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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/lifestyle/14-reasons-liverpool-better-manchester-6652568 ).
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.
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 (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/oldham-echos-mood-music.html ).
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 (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/liverpool-on-unesco-in-danger-list.html ).
Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!) prepared the ground two days prior to Turner's spasm of spite with yet another bout of nauseous navel-gazing (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/lifestyle/how-scouse-you-take-scouseometer-6555993 ).
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 (http://www.pcc.org.uk/complaints/makingacomplaint.html ).
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 (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/business-news/manchester-liverpool-should-unite-say-6652374 ).
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.
Monday, February 03, 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014
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 (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/editor-says-rise-digital-has-helped-pave-way-launch-new-sunday-paper-liverpool ): "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 (http://www.sevenstreets.com/sunday-echo-review/ ).
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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/lifestyle/things-say---what-your-6510579 ).
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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/lifestyle/vote-your-greatest-merseysider-time-6524669 ).
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
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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-sayings-top-26-things-6463028 ).
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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-echo-launch-sunday-echo-6476727 ). 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 (http://www.theguardian.com/football/david-conn-inside-sport-blog/2013/may/06/anfield-liverpool-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 (http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2013/news/abc-figures-how-the-regional-dailies-performed-6/ ).
If, however, this boldness falls under a mandarin's definition of bravery, the Scousers' answer to The Sun (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/inspired-comparison.html ) might feel, to use one of our beloved Scouse sayings, like an unwanted brekkie.
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
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 (http://www.nme.com/news/the-beatles/74671 ). 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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mayor-liverpool-joe-anderson-demands-6464928 ).
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" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcNLz8C5RAw ); & he dismisses the objections of those who wish to see Sefton Park Meadows spared from the bulldozer despite the reasoned & unarguable case they present (http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/News-and-Comment/Unearthed-map-challenges-mayors-Sefton-Park-building-plan-Liverpool ).
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 (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/mayor-joe-anderson-fails-to-deliver.html ).
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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDDJeM5R4PM ).
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
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% (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/may/04/labour-joe-anderson-liverpool-mayor ).
It seems that Joe was helped in his campaign by our old friends Aurora Media (http://www.auroramedialtd.com/ ) which has now resurfaced as Archetype Studio (http://www.archetypestudio.co.uk ). Archetype, by the way, claims to have a philosophy (http://www.archetypestudio.co.uk/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 (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/government-cuts-leave-merseyside-worst-6433422 ). 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 (https://twitter.com/joeforliverpool/status/418044052869627904 )
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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZnc5bGOtJs ). 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 (http://liverpoolmayorjoeblogs.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/in-tribute-to-mandela/ ):
"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 (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-insists-that-squeeze-on-publicsector-spending-is-permanent-8933539.html ) 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.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
It can be a lonely existence when you're a discredited former council leader. If people do listen to you, they won't take your words seriously. Former friends & colleagues turn away awkwardly if you approach them; they mutter something about being late for an appointment & having to dash. You're seen in the same way as one of those blokes in the corner of the pub who keep up a continuous, monotonous monologue, the half-empty pint glass keeping you company.
Such is the fate that has befallen Warren "War Zones" Bradley.
It's a far cry from the days when Warren could confidently claim that his leadership of Liverpool City Council represented a high water mark in the city's civic history & that the ConDem coalition would preserve & promote social justice (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/hes-still-there-you-know.html ):
"Social justice that Liberal Democrats believe in will be a golden vein that runs through the coalition government."
Alas, that "golden vein" was surgically removed from the coalition's anatomy at birth & no one informed Warren about it.
Also unwise was Warren's support for a convicted criminal (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/councillor-steve-hurst-steps-down-good.html ).
Nor did it help when Warren's grasp of local history failed him when he declared that the Three Graces dated from the Middle Ages (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOYvo7bdiOc ).
The city's Lib Dems, a shameless shower who would tolerate most things as long as they didn't get in the way of their bread & circus policies (remember our wonderful Capital of Culture celebrations?), were happy to have Warren in charge. Sure, he could be clumsy. Sure, he could be uninformed. However, he was, to quote Lenin, a useful idiot.
As the months & years moved on, though, Warren blabbed a little too freely & when he openly admitted that his legacy was a series of war zones across the city (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/warrens-war-zones.html ), his colleagues decided that enough was enough.
So you can see how Warren has become embittered & resentful. Liverpool politics can be an unforgiving environment, a jungle, even, & Warren found that he was easy prey.
But now he's biting back. Oh, yes, he is. According to David Bartlett today, Warren has taken to Twitter to snap back at those who so cruelly left him to the wolves (http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/2013/05/foul-mouthed-twitter-blast-on.html ).
One particular tweet, addressed to current Lib Dem leader Richard Kemp, is described as "foul-mouthed". Said tweet is certainly malevolent, but I wouldn't say it warrants the adjective Bartlett applies to it. It is, however, ungrammatical:
"@cllrkemp you're a complete tossa [sic], your quotes regarding Rosie just about sums [sic] you up. Once a dick, always a dick..."
The "Rosie" referred to in Warren's erudite missive is Rosie Jolly, a Lib Dem councillor who defected to Labour. Jolly's move, according to Bartlett, prompted Kemp to remark that "her efforts had been 'below what we expect of a Lib Dem councillor'."
"The ECHO contacted Mr Bradley at 1.44pm to ask if he was responsible for the foul-mouthed tweet.
"But the former Lib Dem refused to answer, repeatedly saying, 'I don't know what you're talking about.' "
Sadly for Warren, as we've seen over the years, there are times when even he doesn't know what he is talking about. Warren's twitter feed, containg a series of incriminating tweets, can be found here: https://twitter.com/Wazza23666 .
Deserted, embittered & wounded, Warren takes aim at his sworn foes from the Twittersphere. It's so sad, isn't it?
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: David Conn is in serious danger of giving sports journalism a good name. He's returned to the issue of Liverpool Football Club's expansion plans (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/david-conn-inside-sport-blog/2013/may/06/anfield-liverpool-david-conn ). Conn writes of the homeowners in the streets adjacent to the Anfield stadium & their battle to secure a fair deal in return for moving out of houses earmarked by the club for demolition: "These homeowners believe they should be paid enough not only to buy a new house but to compensate for the years of dereliction, stagnation and decline, and crime, fires and vandalism, even murders which have despoiled the area. Their resentment is compounded by the fact that they are being forced to move so that Liverpool, and their relatively new US owner, Fenway Sports Group, can make more money."
Conn essays the subterfuge employed by the club in acquiring at least some of the properties & notes: "That left residents with the belief, which has endured ever since, that Liverpool were buying up houses by stealth, to keep prices low."
He goes on to describe how the club's decision to favour a new stadium in Stanley Park arose from consultations with people in the Anfield neighbourhood. However, residents still suspected, correctly, that the new stadium would never come to fruition. The club's former chief executive Rick Parry reportedly came to the view that a new stadium was necessary during a consultation meeting:
"Parry looked at a map and was struck by how hemmed in by houses the ground would still be, even if expanded. Yet even as the plans developed over years, many residents did not believe Liverpool would ever build a new stadium. Partly this was because even after all the outcry over Anfield Plus [the original plan to demolish houses behind the Main Stand & Anfield Road End], Liverpool still bought houses on Lothair Road, including No. 10."
Most of those quoted in Conn's piece are vehement in their criticism of the club's actions & the way in which it has gone about its business. The club's unsavoury tactics have been common knowledge locally for some years. Indeed, one could even go back as far as the late 70s & early 80s when the club put pressure on the residents of Kemlyn Road to move out. Many of the residents were elderly & in no position to counter the club's intentions for that side of the ground. Commendably, Conn refers to this episode in his article.
The culpability of Liverpool Football Club for the overall state of Anfield has been highlighted in the last year by both this blog (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/anfields-decade-of-atrophy.html ) & by the Liverpool Preservation Trust (http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/liverpool-football-club-are-responsible.html ).
Moreover, the club's opaque approach towards the local community was again evident when it delayed for an inordinate period of time its announcement that the Stanley Park stadium would not be built. It finally confirmed its decision months after it first became apparent (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/stanley-park-stadium-shelved.html ).
The cast of characters with more than cameo appearances in this sorry saga should be recalled. One such figure is David Moores, chairman of the club prior to the arrival of Hicks & Gillett. In selling out to the corrupt couple, Moores walked away with a cool £89m in his back pocket. Some time later he appeared in the Oldham Echo to lament what had become of the club he professed to love (http://condensedthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/pathetic.html ). In dutifully noting down every lachrymose utterance from the former chairman, the Echo, typically, failed to pose any pertinent questions about Moores' eagerness to take the money & run.
Another character to consider is the club's current managing director Ian Ayres. He admitted last year that the expansion of the Anfield stadium is all about maximising revenue. Pretty obvious, you might say. After all, that's business. True, but he was refreshingly brazen about the fact that fans would be expected to pay considerably more for the pleasure of watching a mid-table team (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/oct/15/liverpool-anfield-redevelopment-ian-ayre ): "We're not looking at reducing ticket prices -- that's not realistic."
Far more "realistic" was Ayres' contribution to the excruciatingly embarrassing "Being: Liverpool" documentary last year. Ayres was filmed riding a motorcycle past the Liverpool waterfront. To an American audience (the programme's intended target) it may have seemed quaint. To a local audience it was a moment of supreme stupefaction. Less Easy Rider, more Queasy Rider.
Over the last three decades the civic involvement in the club's grandiose visions has been depressingly supine & it's no surprise to see in Conn's superb article that the current city council is continuing this craven behaviour over the club's demolition plans. Conn notes that "several people accuse the council, which is negotiating via agents, of starting with low offers, forcing people in difficult circumstances to negotiate hard or be seriously disadvantaged."
Yes, not content with implementing the ConDems' cuts on a city which didn't fully recover from the decline of the port & subsequent deindustrialisation, Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson's administration is doing its damndest to ensure that Liverpool Football Club gets its way.
To coin a phrase, the "managed decline" of Liverpool 4 is a war of attrition against the Anfield residents in which they've always been outgunned. As David Conn concludes, this is Anfield indeed.