I'm not really surprised that those high-calibre journalists on Oldham Hall Street haven't picked up on comments made by junior culture minister Barbara Follett recently to the effect that prior to last year Liverpool had no cultural credentials. Wayne related the story earlier today (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2009/06/stand-up-for-new-liverpool.html ).
A quick Google news check unearths this piece about the matter on "bd The Architects' Website" (http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=437&storycode=3143041&channel=426&c=2&encCode=00000000019b98ca ):
"Given the sensitivity of Scousers to criticism of their fine city, architecture minister Barbara Follett may not want to visit Liverpool any time soon.
"Speaking at a Theatres Trust event last week, she opined that Merseyside --a Unesco world heritage site-- was something of a culture-free zone before it became European City of Culture last year. The minister has obviously never heard of the Beatles. Or the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Liverpool Shakespeare Festival, Liverpool Playhouse, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial..."
Dot, dot, dot indeed.
It's clearly a mystery why a culture minister, albeit a minor one, should take a leaf out of Boris Johnson's book & open her mouth before thinking about what she has to say. It remains to be seen whether Gordon Brown tells her to get the train at Euston pronto, endures an uncomfortable photo-op at the Albert Dock & makes an even bigger idiot of herself when Roger Philips kindly opens the lines on his Radio Merseyside phone-in.
In all the coverage given to MPs' expenses, it should, perhaps, be noted that Follett, a typical New Labour luvvie (her husband is pulp fiction writer Ken Follett), is one of the growing band of MPs who have repaid the money they fleeced from the taxpayer. According to the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/police-will-investigate-mps-expenses-claims-1710730.html ):
"One of the biggest repayments was from junior culture minister Barbara Follett, wife of the author Ken Follett, who gave back £32,976 that she had claimed for security at her London home and the cleaning of a child's rug she had 'claimed in error'. "
So what does this affair say about the intellectual qualities & basic intelligence of the not-so honourable member for Stevenage in leafy Hertfordshire (with a wafer-thin majority of 3,139)?
Perhaps this tale involving Follett, courtesy of those wonderful folks at Wikipedia, helps explain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Follett ):
"In 2001 Follett appeared in the television satire programme Brass Eye which satirised media hysteria towards the issue of paedophilia. In the programme she was duped into giving fake warnings about an online game called Pantu the dog, claiming on camera that a paedophile had converted the dog's eye in order to see the child play. Follett went on to demonstrate how the paedophile would wear a t-shirt with a small illustration of a child's body on it, in order to disguise themselves as another child and how paedophiles get children to press their faces against the screen and then use special gloves to feel the child. Follett complained to the BSC [Broadcasting Standards Commission] and ITC [Independent Television Commission] about being duped into appearing on the programme. The BSC noted that the programme makers had deliberately given warning signals to suggest the material might be dubious and thus rejected Follett's complaints against the show as it successfully revealed the dangers of how public figures were willing to speak 'with apparent authority about matters they do not understand.' "
The same could be said about Follett's witless witterings about Merseyside's cultural life & history.
By the way, the Brass Eye clip has been YouTubed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx4ixXQFUQY#t=0m17s .
Wikipedia also notes that Follett & her husband "own two properties in London, one in Hertfordshire, a property in Cape Town and a holiday home in Antigua."
Wonder if she ever buys The Big Issue?