Thursday, March 31, 2011

End Of The Road For Hicks?

Some may have blanched at my description of Hicks & Gillett's reign at Anfield yesterday. However, here's confirmation that the wheels appear to be coming off for Hicks in his own backyard ( ).

The true nature of this charlatan & Bush buddy should be clear to all. However, it shouldn't be forgotten that Rick Parry & David Moores still have everything to explain for their tawdry actions in agreeing to the sale of the club in 2007, Moores, in particular, given the £90m he pocketed from the transaction.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Owners, Same Old Problems?

After the ruinous & fraudulent reign of Hicks & Gillett Liverpool fans could have been forgiven a sigh of relief for their unlamented departure & the arrival of John Henry's NESV outfit. However, in today's Digger column in the Guardian, Matt Scott warns that the club could conceivably be drawn into a conflict of interest which would delight the lawyers & dismay the supporters ( ). The miasma of byzantine & secretive structures surrounding the club's new owners is detailed by Scott who concludes his piece by asking: "Why so secret? Surely fans are entitled to know who owns their club, whether they are baseball or football fans, because sometimes it just might have an impact on the integrity of a competion."

Is It The Final Voyage For Peel's Public Money Scam?

There have been further developments surrounding the "Cruise Wars" saga ( & ). It emerged earlier this week that Southampton's civic leaders have held meetings with ministers & mandarins in Whitehall ( ) over Peel's brazen plan to finance a private project with public money. The BBC report notes: "The government is taking a new look at Liverpool's application, which had previously been rejected. "It needs to approve the plan because a £9m EU grant helped pay for its cruise liner terminal, which cost £20m." The "final decision" on this interminable farce will, the report states, be made "within weeks".

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When The Vultures Swooped Down On Liverpool

Culture year. Remember that? Oh, come on you must, surely. It was the global event of 2008 & provided the foundation for a prosperous & idyllic future for Liverpool.

Well, that's what Oldham Hall Street claimed.

Sevenstreets carries a piece about a soon to be released film by the City Picture collective ( ) concerning the distortion, corruption & mendacity surrounding 2008 ( ). Sevenstreets notes of the film, Liverpool08-Capital of Vulture:

"An unflinching, honest and --at times-- acerbic snapshot of where we're at, the documentary posits whether, in the wake of the Capital of Culture, the city's artists (so essential for the regeneration of run-down post industrial areas) have experienced anything approaching a legacy, or whether the event did little more than hijack their community for a year long knees-up at our expense."

I think we all know the answer to that one. The notion of there being an 08 legacy is as risible as that of Oldham Hall Street undertaking investigative journalism. That reality notwithstanding, Sevenstreets plays an unnecessarily even-handed approach:

"It's a thorny subject, for sure, and one that elicits more heat than light: there are as many versions of the 08 story as there were tattered flags lining Edge Lane. For some, it was a platform to showcase the city as a cauldron of creativity, for others a PR excercise of cliques and canapes that failed to ignite any real sense of inclusion or momentum."

Before it fades further into the realm of urban myth & sepia-tinted nostalgia, it's worth reminding ourselves that the heat elicited by culture year continues to emanate from Oldham Hall Street, the city council, the main players in the late, unlamented Liverpool Culture Company, the parasitical PR agencies, "Professor" Phil "Big Society" Redmond, et al. Any creativity within the city was either sidelined or ignored; community projects & initiatives in areas like Kirkdale, Speke & Norris Green were conspicuous by their absence from the city centre-based itinerary.

Culture year was little more than a Bread & Circus scam, dispiriting in its content & corrupt in its organisation. Don't believe me? Track Jason Harborrow down, if that's possible, ply him with a few drinks & discover the truth of that eternal phrase, in vino veritas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Safe In Their Hands?

As well as Captain Ska's "Liar, Liar", this inspired rap was played a few times on Saturday's demo: .

Not So Much Ouside The Bubble As Cocooned Within It

I'm happy to contradict myself. Having said that I wouldn't link to asinine articles about Saturday's march, I really have to do just that with a piece which reeks of ignorance, defeatism & stomach-turning timidity. In fact, this counsel of despair missive reminds me of the "dented shield" argument propounded by many in the 80s when Thatcher's cuts were facing millions. Want to know the provenance of this pale, pathetic piece? Look no further than the Daily Ghost, soon not to be a daily, according to those in the know. David Higgerson, author of the "Outside The Bubble" blog, pens a script that could have been issued from Downing Street ( ) Higgerson writes: "Cameron, at around the time of the TUC conference in Manchester last September, alluded to the fact he wanted to work with the unions. Not much has been said on that since. It perhaps suits the unions to be at a distance from the discussions which are taking place about cuts. "But at the same time, if those doing the cuts aren't listening, to traditional protests, then surely the trade unions also need to move their positions too. The cuts are coming, no two ways about that, so how about trying to minimise the impact of those cuts. A little less King Kanute [sic], a little more Florence Nightingale." To which one can pithily reply, a little more standing up to the Tories, a little less planning for that trip to Dignitas. Or perhaps, a little more Terry Fields, a little less Neil Kinnock. Higgerson's dull, defeatist mantra stands in stark contrast to Nick Cohen's thoughtful piece in yesterday's Observer ( ).

Misreading The Mood

Today's reflections on Saturday's march in London have been as predictable as the tide. Most aren't worth referring to, let alone linking to, due to their synthetic outrage & puerile pontificating. Indeed, it seems that the mainstream media doesn't quite know how to handle a story like this. Even the Guardian's Michael White can't help balancing the march with the clashes that took place elsewhere ( ). More perceptive observers are now acknowledging that the role of civil disobedience, as opposed to the trashing of Top Shop, is a tactic that will gain in currency & viability. As the cuts bite, the traditional tactic of marches may look insufficient; Ed Miliband (or "Ed Millipede", as he was called by one marcher) has stated his view that the ConDem cuts will prevail for the full term of this parliament. Such an opinion could look discredited & defeatist before the end of this year. Apropos the marchers, I noticed an array of banners & placards which deviated refreshingly from the stereotypical norm. One marcher at Waterloo Station held a placard which posed the cerebral, but intriguing question, "What would Gramsci Say?" Another was less subtle & damningly direct, showing a picture of Nick Clegg with the words "Rent Boy" underneath. Despite the many different reasons given by people for their presence in London on Saturday, & they ranged from the Spirit of Shankly group to the Women's Institute, one refrain was notable for its ubiquity: this is just the beginning.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Big Society Comes To Town

Contrary to the sadly sensationalist BBC reports throughout Saturday evening, London was not in the throes of unbridled anarchy. I should know, I was having a pint just a few molotov cocktails away from the highly localised disorder in Picadilly. Regrettable? Yes, of course. Worthy of hysterical live coverage on the BBC News channel? You must be joking.

Friday, March 25, 2011

All Together Now

In anticipation of tomorrow's march here in London, I suspect this catchy ditty from last year will get an airing: .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No Comment

Recommended reading: a piece by Dave Hill on the Guardian Comment is Free site earlier this month: ).
Although it concerns itself with Barnet Council in North London, it certainly has wider relevance, stretching, ooh, 200 miles north-west, of London, wouldn't you say?

Leaving A Sour Taste In The Mouth

Those of us attending Saturday's march in London against the ConDem cuts ( ) will have our numbers augmented by workers from the Burton's confectionery plant on the Wirral, soon to be closed by its owners. Indeed, the question of who actually owns Burton is raised by John Harris in a piece for the Guardian's Comment is Free site ( ).
As Harris discovers, the ability of Unite, the union representing Burton's staff, to establish the identity of the company's owners turns out to be anything but straightforward; global capitalism has, he concludes, made it necessary for a globally-organised & coherent programme on the part of trade unions around the world. Utopian, perhaps, but, as he ruefully remarks, Saturday's "march for the alternative" won't have one unless it recognises the necessity of an international approach. Problem is, such an approach is light years from both the understanding & inclination of the Labour Party & TUC leadership.
Illustrating the need for working people to broaden their case as widely as possible is the case of the state government staff in the US state of Wisconsin ( ).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Royal Recognition For Procession Of Coffins

Steve Bell's cartoon in today's Guardian unflinchingly reflects the reality behind the decision to bestow royal status on the town of Wootton Basset ( ).
It's sure to stick in the craw of those who continue to support an illegal war in Iraq & an unwinnable conflict in Afghanistan, but that's their problem.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Daily Ghost To Go Weakly?

Far be it for me to rain on Trinity Mirror's parade as they bask in the glory of civic recognition today (all that lobbying paid off big time, eh, Alastair?). However, storm clouds are, alas, on the horizon in the form of Roy Greenslade's blog which today suggests that the Daily Ghost could soon be a weekly paper ( ).
Remarking on the Ghost's appropriately spectral circulation figures, Greenslade links to a blogpost by Steve Dyson, a 20-year veteran of the regional newspaper business ( ).
Dyson takes a dim view of the Ghost as a product in the market place, in particular delivering a forensic critique of the edition for Wednesday 16th February. Enjoy the wine & canapes at the Town Hall, guys.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Wapping Displays Its Knowledge Of Liverpool

It's only fair to point out that Oldham Hall Street doesn't always have a monopoly when it comes to fiction masquerading as journalism about Liverpool, as Wayne observed earlier today ( ).
Judging by the paucity of facts & the preponderance of nauseous PR guff in the Times piece, you have to surmise that the best place for the piece is, indeed, behind Murdoch's self-defeating paywall. The fewer readers who come across such garbage the better.

Oldham Hall Street's Parallel Universe

It is, of course, no surprise when Oldham Hall Street dutifully plays the role of cheerleader for business interests whose motives have everything to do with corporate enrichment & nothing to do with local civic & economic concerns. A cursory look at the coverage of the Liverpool Waters affair will immediately confirm that. Indeed, the alacrity with which the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo (flushed with self-congratulation from successfully lobbying the council for Freedom of the City status) throw themselves into cheerleading mode for Peel Holdings, et al, often leads them to issue the sort of bilge which illuminates their blithe disregard for reality. Take this gem from last Wednesday: .

Friday, March 04, 2011

Putting Rivalry Into Perspective

Ahead of Sunday's match at Anfield, Louise Taylor writes a piece for the Guardian sports blog which sets the rivalry between Kenny Dalglish & Alex Ferguson in a measured perspective ( ).
As the tabloids & Sky prepare their lurid weekend war analogies, supplying the ammunition to the neanderthals on both sides, & too many deluded saps in Glasgow perpetuate the folly of sectarianism ( ), Taylor relates:
"[Dalglish & Ferguson] have always harboured a mental as well as physical edge -- while Ferguson's is more overtly aggressive, Dalglish's spikiness invariably features cutting sarcasm -- but both appreciate some battles are pointless. Significantly, neither had any truck with the sectarianism that scarred Glasgow during their respective upbringings. Although a Protestant, Dalglish was perplexed by religious divisions and grew up alongside close Catholic friends. Unusually, in extremely Protestant Govan, Ferguson was the product of a 'mixed' marriage, his father having broken a widespread taboo and married a Catholic.
"In later years Manchester United's manager would tap, productively, into the emotional energy fuelled by his club's supporters' 'hatred' for Liverpool, but that Govan upbringing had imbued him with an ability to grasp a bigger picture. Immediately after the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 he followed up a phone call to Dalglish by dispatching a deputation of wreath-bearing United fans on a respect-paying mission to Merseyside."

Liverpool Honours Oldham-Based Papers

Take a trip down Dale Street next Wednesday & you'll witness a spectacle in the Town Hall which belongs to the world of Lewis Carroll. The Oldham Echo, along with its sickly sister the Daily Ghost, will be awarded the freedom of Liverpool ( ) .
Yes, the sorry rag which claims to speak for Merseyside, but which sacked 100 Liverpool printers when it moved its printing operation down the East Lancs Road, will be "honoured" by the city council. Aghast at this brazen act of mendacity & self-delusion? Joe "tea & sympathy" Anderson isn't. In fact, he plays the part of civic fluffer to perfection, proclaiming that the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo have been "the voice of the city for more than 150 years and they constantly champion Liverpool as a great place to live, work and to do business."
Ah yes, of course, given the bilge slapped on the Echo's front page every night (tales of small-time hoodlums, Z-list local celebrities, etc.), any visitor arriving at Lime Street who happens to peruse the, erm, publication would be immediately struck by the way in which the city is championed, as Joe puts it, by Oldham Hall Street.
As an aside, you might think that Anderson would want to keep a relatively low profile after meekly acquiescing to £90m worth of Tory cuts.
The comments left at the foot of the Echo's self-congratulatory piece are almost uniformly hostile. One contributor, JB_Kirkdale, submits a few observations which merit reproduction in their entirety:
"This paper is a rag, a tabloid rag and a very poor shadow of the paper we all respected when we were growing up.
"Remember [the] campaign and outrage from the Echo when it was suggested Liverpool's blood units be moved to Manchester, yet it has done exactly the same thing, sacking many in Liverpool while employing people in Oldham to print it. Its hypocrisy is staggering.
"It calls itself the voice of Merseyside but it stayed silent on the Americans raping LFC in case it lost its access to the club and its players. John Thompson, the sports editor, is another disgrace which has been noted by many.
"I cannot believe this rag has the freedom of Liverpool when it has barely any connections with the place apart from collecting its revenue here and investing it in Manchester.
"I wouldn't wipe my harris on it and I can barely stomach it even when it's free."
JB, you should be a blogger!
Another commenter, georgechristophermciver, notes, "The headlines compete with the Daily Sport."
Touche, sir!
Sensationalist in its tone, crass in its handling of issues which require a modicum of thought, the Oldham Echo provided further evidence of its cack-handed ways a few days ago, as Simon, the blogger behind the no rock and roll fun blog, remarked with regard to a piece on a raid at a Bootle chip shop ( ).
Since Oldham Hall Street trumpeted its impending "honour" it's become apparent that all is not what it seems in this sorry farce. Trinity Mirror, the parent company of the two rags, & which has this week admitted its parlous state in its annual figures, lobbied (yes, lobbied) the city council for freedom of the city status. Anxious to remain in Oldham Hall Street's good books, Joe "tea & sympathy" Anderson immediately assented to their lobbying efforts.
A city council which implements Tory cuts & a pair of rags which are to local journalism what Ron Jeremy is to celibacy. They really do deserve each other, don't they?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Let Me Tell You How It Will Be, The Taxman Lets Them Off Scot-Free

Perfectly catching the mood of the times, Captain Ska released his "Liar, Liar" single towards the end of last year. It wasn't a chart-topper, but it went viral on the web. Now he's back with "Shame on You", his take on the tax-dodging reptiles whose kid-glove treatment at the hands of HMRC clearly shows we aren't all in this together: .
It isn't as catchy as "Liar, Liar", but the video cleverly references Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues & the early Madness videos.