Friday, July 27, 2012

From Catalyst To Cock-Up Merchant

Spare a thought for Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson. No, really, spare a thought for the guy. There he was just a week and a half ago with a warm, contented glow. He'd become Mayor Anderson on the vote of the people (let's leave aside the abysmally low turnout for a moment) & had just been the subject of a puff piece in the Oldham Echo, courtesy of our old friend Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!).
Paddy's fawning article ( ) quoted Joe as declaring, "When I go to David Cameron's mayoral committee I can speak powerfully -- having been elected by the people with a thumping big majority.
"And if we show competence and confidence in what we do we will be able to negotiate more and more powers."
As I said, let's gloss over that turnout figure of 31.7%, although Paddy, to be fair, does give it a mention. Moreover, it does seem a rather quaint notion that if Joe & Co. implement enough Tory cuts they'll be rewarded with "more and more powers" from a ConDem government which is notable, inter alia, for its centralising impulses.
Joe also exhibited a refreshing degree of modesty when asked by Paddy about his legacy: "It won't be one individual issue. I want people to remember the rebirth of the city. We've got a great past but an even better future. We have got so much to look forward to and I want people to say of me, 'He was the catalyst for the rebirth of the city'. "
Got that? Joe doesn't want much in the way of adulation, he just wants to be known as the "catalyst" for Liverpool's renaissance.
With that in the bag Joe had every reason to think that he really had Oldham Hall Street in his pocket. Er, no, he hadn't.
A series of embarrassing stories began to appear in the Oldham Echo, much to Joe's chagrin & he made clear his unhappiness about it, as noted by David Bartlett ( ).
It wasn't meant to be like this for Joe. He needed the best possible spin as he implemented the Tory cuts he insisted he himself loathed. Anything rather than the reality of a future for cities like Liverpool which holds out the demeaning prospect of hand-outs at food banks ( ).
Joe's mood wouldn't have been lightened by the revelation that security for the Mathew Street Festival will be supplied by those reliable chaps at G4S ( ).
Perhaps it was the Olympic link, allied to a sense of grievance which prompted Joe to tweet a little message in the direction of the capital earlier today. Realising that it didn't exactly reflect well on both his office of mayor & the city he likes to champion to a wider audience, Joe deleted it. Ah, but wait. The web can be an unforgiving place. Deleted tweets can return to haunt you just when you think all is well & said tweet has now been preserved for less than noble posterity. Warning: it does contain a good old Anglo-Saxon term as well as a piece of shoddy grammar: .
It isn't clear what Joe was referring to when expressing the hope that London didn't, well, make a mess of things. However, it could be a reference to culture year, something Joe & his cohorts have always insisted was an unalloyed success. Or perhaps it could be a reference to the civic disfigurement of Liverpool's waterfront that Joe has shamelessly championed.
Whatever it refers to, one thing is certain: Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson has said far more about himself in one deleted tweet than in a whole series of sycophantic  pieces in the Oldham Echo.

21.10 UPDATE: David Bartlett is reporting that a member of staff in Joe Anderson's office has been suspended over the deleted tweet ( ).
If someone else did, ahem, compose the offending tweet, it would certainly explain matters. However, it does raise the question of online authorship. Does Mayor Anderson always instruct his staff to tweet in his name? If so, it still reflects badly on the mayor. Twitter, like Facebook, is supposed to be about self-expression & openness, not PR.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Return Of An Old Favourite

Eighteen months after More4's ridiculous decision to drop daily transmissions of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it's nice to see it return to UK TV viewers. From last night the Comedy Central Extra channel (Virgin Media channel 185, Sky channel 128) began showing nightly episodes at the show at 10.30pm.
Last night's show took a wry look at the G4S security shambles for the London Olympics & delighted in juxtaposing some old stereotypes about England with the current reality of a capital in less than secure lockdown ( ).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

MacKenzie Confronted Over Hillsborough Lies

Last night's edition of Any Questions on BBC Radio 4 ( )  was enlivened by Owen Jones' comments. Particularly pleasing was his trenchant condemnation of fellow panellist & well-known liar Kelvin MacKenzie over Hillsborough.
"Let's not forget how Kelvin MacKenzie treated the families of the dead," Owen declared.
MacKenzie was audibly rattled, mumbling about the need to wait until the release of the Hillsborough documents in September before making any judgement, an stance clearly at odds with his penchant for smears, hearsay & invention.
Owen also challenged him to name his source for the Hillsborough smears. Not surprisingly, the reptile refused. Just for the record, the lies were transmitted to MacKenzie by the then chief constable of South Yorkshire police, Peter Wright, a former chief constable of Merseyside police, Kenneth Oxford & a Tory MP for the Sheffield Hallam constituency at the time, Irvine Patnick.
MacKenzie's comments throughout the programme cemented his reputation as the arch-practitioner of sewer journalism. By the end of the programme, he must have privately wished he hadn't appeared. MacKenzie had already chickened out of an interview with the BBC's Nick Higham about Leveson the previous day ( ).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Liar To Appear As Panellist On Any Questions

BBC Radio 4's Any Questions hasn't always possessed the spark & spice of its TV counterpart Question Time, although it has had its moments over the decades. This Friday's edition will be worth catching ( ), seeing as the panel will include writer & blogger Owen Jones. Also on the panel will be the man who is to journalism what G4S is to efficient organisation ( ), Kelvin MacKenzie.
Moreover, Owen will be donating his fee from the programme to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign ( ).
MacKenzie, by crushing contrast, will pocket his fee from the BBC & then feel free to denigrate the corporation itself & call for the licence fee to be either lowered or scrapped altogether.
The programme will be repeated on Saturday afternoon at 1.10pm & will then be followed at 2.00pm by Any Answers ( ); phone: 03700 100 444; email:; tweet @BBCRadio4, using hashtag #bbcaq.
The programme's format will probably prevent Owen from exposing MacKenzie for the liar & bigot he is. However, one can but hope.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dust Bowl Balladeer

It seems strangely apposite that the centenary of Woody Guthrie's birth ( ) should take place in a US election year. Many (understandable) grumbles about Obama's first term should be set against the "alternative" that Romney & his rabid Republican rump offer.
Bruce Springsteen (whose magnificent Manchester gig I attended a few weeks back) appeared with Pete Seeger in January 2009 to perform what should be viewed as the authentic US anthem: .
It also seems gloriously apposite & topical to recall a song Guthrie wrote called Jolly Banker: .
Happy birthday, Woody. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Murdoch's Contemptible "Offer" Revealed

The lid that Leveson has lifted on the press, & particularly the venal practices at News International, has been both illuminating & sickening for many observers. Long-held suspicions about the subterranean depths to which Murdoch's lackeys would stoop have been confirmed; celebrities & "civilians" have related their stories about press intrusion & a pattern has been possible to discern: of all the media groups, Murdoch's has been the by far the most brazen, Janus-faced & sociopathic.
However, it wasn't until today that the Leveson Inquiry turned its attention to an event which can be seen as a relatively early example of collusion between the police & Murdoch's rags, Hillsborough.
Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, has submitted written evidence to the inquiry about the Sun's despicable "offer" to the group ( ):
" 'The offer that was put to us...came with conditions: if we allowed the Sun to publish that we, the Hillsborough Family Support Group, accepted the Sun's apology then they, in return, would help us in any way they could get to the truth about Hillsborough, wrote Aspinall.' 
" 'They also said they would help us to perhaps build a sports centre for children in Liverpool, or anything else we might need,' she added."
This shamelessly offensive "offer" may well have been the bastard brainchild of disgraced & discredited Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks. As for their offer to "get to the truth about Hillsborough", we already know enough about what happened & the aftermath, in which that rag, as the Guardian article reports, claimed "that Liverpool fans had contributed to the deaths, urinated on the dead, pick-pocketed bodies and prevented police officers from giving the kiss of life to fans caught in the crush."
Leveson's remit wasn't intended to consider the Sun's lies about Hillsborough so Margaret Aspinall's written evidence is a welcome reminder of how a despicable rag conspired with South Yorkshire Police to cover up the force's failings, as identified in the Taylor Report, & libel the fans.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Culture Of Capital

Visitors flying into Liverpool arrive at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Once they arrive in the city centre they're reminded at every opportunity that the Fab Four hailed from these parts. Should they venture down Mathew Street, the overkill may well overwhelm the unprepared. Even the nostalgia apologists admit that the Beatle legacy is milked for all its worth in Liverpool.
Given that, you'd think a city which based its pitch for culture year almost exclusively on John, Paul, George & the one who did Thomas the Tank Engine would welcome & encourage live music in its public spaces. Right?
The unelected, unaccountable Business Improvement District (BID) group, with the not-so tacit backing of the city council, has this week imposed a list of prohibitive measures on all street entertainers in the city centre ( ).
According to the LC piece, all street entertainers will now have to:
" *Prebook their pitches
   *Shell out for a £20 permit
   *Pay up to £100 for public liability insurance
   *Perform only in designated spots around the city."
Liverpool Confidential's article features a video of an exchange between Jonny Walker, a regular busker, & Ged Gibbons, CEO of BID, on Church Street. Mr Gibbons is the archetypal suit. Mr Walker, who trained as a barrister, the busker who holds his own. During the exchange Mr Gibbons states that no one under the age of 18 should perform in public spaces such as Church Street. Mr Walker replies that George Harrison joined The Quarrymen at the tender age of 15.
Opinions will always vary about street entertainers; it isn't always subjective. Some can be highly talented. Others can be bloody awful. However, this isn't about street entertainment per se. The real issue is the arrogant assumption of the major stores that they can dictate who, if anyone, can perform in what is a public space.
The street entertainers have launched their own website ( ) &, acting upon advice from the Musicians' Union that the conditions are restrictive, have also organised an online petition ( ).
Liverpool appears to be the only UK city which wishes to apply such restrictive conditions on street entertainment. The "Home of the Beatles" evidently values the Culture of Capital over any authentic cultural legacy from its musical past. One can only surmise that if, say, a world-famous singer/songwriter wandered up to a local busker & offered to join in, the city fathers & their business allies would take a far less enlightened stance than their counterparts in Copenhagen ( ).   

Monday, July 09, 2012

Quantitative Easing

It's nice to see that Boris Johnson & David Cameron continue with at least one public school ritual.