Knowsley’s Broken Democracy, Part 2: Absolute Power

By on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

knowsley_council_democracyThe second in a series of opinion pieces by the editor. (Read Part 1 here.)

(Too long, didn’t read? The gist: A one-party council is never democratic. With no opposition, local government can do whatever it likes. Vote wisely for a voice that really represents you.)

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

It is never a good idea to put power exclusively in the hands of a single party. Whether it’s Labour, Lib Dem or Tory, a government that has free rein to do what it wants, without an opposition to hold it to account, is a dangerous government.

Can you imagine a parliament with nothing but Conservative members? We would never put up with such an undemocratic national government – so why do we tolerate it at local level?

Knowsley is one of the few boroughs in the country to be controlled 100 percent by a single party, in this case Labour.

Who stands up when the council makes the wrong decision? Who argues the toss and presents the case for the other side? Who speaks out to expose conflicting interests and oppose corruption of power?

Essentially, a one-party council can get away with anything.

In January, Knowsley Council voted unanimously to accept a Local Plan that removes 51 percent of the borough’s greenbelt. That means that over half our greenbelt can now be sold for development. Open green space that has benefited generations of residents will be lost permanently to new housing.

Granted, one or two Labour councillors said they opposed and still do oppose the plan. But they were absent from the vote (if that was your local councillor, you may want to ask them why) and the plan sailed through without opposition.

Could opposition councillors have made a difference?

How might the result have looked if Knowsley had even a handful of non-Labour elected representatives?

We may not have even reached this vote if there had been opposition councillors to ask questions, present other evidence and publicly scrutinise the actions of the majority. In the end, an entirely different plan might have been on the table if there had been more elected voices to challenge and ask questions at every step.

Instead, this role was left to campaigners. Many of them are traditional Labour supporters, but that doesn’t matter – red, blue or yellow, a council with absolute power is a bad idea. The campaigners did their best, but ultimately their protests were easily ignored. No one on the council represented them.

You can change it

Vote wisely on 5 May. Talk to the candidates in your area, and vote for the one you believe represents the interests of you and your community.

Knowsley Council depends on residents’ loyalty to Labour to keep the status quo. They know you’ve always voted Labour, that your parents and grandparents likely voted Labour before you, and that your children are likely to vote Labour after you.

Don’t let our councillors take your vote for granted just because they’re wearing a red rosette. Make them work for your vote. If they fail you, vote differently. Look at all the candidates – independent, Lib Dem, Conservative – and ask: Who will hold the council to account? Who will argue for me and my community? Who will ask tough questions and throw a spanner in the works when the majority want to push through a decision?



  1. DJ

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Great editorial piece.

    For those of you who live in Prescot ask yourself why has the local school become one of the worst comprehensives in England when it was once a beacon school, held up as a brillaint grammar and then Comprehensive. Could it be with the intake of non Precotians dragging it down to its current level.

    Why has TESCO been allowed to kill the town centre by renting empty units and then leaving them empty?

    Why have local Prescot councillors failed time and again to listen to Prescot residents wishes? Scotchbarn Baths demolished, Parking charges introduced, Prescot Leisure Centre demolished, Green belt sold off…etc etc.

    Knowsley Council seem happy for all of the above to happen and seem to think that the status quo will never change. However, as a proud Prescotian who has watched my town lose it’s main employer, it’s leisure facilities and become a shadow of its former self under their watch, enough is enough.

    Prescot wants OUT of Knowsley and your councillors who run it like a kangaroo court! With a referendum on Europe looming, time for the same vote for Prescot and Whiston to leave this pointless little borough? Go on Knowsley, I dare you to offer that opportunity? If things are so rosy in Prescot you’ll have nowt to worry about will you!

  2. Mark

    Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Vote wisely, yes, but the trouble is Labour could put a donkey up for election and they would get in.
    Most of the old guard, the one’s that can actually still be bothered to vote, have and will always vote for Labour.

    Voter apathy is a massive issue, and those currently in power absolutely love it that way. So long as they can get enough of their brain washed shills to vote they are pretty much guaranteed to keep their power.

    • MAC

      Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Knowsley Council said they wouldn’t build on school playing fields when they closed so called surplus schools. Now they have sold them for development as they say they are not fit for use as playing fields (they were good enough for school sports when I was at school). Now they are building on them we no longer have the infrastructure to support the development. Schools and doctors surgeries are full to capacity and we have to travel further to them, what ever happened to the idea development should be SUSTAINABLE.

  3. Robert Williams

    Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    The answer is for concerned residents to put themselves forward for election to the Council. I’m sure if candidates were fielded as Independents opposed to the destruction of the Green Belt, then perhaps this Labour Council might not have it so easy.

    If I were twenty years younger, and in good health, I wouldn’t hesitate to put myself forward. Surely, there must be a number of people who would join together to form an effective opposition I would be willing to offer any administration help that I could.

    • Ray McCormack

      Monday, March 14, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      You and me both, Robert!

    • RED TED

      Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 11:32 pm


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