The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above
In the wake of the appalling far right demonstration and the violence that accompanied it yesterday Liverpool City Elected Mayor Joe Anderson says he alone should decide who gets banned from demonstrating in the City.
Banning people from expressing their views, no matter how repugnant many of us may find those views, is very much a very last resort. Wanting the power to take such a decision on your own strikes me as being a worrying thing in itself. No one person should be able to take such a decision in my view.
Would the people of Liverpool want their Mayor, whomever that could be, to have such a power? It’s easy to say yes, when the demonstration is for something we personally dislike/detest but what do you say when something you want to demonstrate about gets banned because the Mayor of the day says he/she has banned the demonstrating?
Be careful what you wish for for at times in a democracy you have to allow those whom you fundamentally disagree with to have their say because if you ban them you no longer have a free society.
No idea who is behind this slogan and advertising van that has been out and about in Liverpool recently but sadly neither does the fact that it has surfaced surprise me.
Frankly, I have thought for a long time now that Joe Anderson is hardly doing Liverpool any favours with his approach to being the elected mayor of the city.
The fact that he seemingly wants to become the elected Mayor of the Merseyside/Liverpool City Region, assuming the Tory Government and some Merseyside Labour barons get one imposed on us, hardly fills me with confidence either.
As a watcher of politics and indeed a participant in it I do worry about the leadership of Liverpool. Joe Anderson comes over to me as someone so tribal that he can’t surely be the person to take Liverpool forward.
I saw this the other day on Moorfields in Liverpool:-
Click on the photo to enlarge it
And I thought the present elected Mayor of Liverpool is, in my view, a part of Liverpool’s problem and is unlikely to be a part of the solution to it.
I have long opposed an elected Metro Mayor/City Regional Mayor/Merseyside Mayor call it what you will and without going over too much ground this is why:-
* Merseyside is too small to be a successful competitive City Region with areas such as Ellesmere Port and West Lancashire being excluded from it.
* A Borough like Sefton which has a majority border with Lancashire could end up being even more disconnected with its neighbouring communities. I am thinking of Southport, Lydiate and Formby here especially.
* What’s so cleaver about centralising power in one person’s hands? Surely this is an illiberal idea that goes against the long held view in the UK about how local governance should be set up. Indeed, it is an American idea imported to the UK.
* Electing a candidate whom people can genuinely respect would be crucial if the idea is taken forward on Merseyside against all my other significant reservations/objections above. A Party hack from one particular political tribe who wants to lord it over Merseyside will be no good for anyone.
But despite my reservations is it going to happen? Well it seems it may well just do so if you take on board what is said in the Liverpool Echo article – see link above.
Of course Liverpool already has an elected City Mayor but the role was in reality imposed on the City without a referendum by Labour-run Liverpool City Council. On that basis clearly he electoral legitimacy test of whether the City wanted a elected mayor at all was dodged. The only say Liverpool folk got was who was going to get the job.
What’s more quite a few cities/communities that have held referendums on whether they wanted an elected mayor have said no they don’t. Where elected mayors have been successful will have been where, probably more by chance than anything else, a person of widely respected stature has been elected. In other words it is a game of chance; get a good elected mayor and it may possibly work out get a bad one and it could be an utter nightmare. Such is the result when power is not shared by a group of elected people.
I still think it is a bad way forward and will be campaigning against this Americanisation of UK local government.