Young politicians should be embraced not pushed out

Cllr Jake Morrison, 20

Cllr Jake Morrison, 20

The Labour Party’s youngest councillor, Jake Morrison, was suspended earlier this month by his own party for an alleged row between himself and a Liverpool MP. The allegations were made by Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree. She describes the twenty year old as having a “complete lack of teamwork”. He claims she has never given him a chance. But does the suspension of a young councillor do more harm than good? Does it prevent the next generation of politicians from following their dreams and goals?

I am a great believer in local politics and government. It can certainly do a lot of good. The opportunity to bring up local issues that matter within the community is something of great recognition for a councillor and MP, non-more so than a younger member. There does, however, appear to be a negative representation about local government when it comes to issues about expenses, education and decision-making. All influence and change voters’ minds throughout any political career. For a younger person it may be more difficult to handle, but it shouldn’t prevent people from joining politics, especially as the door opens to welcome more independent candidates.

Decisions and U-turns are crucial to a success of a government. Too many decisions that too many people dislike will turn voters against your party, whilst too many U-turns will suggest that your party is not competent enough of leading the country. The way in which a leader manages and presents himself is crucial when connecting to the ordinary voter. And with every term that passes, it appears that the “three main” parties that once stood for such different ideologies have become merged and there is no clear distinction as to where one party ends and another one begins. There is now more room than ever for independent candidates to stand up and be heard. There has been an overwhelming support to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in light of political scandals and failures to serve by politicians. Seven out of ten people I have spoken to claim they will vote for UKIP or a candidate not from the main parties at the next general election. But back to the original question. If a young individual wants to join politics, then they should be embraced and welcomed for wanting to make a difference to social issues, including education, poverty and welfare. Whilst Cllr Morrison has stressed he has always and will continue to support the Labour Party, there is a big enough gap today for a young candidate to stand up and devise a campaign that they believe is right for their community. A stand-out candidate.

Whilst a stand-out candidate is needed to ensure a strong relationship begins, there does need to be a positive working environment. Cllr Morrison sticks out in my mind, not because of his politics, but because he is Liverpool’s youngest councillor. That goes a long way, especially in keeping young voters interested in politics. He is portrayed as a confident, young and positive individual. Even when he claimed that Luciana Berger MP had made “his life unbearable”, his attitude and presence was still largely positive and the determination to continue with his job came across very well. Luciana Berger MP has denied the allegations made by Mr Morrison, but despite that we must applaud the motivation and drive of the young councillor to continue despite these hiccups to his role.

Luciana Berger stated: “Of the 14 Labour councillors in the Wavertree Constituency you are the only one who chooses not to engage with my office, or get involved with our constituency activities.” Ofcourse it is impossible to determine what happened and whilst an internal party investigation is underway, we cannot be certain to make judgements.

What I do believe, however, is that we should welcome new and young life into politics. The next generation of councillors and MP’s are around and could be living next door to you. We must admire a young generation who are determined to make a stand, work for their communities and ensure their heart is where it needs to be.

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“No-Brainer” – Get the ducks out of the dock

And where better place to return to than one of the stories I last featured. The Liverpool Yellow Duckmarine.

Three months after one of Liverpool’s iconic yellow bus/boats sank in the Albert Dock, this weekend saw a “disaster” unfold. All in front of hundreds of people who watched from the dock walls of the freezing water below. Another one of the fleet sank. This time, full of passengers and tourists.

The incident unfolded just after 4pm on Saturday 15th June when “Quacker 1”, the same vehicle The Queen had travelled in, entered the waters of the Albert Dock in the “splashdown” finale. On board, terrified passengers have been quoted as saying that the vessel almost immediately began to sink into the waters just seconds after it entered. It remains unknown as to what caused the sinking, although a loss of power or the impact of the water as the bus entered is being considered.

Tourist Terror - Passengers jump to safety as the craft goes down.

Tourist Terror – Passengers jump to safety as the craft goes down.

Amateur video footage has also been released (see below), showing the “duck” filling with water and eventually tipping, becoming nearly completed submerged. The footage, filmed by one of the many onlookers, shows the passengers leaping to safety into the dock waters, whilst tourists on dry land threw down life rings in concern of the safety of those left perishing in the waters. As the bus becomes nearly fully submerged under the water, one onlooker shouts “there’s still people in there”. All of those on board had a lucky yet damp escape.

All of the fleet have been grounded. On Sunday (the day after the incident), a popular tourist day in Liverpool, there was no sight of any of the amphibious vehicles in the city centre or at the tourist drop off zone, close to the Albert Dock complex. In a statement, the Yellow Duckmarine have insisted that the vehicles were carrying valid certificates to hold passengers and that “following the incident involving Quacker 1, we are working closely with our regulatory body, The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Merseyside Police.” All of the vehicles are now in storage whilst an investigation takes place.

The Final Haul - The Duck is raised from the water. But will it be for the final time?

The Final Haul – The Duck is raised from the water. But will it be for the final time?

So are we likely to see the return of the duck to the streets and waters of Liverpool? Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, thinks not. He says: “It is absolutely a no-brainer after this accident that these boats don’t go back into the water at all.
They can argue they’ve got safety certificates and had their checks, but for two to sink in the last three months, it’s just not good enough.”

When asked what was next, Mr Anderson suggested the vehicles should be mothballed and put into a museum, adding that if the company wants to continue, they must invest in new vehicles.

The investigation continues.

Jack is back

April 15th was the last time I posted a blog and since then I have a had a lot of thinking time. I am a great lover of the media and journalism and, in order to pursue this line of career, I have decided to cut back my work hours.

Good or bad? Good, actually. I’ve always wanted to be a journalist and work in an industry which is exciting and always changing. unfortunately as a full-time employee this was near enough impossible. Now, however, I hope that with more time on my hands, I can exert my energy and enthusiasm into my studies and gaining vital experience to make a lasting career.

With a bit more time on my hands, I shall continue to update this blog, under a new name – JacksBITES – and hopefully it can showcase some of the stories that interest me and the writing I can create.

Never give up on your dreams.

Hillsborough, 24 years on: The truth, the 96, and the tributes.

The Kop at Anfield has been full to capacity this afternoon as Merseyside pays tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough. 24 years on. The memories are still raw for many, and the 96 remain a huge part of the LFC and Liverpool city community. It has been a poignant year for the families. The truth revealed for the nation in black and white. Today is possibly the biggest anniversary memorial in the Hillsborough history.

It was the worst footballing disaster in British history and remains one of the world’s worst incidents. 96 Liverpool fans were killed on what was described as a warm, spring day. The cause – they were crushed to death after a string of errors by police officers. The truth of this was only revealed in its full extent in September 2012 when the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, published the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report. The report found details which the people of Merseyside had known all along – the police had allowed the crush to happen, safety at the ground had been compromised at every level, and ambulances were not allowed onto the pitch. The report found that there was no evidence that suggested the Liverpool fans were responsible.

In other astonishing details, South Yorkshire Police created a false account of the event, painting a picture that the fans were the cause and the police were at risk. The evidence of this came from the documents which showed how 164 witness statements had been altered, with 116 of them being changed to remove any negativity toward the police. Officers took blood samples and checked national databases from all of the victims, some of them children, in an attempt to “impugn their reputation”. The then Conservative MP Irvine Patnick passed on false accounts to the press which led to a widespread view that Liverpool fans were responsible.

Hillsborough

This led to possibly the greatest boycott in the United Kingdom. Kelvin McKenzie, the then editor of The Sun, favoured the headline “The Truth”, suggesting some of those false allegations – fans were ticketless, drunk, violent and urinating on the victims. All accounts of fans at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium contradict these false and malicious reports. The headline and reports were printed just days after the disaster – there was little evidence and the formal investigation had only just begun. Since that headline, the people of Merseyside, regardless of their team, do not buy The Sun newspaper. Campaigns such as “Don’t buy The Sun” are still rife amongst Liverpool today – and quite rightly so. Kelvin McKenzie apologised in the aftermath of the report being published. It does nothing to help or build bridges with Liverpool or the families.

The original inquest, led by Lord Justice Taylor, backed a 15:15 cut off point at the game. The inquiry said that none of the victims could have been saved after this time and all of those who died at the stadium were dead by this time. Therefore, none of the events following this time have ever been investigated. The Independent Report says there was evidence to support that “up to 41” of the 96 could have been saved. It added that by simply placing “merely unconscious” people on their backs resulted in their deaths. Furthermore, due to the Coroners cut off point it was never investigated as to why only one ambulance reached the Liverpool end of the stadium and why no more had been sent in, yet they lined the outside streets.

It has been an astonishing year for the Hillsborough families and has shown how their courage and strength has been worthwhile. New inquests will be held into the deaths of the 96. It makes the 24th anniversary even more remarkable.

Standing ovations are often the scene on the 15th April every year at Anfield. Fans, from Everton and Liverpool, and even those who do not follow football gather for the traditional memorial event. The names of the 96 are read out, followed by hymns and prayers. Readings from the families and those involved with the history of the disaster, including members of LFC, the Bishop of Liverpool and MP’s are often welcomed by the strong and supportive crowd.

The Kop has long been the home to annual memorial services to mark Hillsborough.

The Kop has long been the home to annual memorial services to mark Hillsborough.

Everton Chairman, Bill Kenwright, spoke of how the event would change him for ever. He spoke of how it could have been Everton in the FA Cup Semi-Final, praising the families for their strength and progress. Liverpool’s owner, John Henry, said he was outshined by the work of the families for justice, adding that the families and those who died “will always be a part of Liverpool Football Club.”

It has been an incredible point in time for Liverpool, the families and the search for the truth. The release of these secret documents have highlighted the efforts of the families of uncovering the truth. This strength will continue throughout the inquests and eventual outcome. There have been many apologies; many people outside of Merseyside have stereotyped the fans as causing the disaster. For that, the Prime Minister apologised on behalf of all previous governments. Subsequent apologies surfaced from South Yorkshire Police, Kelvin McKenzie and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.

There still remains a minority who still do not understand the clear black and white. Comments from many ill-informed individuals still bring hurt to the many who now fully understand what happened in April 1989. It is with great confusion that I see some high-profile figures, such as Oliver Popplewell, as he criticised the conduct of the families and some figures still remain certain that it was the fans fault and that the police were not to blame. All that despite the report conclusion.

Above anything, THE REAL TRUTH of Hillsborough has strengthened Liverpool as a community who are renowned for ‘sticking together’ and defending their own. The conduct of the families HAS been above and beyond exceptional and now the road to justice and prosecutions is well underway. Anfield is always a sea of emotion during football fixtures, but never as emotional as the time of the Hillsborough anniversary. Standing shoulder to shoulder, fans and ordinary people alike pay tribute to the victims who perished, yet changed the face of football. They will never be forgotten. Their legacy will always be a part of Liverpool.

The 96 Victims
Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10, M
Philip Hammond, 14, M
Thomas Anthony Howard, 14, M
Paul Brian Murray, 14, M
Lee Nicol, 14, M
Adam Edward Spearritt, 14, M
Peter Andrew Harrison, 15, M
Victoria Jane Hicks, 15, F
Philip John Steele, 15, M
Kevin Tyrrell, 15, M
Kevin Daniel Williams, 15, M
Kester Roger Marcus Ball, 16, M
Nicholas Michael Hewitt, 16, M
Martin Kevin Traynor, 16, M
Simon Bell, 17, M
Carl Darren Hewitt,17, M
Keith McGrath, 17, M
Stephen Francis O’Neill, 17, M
Steven Joseph Robinson, 17, M
Henry Charles Rogers, 17, M
Stuart Paul William Thompson, 17, M
Graham John Wright, 17, M
James Gary Aspinall, 18, M
Carl Brown, 18, M
Paul Clark, 18, M
Christopher Barry Devonside, 18, M
Gary Philip Jones, 18, M
Carl David Lewis, 18, M
John McBrien, 18, M
Jonathon Owens, 18,M
Colin Mark Ashcroft, 19, M
Paul William Carlile, 19, M
Gary Christopher Church, 19, M
James Philip Delaney, 19, M
Sarah Louise Hicks, 19, F
David William Mather, 19, M
Colin Wafer, 19, M
Ian David Whelan, 19, M
Stephen Paul Copoc, 20, M
Ian Thomas Glover, 20, M
Gordon Rodney Horn, 20, M
Paul David Brady, 21, M
Thomas Steven Fox, 21, M
Marian Hazel McCabe, 21,F
Joseph Daniel McCarthy, 21, M
Peter McDonnell, 21, M
Carl William Rimmer, 21, M
Peter Francis Tootle, 21, M
David John Benson, 22, M
David William Birtle, 22, M
Tony Bland, 22, M
Gary Collins, 22, M
Tracey Elizabeth Cox, 23, F
William Roy Pemberton, 23, M
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, 23, M
David Leonard Thomas, 23, M
Peter Andrew Burkett, 24, M
Derrick George Godwin, 24, M
Graham John Roberts, 24, M
David Steven Brown, 25, M
Richard Jones, 25, M
Barry Sidney Bennett, 26, M
Andrew Mark Brookes, 26, M
Paul Anthony Hewitson, 26, M
Paula Ann Smith, 26, F
Christopher James Traynor, 26, M
Barry Glover, 27, M
Gary Harrison, 27,M
Christine Anne Jones, 27, F
Nicholas Peter Joynes, 27, M
Francis Joseph McAllister, 27, M
Alan McGlone, 28, M
Joseph Clark, 29, M
Christopher Edwards, 29, M
James Robert Hennessy, 29, M
Alan Johnston, 29, M
Anthony Peter Kelly, 29, M
Martin Kenneth Wild, 29, M
Peter Reuben Thompson, 30, M
Stephen Francis Harrison, 31, M
Eric Hankin, 33, M
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons, 34, M
Roy Harry Hamilton, 34, M
Patrick John Thompson, 35, M
Michael David Kelly, 38, M
Brian Christopher Mathews, 38, M
David George Rimmer, 38, M
Inger Shah, 38, F
David Hawley, 39, M
Thomas Howard, 39, M
Arthur Horrocks, 41, M
Eric George Hughes, 42, M
Henry Thomas Burke, 47, M
Raymond Thomas Chapman, 50, M
John Alfred Anderson, 62, M
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, M

PROFILE: David Dimbleby

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In the world of news and current affairs, past and present, there has always been one man who presides over national events – jubilees, funerals, weddings, general elections and so on. That man is David Dimbleby.

Born in 1938, Dimbleby was born into a family of journalists and broadcasters. His father, Richard, was one of the most recognisable figures in the broadcasting industry. Today, David, and brother, Jonathan, remain at the centre of national events.

David joined the BBC as a news reporter in Bristol during the 1960’s. Some of the programmes and films that he was a part of became the heart of intense debate between the BBC and the political parties, in particular the Labour Party, during a documentary which is claimed to have ridiculed the opposition. He later became the presenter of Panorama – one of the BBC’s longest running programmes, using the best investigative journalism to uncover truth and investigations into many a topic, including governments, economies, war crisis’ and famine on a global scale. David’s father had previously presented the programme.

Since 1979, David Dimbleby has been the face of one the most exciting nights in broadcasting – Election Night. The long running, overnight coverage, often broadcasting well into the following day has been presented by Dimbleby successfully over the past seven General Elections. His knowledge, passion and interest certainly comes across in his stark interviews with political leaders and journalists bringing the results. Dimbleby has lived through many previous elections and governments and uses his own experiences of leaders and parties gone by to provide a very personal yet professional approach in the huge 12+ hour broadcast.

David Dimbleby stands over the BBC's Election Night studio.

David Dimbleby stands over the BBC’s Election Night studio.

As well as the famous Election Night coverage, David Dimbleby is also known as a national broadcaster, presenting and commentating on national events. In the past these have included The Trooping the Colour, State Opening of Parliament, Funerals of Princess Diana and The Queen Mother and anchoring the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002. He will return in providing coverage of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher on Wednesday 17th April 2013. His knowledge of royalty, governments and the changes society has undergone makes him the ideal choice for covering the events which bring viewers to a collective halt and broadcasting to the millions of viewers in the UK and accross the globe.

Today, he is best known for his role as the anchor, presenter and chairman of the BBC’s flagship debate programme, Question Time. He has been in this role since 1994 and 19 years on, his command is still apparent on the panel and feared by many politicians. Dimbleby’s nature as a political broadcaster and as a man of outstanding knowledge allows him to question the politicians, often using evidence to contradict what a member of the panel has said. David describes himself as the “chairman” and often reminds the panel that he is in charge. He presents himself as supportive to the audience who ask the question through his further interrogation. One thing which is admirable in this role is the balance that Dimbleby provides. His attitude of respecting the speaker in turn for respect of him is what makes the show flow so well. “Dimblebot”, as he is known to many fans on Twitter, allows the speaker to have their say and prevent other panel members from interrupting or breaking the ‘house rules’. It is Dimbleby’s comradeship which has made Question Time one of the most watched and recognisable political programmes on television.

Bouncing off his extraordinary relationship with British politics, he hosted the BBC’s first ever live Election TV Debate in 2010 where the three main party leaders stood shoulder to shoulder in persuading the public why they should vote for them. It was an exciting month on the election campaign, and as chief anchor, Dimbleby once again proved why he is one of the most recognisable and respectable faces in British Broadcasting.

David Dimbleby has been at the centre of historic events for over fifty years. His intellect, knowledge and passion for journalism and broadcasting is what comes across most in his respectable and professional presentation. In recent years, there has been a shunt of Dimbleby, in particular The Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. David, however, will remain at the heart of future political events, general elections and hopefully the national events that follow in the future.

Do you have a minute for Mrs Thatcher ?

Criticised: Dave Whelan wants football fans to remember Mrs Thatcher.

Criticised: Dave Whelan wants football fans to remember Mrs Thatcher.

I was most amused by the response from an elderly Wigan lady on tonight’s news when asked “if she had a moment to remember Margaret Thatcher?” The response was traditional northern “NO” followed by “Not a chance”. The question was being asked to residents after Wigan Football Club Chairman, Dave Whelan, suggested a minute’s silence be held in Baroness Thatcher’s memory.

As I mentioned in my last post, she was a very divisive figure, creating a North/South divide. Her policies allowed the richer people in society become richer, mainly in the South and the working class people suffered as mines closed and industry was privatised in the North of England. So it was most bizarre to hear the chairman of a North West football club ask for a moment to remember the former Prime Minister who had hurt so many during her three terms.

Mr Whelan suggested the nation should pay their own thanks to the service of former Prime Ministers, however the Football Association has said no silences will take place at FA and Premier League games this weekend to remember Thatcher. It is easy to see why. After closing the coal mining industry of the North of England, forcing thousands out of jobs, and subsequently causing riots, it is clear what the reaction will be from the football fans. Booing, chanting and hysteria will surround the games and, judging by responses on Twitter and tonight’s news, many football fans do not wish to pay a minute’s silence to remember someone who had such negative impact on Northern lives.

Margaret Aspinall, Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said that it would be a “huge mistake” for games to pay tribute to the late PM. She went onto state that many questions still remained unanswered following the Hillsborough disaster, in which the then government played a huge part in covering up the truth of how 96 Liverpool fans were killed at an FA Cup Semi Final. Last years Independent Panel Report highlighted how the police created false stories to blame the Liverpool fans for the death of their own crowd. The government at the time was led by Margaret Thatcher. Although current Prime Minister, David Cameron, did apologise on behalf of previous governments, there was never an apology from Thatcher. A reason which has highly contributed to the belief that Liverpool never loved, liked or admired Lady Thatcher.

Cover Up: Thatcher in the days after the Hillsborough Disaster.

Cover Up: Thatcher in the days after the Hillsborough Disaster.


Lord Sebastian Coe stated that “Thatcher never really understood sport” which supports the fans argument that there should not be a silence in memory of her. At one point, she campaigned for identity cards to be issued to all football fans.

Whilst I agree that marking the death of a woman who did not support the game, someone who was involved in a huge football disaster cover up and a woman who virtually destroyed the lives of many Northern industry families is somewhat inappropriate, I do disagree with the open celebration many people have had in the days following her death. Groups consisting of hundreds of people, many of them who weren’t even born when Thatcher was at No.10, have held banners, cheered and appeared openly joyous about this womans passing. Regardless of her job, Mrs Thatcher was still a mother, daughter, grand-mother and family woman. Former Labour PM Tony Blair said they were in “bad taste”.

It would be a mistake to encourage football games to mark the death of Mrs Thatcher, as it would quite clearly not be adhered to. The only silence which will take place this weekend will be between Liverpool and Reading, marking the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. This at such a prominent time in the road to justice. All involved with Liverpool Football Club and those on Merseyside have reiterated that their silence will have no connection to remembering Mrs Thatcher, only remembering the 96 fans who died at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium. Quite right.

The Iron Lady is no more

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The Iron Lady. A woman who did not turn. Tributes have been paid to Lady Thatcher after the announcement of her death, aged 87. She had suffered a stroke.

A divisive individual, she brought about anger in the North of England with the closure of mines. The privitasion of many sectors, including the railway industry proved to be a legacy (good or bad) which is still felt today. Her leadership during the Falklands War is something which is significant when considering her impact.

Thatcher was an individual who did not take hurt or offence from the newspaper headlines and her strong-minded approach is something which could have brought about parts of her downfall. An uncompromising approach to the economy and straight view of privatising industry are some of the factors have caused intense debate. In recent years, suffering from illness, Margaret Thatcher was rarely seen in public. The last time she was seen was in Downing Street during the leadership of Gordon Brown.

She was pushed out of office by her colleagues in 1991 – the longest-serving and the first and currently only female British Prime Minister. Her policies and personality divided opinion. As today’s commentators have insisted, there may have been disagreement over her policies, but there is respect for a politician who has had such an impact.