Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16544
Responding to distortions about Liverpool's socialist council
An open letter responding to an article by the Independent's Jane Merrick (Independent 13 April 2013), from Tony Mulhearn, surcharged Liverpool City Councillor and last elected president of the Liverpool District Labour Party.
Jane Merrick's use of the term 'My city' (does she still live in Liverpool?) is the signal that, like many Liverpudlians who have 'made good', she is shaping up to put the boot in on the Liverpool socialist council [1983-7], using Derek Hatton's flamboyance as an excuse to pen something which reads like a composite editorial from the Sun, the Mail, the Express and the then Liverpool Echo, complete with unproven allegations of vandalism by local authority worker. She even buttresses her case with millionaire Lord Kinnock's treacherous 'grotesque chaos' attack in 1985 to lend credence to her intemperate language.
She reinforces her true agenda when she pays homage to another millionaire, Lord Heseltine, for his assistance with some regeneration cash, neglecting to note that the same Tory slashed £120 million from Liverpool's budget between 1979 and 1983.
As to the worry her mother may have experienced as a result of the redundancy notice tactic, that's unfortunate, but she is using the only phoney weapon at her disposal to claim that the 47 [Liverpool councillors] set Liverpool back a generation.
If she would have carried out some rigorous research which one would expect from someone with the grand title of 'the political editor of the Independent on Sunday', she would have found that the 47 inherited a city in which 65% of its manufacturing had collapsed, when Liverpool was dubbed the 'Bermuda triangle' of British capitalism, and when major manufacturing firms had disappeared with the loss of 100,000 jobs. This was before the 47 were elected.
I assume that as a teacher, her mother belonged to a teachers' union. The tragedy is that the leadership of the main teachers' union in those years systematically undermined the campaign of the council to obtain resources precisely to defend her mother's wages and conditions and to resist the demand of Heseltine's colleagues to reduce the number of teachers, going so far as to take legal action against the council claiming they lost pay as a result of strike action called by the other unions in support of Liverpool's campaign for more government resources.
This was at a time when Liverpool City Council's workforce (including her mother) enjoyed the best wages and conditions when compared to all other councils in the country.
It's significant that Ms Merrick, in her eagerness to regurgitate the calumnies of the right-wing press, makes no mention of the houses built. She refers to the jobs created, the nursery classes opened, as some kind of irresponsible action, then blames us for rising unemployment in Thatcher's Britain. That kind of mentality defies rational analysis.
Perhaps the next time she is tempted to dip her pen in arsenic she might pause to reflect on the real story of the Liverpool 47.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 22 April 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.