Mention Istanbul to most people in Liverpool &, depending on their footballing allegiance, memories will come flooding back of either the greatest comeback seen in any European Cup final, or the biggest fluke in the history of football. I belong firmly in the former camp (nice to see the back of Tom Hicks jnr., btw, for that charming email to a fan -- no more unannounced & unwelcome visits to the Sandon, eh, Tom (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/02/walk-on-walk-on-right-out-of-pub-mate.html )? -- now if only his dad & Gillett would follow suit). However, I digress.
The University of Liverpool's Impacts08 site (http://impacts08.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/capitals-of-corruption/ ) picks up on an article in the UAE-based The National paper about Istanbul's status as a capital of culture for 2010 (http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100113/ART/701129962/1224 ).
The more you read down Claire Berlinski's piece, the more you find yourself thinking, this sounds familiar. It begins with an observation you'll never find in the Daily Ghost or Oldham Echo:
"As officials at Istanbul's European Capital of Culture Agency know all too well, once you've been named a capital of culture, it's only a matter of time before all the 'capital of corruption' jokes start."
A couple of paragraphs on, the parallels with the Lib Dems' Bread & Circus charade (aka Liverpool08) start to appear with astonishing similarity:
"A study that the international cultural advisers Palmer/Rae Associates prepared for the [European Culture] commission noted that 'almost all cities' selected thus far 'reported that there were problems with their governance structures'. The most commonly noted issues were 'domination of political interests, relationship difficulties between board members and with the operational management team, the absence of representation of cultural interests and the size of the governance structure'. Moreover, it noted, 'personality clashes, communication problems, inappropriate experience of personnel and unclear responsibilities and job descriptions' were ubiquitous."
Berlinski goes on to report that amid claims & accusations of embezzlement & incompetence is the charge "that Istanbul's culture is being destroyed by rapacious development faster than it can be promoted."
Then there's this gem with which to compare & contrast Istanbul 2010 & Liverpool08:
"Some of the projects supported by the [Istanbul] agency certainly do leave the organisation open to the charge that the selection process was made with something other than cultural significance in mind. The most notorious has been the nine-million-lira [£3.7m] contract awarded to a residential construction company to re-enact the 52-day circumcision ceremony of the son of Sultan Murad III. Contracts for the restoration of the city's historic walls, it is said, have been given to bidders so unqualified that archeologists are in convulsions; some hint that as a result, Istanbul could be thrown off Unesco's World Heritage List."
I'm not sure about circumcisions, but a growing number of people would happily administer a medical procedure, sans anaesthetic, to the same part of the male anatomy of the chancers, shirkers, propagandists & charlatans whose grandiose claims about culture year's lasting legacy for Merseyside have been shown to be bollo-, sorry, false.