Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/514/3569
The Socialist 13 December 2007 |
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Sefton's first citizen "cheating the system"
JUST OVER two years ago, New Labour's rulers in Sefton on Merseyside victimised six Unison activists for protesting against privatising the borough's housing stock. Trumped-up charges involving intimidation and violence were brought against them, even though police officers on duty during the protest reported no illegal behaviour, nor did CCTV video footage justify the allegations.
Merseyside Socialist Party
A key witness at the hearings was the then mayor of Sefton, John Walker. When Unison representatives challenged his evidence, the management "prosecutor" haughtily asked whether activists were suggesting that the borough's first citizen was telling lies. Clearly he was, and that is not all he lied about. On 3 December he was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to 15 months imprisonment for benefit fraud! His wife was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.
In the trial judge's words: "As the two of you were posturing in your civic finery and were being chauffeured around in your publicly-funded limousine you were cheating the system."
The trial generated great interest on Merseyside. Evidence from the borough's chief executive implied that the mayor got drunk at civic functions and then rang in the next day cancelling engagements. Even the local priest gave evidence of the sprightly way the mayor went down the aisle to take mass, despite claiming to be unable to walk without assistance!
The fraud amounted to £38,000 and the money was used to send their daughter to a private school! So a New Labour councillor was content to preside over cuts in the borough's education system, as long as his own daughter did not suffer from them.
Sefton includes working-class areas like Bootle and Litherland, where poverty is rife. No wonder Socialist Party member Pete Glover gets the highest vote of any left candidate on Merseyside when he regularly comes second to New Labour in municipal elections there.
This sordid incident gives a glimpse of the extent of corruption in New Labour, showing that the bottom is no different from the top, where the sleaze of illegal funding has recently undermined the Brown government's credibility.
The Campaign for a New Workers Party and the Socialist Party offer workers an alternative to right-wing corruption, cuts and junkets. Who can sincerely say that this alternative is not necessary?