Liverpool has always gone its own way but one change could mean it no longer has to

Winter sunrise over the Liverpool skyline
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo)

It is not often that Liverpool and the rest of the country are aligned.

For quite some time, we in this city have prided ourselves on doing things our own way. That's especially true when it comes to politics.

Liverpool has been a Labour stronghold for years - our constituencies have all elected Labour MPs since the 1990s. More often than not, the rest of the country has gone another way.

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The United Kingdom has been under some sort of Conservative rule since the New Labour era came to an end in 2010. That was at its most emphatic after the 2019 general election, when Boris Johnson felled the 'red wall' as many of our fellow Northern England Labour heartlands elected Tory MPs. Liverpool remained steadfast, however.

This time, things have changed. As my colleague Liam Thorp wrote in the immediate aftermath of the election, Liverpool showed the way and finally the rest of the country has caught up - handing Labour a landslide victory on Friday morning.

The Liverpool ECHO backed Labour in this election. We need a government committed to restoring balance to a divided country - one committed to tackling climate change, fixing the NHS and putting money in the pockets of normal, working people.

This Labour Party is not perfect. Many people in this region have very legitimate grievances with the new Prime Minister and his approach.

We appreciate many people were angered by Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to engage with the S*n. We 100% understand that and have challenged him on several occasions. We will continue to hold the new government to account ensuring they deliver on their promises.

But people in this city have been shouting out for change for years - finally we have it. Or at least a version of it.

For too long, we have felt out on a limb - left out by Tory governments who appeared to show no interest in a city that will never vote for their party. I think a Labour administration could begin to change that, provided it keeps its promises.

It is reassuring to hear that Sir Keir will be meeting metro mayors, including the Liverpool City Region's Steve Rotheram, this week - a move that suggests more power will be devolved to regions like ours. Added to that, Sir Keir last year told the ECHO that his government would work in partnership with the city, prioritising Liverpool and its needs.

That would be a marked change from what came before him. As such, I think the election of a Labour government is a development that could begin to repair Liverpool's relationship with the nation at large. We need to see that governments care about us, then goodwill will be reciprocated.

On that topic, last month I wrote about the phenomenon of 'Scouse, not English' and why a number of people in this city reject their national identity. There are a number of factors behind this sentiment - generations of Irish immigration, the incredibly difficult days of the 1980s and the way that a series of governments and the British establishment have treated Liverpool.

The feeling has certainly been exacerbated in the last 14 years, as this city was at the sharp end of the Tory austerity project. Its impact goes well beyond politics though.

The piece I wrote last month came as the Euros kicked off and it attempted to explain why these factors lead to apathy (and in some quarters active dislike) for the England national football team. Though some Scousers get behind England, many in this football-mad city harbour no love for the Three Lions.

It is interesting then that England's victory over Switzerland on Saturday (July 6) came thanks to the heroics of two Merseyside football icons - Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold scored the winning penalty after Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a crucial shootout save from Manuel Akanji.

Even if you don't love the England national team, it's hard not to be pleased by that. Our city has done England a massive favour and seeing stars from our clubs front and centre could even soften some people's views of Gareth Southgate's side.

After the election and yesterday's quarter final, England feels a brighter place. But whether a Labour government makes Liverpool feel any more of a part of the country remains to be seen.

It is important Labour keep their word - and we will push them on that - but having a government with the city's best interests at heart could certainly help Liverpool feel less sidelined.

That said, a year after Tony Blair came to power with his landslide in the 1997 general election, the people of Liverpool voted to replace their Labour city council with a Liberal Democrat administration. I guess we have always done things our own way.

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