Friday, 14 April 2017

The imminent ascent of Rotheram

Image Source: Twitter
Written By: Scott Gunnion

To be frank, I am both surprised and slightly taken aback by the mock furore surrounding Steve Rotheram's latest campaign leaflet that takes aim at the Tories, as striking and glossy as it may be.

I've been left largely confused.

What did it say that hadn't already been said hundreds of times of before, and that is a conservative estimate?

Liverpool is anti-Tory to its core. Unapologetically so.

The leaflet was both visually striking and acutely (indeed effortlessly) tuned to the concerns of its target electorate.

If anything, the leaflet is flawed only in that it neglectfully restricts Merseyside's woes to the well-documented traumas of the 1980s and fails to acknowledge that Liverpool did not suddenly rise like a Phoenix to become a cultural and economic powerhouse under 13 years of Labour rule. Liverpool was no heir to Blair and remained stale and in decline under Brown.

The fact that the Conservatives routinely receive as little as 5-10% of the vote across the length and breadth of Liverpool is plainly indicative of the fact that they do not, have never, and can (probably) never hope to identify with the voters of the Liverpool city region.

The leaflet spoke to and delved deeply into Liverpool's deep anti-Tory sentiment.

It is and will no doubt be a vote-winner, not a loser, in what is reliable Labour territory. Will it increase turnout? No. But will it encourage those already inclined to vote? Yes. Of that, I am in no doubt.

The epic dominance of Labour in the Liverpool city region leaves a vacuum that needs to be filled. But it poses this question: how do you establish and define yourself against an enemy when your nearest rival is polling as little as 10% and fortune happens that you enjoy a monstrous majority exceeding 50%, even on a disappointing day?

Rotheram's leaflet is confident, albeit unremarkable, in most respects, completely unexceptional.

Nothing fresh, nothing new, but reassuring to the voters it seeks to appeal to in its frank familiarity.

It marks him out as a forceful leader with a deep understanding of his constituency's past and a towering, infinite zeal for the passion and ideas that will drive its future.

To the council members on the opposing side of this debate, I say: quit your bitching and quit your biting. Accept that new leadership is on the horizon and make a conscious effort to be part of the solution and not the problem. It is far easier to protest than it is to make a positive contribution. Distinction is found in devotion, not dissent.

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