A Doctor Writes

Dear Mr Justice


Politics in Wirral, and joining the dots.

A fascinating subject, and not one for the faint-hearted.

The relationships between MPs, local politicians, senior council officers, and external local and regional ‘partners’, membership organisations, the media and the public, make for a far less tangled web than one may think.

I write this as a result of the outcome of the 2016 local council elections.

After extensive research, I now believe politics in Wirral makes an interesting case-study for ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. There appears to be no other explanation for it. The Borough of Wirral occupies 60 square miles of the northern part of the Wirral Peninsula, bounded by Ellesmere Port & Neston to the south. 

Peninsula means ‘almost an island’ and is a far kinder description than ‘almost a cul-de-sac’.

Definition – Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

There has been so much lost to Wirral over the last 5 decades, that this time-scale reinforces the fear of continually losing more and more. This possibility is reinforced by the ‘dripping tap’ of occasional marginal improvements, just beyond reach ‘vision’ and unaccountable ‘pledges’. There is also a mythical ‘continuous organisational improvement’. This is a form of words which, in Wirral council’s upper echelons, disguises mediocrity as an aspiration. 

By desperately clinging to a belief that ‘the promised good times will return’ if the ‘political captors’ are placated, the ‘captor(s)’ becomes the friends and appear periodically with ‘gifts’ of various descriptions. 

By continually appeasing these ‘self-proclaimed visionaries’, through whom any change but theirs is portrayed as extremely threatening, then quiet acceptance becomes ‘the norm’. 

A ‘stability’ of sorts is achieved through which everyone waits in the hope they will survive and things may appear, occasionally, to ‘improve’. Many short-lived improvements will bring enhancements albeit for brief periods and of a tenuous nature. But still we wait…

Many independent reports have described Wirral as the ‘insular peninsula’, some commissioned by Wirral Council. Many of these have described Wirral Council as an organisation with a long-standing culture where ‘the abnormal is accepted as normal’.

Cul-de-sac means bottom of the bag, but, in my view, Wirral’s politics are actually at the bottom of the barrel.

Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith