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 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-16355281 ), today's editorial in the Oldham Echo declares (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2011/12/30/toxteth-riots-so-who-didn-t-care-100252-30032078/ ):
"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 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/30/thatcher-government-liverpool-riots-1981 ). 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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcNLz8C5RAw ).
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 (http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/2011/12/liverpool-council-leader-joe-a-2.html ).
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 (http://www.sevenstreets.com/talk-and-opinion/desperate-stereotypes-desperate-scousewives/).
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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/12/07/desperate-scousewives-liverpool-echo-reporter-laura-cox-is-transformed-from-southern-belle-to-liver-bird-100252-29907910/ ).
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]..so 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 (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=47786) 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.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kept In The Dark

It certainly isn't easy for those scribes on the Daily Ghost. Last week's announcement that the paper would go the way of the Dodo must have been a bitter pill to swallow after all those reassurances that things were hunky dory & there was nothing to fret over. All those times when advertorials for Peel Holdings were tolerated with gritted teeth by most hacks because they'd been told it was all for the best must have seemed like a sour series of grotesque pranks played on them. However, the indignity didn't end there. Other media sources were tipped off about the paper's demise before the staff were informed (http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/News-and-Comment/Exclusive-Liverpool-Post-and-Echo-journalists-to-be-balloted-for-industrial-action ). 

By Your Friends Shall Ye Be Known

The Leveson Inquiry has teased out less than appetising tales from the diverse cast of characters who have already given evidence & it's difficult to dispute the view articulated by Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist whose investigation into tabloid culture was crucial (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/29/nick-davies-leveson-inquiry-newspapers ). 
Those who are media-savvy won't be surprised by how low most of the national press can & will go. Alas, their regional counterparts, whilst distancing themselves from the nationals' tactics & tales, as the Oldham Echo strove to do earlier this month (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2011/11/18/the-liverpool-echo-is-here-to-serve-its-readers-100252-29797226/ ), protest just a little too much on the issue. The Oldham Echo declared boldly in its editorial which accompanied its, ahem, "Corrections and Clarifications" column:
"Our readers can trust us to source our stories and content in the correct and proper manner. The ECHO doesn't hack people's telephones -- regional newspapers don't hack people's telephones."
Far be it for me to question the second sentence in that quote. As for the first, well, let's just say it warrants greater scrutiny.
Indeed, the much-vaunted veracity of the regional press is set against the illegality of the national tabloids. Compare & contrast, as they say. However, the trouble with championing your own record is that it can attract some unlikely (& unwelcome) allies. Like David Cameron. Before Leveson was called to chair his inquiry & ex-News of the World hack Paul McMullan revealed his truly venal set of values (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/29/paul-mcmullan-leveson-inquiry-phone-hacking ), "Professor" Phil Redmond's mate was effusive about the regionals' merits (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/sep/13/phone-hacking-local-newspapers ):
"David Cameron thinks that regional newspapers exhibit 'a sort of calm and reasonableness' that is rarely found in national papers."
When Oldham Hall Street has Cameron as an ally who praises its calm & reasonable quality, it makes you wonder what sort of surrealistic milieu you've entered.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Last Post

Well, it limped on doggedly, looked at with pity & sympathy by a bunch of incredulous onlookers. How much longer could it survive, they wondered. Outside the boardroom of Trinity Mirror the reaction was equally mystified. Today, however, the last rites were administered to the Daily Ghost; it will soon be no more (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/nov/24/trinity-mirror-downturn ).
The Ghost will become a weekly one-hundred page publication in the new year, retailing at a humble quid. To change from daily to weekly publication would be seen by many as a retrograde step. Not on Oldham Hall Street, though, where bullishness is presented as confidence; Roy Greenslade is moved to comment:
"Editor Mark Thomas did his best to put a good face on the decision."
The "good face" is, to be frank, a brazen denial of reality which would have shamed Comical Ali during the last days of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/11/24/liverpool-daily-post-to-switch-from-daily-to-weekly-frequency-in-the-new-year-92534-29835251/ ):
"Post Editor Mark Thomas said today: 'It is never easy to lose jobs but the changes to format and to staffing sets the Post up for an exciting new future.
" 'We are lucky to possess one of the great brands in journalism and we've been serving our city for 156 years. This change sets us up to serve it for the next 156 -- in print and online and through whatever channels readers seek to receive it.' "
Hear that, all you naysayers & cynics? It's "an exciting new future" that awaits the staff at the Ghost. I'm sure their initial reaction when they heard the news was "yippee, that sounds like an exciting new future for us!"
The sour reality is that the Daily Ghost has been on Trinity Mirror's life support system for the last few years. Today the tubes were withdrawn from the patient. Contrary to the view held by Messrs Machray & Thomas, I take no pleasure in seeing the paper's demise (jobs will be lost); this is no time for schadenfreude. Nor, however, is it a time for management bollockese when the paper's staff know full well what this "switch" really means. To entertain the conceit that those who still regularly purchase the daily paper will maintain their habit on a weekly basis is delusional. Weekly papers rarely succeed, particularly in the UK. Moreover, dated content on the newsstands every Thursday will not be an enticing prospect.
Larry Nield remarks on Liverpool Confidential's coverage of the decision (http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/News-and-Comment/Liverpool-Daily-Post-to-go-weekly ):
"Let's hope its switch to a weekly is not a case of placing the Post into a media hospice to await its final demise."
Yet that is precisely what it is. Isn't it, Larry?
And yet, and yet, and yet...
It could all have been just that little bit different, as Wayne pointed out earlier (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2011/11/stop-press-liverpool-daily-post-is-now.html ):
"Alastair Machray has let a lot of people go, some skilled and with the experience of decades of writing, with a knowledge of the locality that would be hard to replace."
Retaining such staff wouldn't have saved the paper from its eventual demise, but Big Al's decisions, at the behest of Trinity Mirror, certainly hastened it.
There are those who tonight assert that the Ghost has been less sensationalist than its grotesquely downmarket sister, the Oldham Echo. Not always, as the front page at the top of the screen demonstrates. The city urgently needs balanced, informative reporting without fear or favour, & where certain business interests are not treated with a lack of rigour which borders on the servile.
The death of the Daily Ghost does nothing to change that.              

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cast Aside

Recommended reading: Adita Chakrabortty's Guardian piece last week on the de-industrialisation of the north-east (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/16/why-britain-doesnt-make-things-manufacturing).
Although the piece focused on that particular region, there were stark parallels with Merseyside. Like the north east, Merseyside has a large number of people working in the public sector & the cuts will markedly increase the unemployment figures for the region. With the number of NEETS (young people not in education, employment or traning) rising perhaps exponentially, the gravity of the situation will deepen even further. We can all see the social consequences of having what is already acknowledged to be the lost generation (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/18/aspiration-nation-youth-unemployment) on street corners. Indeed, Tony Schumacher recently essayed a dispiriting encounter with an unemployed (&, sadly, unemployable) NEET (anthonyschumacher.blogspot.com/2011/11/devil-and-me.html).

Oldham Hall Street Admits It Might Be Wrong

As the Leveson inquiry begins to lift the lid on press practices that range from the dubious to the downright illegal (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/phone-hacking)
it's nice to see that Oldham Hall Street has moved with the media Zeitgeist for mea culpa & admitted that the veracity of its contents are, shall we say, open to question www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/corrections-and-clarifications/2011/11/14/liverpool-echo-corrections-clarifications-100252-29772853/.
So if you feel that the Daily Ghost or Oldham Echo falls short in this regard, you can phone 0151-285 8476 or email Echo editor Alastair Machray (alastair.machray@liverpool.com). Go on, you know you want to. (Some cynical souls may sneer that this is no more than lazy PR. The very thought!) I suspect the minion saddled with this thankless task is in for a busy time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Good To Be Back

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Indeed, I suspect that my time away from this blog (been helping Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson to mobilise mass opposition to the cuts) has had that effect in the oasis of calm deliberation known as the Oldham Echo's editorial office (such a shame about Ian Hernon getting the boot, btw). Well, Al, Mark, all the gang on that Titanic of local "journalism" (not forgetting you, too, Paddy!), you'll be delighted to hear that I've returned. Refreshed, reinvigorated & raring to sing the praises of Oldham Hall Street, swear an oath of support for our courageous civic leaders & congratulate Peel Holdings for their continued good work on our World Heritage Site.
There's so much to cover & that's what I intend to do.   

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yes, Dave, Let's Blame The Parents

Recommended reading: an inspired blogpost by comedy writer Nathaniel Tapley (http://nathanieltapley.com/2011/08/10/an-open-letter-to-david-camerons-parents/ ).

Dealing With The Distortion

Happy to persist with the risk that its inflammatory "coverage" will make its use of the term "Liverpool Riots" a self-fulfilling prophesy, Oldham Hall Street may well have serious questions to answer in the final reckoning.
A reckless disregard for responsible reporting I fully expect from the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo. Sadly, Seven Streets otherwise informative & vivid take on events also makes use of the inaccurate "Liverpool Riots" tag (http://www.sevenstreets.com/blog/liverpool-riots-smithdown-night-2/ ).
It's at times like this that a voice offering perspective & proportion is required. Kevin Sampson provides it in a piece he's penned for the Guardian's Comment is Free website (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/10/liverpool-riots-mob-mayhem ). [Oh, yes, it should be noted, en passant, that the "Liverpool Riots" appellation is the work of a lazy sub editor rather than Sampson himself.]
Sampson opens his piece by reflecting on his memories of 1981 & concludes with salient points & telling anecdotes (which merit full quotation) from Monday night that Messrs Machray & Thomas would do well to digest:
"In spite of isolated incidents and the now symbolic sight of purple wheelie bins ablaze, there was nothing one could describe as insurrection. The police were visible when necessary, but seemingly content to work in tandem with the youth leaders, too. If it hadn't have been for the phalanx of reporters, no one would have known anything out of the ordinary had happened.
"Speaking to reporters, one of the Toxteth youth workers, Jimmy Jagney, said that while he and his colleagues had been able to quell and disperse kids they knew well from around and about Liverpool 8, they had also identified two large gangs of youths, none of whom they recognised. His assumption was the youths had assembled in the hope of opportunistic looting, and his team quickly advised them to take off, and take their ambitions for notoriety elsewhere. Just as myself and my mates did in 1981, they felt a bit foolish when confronted and slunk away home.
"We live in a time of instant news. Whether it is camera crews sitting in medieval European squares as they wait for football hooligans to get drunk and provide rowdy footage, or plucky frontline reporters with pinhole cameras in their lapel as they maraud with the youth, our media suppliers are fanning the flames. They're making a case, and making a story that doesn't -- or needn't -- exist. If our politicians really want to know what's going on, they should give Jimmy Jagney a call. In the meantime, nothing to see here -- move along."
On Sampson's final point, I suspect Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson won't make that call, preferring, instead, to feed Oldham Hall Street with asinine soundbites. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Oldham Hall Street Fans The Flames

Tensions remain high, the riot vans patrol Toxteth & Oldham Hall Street excels itself with the sort of inaccurate, irresponsible coverage which can only serve to encourage any imbeciles who wish to cause more trouble this evening. The Daily Ghost is running a live blog, at least that's what they call it (http://liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/08/09/liverpool-riots-follow-our-live-blog-for-the-latest-news-and-reaction-100252-29203736/ ).
Neil MacDonald opens with the inflammatory & inaccurate words:
"Liverpool descended into anarchy last night as gangs of youths set cars on fire, looted shops and attacked Merseyside Police officers."
For your information, Neil, disturbances took place in one particular part of the city last night. The rest of the city wasn't affected; Liverpool DID NOT descend into anarchy.
Get your facts straight, cut the offensive hyperbole & issue an apology for the sort of "journalism" which could exacerbate the situation in Toxteth tonight. Your "coverage" is beneath contempt.

*I'm indebted to my friend Professor Chucklebutty for pointing this story out to me.

Dispatch From The Front Line

Recommended reading: Jake Mills gives an excellent first-hand account of last night's disturbances in Toxteth (http://mills88.posterous.com/the-liverpool-riots-my-account ).
Meanwhile, the signs, sadly, look ominous for this evening. Grosvenor-pool is closing early (though many wouldn't necessarily regard that as a cause for regret) & the Twittersphere is buzzing with claims that the mood around Upper Parliament Street is decidedly ugly.

Toxteth: Thirty Years Down The Line

Far more heat than light is still being generated by the events around Smithdown Road & Upper Parliament Street (http://yfrog.com/gykhxhgj ) overnight (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-14455814 ). The siren voices of the local lock 'em up brigade have wasted no time in phoning Radio Merseyside &/or leaving erudite comments online. 
In the midst of the mayhem that raged around the south end of the city, such as the scene on Smithdown Road (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ps7_Q5IiK8&feature=related ), Seven Streets at least maintained a responsible, yet suitably urgent, stance on events (http://www.sevenstreets.com/blog/riots-return-to-liverpool/ ).
To be sure, there was a large element of copycat criminal activity emanating from the city's feral "scallies", taking their cue from a burning London. That said, factors particular to the situation in Toxteth were also at play, & to downplay, dismiss or dispute that takes us no further in attempting to establish what set in motion the train of events. 

Monday, August 08, 2011

Tuning Into Cuts TV?

As the ConDem cuts proceed grimly & remorselessly across the land, it's heartening to see that the city's leadership is using new technology to rally opposition to the cuts & organise a fightback. Aren't they? Er, scrap that, it seems we were misinformed (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/08/06/council-to-explain-budget-cuts-via-joe-tv-100252-29187291/ ).
David Bartlett's piece gives notice of a new TV channel starring Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson as he unveils the city's cuts (just as well it's not on cable, otherwise I'd demand a refund from Virgin Media). Bartlett relates:
" 'Dubbed Joe TV' , the webcast will feature Cllr Anderson giving a presentation to councillors on the city's finances.
"The meeting is on Tuesday [tomorrrow] and the webcast is likely to be made available the following day."
So this pathetic PR stunt, an insult to the people of the city he's supposed to represent, isn't even to be webcast live, but will be online after a 24-hour delay. Now that's what I call instant accountability in the internet age. Joe, alas, thinks it's the bee's knees:
"Cllr Anderson said: 'This is a major step for the council being more open and transparent.
" 'We are giving the people who pay for council services real insight into our budget discussions.' "
Joe, you are "giving the people who pay for council services" the insult of watching you & your Labour colleagues implement Tory cuts; far from bestowing "insight" into your deliberations, you are placing an opaque filter on the lens of local civic life.
In such a surreal stew of Pythonesque proportions, a reminder of what the city already faces, before the cuts really kick in, was admitted by the Oldham Echo the other day (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2011/08/05/liverpool-is-england-s-most-deprived-city-says-new-report-100252-29182869/ ).
Cllr Jane Corbett, Labour representative for Everton ward, is quoted:
" 'The income gap in this country unravelled under the government of Margaret Thatcher.
" 'The present government has shut their eyes to the problems they are creating through their cuts.' "
I'm all for highlighting Thatcher's baleful impact on Merseyside, but thirteen years of New Labour did nothing to change conditions in the Evertons of this world. Additionally, Cllrs Corbett, Anderson et al have elected to shut their eyes, too, rather than show some desperately-required gumption & start justifying their positions.      

Honey, Disconnect The Phone

Alastair Machray, editor of the Oldham Echo, isn't a very happy soul at the moment. Exasperated at the new round of job losses he's been instructed to make, there's another dark cloud on the horizon. And it's a bloody big one, too.
Whenever, Liverpool is graced by a visit from Sir Thumbs-Up, aka Macca (you know, the guy who played bass guitar in the Beatles), both the Echo & Daily Ghost treat it as a local version of the Second Coming. Pages are cleared for lavish, self-congratulatory missives about how four lads from our city made history, how wonderful it all was, etc., etc. The meat in Oldham Hall Street's sandwich at such heady moments is an "interview" with the man himself. It's fearless, investigative journalism at its best ("How do you feel being back home?" "Are you looking forward to the concert?", that sort of thing).
Alas, such treats may be a thing of the past, as Trinity Mirror comes under even greater scrutiny over its own involvement in phone-hacking. It seems that McCartney's voicemails were hacked by the Daily Mirror some years back (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/aug/06/piers-morgan-phone-hacking-scandal?INTCMP=SRCH ).
Given that the Mirror is clearly part of the same publishing stable, & given that McCartney's response has been suitably indignant, there is a deep concern on Oldham Hall Street that, rightly or wrongly, they'll no longer have "access", that risible term in journalism's lexicon, to the ex-Beatle; McCartney's people, always PR & media-savvy, may well view the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo as part of a hostile media conglomerate.
Filling those pages with Pete Best's reminiscences just wouldn't be the same, would it?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

An American Low Down On Murdoch's Crumbling Edifice

Rupert Murdoch's "humble" moment at the DCMS select committee hearing earlier this month ( expansively spreading his hands along the table like a nervous novice trying to learn stride piano in a New Orleans bar) only served to shine an unflattering & unforgiving light upon his rotten empire. The New Yorker magazine takes a look at the phone-hacking scandal, setting out the context & background for a US readership (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/01/110801fa_fact_lane ).
Anthony Lane's piece goes through instances where Murdoch's papers lied, deceived & manufactured stories to boost circulation figures. Lane doesn't mention Hillsborough when describing Kelvin MacKenzie, but nonetheless pens a damning portrait: "When it comes to ethical discrimination, MacKenzie makes [Piers] Morgan look like Ronald Dworkin. Students of of the period should consult 'Stick It Up Your Punter!,' by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie, much of which is consumed by MacKenzie's reign. Here you will find, for instance, details of the interview with Marcia McKay, the widow of a British sargeant who died in the Falklands and was honored with a posthumous Victoria Cross, the highest British award for gallantry -- an interview compromised by the fact that she never actually spoke to the Sun. Or, there was the mission to out Peter Tatchell, the Labour candidate for the London constituency of Bermondsey, who was finally snared by the headline 'RED PETE "WENT TO GAY OLYMPICS" '. MacKenzie was informed that Tatchell had not, in fact, attended the Gay Olympics in San Francisco, but, undaunted, the editor simply inserted the claim between single quotation marks and ran it anyway. It suited MacKenzie's bellowing homophobia, which, in turn, was consonant with his racial fears. 'Botha has said the days of white power are over in South Africa. What he doesn't say is what's going to happen when the darkies come down from the trees, ' he said. That was reported in the New Statesman, in 1985, by Peter Court, who had briefly worked as a graphic designer for the Sun."
MacKenzie has been conspicuous by his silence since his brilliantly-timed Guardian article which sang the praises of Murdoch just days before the Milly Dowler revelations (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/30/rupert-murdoch-monopoly-news-corp ).
Must be getting uncomfortable for him in that sewer as he continues to hunker down & hope that he can soon surface.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hailing The Arrival Of An ASBO Neighbour For The Three Graces

Reduced to a Dad's Army state of panic about whether to don their helmets, the hacks on Oldham Hall Street can, perhaps, console themselves with the knowledge that Trinity "Smoking" Mirror's look into the hacking claims are a "review" rather than an "investigation". That's despite the rumours & suspicions that are circling overhead (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2011/07/did-someone-hack-into-liverpool-city.html ).
Relax, lads, nothing to worry about, I'm sure. Now, anybody available to write a few hundred words about how great the new Museum of Liverpool is? There is? Fantastic!
Let the honour fall to Susan Lee with this third-rate "it looks great, my boss said so, so there!" scrawl (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/liverpool-columnists/susan-lee/2011/07/22/susan-lee-the-new-museum-of-liverpool-is-a-testament-to-civic-pride-100252-29098406/ ).
By way of a badly-needed alternative appraisal (David  Fleming originally wanted to feature Hillsborough & the James Bulger case in the carbuncle), Wayne quoted an Observer review of the monstrosity the other day (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2011/07/museum-of-liverpool-we-warned-you.html & http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/jul/24/museum-of-liverpool-review ).
Perhaps it doesn't really bother the "local" press what the city's waterfront looks like; the mood music now emanating from the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo suggests an increasing indifference, bordering at times on hostility, to UNESCO over the port's World Heritage Site status. The Janus-faced antics of the papers that claim to speak up for Merseyside tell you everything you need to know about their respect & appreciation of the port's history (ask them about the Manchester Dock & they'll assume you're referring to the Ship Canal). 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thatcher's Involvement In Hillsborough Cover-Up To Be Made Public

It's been a long, long battle for the Hillsborough families, but another chink of light has this evening opened up for them. The Information Commissioner has ruled that Documents concerning Thatcher's discussions in the aftermath of the disaster should be made public (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14296590 ).
The BBC report states:
"The Information Commissioner has now ruled that releasing the files would be in the public interest."
The BBC put in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request around the time of the disaster's 20th anniversary & the institutional tardiness of the response has been duly deprecated. "The Commissioner has also strongly criticised the Cabinet Office for its 'unjustified and excessive' delays in handling the BBC's request."
Making the documents public could still have an incendiary political effect, as the report explains:
"Mrs Thatcher was briefed about the disaster in the days that followed it, and it was discussed at a number of meetings. The records to be disclosed include reports presented to her, correspondence between her office and that of the Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, and minutes of meetings she attended.
"Some campaigners for the families of the victims have suggested that Mrs Thatcher sought to avoid the police being criticised."
It's tacitly accepted in Tory circles that Thatcher felt a debt towards forces such as the one in South Yorkshire for their role in the miners' strike. Added to this was her barely-concealed antipathy to regions such as Merseyside for having the temerity to elect largely Labour MPs throughout the 80s.
The Commissioner made his judgement, according to the BBC report, on the basis that the 30-year rule for publication of cabinet papers is being phased out.
Let's hope that over the next few weeks this major element of the families' fight for justice is delivered with no delays. 

Helmets On, Lads

Keep calm & carry on, so they say. Advice those on Oldham Hall Street will doubtless receive from such equable & rational souls as Bill Gleeson & Mark Thomas. After all, it's not as though they're implicated in the claims that phone-hacking also went on within the Mirror stable. Oh, hang on, time to don those tin helmets, lads (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/26/daily-mirror-publisher-to-review-editorial-controls ):
"The six-week review is being led by Trinity Mirror's group legal director Paul Vickers and will include all of the group's national and regional newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, the People and the Daily Record."
Yes, that's right, it won't just be the national titles under Trinity's much-vaunted spotlight, it will also include its local rags. I'm sure Oldham Hall Street is completely innocent of any nefarious activities. However, stress levels at the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo may currently be described as stratospheric.
John Plunkett's piece for the Guardian also contains this illuminating passage:
"Former Daily Mirror reporter James Hipwell reiterated his earlier claim that hacking was widespread at other newspapers, including the Mirror. A separate report on BBC2's Newsnight alleged the use of phone hacking and private detectives was widespread at the Sunday Mirror.
"Trinity Mirror described both sets of allegations as 'unsubstantiated', saying its journalists 'work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct'."
Sorry to be so pedantic here, but throwing out words such as "unsubstantiated" in response to these allegations doesn't amount to a denial, does it? It reminds me of Gordon Brown's former spin doctor Charlie Whelan who would respond to potentially embarrassing or damaging claims by saying, "bollocks". Whelan would later admit that the use of such a charming term didn't amount to a denial, but could be presented as such.
In addition, it's notable that Trinity Mirror's statement is in the present tense, not past; their hacks may "work within the criminal law" now, but what about the past? Oh, & as for invoking the Press Complaints Commission, the last few weeks have demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that the PCC was always a toothless watchdog with even the likes of Cameron admitting that it should be put out of its misery.
I do hope they've got enough helmets to go around at Oldham Hall Street.

1.45pm UPDATE: Roy Greenslade notes that Trinity Mirror's wish to get to the bottom of things may not be all it seems (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/jul/26/trinity-mirror-phone-hacking ), as he asks:
"But what will [Paul] Vickers achieve? The company has stressed that it is a review, not an investigation."
Helmets off, guys.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Frank Field's Apologia For Murdoch

Never let it be said that the Oldham Echo doesn't allow its columnists to amuse readers with their comedic talents. Take Frank Field (there's a punchline waiting to strike there, but I'll resist the temptation), Labour MP for Birkenhead. Frank's made his name over the years by popping up on TV to "think the unthinkable", which has amounted to proposals on welfare that would go down very well with the Tea Party in the US.
This time, Frank's worried about the well-warranted merde deposited on the Murdoch empire; he thinks it could be bad for democracy. No, really, he does (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/liverpool-columnists/frank-field/2011/07/16/frnk-field-closing-down-rupert-murdoch-s-empire-could-be-bad-for-democracy-100252-29062359/ ):
"To prevent the crisis swirling around Murdoch's print empire in Britain contaminating his main financial base in America, I believe News Corp is ruthless enough to close all its titles in Britain.
"Some of you will say good riddance. I don't for one simple reason.
"A closure would lead to a far greater concentration of power in the Mail, the Mirror and the Telegraph empires.
"The inquiry established this week will uncover which other papers have, through phone-hacking and by using known criminals, gained personal information. If newspaper barons outside News International are found guilty what future will there be for some of the other major titles?
"And, importantly, how will a mass culling of newspapers affect the functioning of our democracy?
"So cheer if you will against Murdoch, but please have just one thought for how this terrible matter might further damage British democracy."
Frank, if you're reading this (& why not, it does wonders for the blood pressure of Messrs Machray & Thomas), you should remind yourself as a local MP just why News International is treated with such contempt & loathing on Merseyside. Need a clue? It happened 22 years' ago. Moreover, if other publishers have transgressed in similar ways to News International, they deserve everything they get. Additionally, what makes you think that the nepotistic, venal, Murdoch-dominated political system the UK has had for the last 30 years or so could qualify for that noble term, democracy? If you really think that clearing out the Augean stables of the British press "might further damage British democracy", I suggest you take a reality check; get out of the Westminster bubble for just a short while (a visit to your own constituency, even) & acquaint yourself with reality.
Failing that, you could write a column in the Sun.

Look In The Mirror

Given the light that's been shone upon the Murdoch empire's illegality & collusion in police corruption, you'd think that their rivals would follow the Guardian's lead & roundly excoriate such sewer-like shenanigans. You'd certainly think that about the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo titles, owned, as they are, by Trinity Mirror, publishers of the once respectable Daily Mirror.
Well, erm, no, not really. Aside from a characteristically Meldrewesque piece by Joe Riley last Thursday (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/liverpool-columnists/joe-riley/2011/07/21/joe-riley-metropolitan-police-commissioner-sir-paul-stephenson-should-arrest-himself-for-lack-of-judgement-over-the-news-international-scandal-100252-29092215/ ), the gloating has been relatively muted.
Why's that, you may ask. Well, it could just have something to do with the fact that phone-hacking wasn't a practice confined to Wapping. It was apparently also employed by the Mirror stable (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/23/phone-hacking-piers-morgan-mirror?INTCMP=SRCH & http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/default.stm ).
It certainly makes for an onerous in-tray that faces Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey who, indignity of all indignities, today found herself downgraded by the Guardian in its Media 100 list for 2011 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/interactive/2011/jul/25/mediaguardian-100-2011-interactive ). 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Praiseworthy Journalism

After a week in which the most base & venal form of journalism has been globally excoriated, it's time to give credit to the Guardian's Nick Davies whose articles on News International over the last couple of years have led to the bemusing spectacle of the Tories voting against Murdoch's BSkyB's takeover bid in tomorrow's House of Commons debate. Davies also broke last week's story concerning Milly Dowler's phone (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2011/jul/12/phone-hacking-nick-davies-select-committee ). 

A View From Across The Pond

A boneheaded decision by executives at Channel 4 last year saw the dropping of daily transmissions of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It's a pity because it means all but the web & blog-savvy won't have seen this clip from Monday's programme which takes a look at the phone-hacking scandal: http://gawker.com/5820243/jon-stewart-tackles-the-news-of-the-world-scandal .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flushing Out The Rodents

What sort of words come to mind when you think about News International hacks? Feral? Yep. Shifty? Spot-on. Spineless? I'd say so. All of which makes it seem like I'm surveying a surrealist vista when I hear terms such as "principled", "decent" & "courageous" wheeled out by apologists for Murdoch's minions, particularly those who have scribbled their propaganda in the late, unlamented News of the World.
As that rag's editor Colin Myler led his rodents out of their Wapping hole to face the cameras last night, I have to say my sense of satisfied schadenfreude outweighed any sympathy I normally feel for workers made redundant. They knew the nature of the beast they were feeding. They shouldn't complain when the beast turns on them.
It's a sentiment shared, rather more elegantly, by the BBC's Paul Mason (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14093772 ):
"Those bemoaning the 'unnecessary' closure of the NOTW ignore the market logic. Even if the guilty parties had long ago moved on, the NOTW was essentially the same product."
Mason notes the necessity of the rag's demise "as a brand to prevent gangrene to the whole of Newscorp".
The notion of just one limb of Murdoch's corporate body being gangrenous is rather charitable, I'd say.
As the clock ticked remorselessly towards the NOTW's nemesis, its political editor Dave Wooding scrawled a self-serving, whingeing & cliche-ridden piece for the Guardian's Comment is Free page (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/09/news-of-world-last-edition ) whose hysterical premise was that "the bad guys" could sleep easily from now on.
Both Wooding & Myler have links to Merseyside. They should know better than other Murdoch hacks how his empire is viewed in these parts.
Wooding wailed:
"The loss of the News of the World from our lives is a bombshell like the break-up of the Beatles, the collapse of Woolworths and the end of Concorde."
If Wooding finds it hard to find alternative employment (Murdoch's Sun on Sunday replacement won't take many NOTW staff on), he could turn his hand to comedy writing.
[Speaking of comedy, it was one of those golden TV moments on Friday's Newsnight when Steve Coogan, along with Greg Dyke, exposed & ridiculed former NOTW features editor Paul McMullen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkeSJLgzG8k ). The feral-featured McMullen was reduced to making cheap jibes about Coogan's wealth & private life.]
Of course, it is nauseating to witness senior politicians across the board now join the chorus of condemnation when they were all too happy to kiss Murdoch's ring just a week earlier; Cameron, Clegg & Miliband all attended News International's summer party recently. It's touched upon elsewhere in Paul Mason's article:
"The strength of the Murdoch newspaper and TV empire was that it occupied the commanding heights of a kind of journalism that dispenses power, intimidates and influences politicians and shapes political outcomes."
That "kind of journalism" is now under the cosh as never before ( it is, indeed, Middle England's Hillsborough moment). That cosh should be wielded repeatedly & mercilessly until we know the beast is dead. The rest of the country can now look to Merseyside's boycott of Murdoch's rags as just one tactic to employ. It's a tactic highlighted just yesterday in a brilliantly observed composition by Billy Bragg (http://vimeo.com/26203800 ).

Friday, July 08, 2011

At The Click Of A Mouse

Recommended reading: Laurence Durnan, editor of Political Scrapbook (http://politicalscrapbook.net/ ), draws attention to the role played by online activists in responding to the News of the World scandal (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/laurence-durnan/how-social-media-helped-b_b_893108.html?ir=UK ).

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Murdoch's Attempt At Re-Branding

Murdoch's decision to close the News of the World (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/07/news-of-the-world-to-close ) is certainly big news. However, it should be seen for what it is: a desperate attempt to distract attention from News International's hacking operation. Moreover, don't swallow the warm words from editor Colin Myler that all revenues from the final edition will go to "good causes". As PR stunts go, it falls flatter than a pancake.
In addition, it's impossible to think that Murdoch will no longer have a Sunday title. Expect a replacement for the NOTW to be unveiled after a couple of months (Sunday Sun?) & be presented as some sort of fresh start with lessons duly learned.
Long before Murdoch's decision to ditch his squalid Sunday rag Ed Miliband told BBC News of his views on the paper.
"It [NOTW] needs to restore its reputation," he yapped cluelessly.
We all know what that "reputation" has been.
As I write, BBC News are reporting that Murdoch will, indeed, unveil a "Sunday Sun". Predictable. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Hitting Murdoch Where It Hurts

I never make assumptions about any person who reads this blog, but I presume they're not regular readers of Murdoch's rags. In that context I rather suspect that calls for a consumer boycott of both the Sun & the News of the World are pretty academic on Merseyside. Far more damaging & crippling, hopefully, for News International would be a withdrawal of advertising revenue from many companies which are household names. Credit, therefore, to Sunny Hundal over at the Liberal Conspiracy blog for naming names & providing links as well as email addresses (http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/06/the-campaign-for-an-advertiser-boycott-of-notw-how-you-can-help/).
On a related note, BBC Sport reporter Dan Roan (http://twitter.com/#!/danroan ) tweeted thus yesterday:
"The man speaking on behalf of News International, Simon Greenberg, used to do the same role for Abramovich's Chelsea FC and England's World Cup bid."
Greenberg, whose TV appearances have managed to make Ed Miliband's recent robotic I-speak-your-weight "interview" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZtVm8wtyFI ) look polished & relaxed, clearly has a penchant for arrogant & deluded employers.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Middle England's Hillsborough Moment

I can't say I was totally astonished by the revelations concerning News International over the last 24 hours (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/04/milly-dowler-voicemail-hacked-news-of-world ). As Murdoch's rags have demonstrated on countless occasions over the years, no depth of subterranean intrigue has ever been considered too low for the sick, twisted bastards who do their master's work.
Roy Greenslade suggested various ways in which the general public could register its disgust at NI's antics, one of which was a boycott of the News of the World (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/jul/05/newsoftheworld-milly-dowler ). Good idea, Roy. Only thing is we've been boycotting Murdoch's poisonous rags for 22 years. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Selective Amnesia Greets Toxteth Anniversary

I haven't always agreed with Ed Vulliamy's impressions of Liverpool over the years, but his piece for yesterday's Observer on the 30th anniversary of the Toxteth riots (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/03/toxteth-liverpool-riot-30-years ) is to be commended.
Not to be commended, however, is a typically shaky editorial on the subject in today's Oldham Echo (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2011/07/04/we-must-never-forget-the-lessons-of-the-toxteth-riots-100252-28987476/ ).
The Echo asserts that the riots "created headlines around the world, and was just the start of a decade in which so many stories about Liverpool would tell of political confrontation, anger and economic despair."
Claiming a link, however tenuous, between the riots & events such as the city's local government battle with the Tories a couple of years later smacks of lazy journalism.
The Echo also goes on to deliver a breathtakingly bogus assumption:
"We were all taken by surprise thirty years ago, by what seemed to be a sudden madness that gripped Toxteth and other inner city communities around the country."
Not all of us were taken by surprise. Many older people in the city, not just in Liverpool 8 itself, expressed their astonishment that the riots hadn't occurred some years earlier, given the depth of deprivation & discrimination that was rife.
As for the Echo's coverage & reaction to the riots back in 1981, I seem to recall the paper handing its front page over to Alan Bleasedale for an anguished "calm down, lads" piece. Well-intentioned, but hopelessly naive & out of touch.
Yes, we shouldn't forget the lessons of the riots, but Oldham Hall Street ignored them at the time & downplays them today.

"In the Echo they get it wrong", Piggie in the Middle Eight by Cook Da Books (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTY1aFB71KY ).  

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Read All About It

With some media commentators & journalists tweeting today that there's a state of near mutiny at the Daily Mail over its claim yesterday that striking teachers were to blame for a 13 year-old girl's tragic death, it's worth airing this little gem which has been around for a few months, but which has enjoyed countless hits in the last 24 hours:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI .  

Friday, July 01, 2011

Rodent On The Move: A Case For Rentokill

It's been a long time (too long, perhaps) since this blog monitored the movements & utterances --I wouldn't use the word "thoughts", that's going too far-- of Kelvin MacKenzie. However, it appears that the individual who is to journalism what a prostitute is to celibacy is leaving Murdoch's empire to join the Daily Mail (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jun/30/kelvin-mackenzie-join-daily-mail ).
Many may well view the move as an upward one...from the sewer to the gutter; how apt for the lying rat who libelled Liverpool fans at Hillsborough*.
However, it would be wrong to assume that MacKenzie & his boss Rupert Murdoch have fallen out with each other. In fact, MacKenzie has penned a piece for the Guardian's Comment is Free page, singing the praises of the Australian businessman who eagerly adopted US citizenship in order to build his empire there (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/30/rupert-murdoch-monopoly-news-corp ):
"Thank God for the Rupert Murdochs of this world. I wish there were hundreds more in our country. Unemployment would be wiped out at a stroke."
I could quote more of MacKenzie's piece, but I don't want to make you feel too nauseous.
MacKenzie's new colleagues at the Mail will make him feel at home, I'm sure, particularly on the strength of a tasteful, balanced & scrupulously impartial article today (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2010193/Teachers-strike-Sophie-Howard-13-killed-falling-branch-school-closed.html ).
Credit to the New Statesman for picking up on the Mail's article (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/07/daily-mail-teenager-death ).
It isn't often that a rat finds common cause with a pack of jackals, but something tells me they'll all get along famously.

*If MacKenzie wishes to consult the lawyers over my description of him, I have this to say: See you in court. I'd relish the opportunity to highlight your lies. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Song For Our Times

On the eve of the public sector strikes it falls to Captain Ska (he of Liar, Liar fame) to articulate the views of millions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3yA7wiFqZ4 .
The Captain is turning into a more effective opposition leader than Ed Miliband (though many would say that isn't so difficult).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Point About That Pose

Recommended reading: David Hepworth's blog post last week on the passing of Clarence Clemons (http://whatsheonaboutnow.blogspot.com/2011/06/clarence-clemons-and-greatest-pose-in.html ).
What's all too easily forgotten is that in 1975 a photograph of a skinny, white American rocker leaning affectionately against an African-American saxophonist was a big deal in both positive & negative ways.

Looking To The Windy City

Belated thanks to Wayne for  emailing a link to a blogpost by Cllr Malcolm Kennedy which attempts to liken the city to Chicago (http://malcolmkennedy.blogspot.com/2011/06/chicago-our-kind-of-town.html ).
Well, why not? We've had Oldham Hall Street drawing parallels between Liverpool & New York on numerous occasions (something I could judge for myself when visiting Manhattan last December (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.com/2010/12/unwanted-legacy.html ), &, yes, Times Square did remind me of Church Street on a Saturday afternoon). Moreover, Grand Central Station compares favourably to our own wonderfully-revamped Lime Street.
Far more grittily & unfavourably, of course, mention has been made of cities like Detroit & Baltimore in connection with Liverpool, particularly when you venture just a short distance outside the bubble of the city centre.
Cllr Kennedy mentions the Liverpool Waterfront Architecture Festival, which ended the day before yesterday. He goes on to declare:
"The opening of the Festival took place on Mann Island in what is a quite marvellous space between the two controversial black granite facia-ed (yes, granite!) buildings developed by Neptune. Everybody will have their own opinion on the buildings and the impact they have on the views of the Three Graces but one body has already made its view plain by taking space in one of the buildings."
The body? The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). As Tom Lehrer observed when Henry Kissenger won the Nobel Peace Prize in the early 70s, satire has expired. No flowers by request.
Kennedy talks of palling around with the Regional Director of RIBA, Belinda Irlam-Mobray, adding the observational gem, "She wants to see architects and architectural enthusiasts engaging more with the public."
Don't we all. Perhaps then we would have been spared the grotesque additions to what UNESCO are still calling a World Heritage Site. Perhaps, too, NML would spare us their pathetic PR stunts (http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/BeABreakfastBlogger.aspx ); bloggers welcome, are we? OK, Wayne & I will sign up for that slap-up brekkie at one of the Trashy Tarts on the waterfront (toast lightly grilled for me, thanks).
Intriguingly, Cllr Kennedy also a trip he undertook to the aforementioned Windy City: 
"Last November Belinda and her colleagues invited me to join them in a visit to Chicago to see how the Chicago Architecture Foundation operates in that city. As their website explains, The Chicago Achitecture Foundation (CAF) 'is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public interest and education in architecture and design.' (http://caf.architecture.org/ ). CAF organises tours, exhibitions, debates, lectures, educational programmes and other activities as it seeks to advance public awareness of Architecture and Design. It provides a good model on which to build a Liverpool Architectural Foundation."
A few points to address here. Firstly, I presume the cost of Cllr Kennedy's generous invitation to head west was met from his own pocket. Perish the thought that CAF could be seen to be facilitating a rather tawdry civic junket. Secondly, the chunk of that quote about CAF's work is lifted verbatim from CAF's own website. Thirdly, if there is to be a Liverpool Architectural Foundation, how fitting that its acronym will be LAF. You are having one, aren't you, Malcolm?
Cllr Kennedy declares that the debate over the waterfront needs to be "enhanced by a more interactive process between the architecture profession and the public."
Amen to that, but, hang on, there's something about the use of the word "enhanced" which suggests the debate has been hitherto akin to a pub argument. No, it hasn't, Malcolm, & you know that full well. Wayne has obviously rattled you & your cohorts with his position, as consistently set out on his blog.
By the way, Cllr Kennedy is a fairly prolific Tweeter (http://twitter.com/cllrkennedy ). Drop him a line & let him know your views. I'm sure he'll appreciate it. After all, he does want "a more interactive process between the architecture profession and the public." 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another Reason To Get Shirty With Oldham Hall Street


To paraphrase the old Yellow Pages TV ad, good old Oldham Hall Street. It's not just there to shamelessly publish PR releases for the council, Peel Holdings, etc. It will also do the same for Liverpool Football Club & its sponsors (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2011/06/16/liverpool-fc-unveil-new-cyan-blue-away-kit-in-tribute-to-club-s-first-ever-strip-100252-28885904/ ).
The absence of a byline to the piece immediately gives the game away. As does the wanton use of that strange language which bears little similarity to English, Marketese.
The most striking feature of the new strip, billed as the club's third outfit for the 2011/12 season, is the presence of blue, or "cyan", as it's being sold to many bemused Liverpool fans. The puff-piece oozes:
"The inclusion of blue --'cyan' say kit makers adidas-- on the shirt will raise one or two eyebrows across Merseyside, but adidas have revealed that the colour scheme is in tribute to the first-ever strip worn by the club following its formation in 1892.
"That strip was a Blackburn Rover-esque, blue-and-white halved design, which Liverpool wore for four seasons before switching to their iconic red uniform in 1896."
So then, cast your eyes back up the page & compare the two shirts. First, we have the club's new third kit (hello, Steven, haven't seen you for a while). Secondly, we have the kit worn by the team at its inception. Yes, the original kit does bear a striking resemblance to that long worn by Blackburn Rovers. However, what's with the bollockese about the new shirt acting as a "tribute" to the team's 1892 colours?
Moreover, the design of the third kit owes everything to the corporate colour scheme of the club's current sponsors, Standard Chartered, & nothing to the club's past.
It would be nice if Oldham Hall Street occasionally rose from its default position, ideal for the act of corporate fellatio, & displayed some journalistic rigour, even if it happens to involve the relatively minor matter of a local club's shirt. Alas, we are again disappointed. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Looks Familiar

Those of us who have long criticised the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo, owned by Trinity Mirror, for publishing little more than press releases from the likes of Peel & the city council are tempted to recognise the parallels with the case of the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle in West London, as reported by Roy Greenslade on his blog last week (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/jun/08/council-run-newspapers-local-newspapers ).
The publisher of the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle? Trinity Mirror.

The Big Society Wavers In Wavertree

As "Professor" Phil Redmond mumbles uncomprehendingly about being "had" by Cameron when he agreed to be the ConDems' representative on Merseyside last year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-10687446 ), it's becoming evident that the chasm between Cameron's honeyed words on that sunny July day & the reality just a mile or so from the site of his speech is growing exponentially.
John Harris visited Wavertree last week for the Guardian's Comment is Free site (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2011/jun/13/faith-liverpool-frontline-big-society-video ) & spoke to members of an evangelical church in the area who offer practical & material assistance to prostitutes & drug addicts in their locality (in truth, prostitution & substance abuse are synonymous).
Whilst Harris rightly lauded the congregation for their actions, he was clearly (& rightly) unnerved by the notion that it should be left to such groups to provide any help at the same time as the State withdraws from such functions. Some of the comments by those involved also revealed the limitations of "faith-based" initiatives. Although there was none of the moralising & proselytising approach normally found with the US religious Right, the absence of views on issues such as a living wage jarred.
Be in no doubt that the cuts will intensify, affecting many more across Merseyside. Government will continue to abdicate its responsibility, leaving groups like those in Wavertree to apply band aids on gaping wounds.

Decision Time For UNESCO & Port Of Liverpool

Decision time has arrived for Liverpool's waterfront status. To continue with the pretence that it remains a World Heritage Site, or to finally recognise that the game's up & the city's f***ed it up. That is the question (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/06/15/liverpool-world-heritage-site-future-under-spotlight-at-unesco-paris-conference-in-development-row-92534-28879640/ ).
Wayne has already described the belated recognition by some on Oldham Hall Street of the reality after a long period of denial (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2011/06/liverpools-world-heritage-status-faces.html ).
Marc Waddington's piece comes as close as possible to breaking the Pravdaesque line hitherto maintained on Oldham Hall Street:
"Some local heritage campaigners have criticised recent developments on the waterfront, including at Mann Island, where Neptune's three glazed black wedges have split opinion."
Split opinion? The reality is that most people in the city are united in their opinion about the despoiling of the waterfront.
Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson pops up in Waddington's piece to bang the drum, come what may. Only problem is Joe's stint on the drum is akin to that of a tone-deaf person playing percussion with the Phil, as he declares that he doesn't think "a certificate on the wall enhances the beauty of the Three Graces. They speak for themselves."
Joe goes on to try & square what has become a bloody big circle, claiming that there is no contradiction between World Heritage status & Peel's Liverpool Waters behemoth. He even maintains that the two "offer unique opportunities".
Joe, lie down in a darkened room for a while. Trust me, it'll wear off. Then perhaps, just perhaps, you can develop some cojones & start standing up to the ConDem cuts of £100m in the city.
Typically opportunistic, the Fib Dems nose into the frame with a third-rate snipe from group leader Paula Keaveney. Cllr Keaveney should remember the disastrous legacy of Warren "War Zones" Bradley before wading in.  

From The Mersey To Milan: A Cautionary Tale

Mention of Gary Hodgson reminds me of his grandiose musings in a Guardian article last week (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner/2011/jun/08/train-link-mersey-milan ).
Helen Carter's piece, which features a photograph of the waterfront prior to the grotesque additions (or the arrival of the "trashy tarts", as Wayne memorably described them), uses the term "masterplan", though it isn't entirely clear if Hodgson is being directly quoted on this in Carter' piece.
So this mooted rail link linking the Mersey to Milan, Anfield to San Siro, the Empire Theatre to Teatro alla Scalla, where does it come from? Well, Gary's rhapsodies seem to have got the better of him; it's the sort of idea that belongs to what remain of the dock road pubs: "A rail link to the heart of Europe. Why not?"
Why not, indeed, Gary. Mine's a pint of lager, by the way.
Some commenters on the Guardian piece included a couple of trolls , one of whom admitted to being a Peel employee. Guess what he thought of the proposal. Carter herself took me to task for suggesting she'd been taken in by Peel's spin. It's true, as Carter stated, that she's been "robust" in her previous reporting on Peel. However, I stand by my view that the Guardian article was the sort of thing normally found in the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo.
Further proof of Hodgson's tenuous grasp of political reality can be found in this extract:
"He [Hogson] is urging the government to invest in the north west and says unless they develop 'everything is going to be crammed down in the south east.' "
That the ConDem cutters would even countenance government investment in the north west requires a suspension of critical faculties normally arrived at after a session in the Baltic Fleet.  

Parish Notice (Sort Of)

Not working today? Time to kill this afternoon? Thinking of going into town? If the answer is yes to all three questions, you could do worse than visit the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Princes Dock between 3.30 & 7.30. Peel are holding one of their PR stunts there (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2011/06/15/public-consultation-of-port-of-liverpool-plans-gets-underway-92534-28878517/ ).
Alex Turner's terse puff-piece for Peel quotes Gary Hodgson, the managing director of Peel Ports Mersey, who delivers this gem: "These local events are very important.
"All written views given will be carefully considered and will help to shape the final version of the master plan."
Yes, he really did say "master plan".
So why not pay a visit to the Crowne Plaza today & let Gary, or one of his minions, know what you think of the "master plan" as well as the impact Peel has already made on what is still laughably referred to as a World Heritage Site.
After all, your views will be "carefully considered". Won't they? 

Friday, May 27, 2011

No, We Can't, Dominique

A New Ball Game?

After the Hicks & Gillett soap opera which almost dragged Liverpool Football Club into the sporting abyss, the arrival of John Henry & his NESV consortium was widely welcomed. So far, so stable in the boardroom at Anfield. The news recently that the US basketball star LeBron James is a shareholder in the club (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/apr/07/lebron-james-liverpool ) was greeted with bemusement by many.
Mindful, however, of the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it may be necessary for the club's supporters to keep an eye on any developments in this story. 

Tony's Toxic Tweets

A couple of commenters on my post about Tony Schumacher's piece on Margaret Thatcher for Liverpool Confidential argued that I'd missed his central point. Fair enough, if I've been blind to Tony's position, I'm happy to be corrected.
Far more sinister, however, is the point made by one commenter that my post may have contributed to a climate in which Tony received several abusive & threatening tweets; Tony writes on the matter for Liverpool Confidential (http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/News-and-Comment/Twitter-and-bisted ).
I've re-read my post & am confident that the points I made couldn't be reasonably construed to be an incitement to the idiots who have threatened Tony in this way. If, however, some moronic half-wits DID view the post in that way, I greatly regret it. For the record, I condemn the anonymous tweeters who posted their messages, particularly the charming individual who scrawled, "I hope you get cancer, you tw**".