Monday, November 15, 2010

Preserving A Fab-Free Zone In Lennonpool

A post on Simon's No Rock & Roll Fun blog draws some much merited & necessary attention to the website for the Pure Musical Sensations alternative music programme on BBC Radio Merseyside (http://xrrf.blogspot.com/2010/11/please-mention-site.html ).
The programme's been hosted over the years by Roger Hill & has had different names along the way. It eschews the tiresome Fab Four nostalgia which is a staple part of Radio Merseyside's usual musical output, seeking to highlight current local acts, via live sessions & a gig guide. Those of us who point out that the city's addiction to Beatle nostalgia holds back the current music scene view it as the sort of thing for which you should pay your licence fee; it captures some of the spirit of John Peel's Radio 1 programme.
So if you're sick to the back teeth of the station's daytime presenters who combine puerile parochialism with lachrymose recollections of the Cavern, you could do worse than visit this website: http://www.pmsradio.co.uk/ .

Friday, November 12, 2010

Exposed


After much detective work, this blog can exclusively reveal the identities of the students behind Wednesday's riot in Westminster.
(Hat-tip to Gary Younge.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

By Your Friends Shall Ye Be Known


Priorities. It's important to remember them, isn't it? Indeed, it is almost always assumed that your average politician will be aware of them, if only for reasons of self-preservation. So it's nice to see that George Howarth, Labour MP for Knowsley North, realises what his priorities are....by grubbily raising cash among other Labour colleagues for the benefit of disgraced MP Phil Woolas (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/09/harriet-harman-phil-woolas-backbench-mutiny ).
Woolas, now ex-Labour MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth, was responsible for election leaflets last May which plumbed the depths of what is euphemistically termed the rough & tumble of local politics with a shameless appeal to bigotry & racism (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/gallery/2010/nov/05/phil-woolas-campaign-literature ).
Taking a leaf from the book of US attack ads, the leaflets "pushed all the buttons", as they say, in dredging up some nastily toxic mud (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/05/phil-woolas-immigration-leaflets-oldham-east-rerun ) for his Lib Dem opponent.
The Right Honourable Member for Knowsley North evidently sees nothing wrong with this. Moreover, his devotion to Woolas' ignoble cause extended to some shameless cheerleading the other night, making Harriet Harman look principled (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/09/backbenchers-criticise-harman-over-woolas ). Some feat, when you think about it.
So when it comes to remembering what your priorities should be as an MP for a tribal, terminally deprived Labour seat, Howarth displays his true character. How else to account for his actions in support of a typically authoritan New Labour figure at a time when his local council has announced 400 job losses (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-11722635 )?
Live in Kirkby? Work for the local council? Worried about your job because of the ConDem cuts? Well don't bother hoping your local MP will take up your case as a priority. No, you see, George's real priority is defending a guy whose election leaflets pandered to base & venal motives.
Howarth may not be the only local MP to see Woolas as some sort of innocent party. It's rumoured that at least two or three other Merseyside MPs are passing the bowl around.
If you wish to let Howarth know just how pleased you are by his sense of priorities, he can be contacted at:
George Howarth,
House of Commons,
London, SW1 0AA.
Phone: 0151-546 9918 or 020 7219 6902.

All Together Now

John Harris recently penned a piece on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages about the dearth of protest songs against the ConDem cuts. He's returned to the subject today (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/10/protest-music-pop-cultural-voices ) with a few early examples which gainsay his original argument that apathy characterises the state of music in the light of the cuts.
One of the songs sent Harris' way is this catchy piece for our times:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQFwxw57NBI .

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Hear You Bought The Beatles Soccer Team, Tom


Enchanting as it's been to read & hear of George W Bush's self-serving tome (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/08/george-bush-memoir-decision-points ), it is rather disappointing that the worst president in US history didn't congratulate his neighbour & buddy Tom Hicks for doing a "heck of a job" at Anfield.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Taxing Details

The scores of bemused shoppers passing Vodafone's two stores in the city centre on Saturday would have been largely unaware of the reason behind the presence of demonstrators & the company's decision to close both outlets. A brief piece in yesterday's Oldham Echo did mention the fact that Vodaphone owes £6bn to the exchequer in unpaid tax (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/11/01/protest-shuts-vodafone-stores-in-liverpool-100252-27577649/ ), yet described the evidence as "claims".
For good measure, the piece, typically lacking a byline, happily quoted a Vodafone spokesman who duly trotted out the company's spin on the matter: "We saw protests outside a small number of our UK stores.
"We temporarily closed some of them and diverted customers to other locations so they were not inconvenienced. Most have since reopened.
"We pay our taxes in the UK and all of the other countries in which we operate."
You'll be surprised to know that there were no quotes from any of the protestors.
The closure of the Grosvenor-pool & Church Street stores was part of a nationwide campaign to highlight Vodafone's tax-dodging scam (http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/11/02/why-the-vodafone-protests-have-already-been-successful/ ).
The beans were spilled on the company's tax dodge by Private Eye in September (http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1273 ), the magazine pointing out that the company has ploughed its profits into a Luxembourg-based firm. Private Eye's article noted that Luxembourg's tax rate is "less than 1 per cent."
It would have been nice if the Oldham Echo had mentioned all this. After all, it would be unfortunate if Oldham Hall Street's much-trumpeted "pro-business" stance were to be tarnished because of a puff-piece for a tax-dodging multinational. Wouldn't it?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Praise The Lord & Pass The Ammunition

It would be easy (all too easy) to satirise the characters in Gary Younge's video for the Guardian as they refer to themselves as "the old farts club" at their "breakfast and bull" meetings in Nevada (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2010/nov/01/younge-america-old-farts-club-video ).
The talk from one man present of armed insurrection clearly alarms one of his cohorts who dissociates himself from such sentiments. However, the familiar litany of soundbites & mantras from the rabid Right in US politics (Obama's a socialist, Obama's not American, etc.) are wheeled out for another airing.
That said, as Gary notes, it's important to understand what drives the notions & motivations of such people on the eve of the US mid-term elections which will see some disturbing successes for the Tea Party crowd.

The Damage Wrought By Doreen Jones' Casting Vote

Recommended reading: Wayne highlights a letter in the Daily Ghost from committed & courageous civic campaigner Florence Gersten on the grotesque Botoxification of the city's waterfront (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2010/11/letter-from-florence-gersten.html ).

Grosvenor-pool & A Garment-Led Renaissance

Life's full of contradictions, isn't it? You say one thing & do another. Quite often, it's unavoidable. The strains & stresses of everyday life mean that you have to compromise, or go back on what you may have promised. All messy stuff, but, hey, that's life.
It's with such a charitable & understanding view that we should look at the contradictory & dysfunctional state of affairs on Oldham Hall Street.
Alastair Houghton re-prints a press release, sorry, I mean writes a piece in today's Oldham Echo which celebrates Grosvenor-pool's "success" (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/11/01/liverpoolone-to-attract-more-than-25m-visitors-100252-27576589/ ).
Just what makes Grosvenor-pool & its cheerleaders on Oldham Hall Street so confident about its ability to attract so many visitors isn't explained. However, that doesn't stop Chris Bliss, Estates Director at the retail nirvana, from providing a classic example of corporate bollockese:
"We're creating a leisure experience that appeals to a wide range of visitors from across the country who realise they can enjoy a day or weekend out at Liverpool One and take in the wider city centre offer too."
Bliss by name, bliss, in all its ignorance, by nature.
Indeed, the Bliss-full take on the wider city centre should be appraised. So where better to get a supporting view on matters than The Oldham Echo's sickly sister, the Daily Ghost (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2010/10/27/bid-carries-out-survey-on-effects-of-liverpool-one-92534-27549090/ ).
The author of the article? One Alastair Houghton.
Houghton's piece relates:
"Ged Gibbons, chief executive of Liverpool City Central's Business Improvement District, has commissioned property consultancy Drivers Jones Deloitte to discover whether the £1bn Grosvenor development has had a negative effect on other parts of the city......
"[Gibbons] believes Liverpool One has benefitted the city, but says the survey may show that other areas of the centre need to reinvent themselves to attract more shoppers."
It's an interesting concept, isn't it? You've established a retail outlet in, say, Bold Street, but now witness the deleterious effect Grosvenor-pool has on your business. So what do you do? Simple, "reinvent" your business. It's of a piece with the Bliss-full ignorance emanating from Grosvenor-pool.
Gibbons cautions that "this is a city designed for 750,000 people occupied by 500,000.
"With 40% of the working population employed by the public sector, the Government's cuts will have unavoidable consequences."
Ah yes, the cuts. The elephant in the room which puts all the bollockese in its proper perspective, & which will probably result in a further decline of the city's population. In fact, the Daily Ghost was forced to concede its presence last week (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2010/10/26/liverpool-chamber-chief-warns-replacing-lost-jobs-will-be-a-slow-process-92534-27542055/ ) via a few hard-hitting remarks from Jack Stopforth, chief executive of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce:
"The private sector in Liverpool is probably too small to absorb the likely short-term job losses.
"It might be able to do it over the next four or five years, but it will be a big challenge. And whether or not the jobs are of the same quality and paying the same as the current public sector jobs is debatable."
So where to turn? Well, Ged Gibbons has an observation which Chris Bliss-full Ignorance would be proud to claim as his own:
"On the other hand, Liverpool girls are famed for their fashion and will compromise on much, but not their clothes."
There we have it. Grosvenor-pool may be sucking the life out of other areas of the city centre & the ConDem cuts will leave an army of jobless people the city's private sector can't absorb, but the economic future of Liverpool is guaranteed by "Liverpool girls" who "are famed for their fashion".
Perhaps Oldham Hall Street should take up the call & start another of its campaigns, you know, something with a pithy headline to accompany it. How about, "Dress For Success: Liverpool Ladies Save Our City". Alastair, Mark, think it's got wheels?

A Passing Movement?

It was pleasing for those of us who did what we could to highlight the ruinous reign of Hicks & Gillett at Anfield to have its effect confirmed by Hicks himself when he made his "internet terrorists" comment. It certainly demonstated the level of influence the campaign had amassed.
Whether it's of any wider social significance, however, is open to question.
Doreen Massey, professor of geography at the Open University, took the view that it is for a piece she wrote on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages last Thursday (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/28/liverpool-supporters-campaign ):
"A social movement has grown up around Liverpool FC. It began, of course, with opposition to Hicks and Gillett. Its activities are multifarious and imaginative: rallies, marches, email campaigns, lobbying, banners, songs, videos, fanzines and an attempt to take ownership of the club through establishing a credit union.
"One day in Manhattan, Hicks was spotted by a fan, a financial consultant. Guessing that Hicks was there seeking funds, the fan sent images to his partner, who put them on Twitter, where they were picked up by a cabby [sic] in Liverpool, who posted a form letter online. In an hour, emails were flowing into the financial institutions on that Manhattan street. It was all written up in the Wall Street Journal. A small example."
Professor Massey's contention that Spirit of Shankly (http://www.spiritofshankly.com/ ) & Share Liverpool (http://www.shareliverpoolfc.co.uk/ ) catalysed a wider social movement is open to question; how the Spirit of Shankly group responds to overtures from the club's new owners will be a key factor. The anecdote about Hicks in Manhattan, however, merits repeated mention.