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Analysis: Why Merseyside stands alone at the ballot box

On a devastating night for Labour that saw seats fall to the Tories across the country, the red flag is still flying proudly over one corner of England.

Of the 15 seats on Merseyside, Labour held on to 14 with Southport the only tinge of blue in a red tide. So why is Merseyside bucking the trend?

Radio Merseyside's political reporter Claire Hamilton takes a look:

Labour MPs on Merseyside
@mayor_anderson

“Scouse not English” is a phrase familiar from the football terraces. But away from Anfield or Goodison there is a sense that Liverpool is exceptional, stands alone and apart from the rest of the country, and politics is no different.

The loyalty to Labour and a dislike of the Conservatives is historic and deep-rooted in a way perhaps it isn’t in other post-industrial places.

The notion that a Conservative cabinet minister recommended to Margaret Thatcher that Liverpool be allowed to slip into “managed decline” has taken root; how dare the demise of this great city be encouraged?

It’s a "them and us" scenario which has deepened and been mythologised for decades. Merseyside broadly voted 50:50 in the EU referendum, with Liverpool voting to remain by 58% (the Riverside Constituency is likely to have voted 73% remain) – but St Helens voted to leave by the same percentage.

Yet neither of the town’s two Labour MPs saw a genuine threat from any other party. So Labour’s Brexit position didn’t put off voters here the same way it did in other places. Talking to people in St Helens, the feeling was that the Conservative government didn’t care about the town, its regeneration or its future.

I think this is down to an entrenched anti-Conservative feeling which has grown stronger over generations. Leave voters here simply couldn’t bring themselves to vote Tory.

All North West results declared

It's been a very strong night for the Conservatives in the North West. They have gained 10 seats from Labour:

  • Bury North
  • Bury South
  • Bolton North East
  • Leigh
  • Heywood & Middleton
  • Burnley
  • Blackpool South
  • Hyndburn
  • Crewe & Nantwich
  • Warrington South

None of the region's other 59 seats changed hands, although many Labour-held seats featured slimmed down majorities.

Analysis: Labour's Merseyside dominance continues

Claire Hamilton

Merseyside political reporter, BBC News

Labour still controls all but one of the Merseyside's 15 seats.

Only Southport - which was retained by the Tories' Damien Moore - provides a splash of blue on the electoral map.

History has also been made in the Liverpool Riverside constituency - Kim Johnson becomes the city's first black MP.

Reports of Wirral West being on “a knife edge” - and potentially a major scalp for the Conservatives - proved to be exaggerated. Labour focused a lot of boots on the ground for Margaret Greenwood’s campaign and that has paid off.

Every seat in Merseyside has been declared

That's a wrap for the 15 constituencies in Merseyside.

Compared with some seismic shifts nationally, it's been a rather quiet night in the region.

Labour held all 14 of its seats while Tory Damien Moore has been re-elected in Southport.

Merseyside's estimated declaration times

Set your alarm for 02:00 if you are hoping to see all the Merseyside results come in!

  • 02:00 Birkenhead, Bootle, Knowsley, Sefton Central, St Helens North, St Helens South and Whiston, Wallasey, Wirral South, Wirral West

  • 03:00 Garston and Halewood, Riverside, Walton, Wavertree, West Derby and Southport

Where the battle for the North West will be won and lost...

The North West is represented by 69 seats in the House of Commons. Breaking it down a bit, we have 27 from Greater Manchester, 16 from Lancashire, 15 from Merseyside, and 11 from Cheshire.

You'll no doubt have noticed that some constituencies have been talked about a lot more than others during the election campaign.

A lot of constituencies, including many on Merseyside and in Greater Manchester, rarely if ever change hands.

So the party bosses concentrate their time and resources on those which they think are genuinely up for grabs - the marginals.

We've got a couple of dozen or so here in the North West and the chances are that if you live in one of them you'll have seen a lot of leaflets, Facebook ads, and maybe even some candidates knocking on your front door in recent weeks.

No expense spared here at MediaCityUK

I know our esteemed colleagues in London pride themselves on their snazzy 3D graphics on election night.

Here in the North West we prefer to keep things old skool...

Whiteboard containing a list of all the North West seats
BBC
Our high-tech general election scoreboard

Sincere thanks to the gaffer for shelling out on not one but two dry wiper pens in suitably festive colours.

With 69 seats across Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside for us to keep tabs on, having this board will be invaluable!

Liverpool John Lennon Airport reopens

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) has reopened after a private plane came off the runway.

Liverpool Airport
Getty Images

The airport was closed from about 06:00 GMT on Wednesday, causing travel disruption to passengers.

More than 9,000 passengers had flights cancelled, delayed or transferred to Manchester Airport.

A spokesperson for LJLA confirmed that normal operations had resumed at 23:15.

"Once again we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to passengers," the spokesperson added.

Passengers can check any flights arriving and departing from LJLA by visiting the airport website.

For many, buses are bigger concern than trains

Tom Burridge

Transport correspondent, BBC News

Just over 1% of people in northern England get a train on a daily basis - something it's hoped projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail will change.

The £40bn project, which should begin in five years, will see improvements on railway lines across the north of England from Crewe to Newcastle as well as a faster link between Manchester and Leeds.

Northern Powerhouse Rail
BBC

In Crewe, where there's uncertainty about whether it will be an important stop on the HS2 route, buses are a more immediate concern for many people.

"No buses means isolation," said Carol Jones, who campaigns for the Crewe Bus Users group.

"It's alright having a car, but there's a lot of people who haven't got that," she said. "They've just got a bus."

All the main parties have promised more money for buses.

More: Election 2019: Crewe and Nantwich in focus

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'Real pain' for Hillsborough families is that 'no-one is culpable'

The "real pain" for the families of Hillsborough is that 30 years on "no-one is culpable" for the disaster, says a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Prof Phil Scraton
Getty Images

Prof Phil Scraton said "lessons must be learnt".

"The whole purpose of the justice system is that it is fair and it is just and most importantly it is speedy".

He said one of the main issues with the case was that so many people involved on the day of the disaster had died.

"I don't know to this day why the Crown Prosecution Service or the DPP didn't consider there was sufficient evidence to pursue a case against a range of people and institutions at the time."

Margaret Aspinall reacts to Duckenfield trial verdict
Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died at Hillsborough, is "really angry" at the not guilty verdict.
The Hillsborough match commander apologised to the families
David Duckenfield previously admitted his failure to close a tunnel caused the deaths at Hillsborough.

Reaction from David Duckenfield

David Duckenfield
PA Media

David Duckenfield's lawyer Ian Lewis, of JMW Solicitors, has given this statement on behalf of his client.

David is of course relieved that the jury has found him not guilty, however his thoughts and sympathies remain with the families of those who lost their loved ones.

"He understands the public interest in this case, but would ask that his privacy and that of his family is respected, and will not be commenting further.

Ian LewisSolicitor

'Who is accountable for 96 deaths?'

The chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group has demanded to know who is accountable for the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough.

Margaret Aspinall
Getty Images

Speaking at a press conference at the Cunard building in Liverpool, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James died in the 1989 tragedy, said: "I'm so angry.

"I blame a system that's so morally wrong within this country, that's a disgrace to this nation.

"Who is responsible for putting 96 people in their graves?"

She added: "The families have gone through hell... please God give them some peace."

'Verdict does not affect inquest findings'

Today's verdict does not affect the inquest jury’s findings, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

“The disaster at Hillsborough 30 years ago has caused unimaginable suffering to the families of those who sadly lost their lives and to everybody affected by the tragic events of that day," Sue Hemming, from the CPS, said.

"They were let down with the most catastrophic consequences imaginable. I know how important these proceedings have been to everyone, even though they came far too late.

“The events of 15 April 1989 have been considered on a number of occasions, including at the second inquest concluding in 2016.

"It is important to remember that criminal proceedings have a very different purpose to an inquest."

'I don't blame Duckenfield' - former police sergeant

Former sergeant William Crawford, who was on duty on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, said: "I don't blame David Duckenfield... I blame the person who put him in that position."

He said the match commander's role was a "poisoned chalice" and he "didn't have the experience" to be in charge of the ill-fated FA Cup semi-final match, which resulted in the death of 96 Liverpool fans.

David Duckenfield, pictured shortly after the Hillsborough disaster
PA
David Duckenfield, pictured shortly after the Hillsborough disaster

Who's responsible for my father's death?

One of the 96 Hillsborough victims was Henry Burke. His daughter Chrissie cried as the jury found David Duckenfield not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.

David Duckenfield
Getty Images
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Ms Burke stood in the public gallery and addressed the judge, Sir Peter Openshaw.

Referring to the jury's conclusion at the Hillsborough Inquests in 2016, she said: "With all due respect, my lord, 96 people were found unlawfully killed to a criminal standard."

Now in tears, she went on: "I would like to know who is responsible for my father's death because someone is."

Duckenfield's wife, Ann, later went over to comfort her husband in the courtroom.

Trial 'should never have taken 30 years' - Operation Resolve chief

The criminal investigation team examining the disaster was called Operation Resolve. After the acquittal of David Duckenfield, its commander, Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley, said:

"My first thoughts are with the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster, their families, and the thousands of people who have been deeply affected by the events of 15th April 1989.

"The jury had a difficult and challenging task examining evidence going back decades and I respect their decision.

"It may sound like a cliché to say “lessons must be learnt”, but today’s verdict means this has never been more relevant or important .It is right that an impartial and thorough investigation was carried out, and it is right that a jury was asked to make a judgement of the facts. What is wrong is that it has taken 30 years to get to this point.

"The passage of 30 years has presented challenges for everyone involved in the legal process, prosecution and defence. Thirty years means evidence has been corroded and some people and organisations cannot answer for their actions because they are no longer with us.

"Thirty years means myths took root about fans being a cause of the disaster, now unequivocally shown by both defence and prosecution evidence to be wrong.

"And 30 years means many people, especially families, have had to constantly relive their terrible experience.

"When all Hillsborough legal proceedings are concluded we should, as a society, take time to consider these matters and learn lessons. For the sake of the 96 innocent people who died 30 years ago, something like this should never happen again."

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