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The Laz Word...on power to the people

...but apparently not in Liverpool where we have no control over our destinies. Larry Neild gets his pinch of salt out

Published on January 4th 2010.


The Laz Word...on power to the people

VIRTUALLY everyone in Liverpool is powerless when it comes to controlling their lives and their destinies. That’s if the authors of yet another (London) think-tank report are to be believed.

Given that Liverpool has the highest unemployment level and the highest level of claimant counts in the North West, the results hardly come as a shock

A team of researchers and number crunchers have placed a range of aspects into a huge mixing bowl, a formula to see how powerful – or powerless - people in places are in the UK. The eight ingredients are education, occupational status, income, employment, freedom from crime, health, voter turnout, marginality of parliamentary seat. It doesn’t mention anything about taking the results with a pinch of salt.

As you would predict, we’re there, propping up the bottom of the chart as one of the UK’s deserts of powerlessness.

The Demos report, the Power Gap, authored by Daniel Leighton, listed all 628 parliamentary constituencies in a Power Map. Guildford is number one, making it the most powerful place in Britain. Cheadle in Cheshire, where Bentleys and Aston Martins are more common on the road than my beautiful old banger, is runner up.

In the top 50 most powerful constituencies, 34 are Conservative, and just one is Labour (Battersea).

Scroll down to 88 to find the most powerful place on our home turf – Wirral South, with Wirral West just out of the top 100. Head to the bottom, showing the most powerless places and we see Walton (624th), Riverside (622nd), West Derby (614th), Bootle (612th) Wavertree (562nd) and in a more respectable position, well at 479th, Garston.

Given that Liverpool has the highest unemployment level and the highest level of claimant counts in the North West, the results hardly come as a shock.

Add to that the known fact some of the most deprived wards anywhere in the EU are in Liverpool and you start thinking, tell me something I didn’t know.

When the people of Toxteth felt they had had enough of being pushed around and forgotten we witnessed the riots of 1981. Not a recommended solution to social ills, but a demonstration even the most disempowered community will eventually say enough is enough.

Social divides are not new when you examine the social history of cities like Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham. Old pictures of Liverpool’s inner city in the late 1800s and early 1900s show how poverty was endemic.

Leighton and his team hope the report will prompt politicians and focus their minds on reforms needed to close the gap between the powerful and the powerless.

Both Labour and the Conservatives want to see more power handed back to the people. Really? So why over the past few decades have both parties been busy stripping power from the people who put them into their powerful positions? Backbench MPs have become cannon fodder in the voting chambers, local councillors have had their gnashers removed.

The answer is not to create an army of so-called People Peers (how many lollipop ladies sit in the House of Lords?), or Focus Groups to ‘engage’ with communities. What needs to happen is to have politicians – nationally and locally – who have the trust and confidence of those who elect them to go in and fight their corners, people who fully understand the ills and social needs of their own patches. I’ll predict the social divides of 1809, 1909 and 2009 will more or less be the same in 2109.

The Demos Report will hopefully give politicians some food for thought in what will be one of the most important post-war (WW2 that is) election years.

The report , all 77 pages of it, can be read here

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

Bruce de BacksydeJanuary 4th 2010.

Eh up! I was referring to Mr. Nield's article above, and we all know that there are massive quantites of ready cash circulating in the city but it is mainly in the hands of crim... - er - tax-averse 'businessmen', many of whom are social acquaintances of councillors.

AnonymousJanuary 4th 2010.

There are places to buy all the top range cars and much cash flows round the cityMuch cash flows round the city. If these new rich had any social conscience they could fund a doctor/teacher/carers to cheer our many housebound. I know there are people with miserable lives but stop playing the city wide deprived card cos it makes you look like you dont know you city except by the numbers.The council are reported to have made 6mil from a bloody minded attitude to parking tickets. Maybe they could earmark some of that to salt the roads so people can get in to town to park.Public Accounts please.

AnonymousJanuary 4th 2010.

There is money then loads of itin the hands of people known to councillors and in the city accounts somewhere.We need Forensic Accountants

Hobblin BadlyJanuary 4th 2010.

What do you expect? I'm powerless!

Warren on thin iceJanuary 4th 2010.

Can I borrow your pinch of salt please, we have run out and now I am trying to pretend the government office told me I needed a ration book to get more. I admit we slipped up - now it's your turn. The lib dems on the slide.

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