Having failed to produced a budget last night at the Sefton Council meeting and having spoken and voted against around £39m of the £44m budget reductions required the Labour Leader Peter Dowd could not resist playing up to the protesters in the public gallery and declared 'call me Derek'. And so it is that the spectre of Derek Hatton and the Militant Tendency approach to politics hangs over Merseyside once more.
At no time throughout the months of budget preparation did Labour put forward a budget. They had every opportunity to tell us how they would divide up the cake differently. But like Hatton they did not produce a legal budget but instead courted every protest group posing as if they had run the council things would have been different.
Now you may reasonably ask ,'what is the problem with that , surely Labour are the opposition? ' Well for the last twenty odd years they have been part of the administration and sat in the cabinet with key portfolios. No party in Sefton has a majority, Lib Dems are the biggest party and the Tories have 11 official members at present. If the cabinet had a working party to review ,say, the Highways budget the cabinet member is Labour and has no interest in finding the saving required but rather has every incentive to obstruct the process.
Most revealing of all Dowd conceded that had he been Leader he would have put forward a legal budget. Why can't we see it? I think we all know. They have abdicated their responsibilities and surely the honourable course would be to resign from there cabinet posts.
They have no claim to say they would run the council if they cannot produce a budget. All the other Labour Leaders on Merseyside and Lancashire have produced balance legal budgets. Dowd stands alone as the one who failed to do so.