I mentioned the rather odd matter of the Champion newspaper reporting on the election of a new Lydiate Parish Chairman 6 days before it actually happened recently but here are some further impressions of Labour running a parish council.
Party political? Very much so and it led my colleague Cllr. Mark Courtney to point that out only a few minutes into the first meeting with Labour in charge. He had not seen the Council being used for party political advantage before and did not care for it.
But what was Mark getting at? Well on arriving at Lydiate Village Centre we were told we could not go into the meeting room until 7pm because the Labour Group were having a pre-meeting. Shades of what goes on at Maghull Town Council here, a pre-meeting (to decide what will happen at the public meeting?) and it does not shine our democratic processes in a good light at all! By the way I do hope that Labour will be paying for the hire of the room.
When it came to appointing a councillor to act as Parish Press Liaison it very quickly became apparent that it was going to be a party political position i.e. one to glorify the Labour Party. I made my views known and was attacked for the Lib Dems allegedly making Lydiate Parish Council political! What was meant was that the new Labour members thought that we had been the first political party to stand for the Parish Council so therefore we had started the party politicalisation of Lydiate. Well no we were not and clearly Labour members need to learn about the history of the council they have just got control of.
In fact Lydiate has had Labour members before, up until the early 1980’s I recall and it has also had Conservative and independents members. It has even had a member not so long ago who is now a Labour member of West Lancs Borough Council. Lib Dems making Lydiate PC party political? Get your local history right please Labour.
But what these two incidents said to me was that Labour were saying ‘our way or no way’. They were exhibiting that all too obvious tribalism that I have mentioned in previous posts on this web site.
Labour did not seem to be able to grasp that when former Cllr. Dave Russell held the press liaison role for Lydiate PC he did not use it to glorify the Lib Dems and that he simply reported the facts in a straight forward way. In Dave’s day we did not learn about what the Parish Council had done in the paper before the Council had actually discussed the matter. And I say that as I found it to be exactly what happened on Maghull Town Council when Labour took control. The number of times I read in the Champion newspaper what the Town Council was up to when as a Council member I had no idea before seeing the article.
Lydiate PC has always been inclusive no matter who was a member of it, now it seems to be going down the line of being exclusive i.e. if you are not a Labour member of it some things will go on in the background that you know nothing much of, if anything, at all. I would very much like to be proved wrong here I would add.
I suppose all this shows why we Liberals have such a different approach to politics from Labour. It’s not a socialism V liberalism issue its more that the Labour Party is very much a tribal organisation that simply does not grasp or want to grasp that their secret, exclusive way of running a council is wrong. They don’t understand our open inclusive approach to matters although they often talk about openness as though only their interpretation of it can be right.
Labour are all about power and control over councils and community organisations. Empowerment is pretty much a dirty word to them except if people are empowered on Labour’s terms and conditions.
I am sure we will soon read all kinds of stories in the Champion newspaper about how Labour have done this, that or the other for Lydiate and how terrible previous non-Labour councillors were. We have of course been around this circle once before locally with Maghull Town Council.
Oh and one final thing, it looks like Lydiate under Labour will be leaning on Maghull Labour for support and guidance. Bearing in mind that Maghull Labour lean on Bootle Labour for the same thing will they soon be implementing the wishes of Bootle Labour in the Parish of Lydiate? Not so much empowerment more centralisation of power in Bootle which is a process that has been going on for some time now across the Borough of Sefton under Labour rule. Pretty soon it could even be centralisation of power in Liverpool if Liverpool’s Labour Mayor gets his way under the Tory Government’s guidance and we end up with a Mersey Metro Mayor!
And what does this mean for Lydiate? Time will tell but the indications from the first meeting of Lydiate PC under Labour is that the Labour Party will always come first and everything else second.