Friday, December 24, 2010

The Big Sham Of The Big Society

Bad news for the ConDems' chief apologist & self-appointed spokesman for Merseyside, "Professor" Phil Redmond today with the publication of a poll which suggests his faith in the Big Society isn't shared by many ( ):
"Cameron has rejected the suggestion that his mission is a cover for spending cuts, pointing out his idea of a big society preceded the general election and the government's deficit reduction programme. The poll for the FT, conducted in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US, reveals that 77% of people in Britain surveyed said they had donated to charity in the past year -- a far higher figure than their European counterparts and above the 71% figure cited in the US.
"But when asked whether they agreed that they should be 'encouraged to give up some of their time to help support public services', the UK response lagged at the bottom, with just 25% endorsing this view. The US topped the chart, with 42% agreeing they had a role to play."
It's a far cry from the optimism of that July afternoon when "Professor" Redmond assured Cameron & Pickles that their crudely ideological policy would be met with open arms on Merseyside ( ).
Moreover, Redmond's attempt to justify his championing of Tory dogma ( ) looks even more wretched & pathetic at year's end than it did last summer.

The Shape Of Things To Come

If you shut down young people's horizons, they'll shut down the streets ( ).
To be continued in 2011.

In The Bleak Merseyside Midwinter

Feeling trapped by the ice around your house? Can't start the car, let alone drive it safely on our ice rink roads? Frazzled by last-minute changes to Christmas Day? Well, you're not alone.
As we curse the elements, let's also consider the wintry treatment most of us are in for from the ConDems with their craving for "chaos" ( ), the puerile insistence that most of us are now middle-class ( ) & the exponential acceleration of a two-tier society ( ).
Against such a bleak, Dickensian backdrop, it's nice to know that Uncle Joe Anderson will offer handwringing sympathy for those most affected by the cuts while lacking the balls to offer any programme of resistance to Cameron & co. Instead, we'll get a continuation of half-arsed business as usual, largely indistinguishable from the reign of Warren "War Zones" Bradley, a "plan" which owes so much to PR & so little to substance ( ) following on from 2008 when Liverpool "wowed the world during our year as European Capital of Culture" & a choice of business associates which bodes ill for the city ( ).
In these dark days it's heartening to see the return of the Professor with this seasonal offering: .
Something for Uncle Joe to peruse once the mince pies & sherry have been consumed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Calling In A Favour

A consequence of Cable-gate, as the media inevitably tagged it, or Cable v. Satellite, as one wag tweeted, was the transferral of government policy on media takeovers from the Business department to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The minister who will now decide on whether Murdoch should be allowed to proceed with majority ownership of BSkyB is Jeremy Hunt, he of the moneyed background & rhyming slang moniker (courtesy, James Naughtie).
Hunt's decision can be predicted on two grounds. Firstly, it should be recalled that Hunt repeated the libel about Hillsborough last summer ( ), a lie which originally surfaced in Murdoch's rag, the Sun. Secondly, Murdoch's business practices elicited this paean of praise from Hunt on this blogpost earlier this year ( ):
" Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day.
"We would be the poorer and wouldn't be saying that British TV is the envy of the world if it hadn't been for him being prepared to take that commercial risk. We need to encourage that kind of investment."
Given that Murdoch told his editors to ditch Brown & support Cameron in October last year, government approval for Murdoch's majority stake is a safer bet than icy roads on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sitting On A Scoop

What used to be called Fleet Street seldom misses an opportunity to take aim at the BBC for "left-wing bias". It's bollocks, of course. The real agenda behind the attacks is purely commercial; a neutered BBC would ease the way for the "journalism" practised by nearly all the national press to prevail & be taken as the standard. A chilling prospect, indeed.
The breaking news about Vince Cable's comments on Rupert Murdoch's empire ( ) follows on from revelations in today's Daily Telegraph about other remarks Cable made in their broadsheet sting. However, the scoop secured by the BBC's Business Editor Robert Peston ( ) also shows that the Telegraph deliberately sat on Cable's comments concerning Murdoch.
We all know the Beeb sometimes shoots itself in the foot, but its journalism stands head & shoulders over that of its so-called competitors. This is a spectacular case in point.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Yuletide Lament

Here's a seasonal offering for these austere times: .

Home From Home

Taking a $20 cab ride from Times Square to the Lower East Side, I arrived at the Liverpool Supporters' Bar ( ) on Wednesday afternoon to watch the Europa League home fixture against Utrecht. Friends had told me about the place & it did remind me of a few pubs I occasionally frequent (one work colleague bumped into Elvis Costello in the bar at 7.00 EST when Liverpool played Manchester United at a lunchtime kick-off some years back).
The less said about the game, the better.
I got talking to a guy from Southport who now lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He told me he was a househusband while his wife brought home the bacon. "So she's Yoko, you're John," I quipped. He grimaced.
He told me he used to work as a taxi driver for Delta Taxis & asked me if the Alexandra Pub on South Road, Waterloo, had been closed yet. I told him the clientele were working on it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Unwanted Legacy

Visiting Manhattan this week (& staying half a mile north of the Dakota Building), I was struck by the different perception of John Lennon in what became his adopted city. Whereas the Lennon legacy in Liverpool is of a piece with the frankly nauseous nostalgia orgy over The Beatles, the take of many in New York seems to be a little more contemporary, placing him in the context of his influence on current acts.

Hoping that the city council, local media, etc. take a leaf out of New York's book is too much to ask. There's far too much money to be made from dwelling obsessively on The Fabs in their early incarnation for the benefit of the tourists & their credit cards.

During my stay in the city I read the previously unpublished interview Lennon gave to Rolling Stone a few days before his death (there isn't an online link yet, sadly). What came across clearly was Lennon's distaste for what, alas, he became in the eyes of many:

"These critics with the illusions they've created about artists -- it's like idol worship. Like those little kids in Liverpool who only liked us when we were in Liverpool -- a lot of them dropped us because we got big in Manchester, right? They thought we'd sold out. Then the English got upset because we got big in...what the hell is it? They only like people when they're on the way up, and when they're up there, they've got nothing else to do but shit on them. I cannot be on the way up again. What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interested in being a dead fucking hero...So forget 'em, forget 'em."

You won't find that quote republished in the Oldham Echo.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reality Bites

Yes, yes, yes, it must have been a disturbing moment for Charles & Camilla (the cries of "off with their heads!" will have been grimly acknowledged by the heir to the throne). That said, neither they nor their children will have to worry about the cost of tuition fees. Millions of others will.
All in this together, are we?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Meldrew On The Mersey

Even though it's a comic caricature of Scouse grievance, replete with imprecations & lazy prejudice, there's a raw, unarguable honesty to some of the points made about today's Liverpool waterfront in this clip: .

Ignorance & Prejudice From Afar

Distance can lend perspective, it is said. It can also reinforce ignorance & calumny.
That was certainly the case in April last year when US "shock-jock" Steven Cohen repeated with some relish the myths & lies about Hillsborough. Once word spread about Cohen's antics, he was forced to retreat ( ).
There is now another ignoramus across the pond eager to display his own jaw-dropping ignorance of both Hillsborough and the city of Liverpool. Alex Beam, a sports writer, in the loosest possible term, on the Boston Globe newspaper, yesterday commented on the recent acquisition of Liverpool FC by John W. Henry & his New England Sports Ventures company (NESV). Beam compared it unfavourably to Henry's ownership of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. However, it didn't take long for Beam to put the boot in ( ):
"So far, Henry's brief stewardship has been uneventful....For now the Red Sox PR machine is pumping out happy news about Henry's visits to grotty old Liverpool --Worcester without the glitz-- and about his wife's inane Twitter messages to the fans, e.g. 'Wow! Anfiel [the team's stadium] really is a special place!'
The few sane people I have talked to about Liverpool understand that these are early days for New England Sports Ventures and that meaningful changes probably won't come until Liverpool's season ends in May. None of those sane people are in Liverpool, however. Even by the deranged standards of European soccer, Red [sic] fans are totally bonkers. Their excitable Internet fan sites are still agonizing over a 21-year-old soccer stadium disaster that killed 96 people."
The original version of Beam's juvenile scrawl stated that the Hillsborough disaster was caused by a riot.
It's entirely reasonable to surmise that Beam has never been to "grotty old Liverpool". It's also entirely reasonable to surmise that Beam's own grasp of sanity is tenuous. Indeed, the consensus of opinion in the city would be that Beam's casual use of the term "bonkers" says everything that needs to be known about him.
Alas, Beam isn't finished with his lazy rant. He goes on to opine: "It's impossible to imagine a high-gloss player, a la David Beckham and his appalling wife, moving to doggy Liverpool."
Charming, wouldn't you say?
If you wish to let Beam know how impressed you are with his wisdom, sagacity & historical accuracy, he can be contacted at: .
[Thanks to my mate & fellow Liverpool FC fan Tony Karon, at Time magazine in New York ( ), for alerting me to Beam's, erm, thoughts.]

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How Can You Cheapen An Eyesore?

Cold out there, isn't it? Still, if you happen to have a pad in One Parked Here Without Our Say-So, you can always enjoy the vista afforded by your eyrie; the slate-grey Mersey is truly a sight to behold at this time of year.
What's more, you're not likely to be bothered by tasteless tat for the masses, that's for the Church Street end of town.
Or is it?
Alas, the season of Yuletide brings with it the usual & predictable money-making scams, all with the imprimatur of the local council &, yes, Grosvenor-pool ( ).
In mitigation of Echo hack Marc Waddington (& there's a phrase I never thought I'd employ), he does, at least, use quotation marks around the description of Liverpool's biggest eyesore as "glamorous". It's about as "glamorous" as an X-Factor show.
Wayne pointed out the absurdity of the claim that a carbuncle could be made to look cheap by Joe Anderson's bread & circus stunt --anything to avoid the reality that you should make a stand against the ConDem cuts, eh, Joe?-- earlier today ( ).
So what's got the individuals with more disposable income than aesthetic taste so hot under the collar? Well, all sorts of fun & games with an appropriately festive theme (an ice rink, a toboggan run, etc.). Just the thing for the kids when they get bored with Grosvenor-pool's regular stunning attractions.
Waddington's piece quotes Chris (Ignorance Is) Bliss, estate director of Grosvenor-pool: "Liverpool One strives to deliver high quality events and attractions to be enjoyed by the people of Liverpool and visitors to the city.
"Feedback about our events to date, including the summer beach, has been positive. It was with this in mind that the winter event, Alpine Style in the Park was developed."
Alpine Style in the Park? It must have taken a hell of a brain-storming session to produce that one, Chris.

Palm Oil & Palmed Off With PR Platitudes

Regular readers of this blog will know that my estimation of the "journalism" served up by Oldham Hall Street is subterranean. Evidence of this was provided by Wayne last week when he highlighted yet another PR piece, masquerading as information, on the palm oil trade ( ).
The scale of environmental havoc wrought by the palm oil business is clear to anyone with even a cursory interest in the matter. However, by casually tossing around words like "traceable" & "sustainable", Oldham Hall Street expects its readers to suspend their critical faculties & accept the lie that this trade leaves a minimal environmental footprint in Indonesia & Malaysia.
One half suspects that had the Oldham Echo & Daily Ghost been around a few centuries back, they would have seen the "positives" from the slave trade, arguing that it brought business into the Port of Liverpool.