Sunday, February 28, 2010

Luciana Berger, Liverpool and a series of political errors

What a happy band of campers the Liverpool Labour Party are - not! Have a look at this spat between a senior councillor and Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle over the selection of Luciana Berger as Labour candidate for the marginal seat of Liverpool Wavertree, where Liberal Democrat Colin Eldridge came a close second in 2005 and has been working tirelessly for local people since.

It might be easy to dismiss Kilfoyle's attack as just another sexist old Labour dinosaur having a go at a young woman - except that it's not so much inexperience that Luciana Berger shows, it's blatant insensitivity and even discourtesy.

The Liverpool Echo set Luciana a test to see if she knew some basic facts about the city, a reasonable expectation for a parliamentary candidate. She barely scraped a pass. It is with great smugness that I can say that not only did I get double Luciana's score (ie 100%), but I also beat Mark and Andrew. This is a special moment I will treasure! I'm not a great football fan but you can't think of Liverpool without its amazing football heritage. Bill Shankly is every bit as much of a Liverpool legend as the Beatles.

If you want to represent somewhere in Parliament, I don't think you have to come from there, or even necessarily live within the constituency boundaries. I do, however, think that you should have some sort of affinity with the place, and you should know a fair bit about it. It's not actually that difficult in these days of Google. Did she even read the Wikipedia page which is a good start and would at least have told her who Bill Shankly was.

Andrew criticises her for following the Sun on Twitter. Now, we all follow people we don't support. I follow Nadine Dorries, for goodness sake, and Christine Hamilton, the Labourlost, sorry, list, blog. The first two at least make the experience of Twitter amusing. I follow all the teams in Formula One, although my heart lies wherever Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn are.

That's all quite reasonable. The Sun, however, has a unique and ignominious history as far as Liverpool is concerned. Even almost 21 years later, feelings run high about its disgraceful coverage of the tragedy. Look at some of the terrible lies it told, as reported by the Guardian some years later. In Luciana Berger's position, I would have thought twice about even a tenuous online association with a publication that was responsible for so much outrage.

So in this febrile atmosphere for Liverpool Labour, and after one selection which was criticised, they now have to go through the process again in Kilfoyle's seat. Yet another reason why the election will not be before 6th May.

In Liverpool Wavertree, the choice will be between a new Labour candidate who seems to care even less than she knows about the area and Colin Eldridge, who has served the area well for years. Colin came close last time round and what's happened in the local Labour party surely can't do his chances any harm.

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