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Who really governs Merseyside?

Larry Neild on a project that asks the people who they think wields the power

Written by . Published on October 10th 2011.

Who really governs Merseyside?

ARE we really governed by Phil Redmond, Bill Kenwright, the Duke of Westminster or “king of the airwaves” Peter Price? 

What about Cllr Joe Anderson, Labour’s leader currently occupying the Throne of Liverpool as our elected ruler?

More and more in the UK, true democracy has
been diluted and we are heading to a situation where we will indeed not be served, but
governed by a big-name individual or concern

Him?Him?The issue of who actually wields the power on Merseyside has come into sharp focus through a project launched by Democratic Audit, an independent research organisation based at the University of Liverpool.  Its objective is to research the quality and effectiveness of UK democracy.

By asking us to nominate the people we feel are actually governing us, isn’t that the opposite of what democracy is all about?

Until 2000, when Liverpool had 99 councillors, virtually every decision was taken on a show of hands at city council meetings. Fifty votes and it happened, 49 votes or under and it didn’t – real people power.

Him?Him?To improve democracy, cabinets were introduced at local councils. Now, instead of a whole chamber of people, just a small handful are the power-brokers. Council meetings have, in many ways, become superfluous, mere talking shops but no longer the hot seats of democracy.

It mirrors what happens in the House of Commons where voting is a rare treat for our MPs. The power is embedded at 10 Downing Street.

All this talk stems from the idea of a single person, crowned as governor. Look at the supreme powers handed to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, or indeed Ken Livingstone before him. Even the elected Greater London Assembly, the real voice of Londoners, cannot build barricades to stop any actions of the mayor.

More and more in the UK, true democracy has been diluted and we are heading to a situation where we will indeed not be served, but governed by a big-name individual or concern.

Him?Him?At least with the current cabinet system, Anderson is surrounded by an enthusiastic team each with his or her point of view and contributing to the debate prior to decisions being made. I guess that is as good as it can get.

Now, 25 years since the abolition of Merseyside County Council, the people are being asked who they think is in charge and how they are accountable to local people.

At a public meeting at the Bluecoat last week which attracted a modest audience, a list of 25 individuals (the same ones?? Ed) were nominated by audience secret ballot and by panel members led by Roger Phillips.

See panel below for the full list.  The public are now asked to pick frive from the list and those who get the most votes will be invited to a Q&A there,  to discuss their power and accountability,  at the end of November.

The 25 'most influential'

Cllr Joe Anderson (Leader, Liverpool City Council).

Him?Him?Gideon Ben-Tovim (Chair, Liverpool Primary Care Trust)

Luciana Berger MP (Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree)

Vincent Cable MP (UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills)

David Cameron (UK Prime Minister)

Claire Dove (Chief Executive, Blackburne House)

Ged Fitzgerald (Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council)

Mr John Flamson (Director of Strategic Partnerships and Development, University of Liverpool)

Gerald Grosvenor (Duke of Westminster)

Michael Heseltine (former Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister for Merseyside)

Rod Holmes (Chair, Mersey Partnership)

Carole Hudson (Chief Executive, St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council)

Bill Kenwright (Owner, Everton Football Club)

Terry Leahy (former Chief Executive of Tesco)

Alastair Machray (Editor, Liverpool Echo)

Teresa May MP (UK Home Secretary)

Jon Murphy (Chief Constable, Merseyside Police)

Sir Howard Newby (Vice Chancellor, University of Liverpool)

Eric Pickles MP (UK Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)

Pete Price (local DJ)

Him?Him?Phil Redmond  (Chair, National Museums Liverpool and former Chair. Liverpool Culture Company)

 Lorraine Rogers (Chief Executive, The Mersey Partnership)

Neil Scales (Chief Executive, Merseytravel)

Nigel Weatherill (Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Liverpool John Moores University)

John Whittaker  (Founder and Chair of Peel Group)

Who would you choose? You can vote on-line here   Voting closes at noon on Friday 14 October.


*Who Governs Merseyside? is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, to explore who wields political power on Merseyside in 2011. Representing an amalgam of academic study, public inquiry and theatre, the project has been co-organised by Democratic Audit and the Bluecoat and forms part of the Bluecoat’s Democratic Promenade exhibition, taking place until 27 November 2011.

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

Doctor RotweillerOctober 10th 2011.

Who doesn't find this whole list utterly depressing. No wonder we are fecked.

AnonymousOctober 10th 2011.

Who pays these academics salaries for what is essentially just pub talk?

The highest jobless total anywhere and we have people sitting in universities spending god knows how many millions of public money scratching their arses and asking whether Pete Price should be in charge. An utter disgrace. If only this city DID something instead of talking about it

1 Response: Reply To This...
GeorgemciverOctober 13th 2011.

Rowntrees money..not 'public' money..but yes..what a waste of time and energy

Johnny Cash-in-HandOctober 11th 2011.

Where are all the faceless money men who own everything and tell everyone what to do?

You’ve got the boss of Peel Holdings; how about Gerald Grosvenor whose shopping precinct is the New Liverpool that everyone is talking about?

How about some of the faceless men who dominate Liverpool’s huge cash economy?

Katie54October 11th 2011.

This is a strange list. Luciano Berger but not Maria Eagle, Stephen Twigg, Louise Ellman and Steve Rotheram. Teresa May? Terry Leahy? Michael Heseltine?? Public figures, yes, involved in governing the area, hardly.

1 Response: Reply To This...
GeorgemciverOctober 13th 2011.

It does seem a bit silly...

AnonymousOctober 11th 2011.

How exactly is Bill Kenwright influential?

1 Response: Reply To This...
GeorgemciverOctober 13th 2011.

Well..erm..look at Everton........

Albert TatlockOctober 11th 2011.

He jilted Lucille Hewitt at the altar in Coronation Street

1 Response: Reply To This...
GeorgemciverOctober 13th 2011.

Jesus..what was that cat called.........

MikeOctober 12th 2011.

Where is David Henshaw??

Richie RichOctober 12th 2011.

Spending some quality time with his money.

Richie RichOctober 12th 2011.

Sorry, OUR money...

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