Sefton Labour Councillor goes Independent

It’s not been hard to pick up on the fact that Molyneux ward Labour Party have not been a happy bunch of campers for quite some time so when Sefton Cllr. Tony Carr announced he was resigning from the Sefton Council’s Labour Group, last week, to see out the rest of his term as an independent it did not come as a complete surprise to me.

If memory serves Tony was elected to serve for Molyneux ward (Southern Maghull, Melling and Aintree) in 2010 the year before I moved from Molyneux ward to Park ward (western Maghull and Lydiate) as a Lib Dem Sefton Councillor. I continued as a Sefton Councillor until 2015 so served alongside Tony for 5 years. My memory is of him being someone who was a good caseworker for residents and of a decent guy too. Like me, his background was from within the trade union movement. I think he was from UNITE, whilst I was PCS. I’ve noticed in the past that lay trade unionists can also make decent councillors as in reality the roles are not dissimilar; both need good communication skills and a willingness to help folk in difficulties.

I must admit to not really knowing Tony very well so I’m not sure where he would sit within the very wide spectrum of Labour activists. I’m guessing that he will not hold views as progressive as my own as a Social Liberal but I might be doing him an injustice there. It’s just that experience has taught me over many years as a trade unionist and politician that most Labour folk hold views that are to the right of me, some very much so.

I do hope there won’t be calls for Tony to resign his seat due to him leaving Labour to sit as an independent because my understanding is that he’s well thought of across the political divides and in particular by Molyneux ward residents.

And yes I have noted the very public allegations that Tony has made (via Facebook) with regard to his reasons for leaving Sefton Labour. Suffice to say that they are troubling indeed.

I wish Tony well as I’m not particularly tribal in my politics and am willing to say when someone from a differing political tradition to my own is doing a good job.

TUC Leader is spot on over May’s failed Brexit ‘Deal’

That Teresa May’s failed Brexit (and now withdrawn) ‘deal’ would have been bad for jobs, the economy, employment rights etc. etc. is a given simply because it’s a poorer deal than we presently have as EU members. Here’s what the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady had to say about it:-

www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/deal-will-threaten-uk-workers%E2%80%99-rights

But of course, every form of Brexit deal will only deliver a worse outcome than we presently have so no one can ever promise one that will meet, never mind better, our present situation as EU members. The TUC knows this better than most because it’s the millions of trade union members across the UK who are at risk from us leaving the EU under ANY deal.

However, I fear that Frances O’Grady has to be careful what she says with TU leaders like UNITE’s Len McCluskey trying desperately to stop Labour from adopting a pro-EU stance. Sadly there’s always been a wing of the trade union movement who have been anti-EU despite it being a really positive force for good on things like employment rights and protections. How on earth they can call themselves trade unionists beats me. As a life-long supporter of the TU movement, I’m ashamed that it has Little Englander’s in its ranks.

Public Transport on Merseyside – Are we facing a winter of discontent?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/bus-train-strikes-hit-liverpool-13853799

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site about the ongoing Merseyrail and the separate Arriva buses strikes that are hitting the Liverpool City Region – See link above

The Arriva buses strike is over pay and the Liverpool Echo article below tries to pin down what Arriva drivers are paid:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/how-much-bus-drivers-liverpool-13776304

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Trains, to be delivered in a couple of years time, are at the heart of the dispute about driver only operated trains.

The Merseyrail strikes are of course over the next generation of Merseyrail trains being run without Train Guards. A decision taken by Merseytravel (the public sector Transport Committee for the Liverpool City Region) not by Merseyrail who employ the guards.

Public support for the RMT union’s ‘Keep the Guards’ campaign seems to be holding up but I’m not sure that buses are held in the same affection as trains so life may be tougher for Unite and GMB unions who are fighting for pay rises. I guess Arriva buses passengers who have not had a pay rise themselves in many a year may be reluctant to stand with the Arriva staff who are striking. But on the other hand if workers do not fight for pay rises who will?

Whether we are entering a ‘winter of discontent’ scenario here on Merseyside with regard to public transport is yet to be seen but things are presently not looking good and I say that having been a trade union officer virtually all my working life.

Labour – Still kicking lumps out of each other whilst backing the Tories Brexit plans

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39325559

The BBC has the story – see its web site via the link above

I don’t know about you but I see Tom Watson as one of Labour’s many problems rather than someone who is trying to unite his Party.

As Deputy Leader he has gone along with Labour backing the Tories over Brexit so I rest my case.

When on earth will Labour realise it is the official opposition in Parliament rather than a Tory lap dog?

Port of Liverpool – Spending Millions but nowhere to spend a Penny

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized container ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized container ships, Seaforth.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-38610432

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Makes you wonder how when so much investment is going into the Port of Liverpool such a basic necessity of life i.e. toilets have been overlooked.

The other odd part of the BBC story that struck me was why it was seemingly being suggested that local councils should provide toilet facilities. Now I could just about understand the Port saying to say Sefton Council can you erect appropriate toilets and run then for us and we will pay whatever the cost is. But if the suggestion is that Sefton Council provide toilets funded from the public purse that is surely a non-runner.

Grangemouth refinery – A real worry that Unite nearly lost its own member’s jobs.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24671184

The BBC web site has a detailed report on the ‘saving’ of the refinery today.

As a former trade union officer I really do worry that the crisis at Grangemouth was one that was brought on by oil/gas market circumstances, a long-running internal industrial relations dispute and probably Unite, in trying not to blink first, almost ensuring that its own members lost their jobs.

Falkirk and Unite ring a bell as well over the huge Miliband/Unite dispute over the section of Labour’s parliamentary candidate recently so a heady brew of trouble was inevitable.

We British don’t do industrial relations well; it seems to be in our make up to do all we can to ensure that we don’t do industrial harmony! Of course, it is our ‘us and them approach’ that is fundamental to this industrial relations dysfunction.

But what if Unite was in effect making things worse? What I mean is were the Unite leaders more concerned with beating the Grangemouth management than they were about preserving as many jobs as possible? Sadly, this has to be a worry because British trade unions are more than capable of not seeing or ignoring the big issues in a dispute especially if they are being driven by socialist idealism.

Independent analysts seem to be pointing to the non-viable nature of the refinery in its present form and that fundamental restructuring of the oil refining business is required not only at Grangemouth but across the whole industry. On that basis were Unite simply unwilling to negotiate on the reality of that situation? If they were they were very wrong and they seem to have had to climb down a long way. They must have lost a lot of credibility with their own members but will they learn from this damaging dispute?

I do despair at times with the trade union movement as it can often be its own worst enemy.