Guest blog: Marc Waddington reflects on the life of Rose Bailey
Rose Bailey and Labour leader Joe Anderson
It's almost a cliche to describe a deceased councillor as a "tireless champion for their community". After all, who would say anything else? Funerals are occasions of custom, convention and, often, cliche. But sometimes, it really is true, as in the case of Liverpool Cllr Rose Bailey, who was laid to rest this week.
Rose was one of those councillors who didn't spend her time spouting the impenetrable nonsense that many who spend too much time with their officers do (I've always thought a sign of a weak councillor is that they use officer-speak). Rose, by contrast, was the real deal: a great communicator, she wasn't obsessed with key performance indicators and best practice models going forward bla bla bla. She knew those things mean nothing in real life, and certainly mean nothing to real people outside the clutch of the Dale Street corridor. For Rose, it was people, people, people all the way. She had a warmth about her, and the pleasure and pain of the community she represented flowed through her. Never was that more apparent than in those dark days following the murder of Rhys Jones. When the national media descended on Croxteth and Norris Green to look for any scrap of gun and gang culture they could find to prop up their pre-written narratives, it was Rose with on the doorstep with the metaphorical broom, shooing them away like . She was not going to stand around while her community was trashed, it wasn't her style. She battled for what she believed in, most importantly, what the people she represented believed in, and that was not to see a community implode under the negative attention it received following Rhys' abysmal death.
But she suffered for it. As one close to Rose said to me, 'although she never let on, the Rhys Jones murder really took it out of her.' She became, in some ways, a scapegoat, pilloried for such a terrible thing happening in the ward of a Police Authority member. But while some were content -- and this is unfortunately the case -- to play politics around Rhys' death, for Rose it was all about the Jones' family, being there to comfort and aid them through a trauma that will live with everyone forever.
Despite that dark period, Rose was a truly jovial, colourful character. Whenever I saw her, there was always a laugh and a joke, the near-crippling dig in the ribs and the customary scalding reproach for being a member of the Her Majesty's Press, but always with a twinkle in the eye. Her humour was all pervasive. I think council leader Cllr Joe Anderson said it best when he related at the funeral how she had died in a German IKEA store. He mused how she would have seen the funny side of it. "I'm sure she would have said 'Trust me to die in IKEA. Could it not have been Debenhams?"
Rose didn't need to see her own mug staring back at her every day from the pages of the ECHO and the Post, she was glad to get her head down and get on with the things that mattered: faithfully serving the people who had the good sense to elect her.
The late, great Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody once said: "I have no problem being called a battle axe. They're very well-made, very sharp and largely very efficient at what they do." The same could as easily have been said of Rose, a woman who will be missed by all who knew her. but whose influence will live on.