Friday, December 30, 2011

Oldham Echo Misses The Mark Again

It may be the season of goodwill but the howlers from Oldham Hall Street continue. Slow to report last night's breaking story about the 1981 Cabinet Papers on Liverpool ( ), today's editorial in the Oldham Echo declares ( ):
"It can now only be revealed, 30 years after the event, that the then chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe, thought we should basically be left to rot."
Not true, guys. This blog & others have quoted Howe's comments on several occasions over the years; Peter Kilfoyle, former Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, referred to the "managed decline" remark in a House of Commons debate during the 90s.
Howe has been on BBC Radio today, saying he has no recollection of the comments. That form of words should not be confused with a denial.
As an aside, Michael Heseltine & most of the broadcast media have today made the lazy & sloppy association between the Toxteth riots & Militant's reign in the city. Whatever one may think of the record & legacy of Messrs Hatton & Mulhearn, the fact is that the city council was under Liberal rule at the time of the riots. The then council leader, & well-known local businessman, Trevor Jones escorted Heseltine on his visit to the city in July 1981. The Militant-led Labour group didn't take control of the council until May 1983.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quelle Surprise!

It's what many have long maintained in the face of widespread scorn & disbelief from "official" circles over the last 30 years. However, the release of the official cabinet papers for 1981 confirms what the Thatcher government thought of Liverpool ( ). Geoffrey Howe, then Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, told colleagues after the '81 Toxteth riots that "managed decline" should be government policy towards the city.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Letting The Real Scum Off The Hook

You really know that civic life has plumbed dispiriting depths when the leader of Liverpool City Council resorts to the lexicon of the playground. Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson reacted to the presence of protesters outside the Echo Arena last Friday with a rejoinder which, I suspect, won't be regarded as the ultimate bon mot ( ).
The purpose of Cllr Anderson's visit to the venue wasn't to see Sir Macca (that's next week), but to talk to multi-millionaire Tory minister Francis Maude. Something tells me Joe didn't train his infantile invective on a key figure in the ConDem coalition. While it would have achieved nothing for Cllr Anderson to indulge in name-calling with Maude, I'd wager that an excoriating denunciation of the ConDem cuts wasn't issued by the city council leader.
Giving the clearest indication of what he views his priorities to be, Cllr Anderson has defiantly stood by his charming message to those outside the Arena ( ).
Declaring that he has "no regrets", Joe is in bullish mood, according to David Bartlett:
"Cllr Anderson said he was responding to shouts of 'Nazi scum' as he entered the waterfront venue, with a protest taking place outside."
Granted, the video is rather brief, so we don't know what was said before the filming began. However, having viewed the clip a few times, I can't hear that particular insult being voiced in Cllr Anderson's direction. 
Cllr Anderson goes on to display his gift for cognitive dissonance:
"Today [Cllr Anderson] said: 'The irony is I agree with 95% of what they are saying, but I disagree with them shouting abuse in an obscene way.' "
Just a thought for Joe to ponder: if he agrees with almost all the points made by the protesters, why doesn't he make the relatively short intellectual jump to the logical conclusion here & endorse a programme of resistance to cuts the magnitude of which Thatcher would envy? Moreover, while alleged abusive language can't be condoned, he should ask himself which is the greater obscenity, a few choice, though ill-advised, words on a windy waterfront outside the Echo Arena, or a meek acquiescence to a programme of cuts which will consign thousands to the dole queue & cause misery to those most dependent on council services at the behest of a Tory grandee sitting smugly inside the venue.
Concluding his illusory case for disparagement, Cllr Anderson sneers:
" 'I have been fighting for social justice for longer than some of these people have been alive.' "
Classy, Joe, classy.       

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Desperation On Oldham Hall Street

At the risk of sounding like a local historian, what comes to mind when you think of the city of Liverpool? If, like me, you were introduced to cultural assets like the Walker Art Gallery & the neighbouring Museum at an early age, you'll be aware of the city's history, its landmarks & its waterfront.
You'll also have a mixed view of the city's media coverage since the 70s. The Liver Birds? Carla Lane's whimsical take on two young women in Allerton. The Wackers? The first real sign of Scouse stereotypes being projected to a national audience. Boys from the Blackstuff? Bleasdale's urgent missive about the de-industrialisation of a region. Bread? Execrable exercise in local parochialism. Brookside? An early & laudable attempt to present at least one working class family (the Grants) honestly, but which soon gave way to, yep, Scouse stereotypes & soap opera sensationalism (thank-you, "Professor" Redmond).
There is now a new entrant to that curate's egg of a cast, & it is one I've consciously avoided, Desperate Scousewives (the punning title itself is wince-inducing).
Reaction to the programme has been fairly damning, with Seven Streets delivering a dry, dismissive verdict (
So, given the distinctly unimpressed response of many local people to this tacky, vacuous & stereotype-perpetuating programme, are there any voices willing to defend it? Oh yes there are &, guess what, they emanate from Oldham Hall Street.
However, it appears that the Oldham Echo's endorsement of something which depicts the city in a shallow, materialistic & tiresome manner may have reached its nadir with one of those many Echo pieces which eschew journalism & embrace fawning promotion ( ).
Oldham Hall Street's hapless hack Laura Cox undergoes a series of cosmetic (in more ways than one) treatments. The cost of her, ahem, journalistic endeavours? £599. A reasonable price tag in these economically-straightened times, particularly on Merseyside, wouldn't you agree?
Alas, the online commenters on the piece don't. Indeed, their responses range from the spluttering to the withering. JimmyCase1977 (great moniker, btw) declares:
"Echo, you have seriously misjudged your readers on this Desperate Scousewives debacle. 99.9% of real scousers are against this stereotyping drivel, yet you continuously big this rubbish up! A once great paper has gone seriously down the pan."
Ouch! But wait, here's another commenter, Clerkenwell, with this observation:
"The people of Liverpool know that this garbage has been created in order to reinforce previous media-created bad impressions of Liverpool and show the rest of the country an imaginary, crass and uncouth Liverpool filled with grotesques to despise and laugh at...
"Is [the Echo] out of touch with the city that they are meant to report upon that they actually think we like this foul series despite the hundreds of comments attacking it after every one of the Echo's articles on it?"
Clerkenwell, that may well be a rhetorical question.
JanMolby (commenters do like to flag up their affiliations, don't they?) complains that his initial comment to the effect that the Oldham Echo should have its bizarre Freedom of the City award reconsidered at least was deleted (wonder why) & concludes:
"I'd suggest doing something important -- like a proper in-depth analysis of what's going on with Peel/UNESCO (rather than the sensationalist, dumb headlines usually offered), not this scousewives drivel."
Jan (can I call you Jan?), let me put it this way, there's more chance of Andy Carroll appearing in ads for mineral water.
So then, any response from Oldham Hall Street to this online barrage? Well, yes, there is. However, the Echo's digital editor pathetically bleats that the piece "was meant to be fun."
As opposed to, say, journalism.
It still claims to speak up for Merseyside, you know,despite its receding circulation ( but the Oldham Echo's credentials are as suspect as a Stan Boardman routine. From Capital of Culture to Capital of Cringeworthy Caricatures. Only in your Oldham Echo.