I'm not sure what an independent observer would have made of our cabinet meeting this week. I know what Council Leader Tony Robertson made of it as he has blogged his observations.
I thought there were a few very revealing little episodes. Tony has written about Labour's bizarre tactics and their failed filibuster. I thought that was just rather desperate and sad. We had a couple of incidents which made folks shake their heads.
Firstly was the economics lecture we got from Cllr John Fairclough (Bootle, tribal, old Labour).He explained that the national debt was not very high and there was no need for all the deficit reduction nonsense. It has been suggested to me that because he works for Santender he fancies himself as an economist. .
I've just been reading David Laws's account of the negotiations with Labour after the election. In the appendix he usefully publishes the papers tabled by the Labour negotiating team on the economy. To my surprise it is a lot more hawkish on deficit reduction than you would guess from Labour's stance yesterday. Not only did that paper acknowledge the need for what was essentially a post election budget signalling a tougher stance than Darling's previous proposal, but also that steps had to be taken quickly to re-assure the markets.
The second incident was a repeat performance by Tory Brenda Porter of her confusion over voting. We had been carefully working our way through the various proposals for expenditure reductions. These have been with the party groups for a good while and we have all had individual briefings about the options.This allowed us to express our Party group's response to the proposal, some had a green light or an amber light or a red light. We were faced with a series of schedules-all published on the council website-which gave us the proposal we had all agreed to i.e. three greens, those with two greens and those with a combination. Despite flagging up 'green' for many of these items Labour failed to vote in favour of any of them and usually abstained.
The Tory Leader, Cllr Parry, had decide that they were ready to vote green on all the major proposals and to take the biggest saving available where there was an option. She was commendably straight forward and we were making progress. We got near to the end of one schedule and with just a few items left it was clearly marked that we had registered either amber or red for these items. Mrs Parry thrust up her arm with renewed enthusiasm and declared; 'I'm not afraid to take tough decisions'. I assumed this was a public show of macho behavior meant to embarrass us as we were not going to vote for the item. We wanted to defer the matter as we were not satisfied that the implications had been fully worked through-it referred to the cleansing of public open spaces like the town gardens on Lord St. Brenda, of course, followed Mrs Parry's lead but got a tad flustered when she saw us Lib Dems vote the other way. Her agitation grew when Labour began taunting us for doing this for Southport! She then told the clerk she was voting against the item which rather undermined Mrs Parry's macho stand and further confirmed her reputation for getting in a muddle over such matters.
A third episode took place which certainly does not show the Labour party in a good light and which my colleague David Tattersall is going to write up. More to follow