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Liverpool slammed over appointment of latest council 'mouthpiece'

Ex Labour special adviser to Northern Ireland will aid Mayor Joe

Written by . Published on February 4th 2015.

Liverpool slammed over appointment of latest council 'mouthpiece'

LIB DEM politician Richard Kemp today attacked Liverpool City Council for appointing a former Labour Party special adviser as its latest media minder.

Cllr Kemp says the council should have spent more time seeking an independent professional as its head of communications, a post unfilled since its last incumbent, Louise Douglas, walked out last summer.

Kevin Meagher, currently a freelance consultant, worked as special advisor to St Helens Labour MP Shaun Woodward during his time as Northern Ireland Secretary.

Cllr Kemp said: "Given the problems that we have had with people in these appointments in the past it should have been absolutely clear that we needed an independent professional with no links to any political party.

“Instead inside an administration that is manifestly strongly Labour we have a new council mouthpiece from the same background. We appreciate that it has taken more than seven months to find a replacement for the last person who gave up the job after just 10 months but I cannot believe that it was impossible to find someone who the whole city could rely on to be independent and professional.  This is just another reason that we ought to work together to break the tight grip that Labour has on this city."

Despite still having one of the lowest turn-outs in the country, the predictions are that in May’s local elections – on the same day as the general election – Labour will tighten its grip in Liverpool by adding to its current tally of 78 of the 90 seats. 

Last year Mr Meagher  called for compulsory voting, and said everyone should be made to take part in elections or face a fine.

As well as working for Shaun Woodward, Mr Meagher, who is 39, has worked for other large local authorities including Birmingham, Cheshire East and Hyndburn in East Lancashire.  

Speaking of his new role in Liverpool, which is an initial six-month contract, he says: “It’s a great opportunity to work for the city at an exciting time. Liverpool is leading the way nationally and internationally, both with its regeneration projects and with its ground-breaking cultural plans.


“We need to be ambitious and tell the rest of the country and the wider world about what’s going on here. That’s what I’ve been asked to help with and that’s what I’ll be getting on with doing.”

The appointment comes at a time when relationships between Mayor Anderson and a number of Labour leaders on Merseyside are strained, not least over the question of whether a metro mayor should be elected as head of “Liverpool City Region”.

Disagreements over which way the city region should move forward have led to angry exchanges between Mayor Anderson and Cllr Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council who is also chairman of the City Region Combined Authority,a a super-cabinet made up of the leaders of the six city region councils.

 Whether Meagher, with his experience as a lobbyist and marketer in Northern Ireland, can act as a peace-broker in Liverpool remains to be seen.

 “My role as head of communications isn’t about spinning a yarn. It’s about jobs, investment and tourism - helping the city tell its story in the most joined-up way possible in order to promote Liverpool to the outside world - to potential investors and visitors, government and beyond,” adds Liverpool’s latest spin doctor.

The ace of SpAds

Malcolm TuckerMalcolm TuckerSpecial Advisors or SpAds as they are known in political circles, have generated criticisms in recent years. Famous figures include Alastair Campbell and the the Prime Minister's disgraced former media aid Andy Coulson. They have even been satirised, most notably the television series The Thick of It, which starred the current Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi as foulmouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker.

As one article in the Daily Telegraph described SpAds: “They are among the most shadowy figures in government. They sit at the right hand of Cabinet ministers and some wield more influence than the most senior civil servants, yet their names are rarely known outside Whitehall. They are unelected and unaccountable to either the public or Parliament.

 “They are the chosen few, though how they come to be chosen is something of a mystery. Their privileged positions are never advertised, but increasingly the posts they hold lead to the very top of politics.”

Away from Westminster, Liverpool had not been without its own colourful episodes in the world of media communications.

In 2006, the council's head of communcications, Matt Finnegan, quit the role after an 18 month suspension over "procurement irregularities".

In his resignation letter Finnegan, one of the North West's best known political lobbyists, accused the then Lib Dem authority of pursuing an "astonishing vendetta" against him.

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

Green TambourineFebruary 4th 2015.

He looks VERY BORING!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Tricky WooFebruary 4th 2015.

Agree. NO FUN!!!

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2015.

He looks like someone just snatched a Humpty from his hands.

Green TambourineFebruary 4th 2015.

He's getting ready to catch a VERY LARGE PIE for his LUNCH!!!!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
John BradleyFebruary 4th 2015.

A large Squirrel and Rabbit surprise pie from Sayers.

mickeydrippinFebruary 4th 2015.

He's describing the size of the pasty that Eric Pickles has just had for his lunch.

Green TambourineFebruary 4th 2015.

Mr Bradley, REALLY!!! You do NOT put squirrels in a PIE!!!! And you shouldn't put rabbits in one either. You put squirrels and rabbits in Sefton Park MEADOWS where they can be HAPPY!!!

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2015.

"Uncle Joe likes his Gregg's pasty this big."

Kevin MeagreFebruary 4th 2015.

Did I ever tell you about the time I worked for Milton Berle ?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Kevin MeagreFebruary 5th 2015.

"It's this Big Ben"

Tricky WooFebruary 5th 2015.

"It's a massive clock actually"

Fat Cat and SquirrelFebruary 5th 2015.

So, in this time of cut backs, what will the MEAGRE salary be? (Geddit?....Geddit...?) Here are some suggestions for his new communications strategy. 1.The Mayor is right about everything so shut it 2. It's a no brainer 3. We face bankruptcy in less than 2 years 4. Our best days are yet to come 5. This is a required plan, we have no intention of selling off our parkland and green spaces. 6. We have let the grass grow on a number of derelict sites to replace the Victorian Parkland gifted to the people of the city that I am trying to flog to developer mates...so shut it" 8. Since the departure of Paul Brandt, the mayor has taken on the responsibility for the budget and finances and has to ensure that the figures add up. 11. What's for lunch?

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2015.

Why on earth are the Labour party throwing good money after bad. Why not win votes by getting rid of this power crazed, dim witted bloater.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 8th 2015.

Because they think we're stupid, and will continue voting for them despite the mess that Anderson is making. In their name. We need to teach them (and Joe) not to take our support for granted, and to separate local and national issues. Labour nationally, yes, certainly. But locally, no, they're a disaster.

John BradleyFebruary 8th 2015.

It like the first person to comment hadn't read the article. and the second seems to think they speaks for everyone.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2015.

It could well be someone talking to themselves, whoever it was seems to know what crazed dim witted bloater they were referring to.

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