 80% of GDP. Under the Attlee government it was 250% of GDP. And they still increased public spending, and so can we”.

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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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Liverpool must back Rodgers and Labour must back Miliband

24/11/2014, 01:10:09 PM

by Jonathan Todd

I’ve supported Liverpool FC since the 1986 FA Cup final, the first match I saw on TV. Because red was the colour for my six year old self. Not because, or so I’ve told myself, Liverpool won. My Dad probably also encouraged me, having debarred me from wearing the Manchester United shirt that my Mum had previously bought for me, and before long we were on the M6 to Anfield from Cumbria.

My parents did less to bring me to politics. They are no more interested than the average voter. I choose the political team in red for myself. I was willing Labour on from a young age. Labour and Liverpool have expended much of my emotional and mental energy.

Now both are in a hole. Some say that Ed Miliband should be sacked. Others that Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, should be. While Labour and Liverpool are struggling to meet expectations, I am not among either of these groups.

When I said at the start of this football season that I’d be pleased with Liverpool being in the Champions League after Christmas and in the competition next season, this was relatively low on ambition by the standards of fans whose expectations had been raised by nearly winning the league. These ambitions today are definitely optimistic.

At the start of last year, when Uncut was looking ahead to how Labour might approach another hung parliament, Labourites felt this lacking ambition. Last week, Conor Pope, the Labour List writer, tweeted the results of a survey of party members and professed amazement that anyone envisages a Labour majority. I have transitioned from being a relative pessimist about Liverpool’s prospects for this season and Labour’s chances at the general election to being a mild optimist.

It’s frustrating that Liverpool’s summer signings have not had the impact of Diego Costa and Cesc Fàbergas at Chelsea but the stumbling form of Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs just about leaves open the possibility of Liverpool finishing in the top four and again qualifying for the Champions League, a competition that they will retain interest in into the second half of this season with wins against teams, FC Basel and Ludo Razgd, that they were widely expected to defeat when the draw was made.

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