With politics very much in the air as things build up to the General Election which must be held in 2010, here's a reminder that for a period in 2008 Sefton council was run by a joint Labour-Conservative administration.

At the council's 2008 annual meeting they voted together to remove Liberal Democrats from key council posts and replace them with their own councillors. This ripped apart the long-standing cross-party agreement that all positions must be shared fairly between all political parties strictly in proportion to their relative size.

Liberal Democrats, the largest party on Sefton with 27 out of 66 councillors, secured 40% of the vote. At that date there were 21 Labour and 18 Conservatives. (Now in 2009, the figures are 28 Liberal Democrat, Labour 21 and Tory 17)

The Liverpool Daily Post reported that the "Blue-Red coalition intended to give the Lib-Dems a bloody nose" by reducing the cabinet...."

The Tory-Labour pact wrecking proposal, which only came to the ears of the Liberal Democrats some three hours before the evening annual meeting, succeeded in giving more influence to them than their number of councillors justified.

The strict "fair shares for all" agreement on Sefton is the glue that has kept the council running smoothly since no single party has had overall control. Sefton has been a "shared power" council for more than 20 years.

As the Liverpool Daily Post reported, this brought to an end "22 years of consensus politics that has been lauded by central government and awarded four star status."

Faced with this undemocratic carve-up of places by Labour and Conservatives, which they pushed through the meeting, the Lib-Dems had no alternative but to step down from their four cabinet posts, including the position of council Leader.

There were then just six members on the new joint Lab-Con cabinet - three from each party. They were unable at their first meeting to nominate one of their number to be the formal Leader of the council and chair the cabinet. Clearly that was difficult for them given the stalemate they created and the fact that the cabinet chair has a casting vote.

This turmoil was created entirely by the undemocratic behaviour of these two parties who tried to justify their grab for power by making petty complaints about the Lib-Dems and election leaflets and for having the nerve to tell the public the truth about some important things that have happened on the council recently that it seems the others wanted to keep secret.

This includes the bungled sacking of the then chief executive by Labour and Tory for no good reason and then his costly golden goodbye. They gave the Lib-Dems the same vindictive sacking treatment.

To try and justify their actions, they suggested that it has been "difficult to work with" the Liberal Democrats on the council. This is utter nonsense. The records show that well over 99 per cent of decisions are agreed sensibly and amicably. Government inspectors have praised Sefton for being a co-cooperatively run council. Any animosity has crept in following the election of new leaders of both the Labour and Conservative parties, taking a much more aggressive macho stance than their predecessors and succeeding in rocking the boat completely.

Eventually, the whole thing couldn't work. Pressure must have been put on Sefton Labour and Tories to grow up, respect democracy...and avoid the politically embarrassing media publicity referring to the very odd Lab-Con pact.

It is worth noting that three experienced and well-respected Southport Tory councillors - David Pearson, Les Byrom and Sir Ron Watson - did not vote for the proposed changes in the composition of the council and abstained. Finally, some time later, Councillor Les Byrom, formerly the Leader of the Tory group and involved with the Conservatives at national level, had had enough of the internal Tory back-biting. He joined the Labour party, remaining as a councillor representing the most "true blue" Dukes ward (mainly shore side Birkdale) in Southport