Liverpool mayor: Labour conference begins with call for positive vision
Labour's time "has come again", says Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram, urging Sir Keir Starmer to set out a positive vision at the party's conference. Rotheram feels a "buzz" similar to 1996 when Tony Blair led the party to victory. He hopes to see a unified party and a positive vision for change. Rotheram also wants more control and flexibility for regional governments and is passionate about apprenticeships and skills training. The cancellation of HS2 has damaged trust in central government, but Rotheram believes a Labour government would deliver without party politics.
Labour's time "has come again", according to Steve Rotheram, the metro mayor of Liverpool. Rotheram compared the current political climate to 1996 when Tony Blair led Labour to a landslide victory in 1997. He expressed a sense of excitement and anticipation, believing that the party can bring about positive change in the country. With Labour holding a double-digit lead over the Conservatives and a recent by-election victory in Scotland, Rotheram hopes for a unified display from the party at their conference. He emphasized the importance of party members and their enthusiasm in driving Labour's success. However, Rotheram also urged party leader Sir Keir Starmer to present a positive vision for the future, rather than solely focusing on opposition to the Conservatives.
Rotheram outlined his ambitious plans for the Liverpool City Region, including transforming the Mersey into a renewable energy coast, establishing the region as a center for digital industries, and regaining control of the bus network. He expressed frustration with the current system of bidding for funds from Whitehall and called for greater regional devolution. Rotheram highlighted the need for more control over skills training, particularly in relation to apprenticeships, to provide young people with more options and opportunities. Labour announced the establishment of "technical excellence colleges" to address local skills needs.
While Rotheram praised the benefits of devolution, he expressed frustration over the announcement of the end of HS2, which may impact the proposed high-speed link between Liverpool and Manchester. He questioned the adequacy of the funds promised by the government and criticized the distribution of savings under the Network North plan, which predominantly benefited projects in the south of the country. Rotheram believed that a Labour government would restore trust between regional leaders and central government, enabling more effective collaboration and delivery of projects.
Overall, Rotheram's remarks reflect his optimism for Labour's future and his belief in the party's ability to bring about positive change. He emphasized the importance of presenting a clear vision and engaging party members, while also advocating for greater regional control and investment in key areas such as skills training and infrastructure.