Friday, March 21, 2014
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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/exclusive-jake-morrison-talks-liverpool-6769772 ).
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 (https://twitter.com/joeforliverpool/status/444418289914347520 ).
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 (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/19/grant-shapps-bingo-and-beer-joke-causes-twitter-storm ) 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 (http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/News-and-Comment/St-Lukes-sell-off-fight-begins ).
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 (https://twitter.com/joeforliverpool ). 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 (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-bombed-out-church-in-liverpool?source=twitter-share-button ).
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 (http:blogs.channel4.com/paul-mason-blog/reasons-turkeys-twitter-ban-matters-world/587 )
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.