The bitter battle of West Derby rages on
Ian Byrne alleges ‘multiple rule breaches’ during his de-selection fight — plus the rest of your briefing
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In today’s edition we’re returning to West Derby, where high-profile Labour MP Ian Byrne’s fight for re-selection rages on. The process has been marred by controversy and in-fighting so far, and now Byrne is making the serious allegation that multiple rules have been broken. Other than that, we’ve got a fledgling gymnast making her mark in Liverpool, Carlo Ancelotti’s love of Crosby and a kaleidoscopic journey through outer space at a church in Waterloo.
At the weekend we sent out Harry’s piece about a haunting-but-beautiful boat graveyard on the Wirral. Behind the decaying relics of boats — “slumped like corpses in the bog, hulls exposed like rib cages” — he uncovered the fascinating story of Sarinda, which played a crucial role in the Normandy Landings during WW2. More than 80 years later, a husband and wife team were breathing new life back into the vessel — with a growing army of online fans cheering them on.
“The Post does a lot of good reporting,” tweeted former Echo and Daily Post hack Dave Chandler, sharing Harry’s piece. Thanks also to local author James Corbett, who tweeted recently: “@liverpoolpost is a rare thing: a serious forum for local journalism, with great editors and a wide-ranging editorial remit. Consider a subscription.”
Catch up: Last week paying members received two great editions from us. On Wednesday Jack wrote about the troubling demise of local radio and the resilience of the pubs of Dale Street. Then, on Friday, we paid a visit to Scottie Road in Vauxhall, where a half-cooked £150 million development and the loss of community spaces and pubs has sucked the life out of a once-thriving area. Here’s a taster:
“In order to build [Project Jennifer], the actual hub of the community, the Great Homer Street Market — or Greatie — was shrunk in size and hustled out to the fringes of the map, over on Dryden Street, which is the town planning equivalent of sticking your etch-a-sketch pride of place on the mantelpiece and your Picasso in the downstairs loo.”
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This week’s weather
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from the Met Office and it’s for Liverpool.
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The big story: The bitter battle of West Derby rages on
Top line: Ian Byrne will ask the Electoral Commission to investigate the process around his deselection battle, saying he’s heard allegations of “multiple rule breaches’.
What rules might have been broken? Byrne names the exclusion of members from nomination meetings in “large numbers”. It isn’t yet clear how that exclusion is said to have occurred en masse in this case, but there have been allegations about a union representative complaining he was not informed of a meeting in the Knotty Ash branch in advance.
Insiders in West Derby Constituency Labour Party (CLP) told The Post that there had previously been “noise” about Byrne supporters being unable to get onto zoom calls during the votes to trigger a selection process (nomination votes follow the trigger votes). Byrne believes his supporters are being deliberately prevented from engaging in votes.
Context: If you haven’t read our long-read on the selection battle already, you can do so here. But to summarise, the piece looked at some of the reasons that such a popular MP on the left of the Labour Party would find himself under threat. We wrote:
“As a campaigner and parliamentarian, Byrne is a superstar, that’s taken as fact. As a constituency MP, when it comes to the granular details of local politics, he divides opinion.”
Four people will challenge Ian Byrne to become Labour’s candidate for West Derby. The way it works is that the National Executive Committee of the party draws up a long-list, which is then whittled down locally (by a selection committee consisting of CLP members and affiliated unions). So all of the following names are nationally-approved:
David Bridson, a councillor in the London borough of Lambeth.
Gillian Wood — who has served on Wirral Council since 2017 — and stood in Croxteth Ward (the old West Derby Ward) in 1996. Her son was at a local school.
Kimberley Whitehead of Hyndburn Council in Lancashire.
Anthony Lavelle — a Croxteth councillor — the leading challenger.
Be kind: Suffice to say, Lavelle has taken some stick for joining the race. Last week, Byrne intervened by tweeting a message urging people to “be kind” on social media, after the likes of deputy mayor Harry Doyle spoke of a “constant torrent of abuse” directed at those challenging the MP in West Derby.
A two horse race? As one figure who used to be very powerful within Liverpool’s Labour Party told The Post:
“Ultimately, this comes down to Lavelle versus Ian. And by extension, Nick Crofts [who was prevented from making the ballot for West Derby in 2019 and is said to be aiding Lavelle’s campaign] versus Ian. There is a lot of resentment from 2019, which is sad really because it's so factional. And it isn’t Ian’s fault what happened in 2019”.
Bottom line: Labour’s National Executive Committee will meet today to find out who will be on the final ballot. Insiders expect to see a very close race between Byrne and Lavelle, despite Lavelle winning all four of the nomination votes (turnout was 20%). However, with Byrne now alleging that the integrity of the process has been jeopardised by concerted efforts to “deny West Derby members their democratic rights” it seems unlikely the argument will be over on the day of the vote.
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Your Post briefing
A letter to chancellor Jeremy Hunt, signed by community organisations, faith groups and health care professionals in St Helens claims that vulnerable patients are forgoing their medicine due to the prescription costs. The letter was sent after two food-banks in the town ran out of food, the first time it has ever happened. Council leader David Baines said the local authority had to “[stand] up for our community and [ask] the government for fair funding so we can help people.”
18-year-old Brit Jessica Gadirova stole the show at the culmination of the world gymnastics championships in Liverpool. As The Guardian writes, Gadirova arrived at the M&S Bank Arena having “upgraded her routine, inserting an extremely difficult full-twisting double layout as her second tumbling pass”. The championships have solidified Great Britain’s arrival at the zenith of gymnastics, leaving Liverpool with six medals.
Merseyside Police are re-launching their efforts to find Adam Ellison’s killer, five years after he was stabbed to death in Prescot following an altercation with two men on a scrambler bike. Despite 12 arrests and a £24,000 reward on offer, no charges have been brought. In a video appeal Adam’s mum Joyce described her pain in the lead up to the anniversary of his death and urged his killer to hand himself in: “When you are in prison your mum will be able to visit you but I will never see my son again.” Joyce recently met the mother of Ava White — the 12-year-old girl who was killed at last year's Liverpool Christmas lights switch-on — during a talk at a school.
Home of the week
One for lovers of traditional English cottages. This £350,000 new-build on the Croft Estate in Aigburth has two large bedrooms, an open-plan dining kitchen and is within walking distance of the much-loved Lark Lane. Take a look.
⚽️ If you ever find yourself sitting at home on a Tuesday evening wishing you were down the pub with John Barnes, then you’re in luck. Barnes — or “digger” — is at O‘Neill’s on Hanover Street for a chat about his career at Liverpool. Each ticket purchased comes with a complimentary pint of Carling too, apparently. More information here.
🎻 “In Finnish legend, the Swan of Tuonela glides on the river of the underworld, singing a song that no mortal can ever forget.” Finnish conductor Emilia Hoving is hoping to evoke that sound at the Philharmonic on Thursday night: playing the swan’s haunting song, as well as the melodies of Tchaikovsky’s sunlit Violin Concerto via violinist Henning Kraggerud. It’s a must-see for classical music fans. Ticket prices vary.
⛪️ “Makers, bakers and creators” will gather at the Bombed Out Church next weekend, to show off all of their making, baking and creating. Entry is only £1 and it helps with the upkeep of the church as well as all the various community projects they engage in.
🌌 If you thought Old Christ Church in Waterloo probably wasn’t the go-to place for intergalactic space travel, then you’d be very wrong. With lasers, lights and “kaleidoscopic projections of clocks and galaxies” Black Hole — End of Time is a spatial art exhibition which takes you through a portal and out into the depths of the universe. So they say. It runs for 30 minutes and full details can be found at this link.
Open newsroom: If you want to tell us about a story or give us some information, please email email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity.
This week we’d be especially interested to speak to any dockers at the Port of Liverpool amid the ongoing strikes. If that’s you (or someone you know), do get in touch.
We’re also working on a profile of former Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson. If you have information or views to contribute to that piece we’d love to hear them.
Our favourite reads
A great long-read in the BBC looking at the backstory behind a new exhibition at the Walker. In the 70s and 80s, when Liverpool were making their mark on European football, their fans started following them to far-flung corners of the continent and picking up fashion inspiration. They brought back brands not available on home soil, and the trend snowballed into the “casuals” phenomenon; partly associated with hooliganism, partly with fancy coats. Adidas, Sergio Tacchini, Lacoste, Slazenger, Stone Island and Fred Perry became the casuals’ attire. Liverpool’s version was the “scallies”, and now the city is hosting The Art of the Terraces, an exhibition with contributions from Turner Prize winners Mark Leckey and Mark Wallinge. Read the piece first, then head down to check it out.
Not strictly a read about Liverpool, but one from a Liverpudlian (and Post contributor) in The Guardian. So it counts. Jessica White wrote a great review of painter Zahra’s first solo exhibition at Output Gallery for us in September and her latest takes a look at Derek Jarman’s lost novel Through the Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping, which has now been published for the first time. White finds overlaps in the book with Jarman’s better-known film work, including “a fascination with exile” and the centrality of queerness. The book follows a blind protagonist known as King who journeys across a mythical America with his valet. It’s a great read for anyone looking to delve deep into the Jarman back-catalogue.
And here’s one from 2020 in the New York Times, about former Everton manager Carlo Ancellotti and his love of Crosby. “Precisely 51 seconds elapse between pressing ‘record’ on Zoom and Carlo Ancelotti asking the question that, according to those who work with him, is never far from his lips these days: ‘Do you know Crosby?’” the piece begins. Not wanting to endure the loud noises of the city centre, nor wanting to be too far away from his club by living in the south Manchester villages where many of the North West’s footballers reside, Ancelotti — who left Everton last year to return to Real Madrid — chose Crosby. He fell for its beaches and the Anthony Gormley Another Place statues, leading to an in-joke at the club that he was unofficially Crosby’s Minister for Tourism. It’s a great piece about a man who just really loves Crosby.
Photo of the week
A beautifully moody shot capturing an outdoor snooker game near Smithdown Road by Kristiaan D'Août, as part of his “Streets of Liverpool” series in 2014. Flick through the full collection on his website here.
Letters from readers
We used to complain about Manchester but lately we have turned the debate into north/south Liverpool. South Liverpool isn't exactly Shangri-la. The real inequalities are not necessarily ģeographical but between the richest and poorest in the UK as a whole. That's where the real injustices lie, ‘Looking for life on Scottie Road’, Liz
With regard to the piece on the possible death of local radio, it reminded me of when I had breast cancer in 1987 at the age of 35, my marriage had just ended, I had 2 young children and I was driving daily to Clatterbridge Hospital from Crosby for my radiotherapy sessions. I would listen to Radio Merseyside as I drove my ageing mini, listening to Billy Butler and Wally and listeners phoning in with funnies — it really kept me going and made me giggle, I felt part of the community. I used to think I’d write in and thank them but I never did, I wish I had though, ‘The death of local radio, the pubs of Dale Street and an update on the future of The Post’, Shelagh