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Gary Millar, the wandrin' 'star'

Larry Neild on the Lib-Dem big shot who is the latest to leave for Labour

Published on April 26th 2011.


Gary Millar, the wandrin' 'star'

GARY Millar, Lib Dem "star" and the businessman  behind  Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios,  has defected to Labour.

It comes as a bitter blow for the embattled Liverpool Lib Dems following Warren Bradley's resignation as leader last week and his subsequent suspension from the party.

Millar says on the Local Government Association website his priority for 2011 is to hold the city council administration (that’s Labour) to account. Well if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, hey Gary?

All this with just over a week to go before people go to the polls to vote  for the 30 town hall seats up for grabs. A sideshow is the national referendum on whether we should vote for the AV system of voting.

IMG_0055.jpgThese latest developments beg the question … are the Lib Dems in Liverpool close to joining the Conservatives as an extinct force in local politics?

Millar’s great escape over the political barbed wire into what was, until now, enemy territory, speaks volumes about the crisis in the Lib Dem group, now headed by veteran Flo Clucas.

The as-yet-unanswered question is this: Why have the voters of Liverpool turned their backs on a party that promised to deliver change in Liverpool - and fulfilled those promises?

Few can doubt the dramatic change in the fortunes, and image of Liverpool, in the first decade of the 21st century.

Liverpool One, Europe’s biggest retail development, has propelled the city into one of the north's top shopping destinations, the arena and conference centre has brought acts and organisations to the city who not so long ago wouldn’t have given it a second look.  European Capital of Culture is recognised by some as the best ever, Liverpool joining the likes of the Great Wall of China and Egypt’s Pyramids as a World Heritage Site.

On paper, the Lib Dems, if applying for a job, would walk it.

All of those things happened on the watches of Mike Storey and his protégé Bradley. Yet over the past few years their support and popularity has plummeted.

At one time, the Lib Dems held 70 of the then 99 council chamber seats, creating a formidable mountain to climb for the down-but-not-out Labour rump.

It seems Labour saw the light, rallied around its leader Joe Anderson and started its guerrilla fightback.  Anderson and his army almost pulled it off in 2008, knowing that with no local elections in 2009, they would have to wait until 2010 for victory.

And so it proved to be, success for Labour last year with a good working majority. The expectation is on May 5 a number of big-name Lib Dems will walk out of Wavertree Tennis Centre where the count takes place, and take that long, lonely journey into political wilderness.

Gary Millar only became a councillor in 2008 and was fast-tracked into Warren Bradley’s powerful cabinet. His charismatic public image was just what was needed, though some long serving Lib Dems, awaiting a call to arms, were left wondering why this rookie politician had waltzed into a top job after five minutes as a councillor.

A keen photographer and a knowledgeable computer geek and gadget king, Millar says on the Local Government Association website his priority for 2011 is to hold the city council administration (that’s Labour) to account. Well if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, hey Gary?

88080C9E-FFFA-4D61-5F893AD496BE982F.jpgMillar is the third Lib Dem to cross the divide. Beatrice Fraenkel was the first to claim political asylum when, as a Grassendale councillor, she jumped ship and joined Labour. She became a Lib Dem councillor way back in 1986.  Her reward from Labour was a seat in a rock solid  Kirkdale. Then Ian Jobling,  elected as Lib Dem in Picton in 2007, crossed the floor to join Labour.

The big question now is whether
other Lib Dem councillors will make
that call to Joe Anderson’s "defection" hotline. They know the number.        

Gary Millar represents Old Swan, considered until a few years ago as solid Lib Dem territory. Last year Joe Anderson’s daughter Joanne took the first of the three Old Swan seats to join her dad in the council chamber.

Next week, another Lib Dem big name, Berni Turner, will learn her fate, but the Old Swan seat is high on Labour’s target list. Next year it would have been Gary Millar’s turn to face the music. Now he’ll be standing as a Labour councillor, a virtual guarantee of continuity at the Town Hall.

Millar blames the "broken promises" of the Lib Dem as Coalition partners as reason for his defection.

As of today the make up in the council chamber is Labour 51, Lib Dem 33, Liberal 3, Green 2, Independent (ie Warren B) 1. Total 90 seats, giving Labour an overall majority of 12.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Elizabeth QuinceApril 26th 2011.

Of course, one wonders if Gary Miller finds it so easy to change his political beliefs, just how easily he will remain loyal to any electorate who votes for him.

Count AlucardApril 26th 2011.

He has no reflection in that mirror beside him.
Lib Dem of the night...what music he makes.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 26th 2011.

Oh you are awful

AnonymousApril 26th 2011.

Funny!

AnonymousJuly 16th 2014.

Classic stereotypical opportunist definition..1. a person who adapts his actions, responses, etc, to take advantage of opportunities, circumstances, etc

AnonymousJuly 17th 2014.

"Few can doubt the dramatic change in the fortunes, and image of Liverpool, in the first decade of the 21st century. Liverpool One, Europe’s biggest retail development, has propelled the city into one of the north's top shopping destinations, the arena and conference centre has brought acts and organisations to the city who not so long ago wouldn’t have given it a second look. European Capital of Culture is recognised by some as the best ever, Liverpool joining the likes of the Great Wall of China and Egypt’s Pyramids as a World Heritage Site." I wish we saw those phrases more often on here. All the doom-mongers and revellers in misery from the past - TAKE NOTE!!

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