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Breaking: 6 Liverpool Labour councillors say they will rebel against order to vote for cuts

Principled stand by five councillors – including former mayor Joe Anderson’s daughter – set to rock Labour and could lead to de facto independent opposition group as party threatens ‘severe disciplinary action’

Image copyright S Walker

Six Liverpool councillors have issued a statement today that they cannot and will not vote for the cuts in the city’s budget mandated by the Labour party and Tory-appointed commissioners when they go to a vote of councillors this week.

The statement, signed by Councillors Alison Clarke, Alan Gibbons, Rona Heron, Alfie Hincks, Lindsay Melia and Joanne Calvert – daughter of former city mayor Joe Anderson – says:

We can’t and won’t vote for cuts.

As a matter of personal conscience and political judgement, we have come to the decision that we have no choice but to vote against this year’s Liverpool City Council budget on 2nd March.

We have supported attempts to draw up proposals that would amount to a no-cuts alternative. All these efforts have been rejected. The main elements of the budget are largely unchanged since the beginning of the consultation process.

We can’t accept that the recommended level of funds held in reserve for 2022/3 should rise by £10.7m when the city faces brutal cuts.

We can’t accept cuts such as those to social care and transport for children with special needs and disabilities, services that are vital to the families who rely on them. We oppose the failure to secure community-run libraries, mainly in the north of the city, which will be put at risk by an uncertain bidding process.

We oppose the green bins charge, a retrograde step at a time of environmental crisis.

The budget does not have the strong elements of investment the people of Liverpool deserve and amounts to a conventional cost-cutting exercise and a significant council tax rise at a time when there is a cost-of-living crisis and people are increasingly dependent on vital services. At the same time, the commissioners receive a backdated pay rise of 50% and expenses. This is so wrong.

We have been advised that voting against the budget will result in severe disciplinary action by the Labour Party, but we are prepared to accept the consequences of our decision. We were not elected to make life harder for the people we represent.

We understand the difficult situation that Tory cuts have forced on us, and we have no wish to undermine colleagues. Ultimately, we are responsible to our conscience and our communities.

The Labour Party should be leading efforts to expose the Tories’ twelve-year war on local government.

There has to be an alternative to Labour councils implementing Tory cuts.

Labour’s attempt to browbeat the councillors into submission with threats of ‘severe disciplinary action’ looks set to split off at least five councillors into what is likely to become the de facto official opposition group on the council if they continue to stand as a group they will form the official opposition on the council. Especially if, as is likely, they join forces with former Labour councillor Sam Gorst, already unjustly expelled by the party, and Cllr Sarah Morton and former Lord Mayor Anna Rothery, who quit the party in disgust at the leadership’s conduct.

And greater still if the long-rumoured caucus of other Labour councillors joins them.

The principled stand against cuts echoes that of ‘the 47’, the still-legendary group of Liverpool Labour councillors expelled from office for saying they would rather ‘break the law [against an unbalanced budget] than break the poor’ – except now they face persecution by the hollow shell of their own party instead of a Tory-run state.

Note, this article originally named five councillors. A sixth, Lindsay Melia, has now joined the group.

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  1. This is what conscience entails; being prepared to stand up for your beliefs, regardless of the consequences, unlike those 11 cowards in the PLP.

    Stand firm, councillors!

    1. Glad you said it timfrom…cowards and what s the point of being a councillor or a mp if youre going to back down on a point of principle when it comes to the lives of those you are supposed to represent.Best news for a long time in the murky world of labour party politicians…Councillors in Liverpool support the working class electorate?that must be good news in this labour party….!

    2. Reply to Timfrom
      I don’t know if the 11 were cowards or just didn’t want to have their hands forced at this time.
      In my opinion if Starmer had withdrawn the whip from them all they would have had to no alternative but to form an independent socialist group which would in effect have been the nucleus of a new party.
      I think that a split with Labour is definitely on the cards but as I have posted previously we have to have everything in place before we do this. The most important thing we have to do is secure is TU funding and affiliation. Until this is in place and the Unions come out publicly in support of a new party it would be madness to break away.
      I think Starmer is well aware of this and that is why he is trying to force the issue and why his supporters are urging us to split now. They want us to fail just like to other break away parties have done over the years – Respect , the Socialist Party, UKIP, Change UK, SDP, etc- they all crashed and burned.
      We get only one chance at this and if we are not going to do likewise it is vital we make the break at a time of our own choosing- when we are well prepared with everything in place -only then will we have a fighting chance of success.

  2. These five councillors’ action will test opinion of Labour voters on the streets and is welcomed if only for that reason. Ideally, the move will be repeated in other councils.

    I’m not sure yet, but I think the democratic left might be pleasantly surprised at the response voters give this strategy in Liverpool and elsewhere.

    And of course, the move’s significance to the development of a ‘new party’ that is electorally compelling and sustainable is considerable. Exciting times.

  3. We often hear the advice to ‘do the right thing’. These five councillors are taking that to heed and setting an example to others to remember why they were elected, which wasn’t to toe the line set by Starmer and the other Tories.

    1. Realistically steve h and co Marie Antoinette said much the same thing before meeting madam guillotine.!The people have the power they just need to understand it.!

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