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Who'll rule the roost?

Is it still looking wobbly for Warren as Monday's crunch vote for city leader looms? Larry Neild looks at the field and the power they will weild

Published on May 24th 2008.

Who'll rule the roost?

SO who will emerged as ruler of Liverpool City Council next Monday night? Will Warren the Warrior – or should that be worrier – beat off the challenge?

Will Richard “orator” Kemp ride to the rescue like a knight in shining armour? Will Mike Storey be the Comeback Kid? And what about Paul “I'm offski” Clein?

The leader is essentially the big power machine in the city. No important decisions will be made without their approval, yet the people of the city have no say in who holds that post.

It doesn’t really matter –the Lib Dems will be running Liverpool until 2010.

By a strange quirk, the Lib Dems have one thing to thank for staying as top dogs at the Town Hall, the Labour Party.

At the May 1 election, Count Cunning Warren unveiled his saviour – the one-time Labour councillor Nadia Stewart. It was like a rabbit emerging from a magician’s hat, and gave the Lib Dems that all important headcount of 46 of the 90 seats. Fezs off to Bradley for his Tommy Cooper moment.

At the start of the new millennium, Tony Blair’s Labour government streamlined local governance by replacing antiquated decision making by committee.

Instead they ushered in a 10 Downing Street-style of cabinet, saying it was a modernisation of democracy. In fact it was its deathknell.

At the time, Liverpool had 99 councillors so decisions needed at least 50 votes on a show of hands to win. A hung council, or one with a slender majority, would have seen people dragged from the sick beds to vote on issues brought before the council or its committees.

Now, under the ‘new democracy’ the majority of the 90 councillors – including the back bench Lib Dems – are essentially toothless.

At the annual meeting of the council on May 20, a vote will be taken for the leader of the council, usually a formality.

The combined forces of opposition can muster 44 votes, though that will reduce to 43 because Labour’s Steve Rotheram will have been installed as Lord Mayor minutes earlier, and by convention he will not vote.

That gives the Lib Dems a margin of three.

Once the Lib Dem leader is voted upon, he will in turn put forward the names of his chosen colleagues who will serve as executive members on his cabinet.

Those 10 people – all of them Lib Dems – will be the real rulers of Liverpool, with no democratic way of overturning their decisions.

Opposition and back bench councillors can have decisions referred to a so-called Scrutiny Committee, but it cannot overturn anything. Indeed it can be totally ignored by the executive members sitting on the cabinet.

Not so many years ago council meetings had an air of excitement, as town hall clerks counted the shows of hands during nail-biting votes on crunch issues. Now the meetings are feeble talk shops with no real power.

The leader is essentially the big power machine in the city. No important decisions will be made without their approval or support, yet the people of the city have no say in who holds that post. At least with an elected mayor (a role I have so far never supported), the people vote and can, through the ballot box,unseat the occupant as Ken Livingstone found out last week.

So Warren the Warrior, waltzing into the election centre with his Maid Marion, played a brilliant political stroke, a real ace up his sleeve. People whocondemn the act should ask themselves: wouldn’t any party give a right arm for such an act of magic.

It shows Bradley cannot be written off as a spent force in front line politics

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

toriblareMay 9th 2008.

Oooh what's with all the anger towards Liam?At least he offers an alternative.The real issue in this story is however the fact that Warren Bradley managed to secure his future as the head of the ruling party.This action by his 26 loyal followers shows that the majority of Liberal Democrats believe that it is ok to lie to the Liverpool public, ,it is ok to put the City into £62 million debt, it is ok to close services such as Leyton Dene and Boaler Street homes, it is ok to pay off the likes of Jason to keep his mouth shut, its ok to try and get others to set up the same Jason and then lie and lie again about what happened, it is ok to attend theatres in Las Vegas and Liverpool council tax payers foot the bill, it is ok to be under investigation by the Standards board, it is ok to set up Matt Finnegan, it is ok for former leaders to be investigated again under the standards board, it is ok for the Liberal Democrat whip to be up for trial in July for election fraud but keep him as whip while they wait, I could go on and on and on.....

catch_22May 9th 2008.

Liam whilst I support the idea of a directly elected mayor, your campaign has done nothing to advance the cause or win the argument over the past few years. In all honesty other than being pictured with a champagne glass in your hand and issuing the same press statement/letter repeatedly I can't think of a single action you've taken to drive this forward in the last few years. For example I volunteered to help the campaign on your website years ago and never received any reply.In fact I would suggest that given that most people who bother to pay attention believe that you are main aim is to pave the ground for the deeply unpopular, self publicist Phil Redmond to run you're actually harming the cause.

catMay 9th 2008.

Only self-obsessive to the point of posting consecutive comments. Ever get the impression you are talking to yourself? Patronising Twat

scousemouseMay 9th 2008.

So Catch 22, you're in favour of a mayor but you don't like Liam cos you didn't get a reply to a single email that you sent? And you haven't gotten off your arse to do anything to bring about a referendum since that back-breaking effort? Erm, Self-obsess much?

ColinMay 9th 2008.

Maybe he was given the sack along with the other 250, to pay off Jason? BTW - That Clive is a twat an all

CliveMay 9th 2008.

Thank you Derek, I am glad that there is an acceptance that Tori Blare DOES work for the council. I notice that he/she appears to have gone uncharacteristically quiet. I wonder why that is, then? I am just a bit puzzled as to how he or she can live with themselves when the organisation they work for does such disgraceful and outrageous things. Presumably he or she would have taken the same stance had they been working at a concentration camp during WW2? Because according to Tori, the council is on a par with the Nazi's. What a complete hypocrite.

Liam Fogarty, amayorforliverpool.orgMay 9th 2008.

So, Larry - is your long-standing and honestly-held scepticism about an Elected Mayor beginning to waver? Surely last week's farce at the Wavertree Tennis Centre must convince remaining doubters that the present arrangements for deciding who leads Liverpool are discredited and dysfunctional.London's Mayoral contest had big characters, real debates, a boost in turnout and a clear result. We, on the other hand, get conjuring tricks, score-settling and apathy, swiftly followed by another bout of Town Hall infighting.Mayor Boris Johnson now has a mandate based on the votes of millions of Londoners. Liverpool's next leader will owe his position to 45 of his collegues. Not good enough, I'm afraid.Liverpool's "Tennis Court Oafs" did the city a huge disservice with their shoddy late-night deal. They showed neither dignity nor class. They should now be shown the door...

London RoadMay 9th 2008.

Well hang on, Clive. We all often end up working for **** companies for all manner of reasons that are not of our ideological choosing. It doesn't mean that we should just take the money and run. I mean, who do you work for Clive, and how pure are they?I happen to imagine Tori is actually not a city council worker, but that's just because I had a nine-hour dream about care workers last night.......Nurse, the screens....

DerekMay 9th 2008.

That Clive has got it all wrong. What is Tori Blare supposed to do - keep quiet and say nowt out of misplaced loyalty to his paymasters? Or find another job (where?) with a totally sound organisation (a rare thing!) Just because he takes their money doesnt buy his silence. Carry on Tori - you are doing a fine job in the blogosphere.

Stanley StreetMay 9th 2008.

You find a guillotine, and I'll get the tumbrel...

IconMay 9th 2008.

I am going to start a campaign - 'Buy Liam an abacus'. So he can tell us how many effing signatures he has got. He has fannied about so much for the last three years that he has actually destroyed any legitimacy the idea of an elected Mayor had. He has wrung his hands on the sidelines and bleated and done nothing about the myriad faults of the council. Notice how he doesn't deny the persistent rumours that he is a talking horse for the awful Redmond. Who pays for the nice house off Hope Street Liam? - you didn't get that out of your redundo money from the Beeb. Time to put up - or shut up.

Eleanor RigsbyMay 9th 2008.

Does it matter who is the victor tonight? The winner will need to look like a bit of an undertaker, leading the terminally ill Lib Dem group to their final resting place. OK the procession may take a while, but the election results were the final nail in their coffin. Tonight's loser will be spared the task of screwing down the coffin lid. So you ask yourself which of the three most resembles an Undertaker. Hmm. I know who my money is on.

CliveMay 9th 2008.

How did that Fleetwood Mac song go? Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies, tell me lies....

CliveMay 9th 2008.

Ah, the great Tori Blare. Disgusted and outraged at the corruption within the council but quite happy to take a pay cheque from the same said organisation every month. There's honour for you!

Scouse MouseMay 9th 2008.

Seems like I'm talking to at least you as well cat doesn't it? So I posted 2 pieces to respond to two separate postings, shoot me. Patronising? In context with some of the previous comments that's rich. I was just pointing out Mr. Fogarty is actually doing something rather than just bitching, hence his opinion has some actual validity as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for the capital T on twat anyway ;)

scousemouseMay 9th 2008.

Clive, if you check out youtube you'll find a nice little party political for the BNP by ... Peter Tierney from Quiggins. Seems to me like Liam is just a bit careful about who he teams up with. Don't now how successful his campaign is but it must be more positive than the arsey, ill-informed bleating that seems to go on here ;)

CliveMay 9th 2008.

How can Liam Foghornarty suggest that the election of Boris Johnson is a positive advert for an Elected Mayor? The increase in turnout was purely down to a desire to give Gordon Brown a good kicking. Give it a rest Liam, and go back to doing something you were half decent at, rather than pursuing this chattering classes nonsense.

toriblareMay 9th 2008.

Sorry Clive, I'm self employed.

CliveMay 9th 2008.

Liam - why not tell us how many valid votes you've got right now? Then we'll judge how successful you're being. Apart from popping up every time there's another chance to say 'this is why we should have an Elected Mayor' you are virtually invisible. And why should anyone have any faith in you? You couldn't even do a deal with the Quiggins campaign for an Elected Mayor and there were two of you running round at the same time trying to achieve the same thing but not speaking to each other. You are as clueless as the politicians!

Liam Fogarty, amayorforliverpool.orgMay 9th 2008.

Catch-22: I want to apologise for not taking up your offer of practical support for our campaign. We have had website management issues in the past but you deserved better treatment. I cannot agree that our campaign has "done nothing" to advance the cause of an Elected Mayor. Collecting thousands of signatures, debating the issue in public forums, writing letters and articles IS advancing the cause. That's what campaigns do.I accept that in an ideal world we would have secured our petition by now, and Liverpudlians would have had their say. That effort continues. It's a thankless task but somebody's got to do it and it might as well be us. We are doing what we can to remind people that there IS an alternative to a clapped out system that keeps letting Liverpool down.The notion that I am playing John The Baptist to Professor Redmond's "Messiah" is just wrong.As for the "champagne," you've clearly mistaken me for somebody else(!)Clive: Mayors DO increase turnouts and re-engage voters. Londoners have made their choice. At least they GOT one. Liverpool's local democracy is dying of indifference. This should concern every class in our city, not just the chattering one.

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