Monday, October 25, 2010

Liverpool -- A Recession-Free Zone

Welcome to the world of parallel universes. There is, of course, the real world, one where most people now accept that the ConDem cuts will leave a grisly trail of bleeding stumps. Locally, the ramifications of Dave's Do It Yerself Society were addressed in a piece for Saturday's Guardian by Caroline Davies ( ):
"The city already has 50,552 on jobseeker's allowance and 28,330 receiving incapacity benefit, with another 43,960 such claimants throughout the region. A large proportion are in wards such as Toxteth, where Paul Brant, the deputy leader of Liverpool city council, fears dole queues can only swell, and social problems get worse."
And then there is the world inhabited by Oldham Hall Street, one where Grosvenor-pool has been the city's salvation, bread & circus stunts involving Lennon's wives & sons are sold to a credulous & dwindling readership as evidence of a bright future for the city & the global recession has somehow passed Merseyside by.
On the eve of Osborne's slash & burn exercise last week, the Oldham Echo pathetically bleated ( ):
"Jobs are undoubtedly going to be lost and services are undoubtedly going to be cut. The review, we already know from leaks, is set to be brutal, but we ask that local authorities be able to retain a sharp focus on frontline services -- at the expense of less vital functions."
You can just imagine the cynical cackles of laughter from No 11 Downing Street in response to such an asinine & deluded request. Indeed, the Echo's leader writer, thought to be Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!), might as well put in a call to "Professor" Redmond, self-appointed representative for the ConDem cuts on Merseyside, to see if he can deliver another of his rambling, "stream-of-consciousness", incoherent missives, you know, the sort of thing, aren't-we-all-great-in-Scouseland, wasn't-culture-year-such-a-success, etc.
It would certainly be interesting to see how Redmond reconciles his faith in the Big Society with Ian Duncan Smith's resurrection of the Tebbit philosophy ( ).
There's a postscript to the Guardian piece by Caroline Davies & it's one which saddens me to note. Tony Nelson, an ex-docker active in the 1995 dispute & who now helps to run the Casa on Hope Street, was quoted:
"We had a march against the cuts and got about 500 to 1,000 [ ]. Two days later there was a march by Liverpool FC supporters against their owners. There were thousands and thousands. Says it all.
"The young just aren't politicised anymore. And they are the very ones that are going to be affected most."
I have the utmost respect for Tony & his fellow dockers for the struggle they waged a decade-and-a-half ago. However, what he fails to realise is that a wider consciousness of the cuts & their consequences is still very much in its infancy. The campaign by Liverpool fans over Hicks & Gillett's reign shouldn't be seen as, to use an old-fashioned Marxist term, false consciousness. If anything, previously apolitical fans were made aware of wider issues ( ).
Moreover, the young won't be politicised in the old ways, a steepling fall in trade union membership & New Labour have largely seen to that. Instead, many younger working-class people will turn to the web as a recruiting & organising tool. Someone of Tony's generation may not be familiar with Twitter & Facebook, but social networks can play the role once performed by union branches.
Think that's naive & unrealistic? Wait & see.

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