Thursday, January 03, 2013

More Tea & Sympathy From Joe

I do hope the warm wine & canapes went down well at the city's waterfront today. Cameron popped by to appear with Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson to help promote the city's International Business Festival next summer. The meeting of minds took place at the Museum of Liverpool. As befitting the venue, the message from Cameron (& one from which the Labour Mayor didn't demur) was ugly & brutal: the cuts will continue ( ).
Unsurprisingly, Cameron arrived via a rear entrance. His loyal, junior lieutenant Esther McVey, MP for Wirral West & champion of local regeneration ( ), however, found herself running the gauntlet of demonstrators, one of whom correctly informed Merseyside's answer to Sarah Palin: "Your cuts are killing people!" ( ).
Uncle Joe could have used the event to lambast the cuts' effects & declare that as Labour Mayor he will organise a campaign of civil disobedience against measures which have no electoral mandate. He could have said that, but instead delivered this gem ( ):
"As the first directly elected mayor of the city I confidently predict that the best days for the city are ahead of it as we continue to grow and become an economic hub and a major port once again."
Adopting the sort of rhetoric habitually employed by US politicians may not work to Anderson's advantage; predicting that the best is yet to come despite the ConDem cutters is guaranteed to invite a sarcastic Scouse response. Additionally, the notion that the city can return to being "an economic hub and a major port" will make many wonder if Uncle Joe was reading from a text prepared in 1913, not 2013.
(The US allusion is strangely apposite in Anderson's case. It appears that he covets the sort of powers enjoyed by US city mayors, such as Michael Bloomberg in New York, despite the fact that his remit is severely curtailed in comparison; a friend told me when I was in Manhattan that Bloomberg's electoral success with New Yorkers lay in the fact that he's perceived as a "Dad" figure, someone who will admonish excesses which are a consequence of civic leniency & address the city's electorate in a style resembling that of a resigned, weary tutor repeating something for the umpteenth time. Anderson may yearn to be seen as Liverpool's "Dad", dispensing quasi-paternal wisdom to his flock. Some hope. Whereas New York remains the world's most famous metropolis, Liverpool is, sadly, just another post-industrial city engaged in, at best, an existential debate about its purpose & role in the twenty-first century. )
Mayor Anderson made headlines in some of the national media over the festive break ( ). However, even this seeming warning of what the cuts will mean for local government was rather undermined with this assertion:
"Liverpool is succeeding because we have, like other cities, been given backing, and the results are starting to show in the confident city we have become."
Venture outside the city centre, to, say, Kirkdale, Norris Green, Netherley or Kensington & you'll find precious little of the "confidence" that Joe proclaims.
As if that wasn't enough, Joe made a point which would have had Cameron, Clegg & Osborne in paroxysms of mirth:
"Neither myself nor other core city leaders are denying the need for austerity or the need for local government to take its fair share of reductions in public spending. Our call is simply for fairness in how that austerity is distributed across the country."
Fairness In Austerity! Compassionate Cuts! Great slogans, wouldn't you say?
Anderson's acceptance of the need for cuts on the basis that we've all been living beyond our means buys into a myth which was exposed by Dan Silver in a Guardian piece the following day. Silver noted that the ongoing legacy of the 2008 financial crash was now presented as a government deficit crisis ( ):
"The financial crisis of 2008, which for many has discredited the dominant model of financial capitalism, has been maintained by those currently in power. It has been reconstituted as a debt crisis caused by government deficits."
It would have been welcome at today's exercise in mutual self-congratulation if Anderson had publicly & vocally shared this analysis of the situation, told Cameron so & declared his intention to stand up to the Tories. But he didn't. And he won't.
Happy New Year.

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