Liverpool Wavertree: Candidates argue over 1980s

By Chris Bradley

The Conservatives tried to distance themselves from the Thatcher years in a bad tempered clash between candidates for Wavertree.

In the broadcast, filmed by Liverpool Echo TV, Labour candidate Luciana Berger, Conservative Andrew Garnett and Liberal Democrat Colin Eldridge faced questions about crime, education, the elderly, jobs and benefits.

The debate reached a peak when Mr Garnett was angered by Ms Berger’s references to Liverpool under a Conservative government in the 1980s.

The second time the issue was raised, Mr Garnett fumed: “I don’t think the 80s are relevant here.”

Even host Mark Waddington intervened and said: “The 80s are always relevant in Liverpool.”

The Lib Dem candidate, Mr Eldridge, referred to the decade on education.

He said: “Anyone who remembers that will know it’s now the same old Conservatives, frankly. I will fight for a fair deal for Liverpool.”

They pushed their party manifestos and track records, with Miss Berger defending Labour’s commitment to school budgets and jobs in education.

But Mr Garnett attacked Labour’s past education policies. He said: “We’ve seen regional standards fall over the last 13 years.”

Mr Eldridge said the Lib Dems would invest £2.5billion into education with the “pupil premium” policy, rather than “ring-fencing”.

Miss Berger challenged the Lib Dem to “disassociate himself with the Lib Dem’s proposal to scrap the winter fuel allowance” and asked if Mr Eldridge was “loyal to Wavertree pensioners or his party bosses in London” in her blog on April 2.

Mr Eldridge said at the debate: “It’s the Liberal Democrats who are committed to making sure the winter fuel allowance is given to those who need it most, not those in full time work.”

After the trio talked about their plans for crime and policing they mimicked their party leaders in the televised debates, each outlining why they should represent Wavertree.

But the race is close between Labour and Lib Dem candidate with the Tories lagging behind. The 80s were not that long ago for Liverpool.