Liverpool has two mayors. Well, actually that’s three if you include the Lord Mayor. Then again, it’s just one if you exclude the Liverpool City Region Mayor, who is elected by voters in six boroughs: Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.
Liverpool does things differently! When New Labour swept all before it at the general election of 1997, Lib Dems took control of the council. As the Lib Dems marched into Downing Street hand-in-hand with the Tories in 2010, they were shown the exit door in Liverpool and Labour was ushered back in.
We’re now looking to do something different in 2021 as the Green Party candidates for Liverpool Council Mayor and Liverpool City Region ‘Metro’ Mayor.
Greens have been steadily growing in influence across the City Region. Liverpool now has four Green councillors, Knowsley three, St Helens two, and Wirral two.
Stephen Bush, the political editor of the New Statesman, said earlier this year: “To my eyes, Solihull, Bristol and the surrounding area, and Liverpool, in that order, are the places I would be most excited about were I a Green.”
We agree, but he may have the ordering a little wrong!
We have a lot going for us. There is a groundswell of grassroots discontent with Labour, which controls all six borough councils. In Liverpool, Labour has been riven by internal feuds since the arrest of the outgoing mayor, Joe Anderson. His arrest follows years of police investigations into property and development deals. He has made loud and vociferous denials of wrongdoing, while a government inspection team has arrived from Westminster to investigate wider governance issues.
Nowhere across the City Region has Labour been able to tackle the long-term issues of deep-rooted poverty, inequality and environmental crisis. Its failure shows in the fabric of our towns and city and is felt acutely in the everyday lives of people struggling to keep going in the face of Covid-19.
Two Green Mayors working together on a shared agenda would be a marked contrast to the Labour squabbling that has stalled progress on any progressive pro-environment agenda.
We are committed to working together, with trade unions and civil society, to deliver a net zero carbon economy by 2030. Our Green new deal will be people-driven through citizens assemblies. We could protect 1.5 million people’s livelihoods here through a Universal Basic Income while we transition jobs away from Labour’s failed development projects and stalled international tourism toward sustainable work of the future.
We talk about being ‘clean and green’ because we know people have had enough of dodgy, behind-doors deals and want decisions taken in the open that protect their futures and the future of our natural environment.
These are local elections and that means they touch people’s everyday lives. People really care about the overflowing bins, cars blocking pavements, litter in parks, increased numbers of children in care, domestic violence services starved of funds, street homelessness, and education denied to any child without a laptop and the money to pay for broadband.
Green councillors and activists are working in our communities every day on these issues and we are well placed to listen and act, if we are given the chance.
However, there is a problem in getting a hearing in Labour-dominated areas that has been made worse by the impact of the pandemic.
Our local media has a relatively high reach into our communities, but it is dominated by the voices of those who wield the power, Labour voices. That’s just the way it is but in normal times we are able to reach our communities through our activism, by being involved, by staying in touch with leaflets and door knocking.
For much of the last year we have been effectively silenced. Of course, that is the same for the other parties, but the other parties here still have their usual access to the media and can also pay for leaflet distribution, social media campaigns linked to postal voting sign ups and much more.
We’re doing our very best to overcome these obstacles with wonderful films, more social media, meeting voters online for Q&As, getting on the telephone and tapping into the boundless energy of our members and supporters.
Tom Crone leads the Green Party Group on Liverpool City Council and has represented St Michaels Ward for the Green Party since 2014.
Gary Cargill is a Green Party activist and actor.