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The Laz Word...on the Big Society

Once again Liverpool squares up the Government. Folly? Can it win?

Published on February 17th 2011.


The Laz Word...on the Big Society

THE Big War of Words over Big Society continued today (Monday) with Liverpool again being slagged off on Radio 4’s Today programme for its “political motives” in telling the PM what to do with his big mission.

Phil Redmond, in this week’s Guardian said..'the current row....in Scouse is because the Labour council has thrown its teddy out of the pram because it’s not gettin’ nothin’ but earache from cosying up to them Tories'

David Cameron, Commander-in-Chief of Big Society then held his own big pow-pow to say it was his mission to make the idea work.

Meanwhile, here in Liverpool, Council Leader Joe Anderson has sent out a rallying cry. He wants families across Merseyside to join him this Sunday to show the Government the strength of feeling over the harshest spending cuts of all.

He says: “On Sunday 20 February, I am bringing together people from communities across the city to speak as one city, with one voice, against the Government's cuts. We will be holding a rally, meeting at the Anglican Cathedral at 1pm, and then marching to St George's Plateau where the procession will be addressed.”

He went on: “This is not a party political rally, and it isn't aimed at any one section of the city - I am inviting members of all faiths, communities, political parties, residents, and all of the city council's staff and partners to join with me in standing together, and making our voices heard.

“Together, we will demand a fair deal for Liverpool - that the city isn't forced to implement the Government's cuts in just two years; and that we are not given the biggest cuts in the country, but rather only the average cuts in the country - which would reduce our cuts by some £26 million.”

This is a high-stakes strategy for leader Joe – taking on the might of what many see as the most Right-wing reactionary Conservative government in Liverpool memory. The rally is bound to be ‘visited’ by chanting anti-Government groups and anarchists.It’s clear David Cameron is cheesed off with Joe Anderson for turning his back on Big Society. Liverpool was, after all, one of just four hand-picked local authorities to be in the vanguard.

Joe A is facing, as leader, introducing the highest ever cuts in council spending, with 1,500 town hall jobs already facing the axe, and almost certainly more to go in the future.

LCVS, Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services, is the umbrella organisation for many of Liverpool’s hundreds of voluntary and charitable bodies. Its chief executive, Alan Lewis, has warned around 500 paid jobs in the voluntary sector will go – that’s around a tenth of the staff. Additionally, LCVS will be forced to cut its own 52-strong workforce by 60 per cent.

We’ve already seen people on the streets of Manchester over closure proposals. Here, Cllr Anderson has yet to reveal Liverpool’s hit list of things and places that will go.

Not since 1985 has the council - then "led" by deputy leader Derek Hatton and his Militant comrades - squared up in such a public way to the Government. Hatton and Co spectacularly lost and ended up being banished from office for five years. Most, including Hatton, never returned to politics.

Go back even further to 1919 during the Police Strike, and the Government sent gunboats to the Mersey.

Before the police strike was over, a battleship and two destroyers had raced at full steam from Scapa Flow to train their searchlights on the banks of the Mersey.

Joe Anderson has already faced calls to follow the example of Militant and refuse to play ball by setting an illegal budget. That would merely result in Government Commissioners being sent in to run what would be seen as a delinquent city.So will we see Anderson Shelters emerging around the city in preparation for a battle of words, or worse?

Phil Redmond, in his report from the front-line in this week’s Guardian said this ...”the current row....in Scouse is because the Labour council has thrown its teddy out of the pram because it’s not gettin’ nothin’ but earache from cosying up to them Tories.”

Joe A is said to be having sleepless nights over trying to reconcile keeping things going, with tens of millions of pounds vanishing from the city’s piggy bank. Liverpool’s spending cut is the highest of any local authority in the country.

Word is he even wondered whether he could carry on at the helm with the prospect of a Mission Impossible.

Last week during Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron had a good go at Liverpool and without naming him, Joe Anderson.

Amidst hostile shouts and catcalls this is what he said: “....let’s take one council, Liverpool Council. The cuts to Liverpool council will mean that by 2013 they will go back to the level of grants they got in 2009. So what we are seeing are politically motivated moves by Labour councils. I remember the time when Labour leaders stood up to their Labour councils that were making these decisions.”

It was a no-holds-barred reference to events of 1985 when even Labour Leader Neil Kinnock attacked the city council.

Today Cameron said his Big Society policy was still on course, a signal it won’t be torpedoed by restless natives in far flung corners of the Coalition Kingdom, such as Liverpool.

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

Proud NorthernerFebruary 14th 2011.

Sadly Mr Anderson has almost certainly scored a spectacular own goal. Liverpool is already being paraded by Coalition luvvies as the troublesome city that snubbed the government. My God, will we be made to pay for that. By trying to score points we will be the wreckers of Big Society. Cameron is not exactly going to blame himself when the folly of the Big Society is finally realised, it will be them stupid Scousers making a balls-up of things (again). yes, Mr Anderson is probably right in pulling out. But if ever there was a time for quiet diplomacy this was it. Of course the Rally on Sunday will be seen as rubbing salt into the wound. It is only in the past few years we have removed the shackles of the Hatton era that was holding back the city. How long before we are forgiven for the Anderson Years. It's not fair on Mr Anderson, but this is the real cruel world.

IndignantFebruary 14th 2011.

Proud northerner, how can you call yourself "proud" when you would have the people of this city roll over like lapdogs in the face of the HARSHEST CUTS OF ANY AUTHORITY IN THE COUNTRY??

What do you expect Anderson to do? He is damned if he doesn't do anything, certainly.

Liverpool is many things, and if we have to endure the moniker of troublesome scousers to be it.

Despite the snide remarks in the mainstream media, we are not victims in this city, so don't suggest that we might be better off if we accepted the decree of the Eton, multi-millionare bullies in government.

saladdazeFebruary 14th 2011.

The injustice is clear: huge cuts to the budgets of the poorest parts of the country amidst an economic policy based on robbing the less well-off in order to subsidise the greed and incompetence of the bankers, the tax dodgers, the Tory boy gap year providers and all the other parasites who vomit down upon us. But rearranging the BS deck chairs is not the answer. Liverpool should be following the example of Poplar a century ago and, in alliance with other councils and its trade unions, refuse to set a rate/poll tax/council tax and tell the Tories we await the gun boats.

Proud NorthernerFebruary 14th 2011.

I'm not saying we should roll over like lapdogs. We've scored an own goal. It's not been thought through properly and we will be 'punished'. Being in the wilderness for even longer for being 'Scouse' is one hell of a way of showing 'em what's what. The Eton crew are bullies. We just need a reality check here. We can all look forward to being proud but skint and jobless Scousers. Big Deal. I can see the mainstream media heading north on Sunday to film the march, zooming in on the activists with their revolutionary banners. It'll put us on the map, but for the wrong reasons. We need to be smarter than this.

saladdazeFebruary 14th 2011.

Roll Over Beethoven. Is he on at the Phil' this week?

Cliff Edge HillFebruary 15th 2011.

Where exactly is Phil Redmond supposed to be from? Does he speak a weird sort of 'media scouse' to please the national press and reinforce their prejudices like Cilla Black does?

I'm from 'inner city' Edge Hill (that's Liverpool 7) and I find him unintelligible.

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2011.

I personally cannot abide the man. In the latest quote above, he is once again stereotyping the people of Liverpool, and anyone in the rest of the country would be forgiven for thinking we all spoke like his ghastly Brookside caricatures. He is a menace.
It is not the people of Liverpool holding back the city, or Joe Anderson, just the self-serving, self confessed opportunist picking over the caracass of the city. he should f*ck off back to his mansion in Cheshire.

Cliff Edge HillFebruary 15th 2011.

Hear hear!

(Oh by the way, I meant to write 'Berkshire's Cilla Black' but clicked 'submit' too soon.)

dewdropFebruary 15th 2011.

Well done Mr Anderson. No doubt this parade will I am sure need extra police to cover it more tax payers money wasted!

IndignantFebruary 15th 2011.

Cat got your tongue Proud Northener?

Ay! Carmela!February 15th 2011.

"The rally is bound to be ‘visited´ by chanting anti-Government groups and anarchists."

Are you clutching your handbag to your chest and pursing your lips?

Proud NorthernerFebruary 15th 2011.

OK. In the first place I would have asked our 5 Liverpool Labour MPs to demand an eyeball to eyeball with Cameron, away from the glare and prying eyes of the media. They should have demanded a better and fairer deal for Liverpool and make it perfectly clear without a deal Big Society would collapse.
It's not a case of rolling over to have any tummies tickled by Etonites, just one last full frontal diplomatic attack with the message if you can't do this (give us a better deal) we can't do that (Big Society).
If you read the history of the Militant era Labour sent a team to meet with Patrick Jenkin, the Local Government Minister. He offered Liverpool millions of pounds to develop the Albert Dock as a new campus for Liverpool Poly. The deal was the councillors would have to keep their traps shut. They came out of the meeting screaming .....we've won. They hadn't, they didn't, and the money never happened. It shows being a politician means knowing when to open your mouth, but also when to kep it shut.
We have already blown that opportunity. I hope I am wrong and I hope that when the Prime Minister and his Eton crew see the depth of feeling in Liverpool he will see the error of his wicked ways and decide we'll get more money or more time to introduce spending cuts. Somehow my gut tells me that is not the likely outcome. We had a taste of it just yesterday with Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes saying Liverpool was mishandling government cuts. Sadly we are walking into a trap set by the government so they can heap even more blame on Liverpool when their silly initiatives collapse. What should Joe do? he should gather a delegation, cross party, non-party, politicians, business leaders, community leaders, the church leaders and head down to London to robustly, but very politely (we are famed for being friendly remember) explain to Messrs Cameron, Pickles, et al, that it just won't work unless...... I will observe and participate in Sunday's Rally with great interest.

The Man on the Garston OmnibusFebruary 15th 2011.

Councillor Anderson is on a hiding to nothing. Whatever he does the Tory press will vilify him and Liverpool (again).

However, a march and public meeting for all Liverpudlians of whatever political stripe, age or occupation will help dispel the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness in Liverpool and with any luck it would make onlookers think, which would be another blow against Cameron's demented, megalomaniacal notion of a "big society" in which no-one is paid for their labour.

Yes, Cameron is bringing back the Dickensian workhouse.

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2011.

The cuts are severe and we ALL, I mean ALL, will suffer. So lets see what the(1) Executives are earning and (2) the non essential jobs in the council that can be scrapped and reduce the payments (salaries) like yours and other Councillors who use their expenses in abundance. What will the savings be. Come on Joe lets have an open book and then we can genuinely make a big stink about the cuts. Power to your elbow but lets be truly transparent

The Peanut VendorFebruary 15th 2011.

Of course on this occasion the Tories love to boast about how their multi-millionaire Prime Minister has a lower salary than some highly-paid local authority chief executives.

This would appear to be the opposite of their usual mantra (to justify huge salaries for their chums) that "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys".

Perhaps if Cameron is given a bunch of bananas or a better still a pay rise, it might buck his ideas up and he'll start running the country properly and responsibly?

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2011.

what?

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2011.

That's all good and well, proud northerner, but will this delegation to The Commons involve our beloved ambassador Mckenna? I can see the mandarins of Whitehall and Bullingdon shaking in their brogues.

Honorary ScouserFebruary 15th 2011.

I think the Leader of the City Council is caught between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps he had no choice and feels this is what he has to be. But I have niggling doubts and maybe Northerner is right to point out we'll be punished wrecklessly for what will be seen as provincial insubordination. Maybe a quiet word to the 'wise' would have been better. It is sad, but battle lines appear to have been drawn.

Good pointFebruary 15th 2011.

yes, what are our MPs doing? I saw one on the news last night banging on about Israel again.

What about your own doorstep, Ms Ellman.

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2011.

Everyone is missing the point. The big society is a joke and the joke is on us. It is purely an exercise in privatisation, so that the Condems can line the pockets of their mates in big business who will be slavering at the thought of all the money they can make profiterring from providing public services. And substandard ones at that! the idea that charitable institutions and local communities can step up and administer libraries, swimming baths, daycare services and elder care is arrant nonsense. Big business and big charities will take over not local communities. As for civil servant administering the benefits they now do for the government - Cameron must be taking hallucenogenic substances if he thinks people are going to swallow that far fetched idiocy. Or will they? dont underestimate their ability to brainwash the public - some people really do think the deficit is our fault when it was a global recession triggered by greedy bankers. why should joe public pay?

HerewegoagainFebruary 15th 2011.

Will The fat controller admit during his rallying of the Labour faithful that it was the last government, you know New Labour that caused this crisis spending money we did not have on creating jobs that were not needed and allowing too many people to take advantage of an out of control benefits system? I think not.

RadiorogersideFebruary 15th 2011.

Anonymous don't forget along with the greedy bankers those greedy self serving Politicos, of the Blair government, who have now become the nouveau riche. Strapped for cash to obtain mortgages at the start of their tenures now managing property portfolios amassed with the dodgy financial assistance of the bankers who they gave free rein..in the deregulated financial markets

A Quarter of HumbugFebruary 15th 2011.

"Fat Controller"?

Who mentioned Eric Pickles? He must have been bullied at school to have turned out so spitefully misanthropic.

LancManFebruary 16th 2011.

Liverpool collectively telling Cam and Co to get stuffed with their stupid Big Society shite will mean one thing. Liverpool will be punished. Sorry it's true. These Etonian misfits will send in their trusty batmen to beat us and whip us into submission. Yea we can shout from the roof of St George's Hall. Ringo did it and look where it got him. We should have done this as a true Northern Collective.
Liverpool's image was dented by Brookside (thanks Sir soddin' Philip Redmund, resident of filthy rich Cheshire), People all over the country thought we Scousers went around burying our spouses under patios and rubbin places everywhere. God was I bad when Brookie itself was buried under the patio. Yet Manchester isn't dragged down by Corrie and it's had its share of issues. That's because the accent is perceived as 'northern' and to yer average Cockney that means anywhere north of Watford to the border of Scotland where they speak an entirely foreign language anyway. We simply wear our Scousness on our snotty sleaves and it shows ladies and gentlemen. We're gonna be seen as those whinging, we've gorra lotta lotta problems and we need yez money, doleite Scousers, fit for eff all. I know we are not. I know the vast majority of us around here are truly and salt of the earth. But we don't half gob it when we need to keep our own counsel and shut our cakeholes. Feel better now. Thank you for listening.

AnonymousFebruary 16th 2011.

You been on the Barton's Pickled Onions again Lancman. You know eating two whole jar fulls sends your little Red Rose brain into a frenzy. Now settle down and climb back into your little loft where you can sleep it off. Strangely a lot of what you said made sense though.

V. I. Lenin AirportFebruary 16th 2011.

The negative image of Liverpudlians was created by those who control the media.

For example, Londoners are not condemned in the press for the huge amount of violent crime, benefit fraud and murders they have in their city every WEEK. On the other hand Liverpudlians are condemned by negative stereotypes some of which are decades old and were never accurate in the first place.

No matter how prosperous Liverpool becomes or how popular it is internationally, the London-obsessed British media will alway dig out some runny-nosed teenaged moron and egg him on with cannabis bravado to perform for them; and that's Liverpool and everyone in it condemned for another five or ten years.

AnonymousFebruary 16th 2011.

Of course violent crime and robbery is much higher in Manchester, a dreary place populated by people who laugh hysterically at every scouse hubcap joke, like they have just been born.

AnonymousFebruary 16th 2011.

Leave Barton's Pickled onions out of this. They even sell them in Harrods. Perhaps we should sent a case to Eric Pickles as a'gift' from Merseyside.

Carl CulatorFebruary 17th 2011.

Dewdrop, if you are really bothered by the possible policing bill for a single, friendly public meeting on a Sunday afternoon, you'd be absolutely horrified at the amount of taxpayers' money that is wasted more-or-less CONSTANTLY by persistent, spurious and vexatious Freedom of Information requests by crank groups such as the BNP, The Taxpayers' Alliance and UKIP.

What they do with the information they receive is unclear as they are more than likely too stupid to understand it, but the law is the law and the taxpayer must foot the expensive bill for the cranks' indulgence.

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