Labour Party loyalists have reacted angrily to the party's support for the Conservative government placing Liverpool city council under administration.
Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick announced to Parliament on Wednesday afternoon that commissioners would be appointed to run the northwestern port city's government for a minimum of three years in light of Max Caller's report — launched following the December 2020 arrest of then-mayor Joe Anderson.
Jenrick said the report found “multiple apparent failures by Liverpool City Council" in planning, highways, governance, the award of "dubious contracts" and an “overall environment of intimidation”.
Anderson and four other men were arrested for bribery and witness intimidation last December following a three-month police-led corruption investigation into building and development contracts, prompting his resignation.
Labour's MPs in the city lined up with opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer to support the government's decision.
"The contents of the very damning report makes me angry", Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson said, but added that the city was "resilient" enough to come back from the scandal.
— Kim Johnson MP (@KimJohnsonMP) March 24, 2021
Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden threw a softball question to Jenrick, asking him to "reassure" Liverpudlians that this was "not a takeover." Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne and Liverpool Wavetree's Paula Barker made similar interventions, with Barker calling the report's findings “deeply worrying”.
— Dan Carden MP (@DanCardenMP) March 24, 2021
Liverpool's acting mayor, Labour councillor Wendy Simon, said it was a "difficult day" for her and her council colleagues, and that the report made "tough reading", while pledging to "rebuild your trust and confidence".
— Liverpool City Council (@lpoolcouncil) March 24, 2021
One of the four suspects is widely reported to be a former Labour council deputy leader, Derek Hatton, who was removed from office and charged after helping set a city budget £30 million higher than the "rate-cap" limit set by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. Hatton, now a property developer, broke his three-month Twitter silence since the arrests to condemn the government plans.
— Derek Hatton (@DegsyHatton) March 24, 2021
"The Labour Party has been embarrassingly and disgracefully silent over this whole affair, and colluded with the ‘guilty until proved innocent' brigade", Hatton charged.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) March 24, 2021
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza 🏳️🌈 (@TheMendozaWoman) March 24, 2021
— 💛❤️Marie 🌹🇪🇭 (@Opinionista_NE) March 24, 2021
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) March 24, 2021
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) March 24, 2021