Monday, June 30, 2008

Terry Fields: An Appreciation

It's tragically ironic that Terry Fields' death from lung cancer at the age of 71 ( ) should happen at a time when the Labour Party that was happy to accept the New Labour project is facing annihilation at the next election, & the issue of MP's expenses is under the spotlight.
Terry stood as the Labour (&, yes, Militant) candidate for the old Liverpool Broadgreen constituency in the 1983 election. He campaigned as "a worker's MP on a worker's wage". Everyone else scoffed. Even those who supported his views felt such a pledge was unrealistic in the Westminster brothel. Yet stick to it he did, taking home the average wage of a skilled worker in the constituency, the rest being ploughed back into the labour movement.
As well as a principled Labour MP (how many of today's miserable crop of weeds in the PLP could hold a candle to his stance?) & active trade unionist in the FBU, Terry was passionate, warm & witty in his work. Unlike one or two others in the Militant at that time, Terry never took himself too seriously; I remember meeting him for the first time at Lime Street station as we headed to Brighton for the 1983 Labour Party conference. My initial apprehension & nervousness soon disappeared as we cracked open a few cans of lager, joked about certain figures in the Tendency & talked about football. But, then, that was Terry. No ego, no mind games, just plain-speaking, honesty, humour & an ability to enthuse everyone around him.
It was typical of the man that he felt he had to make a stand over the Poll Tax. Rather than pay the £373 ( a sum of money which Labour MPs were happy to spend on restaurant meals), he defied the courts & refused to pay a single penny. He was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment at Walton Jail in July 1991. He came out with his head held high. However, the experience of prison life had left its mark on him; some say he was never quite the same again.
Kicked out of the Labour Party by Kinnock & his acolytes on the NEC, Terry stood as an independent candidate in Broadgreen at the 92 election. It was always going to be an uphill battle & he lost out to a New Labour clone, Jane Kennedy, now a government minister. (Channel 4 made a broadly sympathetic documentary about the campaign.)
After a brief & unfulfilling stint at managing the Mayflower pub in Fazakerley Street in the city centre's commercial district, Terry disappeared from public view, spending his time at home in Bootle. I rarely saw him after that.
In tonight's Liverpool Echo Paddy Shennan relates an anecdote which captures Terry's wit & insight (
"Mr. Fields, not surprisingly, wasn't a fan of his former Labour leader, [ ], and back in The Casa in Hope Street in 2005, memorably told me: 'Neil Kinnock had been a young firebrand, with socialism spewing out of every orifice -- but he finished up with something else spewing out of every orifice.' "
Let it not be forgotten, however, that Terry is finally being given his due by the Echo when his life has ended. It's always the case; the media acted in much the same way after Eric Heffer's death in 1991. As for today's "tributes" from the likes of Peter Kilfoyle, Jane Kennedy, Frank Field, Louise Ellman, et al , they're beneath contempt.
Terry leaves a wife, Maureen, four children, ten grandchildren & a great-grandchild.
Terry Fields: Born: March 8th, 1937. Died: June 28th, 2008.
Thanks, comrade. They saw the crescent, he saw the whole of the moon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mud, Mayhem & Music

Glastonbury began to lose its truly alternative spirit about a decade ago when the likes of Robbie Williams performed on the main Pyramid Stage. When the tabloids ran photographs of C-list celebrities, catwalk models & reality TV figures at the festival, I decided to ignore most of the TV coverage; an event designed to benefit CND, Greenpeace, etc. had become little more than another fixture on the summer season circuit.
However, I caught some of the coverage on Friday & yesterday. One number, in particular, caught the mood of the festival, Elbow's "One Day Like This": .

Friday, June 27, 2008

Online Activism

Following on from Roy Greenslade's piece on bloggers earlier this week, there's a thought-provoking post on the Guardian's Comment is Free site by Sunny Hundal, addressing the question of how liberal-left bloggers can have an impact on national politics, as has been seen in the US ( ).
Laudable stuff, but if Hundal views the official Labour blogs as playing a meaningful role in any online exchange, he's missing the point. For the forseeable future, Labour, both online & offline, will justifiably be seen as a toxic "brand".

Hacked Off

I've always disliked the description of bloggers as "citizen journalists". Journalism is a craft, requiring all the training, discipline & skill to successfully practise it. However, the sniffy attitude which some scribes still hold towards the blogosphere is arrogant & anachronistic; it's a bit like the clergy decrying Caxton for his printing press.
Roy Greenslade is one journalist who does recognise the future trend & is not afraid to tell it like it is to his bretheren ( ).
Greenslade freely acknowledges that the cat is out of the bag. He admits that journalists like himself "have spent our lives dominating [his italic] conversations. No, that's wrong, of course. We did not converse at all. We lectured. We provided the information that people feasted on in order to hold their own conversations."
"But the odd 'letter to the editor' aside, we were largely unaware of the content of those conversations. We moved on. We were the secular priests who decided what information to give the great unwashed and even told them how they should react to that information, what to think and what to do. Public service performed. Job done. How clever we were. How privileged."
And now, as Greenslade willingly attests, that cosy little world has vanished. When the Sun published its lies about Hillsborough, the only viable means of redress were letters to the Liverpool Echo or phone-ins on local radio. Not any more. If, perish the thought, a tragedy on the scale of Hillsborough happened tomorrow, any lies spread about its causes would be instantly challenged & discredited. For that, we have the blogosphere to thank.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Traders' Turmoil?

Walking up Bold Street on my way to the Philharmonic Hall last night, I noticed one of its bars had closed early , according to a poster in the window, for a meeting of the Bold Street Traders' Association. It's been acknowledged by many that the Liverpool One development has had a serious impact on the thoroughfare; last night's meeting may well be an indication that crisis point has arrived.

The King Of America Returns

"I've heard some real horror stories [about 2008]," remarked Elvis Costello at his concert with the RLPO at the Phil last night.
"They're all true!", someone in the audience called back.
Costello being Costello, it was inevitable that the shenanigans & cock-ups that have disfigured Liverpool's year of culture hadn't escaped his attention. Indeed, he hinted at the farce thrown up by Bradley, Harborrow, et al , as the reason for his no-show at the McCartney Anfield gig.
Costello's appearance at the venue, his first since 1985, was billed as different to his normal gigs. Certainly, it was the most musically cerebral & varied performance he's given in what he describes as "the nearest thing I have to a hometown".
The Liverpool audience, so used to seeing him in the good old fleapit that is the Royal Court, both recognised & appreciated it.
As well as the RLPO, Costello was joined by conductor, Clark Rundle, double bassist, Chris Laurence, drummer, Martin France, saxophonist, Rob Buckland, &, of course, his old Attractions keyboardist, Steve Naive on piano. Proceedings began with "All This Useless Beauty", a number clearly designed to get the crowd into the mood of the evening. "Almost Blue" was given an arrangement which made it all the more spectral.
The three numbers Costello performed from his "Il Sogno" opera, with Swedish soprano, Gisela Stille, were received politely rather than rapturously. However, "The Birds Will Still Be Singing" went down better with an audience intrigued by the set, yet itching for the old favourites to appear.
The second half of the evening delivered at least some of the old goods; "Green Shirt" augmented by percussive typewriter, "Veronica", penned with McCartney ("a member of an up and coming beat combo"), & "Watching The Detectives", given a jazzy big band feel by the orchestra, were wheeled out. "Shipbuilding" was enthusiastically greeted, not least for Costello's preceding comment that he thought he'd never see in his lifetime an illegal war [Iraq] supported by "a celebrated Labour leader".
[It's just a pity that he publicly supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries a while back, given her equally firm backing of the conflict.]
There were still curveballs thrown in the second half of the show, the Billy Strayhorn & Charles Mingus numbers, for instance. However, the crowd warmed more to the jazzy up-beat treatment of them after the studiedly classical first half.
Given the mood & arrangement of the concert, it was inevitable that there would be obvious omissions (no "Pump It Up" or "Oliver's Army"), but it would have been interesting to hear "Good Year For The Roses" in this setting. As it was, a near three hour set, the fifteen minute interval notwithstanding, came to a close with a spine-tingling acapella version of "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4".
In this year of years the local media are full of filler articles about the city's favourite sons & daughters. The usual suspects are mentioned ad nauseam (the Fabs, Doddy, Gerry Marsden, etc.), but Costello is given only an infrequent look-in, presumably because, as he himself admits, he didn't spend all his childhood & adolescence on Merseyside. It's time to rectify that; as Liverpool journalist Paul Du Noyer once noted, Costello was "a Scouser waiting to happen".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Through Sepia Tinted Spectacles

Concluding his look at his home town in the third & final programme about Liverpool, Alexei Sayle dealt deftly with both the Beatles' legacy in the city & the industry that's grown up around it. He understood the civic pride felt at four Scousers who reinvented popular music. However, he wrinkled his nose in distaste as he ambled down Matthew Street & surveyed the stultifying nostalgia that's been carefully marketed to camcorder-wielding tourists.
Such a balanced appraisal is sadly lacking , however, when the Liverpool Echo gets on the case. Today's edition trumpets the news that July 10th will be a Beatle day in the city ( ).
Its charitable aspect is, of course, laudable (both Alder Hey Children's Hospital & the Rhys Jones charity stand to gain something from it). However, it is enough to make any discerning Scouser despair about the city's chronic reliance on the Beatles, while treating today's music scene as an afterthought.
The Echo trills:
"Events include a Beatle Fun Run around the ECHO Arena, Beatles bands on the roof throughout the city, a Beatles Parade around tourist hotspots such as Strawberry Field [sic] and Penny Lane and a Beatles portrait competition in schools."
At his most sardonic, Lennon would have delivered a pithy verdict on such a tacky & unoriginal farrago of stunts.

Apres Tu, Le Deluge

UPDATE: Tom Harris' post on why we're all "so bloody miserable" has now attracted 112 comments. His latest post features a picture of a puppy & a browbeaten entreaty to think about the simple pleasures in life. I 'd say the puppy has more nous than the hapless minister.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cheer Up, You Miserable Bastards!

It isn't often that someone gets on the wrong side of both the Daily Mail Gestapo & working class voters. However, such a feat has been pulled off by a junior government minister, Tom Harris. The junior transport minister & MP for Glasgow South posted on his blog ( ) that he couldn't understand why, with so many people seemingly well-off, they were so pessimistic & gloomy.
The Guardian's take on the story ( ) notes that late last night Harris realised that his post was due to be given the Daily Mail front page treatment. His resulting update to the post reflects, perhaps, a disturbing level of naivety for a government minister: " I've always been aware of the pitfalls to blogging [haven't we all, mate!], especially as an MP and more especially as a minister..With every post I've written, I've asked myself: would I be comfortable if this found its way into, let's say, the Daily Mail? Well, I'm about to find out."
Rather than go by the Mail's take on the story (let's face it, the paper is a pathetic little rag which panders to lower middle class prejudices), I'll serve up the germane passages from Harris' blog itself: "High-def TVs fly off the shelves at Tesco quicker than they can be imported. Whatever the latest technological innovation, most people can treat themselves to it...
"There are more two-car homes in Britain today than there are homes without a car at all.We live longer, eat healthier (if we choose) [really?], have better access to forms of entertainment never imagined a generation ago (satellite TV, DVD, computer games), the majority of us have fast access to the worldwide web, which we use to enable even more spending and for entertainment. Crime is down.
"So why is everyone so bloody miserable?"
The comments to the post have been predictably mixed (for every hostile or querulous response there's the New Labour on-message missive) & I decided to pen my own thoughts to the minister:
"For your information, Tom, many of us outside your rarefied bubble are not snapping up high-definition TVs in our droves. Those who 'flash the plastic' to fund such purchases will soon realise, thanks to the credit crunch, that things have fallen to earth with a heavy thud. Moreover, I do not own a car, on the grounds that I can't afford one & I don't desire one. As for flippant quote about us having the choice to eat healthily, I suggest you take a rare excursion into the communities that the Labour Party was supposed to represent & champion; in such areas a large number of parents don't have a real choice for themselves or their children. It isn't just the Daily Mail mob you've offended with this witless post."
Harris' blithe ignorance of the economic realities facing what was once Labour's natural constituency is of a piece with this government's arrogance, aloofness & mendacity, most recently demonstrated by culture minister Andy Burnham's reprehensible attempt to slight Liberty's director, Shami Chakrabarti ( ).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kelvinwatch (Addendum)

The Sun's sub-editor takes receipt of Kelvin MacKenzie's copy for his weekly column
Alas, poor Kelvin! There he was, ready to embark on the next stage of his nascent political vocation, only for the plug to be pulled by the guy who really matters, his boss ( ).
There has been no word from MacKenzie himself, but without Murdoch's backing his campaign would be a non-starter:
"The Sun has not referred to the mooted campaign by its columnist once in print since MacKenzie and Murdoch, the paper's proprietor, discussed it at a party on Thursday evening for the paper's editor, Rebekah Wade."
This suggests that the Murdoch empire soon sobered up about MacKenzie's putative candidacy. Moreover, the Guardian report notes that Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun's assistant editor, has diluted the paper's initial hostility to David Davis, whose resignation from the Commons has triggered the byelection. The real clincher, however, in identifying Murdoch's real motive for this apparent volte-face is fleetingly acknowledged in the article:
"News International executives are understood to be wary of fielding a candidate against the Conservative party, which could interfere with the Sun's policy to always back the winner of election campaigns."
Perhaps those with access to Murdoch's ear were finally reduced to yelling down it after they had read Peter Wilby's column in today's Guardian ( ).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's That Man Again!

It's time for Kelvinwatch to return. Yes, this blog's, ahem, affectionate look at Kelvin MacKenzie, the man whose capacity for bullshit should be harnessed as an eco-friendly fertiliser project.
It seems that following his path-, sorry, principled stand in Surrey last month over the crucial issue of car parking charges (shame about the trouncing he got, by the way), the Wapping Wally is to stand against Tory MP David Davis in the byelection the former Shadow Home Secretary has called in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency over the 42 day detention issue: ( ).
For what it's worth, my own take on the detention debate is that if the authorities really need six weeks to collate sufficient evidence against someone suspected of planning a terrorist offence, it doesn't fill me with any confidence about their ability to protect society from such zealots.
But I digress, back to MacKenzie. There's an intriguing snippet from the Guardian's report:
"MacKenzie said that he had been personally encouraged by the Sun's owner [Rupert Murdoch] to stand against David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, as an anti-libertarian candidate and a defender of the government's plans to allow pre-charge detention for up to 42 days."
Remember the Sun's protestations two years ago when the Anfield Kop mounted its "Justice" gesture in response to MacKenzie's quote that he stood by his Hillsborough story? A spokesman for the paper bleated that a continued boycott was unfair because MacKenzie was no longer editor. He was, however, retained as a columnist, & this latest act of Murdoch patronage reveals MacKenzie's continued prominence in the Sun's set-up.
Roy Greenslade notes, en passant, that MacKenzie still calls Murdoch "boss" ( ).
Of Murdoch's funding for MacKenzie's campaign, incidentally, Greenslade highlights the malign role played by the unelected mogul in UK politics over the last 30 plus years: "One has to wonder at the audacity of an Australian-American media mogul backing a Sun columnist to try to win a British parliamentary seat. It does not link Murdoch to a particular party, but it does open him up to scrutiny about his political involvement in this country."
Murdoch has never been party political, despite his total support for Thatcher & Reagan in the 80s, he simply backs those who don't threaten his business interests, hence his benediction of Blair & New Labour in the mid 90s. As for the scrutiny which Greenslade calls for, nice suggestion, but it's come 30 years too late.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Whistling In The Wind

Opening a major retail development at the beginning of the credit crunch is symptomatic of the cack-handed efforts to redevelop the city by its civic misrulers. A further unwelcome aspect of it, however, has been the likely effect that the Liverpool One development will have on the city's existing shopping areas. In the case of Bold Street it's already being felt ( ):
"Neville Boyars, owner of fancy dress shop Smiffy's, said, 'At the moment, with Liverpool One now open, Bold Street is becoming just a passing through zone and that's going to be the same for any location in the town.
'We've spoken to Liverpool One and their viewpoint is that Liverpool One will regenerate the city -- I just hope that's the case.'"
If you believe that, you'll believe anything.

Expenses & Excuses

Sefton Council on Merseyside has always been the sort of hybrid entity which defies the usual psephological analysis. Bootle, in the the south of the borough, has been solidly Labour, give or take the odd sectarian candidate, for the last century. Crosby, just a mile or so down the road (& tough birthplace for Cherie Blair, so we're told in her book), was a safe Tory area until the early 80s, since when it has flirted with the old SDP & now is happy to have a New Labour MP. Southport, a resort whose air of genteel decline is one of its attractions for many, has been mainly Tory, but now has a Lib Dem MP.
During the 80s Sefton's Tories ruled the council. From what I recall of their leaders, they were happy to ape every Thatcherite measure from Whitehall. They also delighted in rubbing it in: cutting services & amenities in Bootle while spending increasing sums of money on fairy lights along Lord Street was almost an annual event.
Now comes news that one of the most senior Tories in Southport, Cllr Les Byrom, has defected to Labour ( ).
Iain Dale's Diary ( ) has a local Tory source to spill the beans. As Dale relates:
"Cllr Byrom has had a nice little earner as Tory chairman of the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority (£7,596). Sadly (for him) his term comes to an end next week, and the Tory leader on Sefton Borough Council has decided not to renominate him. He has moved heaven and earth to try to get her to reverse the decision, but she has stuck to her guns."
Dale adds that as a result of this move Byrom has to step down from his position as chairman of the Local Government Association Fire Committee, which has an annual expense tab of £17,592. Byrom claims the reason for his defection is the official Tory stance on the 42 day detention law. However, Byrom's pique at his fall from local Tory grace (& favour) is openly admitted by a quote in the Southport Visiter report:
"As the Visiter went to press, Cllr Byrom said: 'No doubt people will say I have let them down, but I have been let down by people who should know better.'"
In other words, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. He may as well add menacingly, "I know where the bodies are buried."

Monday, June 09, 2008

Back Where He Once Belonged

Before "Alexei Sayle's Liverpool" even began on BBC 2 last Friday (it's still availabe to watch on the Beeb's iPlayer) I frowned at the opening credits. It was billed as a collaboration between the BBC & the Culture Company. Great, I thought, not just a mea culpa for his remarks at the Edinburgh Festival five years ago, but also an act of civic fellatio from an unlikely source.
However, any PR bullshit from the Culture Company was kept to a bare minimum in Sayle's personal portrait of his birthplace.
Opening with the cliche about taking the boy out of Liverpool, but etc., etc., he made his pitch clearly & unambiguously. He accurately noted that Scousers have "a taste for taking offence" when talking to the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post, Mark Thomas. It's sister paper, the Liverpool Echo, of course, ran Sayle's 2003 comments with relish, & Sayle was filmed perusing the Echo's archives from the time. However, I couldn't help feeling that the Echo's influence on Merseyside was just a little over-stated.
Sayle declared that the furore over his comments had somehow "reconnected" him to the city, a reconnection which doubtless owes a lot to the idiotic rantings on Roger Phillips' phone -in on BBC Radio Merseyside & the odd death threat at the time.
There were a couple of sacred cows which weren't exactly slaughtered, just kicked about a bit during this first of three programmes. The first statement to question sacrosanct nostrums was that the Beatles' success had left a "black hole" for music in the city afterwards; it's both a source of pride & a heavy burden for local bands to know that a musical revolution happened on their doorstep. How do you follow it?
The second statement which would have caused mass panic at the Culture Company's HQ came from a Toxteth resident, reminiscing about his own involvement in the riots. Talking to Sayle on Upper Parliament Street, he maintained, "If we hadn't [rioted], this place would still be a shithole".
Turning to the industrial strife of the 70s, the programme sympathetically looked at the Ford workers at Halewood, noting that much of the trouble stemmed from managers who neither knew nor cared about local trade union culture. Inevitably, perhaps, it led on to a look at the 80s in the city with a chat between Sayle & Derek Hatton. The ex-Tankie (Sayle) & the ex-Trot (Degsie) agreed to disagree about the tactics of the time.
"I don't think Hatton could've existed anywhere other than Liverpool," Sayle mused in a voice-over. Perhaps.
There were certainly some familiar faces on the footage from that decade. Shoppers on Church Street were addressed by Mick Hogan from Garston Labour Party Young Socialists as youthful idealists tried to flog the Militant. Hatton is now a property developer. As for Mick Hogan, I haven't seen him in 20 years.
Where the programme sinned by omission was probably at its most glaring in the interview with Phil Hayes, founder of the Picket. The history & role of the venue, which was also a recording studio & general cultural resource, was mentioned, but the enforced closure of the original Hardman Street home was ignored. The original site was redeveloped for the construction of, you've guessed it, luxury apartments; as own goals go (& there have been far too many in the city's post-war history) this was one of the biggest.
Sayle was sympathetic & even supportive of the 1995-1998 Dockers' dispute. Doreen McNally, one of the founders of the Women of the Waterfront campaign, spoke eloquently & astutely about its legacy. Already politically aware, via her husband's trade union activism, she soon learned to read between the lines as the dispute grew. It was nice to see the Casa in the programme, the bar/community centre/local resource on Hope Street which was resurrected by way of the dockers' pay-off.
The thorniest subject was left till last: Hillsborough. As local musician Jegsy Dodd, who was there that fateful day, said with feeling, "I'm sick of the actual word, 'Hillsborough'."
The burning of the Sun outside a newsagent's seemed a little superfluous, yet drew attention to the anger which is still felt ("even the bitter blues won't buy it," the newsagent pointed out).
All in all, a broadly accurate & warm portrait of the place. Alexei won't have to worry about the Echo anymore, they liked it, too ( ), as did Lew Baxter on Liverpool Confidential ( ), the Liverpool journalist who broke the 2003 story.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Education Education, Education

Can you hear that noise? Yes, it's the sound of scales falling from the eyes of various columnists & commentators. On that bright sunny morning in May 1997 the commentariat flocked en masse to the reign of King Tony & Queen Cherie. A "new dawn", as Blair himself put it, had broken & the scribblers with more influence than could possibly be warranted lay themselves prostrate at the court of New Labour.
One of the latest of the deluded who's wised up is Jenni Russell in the Guardian ( ). Russell laments, "Of all the children I have known as mine were growing up, I am profoundly depressed to find I can't think of one that has escaped class destiny."
Interesting & telling phrase, isn't it? "Class destiny", it reminds us that, contrary to the fashionable nostrum that we're now a classless society, the issue of where you live, who your parents were, family background, education, etc. is as significant in the early 21st century as it was a hundred years ago.
Russell relates the fortunes of the children at her daughter's grammar school as they got older:
"At 15, 16 and 17, big class divides, in confidence and expectations, started to open up. The children of doctors and architects and senior civil servants have won places at Oxbridge and Edinburgh. The children of actors and junior managers are going to the newer universities. But the equally talented children of firemen and bookeepers and curtain-makers have, overwhelmingly, lost faith in their ability to move out of their class, and most have either dropped out or drastically underperformed."
Russell's final point touches on the question of social mobility. It is a toxic legacy bequeathed to us by New Labour that social immobility is now the norm.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Today's wet weather is an apt backdrop for the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield. Raining on this particular parade of what was billed as the highlight of Liverpool08 isn't, however, merely a meteorological matter. The metaphorical downpour comes in the shape of the national media's interest in the mismanagement of 2008 by the city council & the Culture Company ( ).
BBC Radio 4's File On 4 programme ( ) this week lifted the stone on just some of the shennanigans, cock-ups & warring egos which have resulted in what could have been the area's best opportunity in over a generation becoming a laughable & pathetic attempt to paper over the cracks of a civic & business leadership in denial & conflict.
As Allan Urry (who cut his journalistic teeth with BBC Radio Merseyside) reports for the programme, Liverpool City Council is currently closing two specialist care homes for the elderly as it tries to put its finances in order. One of those affected by the closures expresses her feelings:
"Joyce Provost, whose 77 year old mother suffers dementia, [said]: 'The old people built this city....they're not being considered, I don't think it is fair.'"
The Bread & Circuses approach of the city council is put under the spotlight by seasoned observers of the city's civic & business scene. The programme notes that "one of the city's leading academics has a stark warning that the city is ill equipped for the tough times ahead.
"Professor David Robertson, head of the Public Policy Institute at Liverpool John Moores University, is doubly pessimistic with nearly £7-12bn worth of Central Government and European funding due to come to an end.
"He added that the city's regeneration had been 'very frothy, focussing upon tourism, short term spending and increasing spending on shopping.
"They are the first things to go in an economic downturn.'"
These aren't the sort of observations you will find in the Liverpool Echo. Just two days after the File On 4 programme was first broadcast, the Echo morphed into a glorified PR blurb for the Liverpool One development ( ).
Forget about journalism, this coverage oozed with nauseous sycophancy.
It reminded me of the points made in April by the writer Paul Kingsnorth in his book, "Real England: The Battle Against The Bland" ( ).
It's worth noting, en passant, that Phil Redmond, self-styled saviour of culture year, refused to be interviewed by Allan Urry unless he could dictate the terms of the conversation & exercise a power of veto over the programme's questions.
On a lighter note, Lee Forde -- the man who was expected to work with a reduced budget yet return a finished project regardless, as far as Warren Bradley was concerned -- tells Urry that Bruce Springsteen had expressed a wish to play Liverpool this year, but the farce that was unfolding ruled it out. Thanks, fellas, another reason to remind as wide an audience as possible of the Audit Commision's report which described Liverpool as having the worst-run council in the country.


The domestic football season may be over, but, in a city which can be unhealthily obsessed by the sport, discussion continues well into the summer months. The normal close season routine of speculating on transfers involving both clubs is now accompanied by the debate about the new stadia proposed for Liverpool & Everton.
So much uncertainty surrounds both (for what it's worth, my hunch is that Everton's proposed move to Kirkby will be kicked into the long grass & Liverpool's Stanley Park stadium is far from a done deal, despite the official noises).
The question of a shared stadium has been mooted for at least 30 years. Proponents of a common home have long pointed to San Siro in Milan as proof that a partisan atmosphere need not be sacrificed as part of such a move. Debate on the issue was placed in a greatly altered context after Hillsborough.
Given the uncertainty concerning both clubs, the leaders of Liverpool City Council have revived the shared stadium issue ( ).
The Guardian's report observes, "Warren Bradley, leader of the ruling Liberal Democrat party and an Everton season-ticket holder, has insisted a shared stadium remains a possibility despite fierce opposition from fans and, crucially, the two clubs."
It's difficult to see where there are grounds for Bradley's optimism. I agree that it would make sense, economically, for the two clubs to share their resources. However, cold economic thinking is rarely a factor with both sets of fans. Additionally, the debate has not so much moved on as been changed; neither Liverpool nor Everton will move into new homes for the forseeable future. In this changed context, the unspoken belief is that both are drawing up plans to renovate or redevelop Anfield & Goodison Park respectively.