Liverpool ‘tear-jerker’ for Heseltine

Former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine said it was “tear-jerking” to be awarded the freedom of Liverpool.

The famously left-wing city was recognising the Tory peer’s 30-year association with the regeneration of Merseyside.

Speaking before last night’s ceremony at Liverpool Town Hall, Lord Heseltine said: “It’s tear-jerking. I don’t know of any other occasion when a city so entrenched in a culture of the Left should recognise a Conservative ex-minister in this way.”

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His association with the area started in 1979 when he was appointed environment secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s first government. Following the Toxteth riots in 1981 he devoted more time to the city and earned the unofficial title of minister for Merseyside.

Speaking of the riots, he said he felt some “personal responsibility” for what was happening in the inner cities.

“I was the one in charge, it was on my watch and the buck stopped here,” he said, adding that Liverpool today is “unrecognisable” from the city it was.

“Thirty years ago everyone was blaming everybody else for what was going wrong, and everything was going wrong. Today it is a transformed city and environment..

“When I was here in 1979, every day there was a different announcement of a closure. Today we’ve seen the announcement of 1,000 new jobs created at Jaguar Land Rover.”