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 ( ) 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 ( ).
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**".

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dwelling On The Past

It must have been a slow news day for Tony Schumacher to pen his Liverpool Confidential piece on Margaret Thatcher ( ). Given all the issues facing the city, even those who cut their political teeth in the 80s (guilty) will view Schumacher's article as, at best, a half-hearted stab at controversy.
It's true to say that Thatcher's legacy for areas like Merseyside is still ruinously evident (generational dependency, an exponential rise in the underclass, etc.). Moreover, some of us recall the comment by Geoffrey Howe in the wake of the Toxteth riots that government policy towards Merseyside should be one of "managed decline".
That said, dwelling on Thatcher's record at a time when the city continues to be governed by a motley collection of political eunuchs & invertebrates who collude in the destruction of Liverpool's waterfront while meekly accepting the ConDem cuts is perverse to the point of irrelevance.  

Thursday, May 05, 2011

After All That

Text message from a mate of mine: "10 years searching. Trillions of dollars spent. Thousands of soldiers dead. Smart bombs. Cruise missiles. Un-manned drones. Satellite technology. And the USA finally found Bin Laden in his own f***in' house?!"

Merseytravel's Clumsy Attempt At Censorship

Not content with having Oldham Hall Street in their pockets, the usual local suspects are now attempting to silence those of us who like to tell it like it is. Wayne Colquhoun ( ) has received a letter from Louise Outram, Head of Legal and Committee Services at Merseytravel, concerning posts he has published about Neil Scales, head of Merseytravel.
Ms Outram's missive, a po-faced concoction of faux legalese, shoddy grammar & appalling punctuation, informs Wayne that his posts concerning Scales amount to defamation:
"It has come to our attention that the above blog for which you are named as the editor contains a number of articles and comments regarding Mr Neil Scales that are not only offensive but are entirely inaccurate.
"We also consider such comments are defamatory and actionable in law."
Ms Outram's letter goes on to list the posts where it is felt a defamation of character has occurred & demands:
"At this juncture we request that you immediately remove the above articles from your blog and we also request a letter of apology be provided to Mr Scales for the offence and distress the contents of this blog have caused him.
"We expect to receive this letter by Friday 6 May 2011."
Let's get one thing straight from the outset. A claim of defamation & possible legal proceedings is to be financed by the taxpayers of Merseyside (the letterhead is that of Merseytravel, a publicly-funded body). To use an old cliche, it'll never stand up in court; if Scales wishes to proceed with his action, he should do so from his own pocket, not ours.
Moreover, it's significant that nowhere in Ms Outram's letter is the content of Wayne's posts disputed. Her letter complains of what can be seen as name-calling; I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that name-calling & defamation are two entirely different matters. Regarding the content of Wayne's pieces about Scales, which I've re-read a couple of times, the claims made about his decisions, actions & policies are substantive, detailed & researched. You would expect Ms Outram to essay in broad outline, at the very least, where & how Wayne's posts are inaccurate &, indeed, defamatory. So does she? Er, no.
This matter goes beyond that of Scales & Wayne's blog. It amounts to a gagging attempt by those who should be accountable but aren't. If Scales gets anywhere with his action (funded by you & me), it sets a dangerous precedent. What Wayne is guilty of is honest opinion, self-expression, a call for transparency from our elected (& unelected) decision makers & a deeply-felt appreciation of the city's heritage.
Wayne certainly expresses his views in robust terms (as do I), but to openly claim that this is tantamount to personal defamation is laughable. I've spoken to Wayne & he has no intention of backing down, a stance which I back unreservedly. Perhaps Scales would prefer to operate in an environment which brooks no dissent or scrutiny from those who help pay his considerable salary; there are such places around the globe where that applies ( ).
The message is simple: Wayne won't be censored & nor will I.