Thursday, April 17, 2014

Esther's Aversion To Apologies

Tory ministers are proving to be well-versed in the non-apology. Maria Miller's recent fall from ministerial office was hastened by her "apology" in  the House of Commons ( ).
Esther McVey has clearly decided to take a Milleresque approach when it comes to expressing apparent regret for tweeting cheap political barbs about her local Labour opponents during the Hillsborough memorial service on Tuesday. Appearing on BBC Radio Merseyside yesterday, her own faux mea culpa was a little longer in duration than that of her Tory colleague, but not by much. You would think that an "apology" lasting a minute-and-a-half would be free of any gaffes on her part. Not so with Merseyside's very own Sarah Palin, I'm afraid. McVey referred to the service "at Hillsborough", not Anfield. In addition, she said that she didn't personally send the tweet, the indication being that one of her minions was responsible for that. However, the veracity of such a claim was somewhat undermined by an off-mike voice urging sotto voce just prior to this assertion, "Say you didn't send it" (52 seconds) ( ).
Tory officials are understood to be nervous about the affair & some have privately murmured that if the issue is still a hot potato for McVey on Merseyside next week  (a strong possibility), she may well go the same way as Maria Miller; one can't help feeling that if Duncan Smith or Cameron offers "full support", she'll be toast.
McVey has a somewhat colourful past, in Tory terms, & her ability to attract adverse attention has been noted before ( ).
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by McVey's unwillingness to admit that her actions showed utter disdain for the families of the 96. After all, as Channel 4 News' Paul Mason pointed out yesterday, McVey champions policies which take a punitive & Dickensian approach to the most vulnerable in society ( ).
Moreover, McVey was parroting the Tory rhetoric about a return to prosperity to an increasingly incredulous  TV audience yesterday ( ).
Local Tories in her Wirral West constituency may view McVey's chances at the next election with anxiety, particularly as her majority in 2010 was a slender 2,436. It's unlikely that a sociopathic individual like McVey will respond to the views of those opposed to her actions. However, should you wish to make your feelings known, you can contact her on 0151 632 4348 or email .

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pest Control Needed On Oldham Hall Street

Have you seen any yet. Oh come on, you must know what I'm referring to. Surely you must. Oh, OK, if you really don't know, I'll tell you. Liverpool is under attack from giant rats. No, really, it's true. Sunday's Oldham Echo said so & if it's in the Oldham Echo, that's good enough for me.
Wait, what's that? Sorry, but it isn't true, & there was I about to commend Oldham Hall Street on another spectacular journalistic scoop. Larry Nield in Liverpool Confidential breaks the news as gently as he can ( ):
"But wait: Could this be the same super rat that appeared last year in popular London newspaper the Ham&High, with the headline 'Giant rat discovered under dishwasher as bins overflow onto streets'?
"It could indeed, taken by householder Adrian Whitaker who caught and killed the rat in his West London home."
Mr Whitaker is understandably puzzled as to why his picture appeared in the Oldham Echo. Moreover, as Larry Nield notes, the story was picked up by the national media (broadsheets as well as tabloids) & then went viral on the web.
There must be a simple explanation for this tale of imaginary rodents & their exponential growth. Larry, too, is baffled, but then chances upon the reality behind the rat story:
"So where has it all come from?
"Similar mutant super rat stories have been popping up in regional papers across the country. It seems it is down to a PR puff promoting a commercial rat catching business, Whelan Pest Control, quoted extensively in the rat tale."
The Oldham Echo picking up PR pieces & reporting them as news? Perish the thought! What is the world coming to?
There is a further twist in the (rat) tale. Larry observes that the Echo "claimed the rat was caught in Liverpool by Sean Whelan."
Mr Whelan may well be baffled by the assertion in the Echo piece (penned by Neil Macdonald, the poor bugger) that he caught said rodent in Liverpool, particularly because he is based in Southampton where he is managing director of Whelan Pest Prevention Ltd ( ).
You won't be surprised to learn that Oldham Hall Street has taken the rogue rodents story off its website. Additionally, it has (sort of) admitted that the entire story was false ( ).
A Trinity Mirror spokesman frantically attempts damage limitation:
"We were deceived about the picture of the giant rat. We were led to believe that it had been taken recently on an industrial estate in Liverpool.
"It has since become clear that it was taken in another part of the country. We will be clarifying the position with our readers on Sunday."
Those familiar with the Oldham Echo's modus operandi may question the claim that it was "deceived". Furthermore, many may well be puzzled why Oldham Hall Street will wait until Sunday before "clarifying" the issue with its (declining) readership.
The Oldham Echo's "journalism" has often been dismissed as belonging in the gutter. It would now seem that it has relocated to the sewer, alongside the vermin.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Twit Who Tweets

If you had the day off today, & you live on Merseyside, chances are that you watched the annual Hillsborough memorial service at Anfield. You may even have attended the service. Interest from the media & the general public would have been all the greater because of the tragedy's 25th anniversary.
What you wouldn't have done is tweet a cheap party political point during the service. Well, you wouldn't do it because you're not an insensitive, sociopathic Tory whose crass timing makes even some Tory colleagues cringe (little wonder she is referred to as Merseyside's answer to Sarah Palin). 
Esther McVey, for that is the person of whom we speak, clearly felt that having a dig at Wirral Labour Party took precedence over watching the Anfield service ( ).
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by McVey's order of priorities given that her political heroine Margaret Thatcher never lived to answer questions about her role in the tragedy's aftermath (I choose my words carefully due to the soon-to-be resumed Coroner's hearing in Warrington). The, ahem, honorable member for Wirral West instantly started trending on the Twittersphere, & not in the way that she or her party bosses would wish. Her immediate boss, Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, has been known to express his amusement at the way in which McVey has made herself an even greater Tory hate figure than himself. It remains to be seen whether McVey's seeming disdain for the Hillsborough families means that Duncan Smith has to find himself a new deputy. He'd be hard put to find a more obtuse No.2 at the DWP.
By way of a much-needed contrast, you couldn't have asked for a more dignified, eloquent & moving address at today's service than that given by Roberto Martinez, manager of Everton Football Club ( ).
McVey would do well to temporarily desist from her tedious tweets & watch Mr Martinez' ability to be an exemplary ambassador for his club.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Joe's Idea Gets Bombed Out

Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson isn't used to making a reverse manoeuvre. His authority over the Liverpool Labour Party is largely unquestioned (though one or two potential challengers offer sotto voce observations that it's better that Joe takes the flak for implementing Tory cuts & retires less than gracefully from the scene).
For the time being, Joe has an almost Putinesque command of all he surveys. Such is his apparent control that one or two dissenting voices have meekly enquired about rejoining his ranks. One such figure is Cllr Jake Morrison. The dissident councillor for Wavertree Ward left the Labour ranks six months ago but is now minded to return ( ).
Many may question Cllr Morrison's judgement (indeed, some of his former supporters do so in terms which involve a good deal of Anglo-Saxon epithets).
For Uncle Joe, however, life has been relatively predictable in recent weeks. He's demonstrated his gift for cognitive dissonance in criticising the Tory cuts whilst implementing said measures on a city which gave no electoral mandate to the ConDem coalition. Moreover, not content with praising Nelson Mandela without acknowledging that part of the great man's legacy included a willingness to fight unjust laws regardless of personal risk, Joe has tweeted his admiration for Tony Benn ( ).
Tweeting that "we should remember his message", Joe again fails to realise that Tony Benn's opposition to the Tories was unconditional & unyielding; his support for the 47 back in the 80s stands in stark contrast to Joe's pathetic lament that the Tories aren't content with the cuts already made.
Additionally, if he were still around, Benn might point out that a Tory government which patronises workers with a beer n' bingo budget ( ) whilst salivating over further draconian cuts has to be confronted, not appeased.
Today, however, was the day that Uncle Joe really put his foot in it. In a move which reiterated the maxim about hubris preceding nemesis, Joe let it be known that St Luke's Church on Leece Street could be flogged off for a pound to "developers". Yes, you read that right, a quid ( ).
Liverpool Confidential's account quotes Ambrose Reynolds from the excellent Urban Strawberry Lunch arts collective as saying that USL has first option on the site. Well, that's what Uncle Joe's minions informed him. I wouldn't accuse USL of naivety, but they need to think about the veracity of such assurances. St Luke's occupies what estate agents like to call a premium location in the city centre & the property vultures will circle expectantly. 
The local Twittersphere was initially slow to respond, but once word was tweeted the opposition coalesced around the hashtag #BombedOutChurch. The city's mayor may be many things but he isn't daft. Sensing a revolt which could have adverse consequences for Labour in the local elections, he began a tactical retreat via his Twitter account ( ). Scrolling through his tweets in the last few hours, you discern the sudden "clarifications" & the hastily added expressions of, yes, sympathy for those opposed to this crass, craven & callous act of cultural vandalism. Hawking around one of the city's finest cultural landmarks & amenities in the manner of a wartime spiv flogging cheap cigarettes is a new low in the civic abasement that has beset the city since 2008.
For what it's worth, there is an online petition you can sign, which also allows you a few words to express your feelings about Uncle Joe's civic & cultural stupidity ( ).
Joe may well have reason to rue his embrace of social media. It has turned on him & damagingly so. He could be forgiven for casting a wistful eye at events in Turkey where that country's Prime Minister has been partially successful in suppressing Twitter, Facebook & YouTube ( )
Joe likes to use the word "legacy" in tweeting about deceased heroes of his. He might, just might, be haunted by the thought that this latest debacle ensures his own legacy is one he won't want to tweet about.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Paper That Speaks Up For Our Scallies

Can you hear that scraping sound? Listen carefully, you might just make it out amid the cacophony of noise emanating from Oldham Hall Street. That, I'm afraid to say, is the sound of the remaining fragment of wood which once helped forme a barrel being scraped by Ali Machray & his minions. When all else looks bleak play the tribal card, even if it carries inflammatory consequences ( ).
To call this execrable offering juvenile is to insult most adolescents. Ben Turner is the "journalist" responsible for this inane & irresponsible piece. Adding more fuel to the fire, the Echo hack (they don't employ sub-editors anymore) responsible for the headline can't resist appending, "Scousers v Mancs" at the end of it.
Yes, "Mancs".
If you required definitive proof that the Oldham Echo has finally descended to the level of a worked-up, under-educated cretin who foams at the mouth at the mention of Manchester, here's the evidence.
You could argue that this hitherto unplumbed depth of tribal aggression isn't so surprising. Who can forget the bellicose bullshit scribbled by Echo hack Nick Peet after a curtailed Morrissey gig at, of all places, the Echo Arena in 2009 ( ).
Turner's 14 "reasons" for stirring up a tiresome & tedious battle are wearily predictable (guess what, the Beatles came from Liverpool). However, it's worth citing one of Turner's claims:
" 11 Liverpool, not Manchester, has the largest collection of Grade II-listed buildings outside London."
Ah, these will be the listed buildings that the Oldham Echo has shown such a cavalier disregard for, preferring to champion monstrosities like Grosvenor-pool. Additionally, the paper that "speaks up for Merseyside" has made no secret of its disdain for UNESCO's concern at what has been inflicted on the city's waterfront ( ).
Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!) prepared the ground two days prior to Turner's spasm of spite with yet another bout of nauseous navel-gazing ( ).
Paddy eagerly asked:
"How Scouse are YOU? Here's your chance to find out with our fun (FUN-that means not to be taken too seriously for any non-Scousers reading this) Scouseometer test."
I'm so glad that Paddy's invitation was just a bit of "fun"; indeed, there is so much "fun" to be gained from emphasising differences rather than similarities in a way which would find favour in the Yankee Bar on Lime Street. As for the much-vaunted Scouseometer, I was strangely immune to its appeal. Perhaps my Scouse credentials should be disputed due to a quaint belief that there is more that unites than divides Liverpool & Manchester, & that irresponsible rabble-rousing from the likes of the Oldham Echo should be referred to the Press Complaints Commission ( ).
A compelling case of compare & contrast presented itself on the day that Turner's puerile projectile was vomited onto the city's streets. Just 35 miles down the East Lancs, in a city whose name shall be uttered with unrestrained hostility by all right-thinking Scousers, Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson was meeting his counterpart along with business leaders. Their ideas certainly warrant critical scrutiny & informed criticism However, they view efforts to perpetuate this tiresome tribalism with no little disdain. The meeting was mentioned in the Manchester Evening News ( ).
It would be welcome if Ali Machray & his "crew" of feral terrace taunters were aware of the MEN piece. After all, the paper is owned by Trinity Mirror. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Never In A Month Of Sundays?

I do hope those on Oldham Hall Street have got over their self-induced hysteria after the first edition of the Sunday Echo. Prior to its arrival Echo editor Ali Machray was in bullish mood when talking to the Press Gazette ( ): "The Liverpool [sic] Echo is a great success and it is a very strong and trusted brand in the city."
Digest that bold claim, if you can. You certainly couldn't accuse Our Ali of lacking chutzpah.
However, those hoping for stories which required a reasonable span of attention would have been disappointed when he declared, "We're not going down the road of long Sunday-like features." 
Translation: If you want a broadsheet feature, stick to the "posh" papers; we're a local version of The Sun. Get used to it. I suspect that point was already acknowledged by many.
Al's audacity persisted in the Press Gazette piece as he claimed, "The readers want a Sunday edition and hopefully so do the advertisers."
Ah, yes, the advertisers. Ali will very much hope that the paper's, ahem, content draws in sufficient advertising revenue.
One local blogger who isn't so sure about the quality of the product dangled temptingly before potential readers (& those important advertisers) is David Lloyd of SevenStreets ( ).
This blog doesn't always share SevenStreets' take on developments in the city, it should be said. However, Lloyd's review exuded delicious disdain for the new arrival:
"First there's the identi-kit Ali Machray splash: 400 Cannabis Farms Smashed in a Year.
"That's not news, that's anti-news. A story about cannabis busts in Liverpool would only pass as news in a parallel universe where everything is upturned, where The Echo is shut down and The Daily Post survives."
He goes on to skewer the Echo's attempt to reintroduce 70s sexism in a piece which, appropriately for the Scouse Version of The Sun, appeared on page three. You'd think that neanderthal was the new normal & Jimmy Savile was still around to host Top of the Pops.
Lloyd, it should be said, forensically picks his way through the surfeit of tat & trivia that makes the Echo "a very strong and trusted brand in the city", in Ali Machray's immortal words. A "feature" on the "Wisdom of our Scouse Nans" invokes amused disdain & light sarcasm.
Another piece in Sunday's edition displayed the best that local journalism can deliver ( ).  
It's fair to observe that the (sickly?) Sunday sister to the weekday offering was merely trotting out a well-worn & tiresome trope with the "Scouse Nans" & cute kids. Monday's Echo featured a jolly little parochial piece by our old friend Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!) which conformed to this predictable pattern ( ).
Paddy helpfully informed us that "the Merseyside [sic] with the most votes overall will top our table."
We're grateful to Paddy (& his chums on Oldham Hall Street) for acquainting us with the workings of a voting competion.
It remains to be seen, of course, how the Sunday edition fares in this web-savvy world. Ali, Paddy, et al will be desperately hoping that the mix of local dope, peurile titilation, Scouse nans, cheeky kids & self-congratulation is wolfed down over Sunday "brekky" by a grateful army of readers.  

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

An Offering To Satisfy Your Appetite?

We can always rely on our friends at the Oldham Echo to highlight the issues that are most relevant to Merseyside, can't we? Yes, forget about the impact of the cuts on a region which never truly recovered from the 80s, forget about the Machiavellian machinations between the city council & Peel Holdings over Liverpool Waters, forget, too, the disfigurement of the city's waterfront. Instead, let's revel in the Scouse accent ( ).
Peter Guy's peurile apologia for journalism goes through the sort of tiresome phrases & terms which convey the impression that every person on Merseyside is a walking, talking caricature, the like of which Harry Enfield portrayed. Guy's piece lists 26 such utterances. [Funnily enough, he doesn't list the 27th, "Why is the Echo printed in Oldham?"]
The good folk from Oldham Hall Street, however, believe that what they serve up warrants a Sunday edition of the paper ( ). It breathlessly proclaims:
"In what will be seen by the industry as a bold, exciting and surprising move, the Sunday Echo will hit the streets on January 19 and signal a step change in our online offering across the weekend."
The industry may well view the move as "bold" in much the same way that a senior civil servant views a foolhardy political measure as "brave".
The Echo piece, intriguingly lacking a byline, refers to the paper's editor "Ali Machray". Ali, to go along with his cool, new moniker, says he is determined that "what we publish at weekends is as strong and as relevant as what we publish during the week."
Presumably that means more hard-hitting pieces on our wonderful Scouse accent & how blessed we are to reside on the banks of the Mersey. It goes on to declare:
"It is fully intended to capitalise on the huge and devoted support for Liverpool and Everton football clubs that is so important to the Echo both in print and online."
Such a stated intention shouldn't be confused with investigative sports journalism; as with its, ahem, business coverage, its football reporting amounts to parroting banal quotes from players & managers; it took the Echo long enough to realise that Hicks & Gillett were charmless charlatans whose antics landed Liverpool FC in near ruinous levels of debt while supporters' groups like the Spirit of Shankly had already cottoned on to developments. Nor has the paper confronted the club about the way in which it has engineered the decline of the Anfield area, a topic commendably covered by reporters from the national media, most notably the Guardian's David Conn ( ).
However, we return to the honeyed words of "Ali" Machray: "We can't wait for January 19. The fact that we can do this is testimony to to what an amazing city Liverpool is.
"Its news and sports potential are outstanding and we're determined to give its people a Sunday Echo they can savour."
It sounds so appetising, doesn't it? The perfect paper to accompany your Sunday fry-up. Drool over the tales of small-time local crooks while "Ali" & his mates exhort you to show some Merseypride. Consume heartily the article about the woman who accidentally stepped on George Harrison's foot at the Cavern in 1962.
No doubt the gang on Oldham Hall Street hope this "bold" launch does the job & arrest the further decline in the paper's sales over the last year ( ).
If, however, this boldness falls under a mandarin's definition of bravery, the Scousers' answer to The Sun ( ) might feel, to use one of our beloved Scouse sayings, like an unwanted brekkie.   

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Joe Speaks Up For Lennonpool

Banging the drum for your home city is all very well. It's normally commendable, signifying a strong sense of civic consciousness & identity. However, there are (sadly too) many times when it curdles into petty or poisonous parochialism. Many may well surmise that Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson is employing petty parochialism to distract attention from what's happening on his watch to the city he's keen to champion.
Joe was more than happy to give the NME a few words of response when London's Mayor Boris Johnson leapt with typically provocative gusto into mindless controversy recently. Johnson, the putative successor to David Cameron & good friend to Samantha Cameron, opined that the Beatles owed their success not to Liverpool, nor even to Hamburg. They owed it, Johnson declared, to London. Joe, being Joe, rose to the bait ( ). Joe's mates on Oldham Hall Street weighed in for good measure, realising that any Beatle-related story, however manufactured or tenuous, is too good to ignore ( ).
That Joe should demand an apology from Johnson for this dreary bout of playground politics says much about his sense of priorities. Joe regularly wrings his hands & bewails the cuts while dutifully implementing them; he charmingly calls his critics "scum" ( ); & he dismisses the objections of those who wish to see Sefton Park Meadows spared from the bulldozer despite the reasoned & unarguable case they present ( ).
Joe's wish to champion John, Paul, George &, erm, whatsisname, you know, the one who did the voice for Thomas the Tank Engine as Liverpool's finest musical export would be appreciated were it not for his troubled & contentious tenure of the city that has turned itself into little more than a Beatle theme park ( ).
Indeed, many would welcome it if "Mr Liverpool" indicated a willingness to stand up for those in the city who find themselves at the mercy of a government which makes Thatcher's administration look benign. They would also welcome a readiness to preserve the city's cultural & civic heritage from "developers". Most importantly, however, they would welcome some candour from their Mayor. As John Lennon might have put it, all they want is the truth ( ).

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A Triumph Of Spin Over Substance On Dale Street

The season to be jolly has, alas, passed & 2014 is upon us. Some things don't change, though. One of them is the inspired leadership of the city of Liverpool under Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson.  Before looking ahead, however, it's worth casting our minds back to 2012 when Joe won an election which attracted a turnout figure of 31.7% ( ).
It seems that Joe was helped in his campaign by our old friends Aurora Media ( ) which has now resurfaced as Archetype Studio ( ). Archetype, by the way, claims to have a philosophy ( ) which it expresses at some length. Archetype may wish to view that as information. However, many might beg to differ; PR companies don't do "information", they do promotion & spin.
Bringing ourselves back to the beginning of 2014, Joe looks set to continue his intellectually-challenged dual track approach of bemoaning the Tory cuts whilst implementing them. He was at it again in the Oldham Echo the week before Christmas ( ). Marc Waddington's piece acknowledged that the further round of cuts mean that "Liverpool will have lost 19.4% of its total 'spending power' by 2015/16 compared to when the Coalition took over, a drop of £122.9m -- the worst hit in the country."
As you'd expect, Joe was in no doubt about the consequences:
"Every single person in Liverpool is going to be affected and every single service will face significant reductions or be withdrawn altogether."
He also warned of the less than blissful ignorance that many in the city display about the further cuts via Twitter just yesterday ( )
Information about the cuts to come is one thing, leadership in the face of those cuts is quite another & Joe's idea of leadership appears to be an awful lot of hand wringing & wailing accompanied by the implementation of said cuts. Joe would doubtless take umbrage at this characterisation; he doesn't take dissent well ( ). Few, however, can remain unaware of his established modus operandi. 
It's been said before but is worth repeating that Joe's approach is a case study in cognitive dissonance; in paying tribute to Nelson Mandela recently he recalled what he felt when visiting South Africa during the Apartheid years ( ):
"Seeing the divisions and appalling injustice Apartheid created first hand was a huge wake up call for me. My time in South Africa inspired me to get myself an education and develop a strong sense of social justice."
Joe concluded: "Freedom fighter, visionary, president, leader, Madiba; your legacy will never be forgotten."
Part of that legacy included a willingness to fight unjust laws regardless of the hardship & personal risk involved. It would be most welcome if Joe recognised that. After all, Cameron's Guildhall speech last November in which he drooled at the prospect of permanent austerity ( ) is the clearest possible reminder of that old phrase, weakness invites aggression. Joe's weakness helps feed the appetite of this ConDem government.
No amount of PR can disguise that. Happy New Year.