Former mayor promised an ‘ethical charter’ that would block future events. His ‘left’ successor is unwilling to act – but a handful of councillors break whip to resist
The Labour party has whipped its councillors – the vast majority of Liverpool City Council – not to vote against allowing a controversial arms fair to take place in the city on Wednesday evening. Only a handful of councillors took a stand to defy the whip and vote against the event.
Labour’s former mayor Joe Anderson, considered by most to be to the right of the party, Protest this Sunday against Liverpool arms fair – SKWAWKBOX. His successor, also coincidentally named Jo Anderson, is notionally to his left – but is unwilling to take action to block the event.
Senior councillors claim that the council is powerless to prevent the fair, but last year’s event was successfully blocked and the council owns the ACC conference venue on the city’s docks. Worries about legal action were also raised at the council meeting as a reason the event could not be stopped – but again, last year’s event was cancelled and councillors say that previous blood sports events and a speaking event involving a homophobic evangelical pastor were cancelled by the council.
Of Liverpool’s more than 70 Labour councillors, only a handful were prepared to break the whip – two of them not even technically Labour councillors at the moment, although the party still demands their compliance and a percentage of their councillor allowance, despite having suspended their party membership.
Well-known anti-racism campaigner Alan Gibbons and former mayoral candidate Anna Rothery – groundlessly and dishonestly removed as the candidate in this year’s mayoral election to make way for the twice-bankrupt Anderson – spoke powerfully against the event and Sam Gorst, Dave Cummings, Lena Simic and Alison Clarke also stood against it, backing a motion by the Greens to cancel.
Despite mass protests in the city by activists horrified at the use of UK weapons against Yemenis, Palestinians and other oppressed peoples, the arms fair looks set to proceed. Those who stood against it, despite the likely personal consequences, are to be applauded.
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