Ivory Tower syndrome is never pleasant to witness. Normally respected historians & academics can make us mere mortals sit up & say, "He said what?!" when they dip their toes into the waters of contemporary politics or some aspect of everyday life. The latest casualty from the world of academe is Tristram Hunt, a historian who's done much to popularise Britain's past on TV & through Guardian pieces; he's also written eloquently & passionately about the need to preserve buildings which should be listed & saved from the philistines' bulldozers, something which is certainly pertinent to Liverpool, as the Three Graces are surrounded by bland, soulless high-rise tower blocks (to give them their real description) & acid-influenced edifices "visualised" by stoned Cubists.
Which brings me to Hunt's foot-in-mouth moment. Writing on the Guardian's Comment is Free page the other day, he contrasted the Lib Dems in the Westminster bubble & their counterparts at local government level (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/15/lib-dems-local-councils-green ).
"Of couse, there are many progressive Lib Dem councils. Richmond has pioneered a range of quality-of-life policies, while Liverpool has invested in a cultural strategy embracing the entire city."
Yes, yes, I know, it's horrific, isn't it? Someone call an ambulance, quick!
Hunt's notion that the entire city was fully engaged in truly worthwhile & economically beneficial cultural projects last year, & that last year's legacy continues to benefit communities in Belle Vale, Speke, Kirkdale, Walton, etc. would be dismissed with a chuckle & a comment to the effect that he rivals (Nice, But Dim) Tim Leunig in the commonsense stakes.
At least it would be, were it not for the fact that Hunt unsuccessfully applied to be selected as Labour candidate for Liverpool West Derby after Bob Wareing's deselection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tristram_Hunt ).
I presume that Hunt actually travelled to the constituency he hoped to represent. If he did, he might just have noticed that West Derby might as well have been in a different city for all the good that came its way during CoC year.
Tell you what, Tristram, why not make a return visit to the area to see the real picture? Just make sure you don't get ambushed by Warren Bradley, Mike Storey, et al as you disembark at Lime Street station. Otherwise you'll be ferried round the waterfront & regaled with stories about the Beatles while Bradley takes you to one side & asks you to pen a CiF piece proclaiming Steve Hurst's innocence.