Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
The announcement on Wednesday by the local government secretary Robert Jenrick that the Government is sending Commissioners in to run most aspects of Liverpool City Council was quite remarkable for many reasons.
First, it was fully supported by the Labour frontbench, without reservation. Second, it has not resulted in any resignations in Liverpool, and the very same councillors who have run Liverpool for decades and haven’t raised any questions about the conduct of the local leadership are still in post, and most are running for re-election on May 6. No doubt Labour will be re-elected to run the council. You couldn’t make it up.
Labour failed one of Britain’s greatest cities in the 1980s and it is failing it now. When will the electorate and citizens of Liverpool finally wake up and give them their marching orders? Surely the Labour Party nationally needs to intervene locally and suspend all the local Labour parties pending an investigation into what on earth has gone wrong.
But it is not only the Labour Party which needs to examine its utter negligence. Why had it taken the police so long to investigate the endemic corruption within the authority that has clearly been there for years?
What has the local media been so supine and failed to expose the wrongdoing, mismanagement and corruption? Why has the district auditor not intervened? It’s almost as if there is a local “establishment” which has run things by fear, intimidation and threats. If this were Italy, we’d call it a local mafia.
However, it is encouraging to note that there has been little criticism of Jenrick’s announcement and everyone seems to have accepted and been shocked by the independent report on which the Communities Secretary based his decision.
Yes, there are few on the extreme left who have accused the Government of mounting a Tory takeover, but they are whistling in the wind. There is now a real opportunity to do right by the city of Liverpool and introduce proper checks and balances to ensure this never happens again.
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May 6 will be a very important day, but we are unlikely to know the extent of the importance until well into Saturday May 8 or maybe even the Sunday. Why? Because only 20 per cent of the local election counts will take place overnight on May 6-7.
There are police & crime commissioner elections, two parliamentary by-elections and elections to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments. The London Mayoral votes won’t be counted until the Saturday, and these usually take far longer to compute than any others.
I well remember presenting my show from the count in 2012 and 2016 and being there until well past midnight. All this means that I’m going to be deprived of my usual eight-hour election night special radio show, which I’m gutted about. And I’m not on the radio on Fridays or Saturdays so I’ll miss out on my election result fix, and have to watch and listen like everyone else.
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I see the artist formerly known as Prince Harry has a new role as a Commissioner at the Aspen Institute, with a remit to explore media misinformation and ways of countering it.
May I suggest he starts with exposing all the distortions and untruths we heard in a recent interview conducted by a certain Oprah Winfrey. The names of the interviewees escape me momentarily…
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Two people I know have died this week. Tony Greaves was the architect of liberal so-called “pavement politics”. He was a thorn in the side of many liberal leaders over the decades, but he was a brilliant local politician, who served on Lancashire County Council, Colne and Pendle councils.
Indeed, he served as a Pendle councillor right up to his death on Tuesday. It was a surprise to everyone when he was elevated to the Lords in 2000, and in many ways he was an unlikely Peer. I met him through politicos back in the late 1990s. He ran a marvellous second-hand book business and he was a pleasure doing business with.
Barbara Hosking died on Sunday at the age of 94. I published her memoirs, titled Exceeding my Brief. Of the 600 books I published hers was undoubtedly in the top ten. She was a force of nature and, having left her childhood county of Cornwall for the bright lights of London in the 1950s, she worked for the Labour Party at Transport House before becoming a civil servant, ending up at Number Ten and becoming close to Ted Heath – well, as close as anyone could be. And then at the age of 90 she came out as a lesbian.
I first met he in 2016 when I was sent her manuscript. I had never heard of her and took a long time to getting around to read it, but when I did, I knew I wanted to publish it. We met for lunch and got on like a house on fire. She knew everyone and everyone loved her. And so did I. She made a real difference. And that’s surely the best epitaph anyone could have?