Liverpool’s political leaders react to general election announcement

Liverpool’s political leaders are gearing up for the forthcoming general election.

After months of speculation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak finally stepped out onto Downing Street on Wednesday to confirm when the vote would be. Amid the pouring rain, the Conservative leader announced that the country will be given the chance to have its say on who governs it on 4 July.

With the six-week campaign now underway, the leaders of the major groups on Liverpool Council’s benches have given their verdict on the impending vote.

As it stands, Keir Starmer and the Labour Party are poised to take back the keys to 10 Downing Street after 14 years of Tory rule. The party’s leader in Liverpool, Cllr Liam Robinson, was effusive about their offering going into the summer vote.

He said, “This election is about change, stopping chaos with the Conservatives, and beginning to rebuild Britain with Labour. The people of Liverpool have been let down for far too long, only Labour has a plan to cut NHS waiting times and get the economy growing again.

“I’m very excited about The New Deal for Working People, a genuine living wage and banning zero hour contracts will make a real difference overnight here in our communities.”

In last year’s all-out local elections, the one area where Labour was given a bloody nose was Garston, where they suffered losses to the Liverpool Community Independents. The three-strong group, consisting of two former Labour members in Cllrs Alan Gibbons and Sam Gorst, will be hoping to do so again when the latter stands against sitting MP Maria Eagle in the race.

Group leader Cllr Gibbons explained why they were challenging the long-serving Labour veteran. He said, “Our group of three councillors is new, but this is a crucial election against the background of crumbling public services at home and a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

“As a result we feel we are duty bound to stand a candidate, so we are putting forward Cllr Sam Gorst in Liverpool Garston. The sitting MP Maria Eagle represents the Labour establishment. Starmer and Reeves keep the two-child benefit cap while saying there should be no cap on bankers’ bonuses.

“They refuse to say there will be an end to constant cuts in public services. Most morally damaging of all, Maria Eagle failed to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza. The Tories can’t win in Garston so voters can choose to vote for principle.

“It would be historic to defeat Labour in its heartland, but we will be campaigning for a grassroots, socialist alternative.”

The fortunes of the Liberal Democrats could be one of the defining elements of the election should a hung Parliament come into play. Cllr Carl Cashman has been leading the Liverpool group for the last 12 months.

He said, “It’s about time that Rishi Sunak called a much needed General Election. The Tories are stale and the people of Liverpool are fed up of them.

“Unfortunately I don’t hold out much hope for a Starmer-led Labour government, which I think will just be Tories in red ties.”

One party that many disillusioned Labour voters have indicated they could move towards is the Greens. Cllr Tom Crone leads the three-strong group in Liverpool and said his party would target its efforts in specific seats.

He said, “We are about to put our resources and campaigning into standing in all the seats that cover our city, but targeting the Wavertree constituency where we have strong Green support. Let’s be clear. There is no risk of the Conservatives – or their willing partners the Liberal Democrats, who helped out for five out of 14 years of misrule – winning in Liverpool.

“In Liverpool, we want you to vote for the strongest opposition party as shown by the result in the most recent Metro Mayor election. It’s time to end 14 years of a blue-led coalition of chaos in government.

“Keir Starmer offers a near-identical set of policies to the Conservatives on the issues that matter.”

The Wavertree seat will also be contested by the Liberal Party, who also hold three seats at Liverpool Town Hall. Their leader, Cllr Steve Radford, wasn’t backward in coming forward about the Prime Minister’s chances of another five years.

He said, “He’s jumped before he was pushed and guillotined by his own party. We will be fielding candidates in areas of strength like Merseyside and Cornwall, with new members in Scotland.

“The country is broken, there’s never been a decade where things are worse than at the start of a government. Continuing with the same policies won’t change anything with Keir Starmer, it will add to the disillusionment.”

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