When I was a callow revolutionary activist in the early 80s, trying to persuade "de youth" on Merseyside council estates to read Trotsky on the Revolutionary Party when all they really wanted to do was go out & get pissed on a Friday night, the Liberals were one of the enemy. Their leader in Liverpool, Sir Trevor Jones, a man given to ostentatiously chomping cigars while guiding Michael Heseltine around riot-torn Toxteth, was referred to as "Jones the vote", a backhanded comment on the Liberals' command of local "pavement" politics.
I was temporarily reminded of this last week when it was reported by the Liverpool Echo that today's Lib Dems in the city have chosen a former cheerleader for Ian Paisley to contest Croxteth in next May's elections: http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100regionalnews/tm_headline=lib-dems-to-adopt-paisley .
Phil Moffat, according to the paper, "was once linked with plans to set up England's first branch of the radical Northern Irish political party in the city."
It seems that Moffat is also one of those sad sods who do battle with local officialdom over the "right" to fly the Union flag on St George's Day; he isn't just bigoted, he's confused.
One wholly unexpected benefit of the bomb damage that Liverpool suffered during the 1939-1945 war was a clear-out of those slum areas in the city where vile sectarianism held sway. The cramped, densely populated area of Everton was a hotbed of support for the Orange Lodge. The area overlooked the Scotland Road district, which had been populated by Irish Catholics in the wake of the famine-induced migration. Attacks were frequent &, by some accounts, particularly brutal. Both sides could instigate the trouble. However, the Protestants of Everton were openly goaded by their pastors to see the "papists" in their midst as a threat.
Liverpool has since moved on. These days it is unthinkable to raise religion as a possible source of conflict in the city.
Perhaps I'm giving this Moffat character too much attention. He clearly seems to be a buffoon with an ego. However, the real question to emerge from this distasteful little story is what does it say about the Lib Dems in Liverpool? The Storey administration, now the Bradley administration, like to quote the slogan about 2008: "The World In One City". How does this square with selecting a candidate who is happy to defend bigotry?
Last week's decision by Sefton Council to retain Antony Gormley's "Iron Men" on Crosby beach was a welcome sign of sanity & sagacity, not qualities I would always ascribe to Sefton's elected representatives. A few days prior to the decision the local Tories decided to remove Cllr Debi Jones from Sefton's planning committee (http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/liverpooldailypost/news/regionalnews/tm_headline=iron-men--8217-s-- ).
I highlighted Cllr Jones' witless utterances on the matter last year. Hoping to create an issue which would help her as the Tories' candidate for the Crosby constituency at the next election, she instead drew attention to her own cultural ignorance & embarrassed senior Tories. Most importantly, she was also out of step with her would-be constituents on Gormley's work.
A brief plug for a local website with a difference:
It takes an alternative look at how the city fathers are really planning for 2008, & much more besides.