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'." Bartlett writes: "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?
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.
Arch purveyor of sewer sentiments, Kelvin MacKenzie has kept, by his standards, a relatively low media profile since the start of the year. There have been sightings of the liar now & again, most jarringly as a guest newspaper reviewer on the BBC News channel recently; the phone calls & emails that flowed the Beeb's way would have left the corporation in little doubt that MacKenzie's presence was a gross abuse of licence payers' money (the reviewers are paid for their time). Most recently, he could be spotted in the company of Jeremy Clarkson at Thatcher's funeral. A veritable Brains Trust, wouldn't you say? MacKenzie had hoped to pen a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph. Indeed, the paper's editor, Tony Gallagher (@gallaghereditor, if you feel like sending him a tweet or two) had declared on the Telegraph website that the liar would contribute on a weekly basis. Unfortunately for MacKenzie, reaction to his first column helped ensure that it was the only column he would scrawl for the Telegraph; many online commenters raised the subject of Hillsborough, one referred to him as a "ghastly little man", a quintessentially Telegraph put-down. MacKenzie's short-lived stint at the Telegraph was yesterday mentioned by Roy Greenslade on his Guardian blog (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2013/apr/18/kelvin-mackenzie-dailytelegraph ). Greenslade noted that MacKenzie left the Daily Mail last July, having been employed as a columnist there for less than a year, & that the BBC, newspaper reviews notwithstanding, is noticeably reluctant to have him as a panelist on Any Questions & Question Time. Greenslade observed: "Why should this be? In a word, Hillsborough. Twenty-four years on from the tragedy he cannot escape the fury of Liverpool for his front page that defamed the city's football fans." Regarding MacKenzie's sudden departure from the Telegraph, Greenslade reported that Tony Gallagher "was made aware by the sports desk of deep upset about the hiring of MacKenzie by its writers, especially its star columnist Alan Hansen." Hansen was, of course, in the Liverpool team which took to the field on April 15th, 1989. In the years since he has had to confront & correct the smears about Hillsborough which emanated from MacKenzie's infamous front page. As Greenslade noted, Hansen's possible resignation from the Telegraph in protest at MacKenzie's appointment would have caused the paper acute embarrassment. Greenslade opened his piece by asking: "Has Kelvin MacKenzie become unemployable?" After the faux-aristocratic flummery & pomposity of the taxpayer-funded Thatcher funeral this week, it would be an appropriately Thatcherite fate for MacKenzie to find himself without work (& income) indefinitely. Such a fate would be welcomed by many.
Those of a certain generation may recall Thatcher's comments when she paid a flying visit to the city in March, 1989. News had broken that day that the Bird's Eye factory in Kirkby was to close with the loss of 1,000 jobs. Thatcher was asked by local reporters for her reaction. Her reply was chillingly sociopathic. They couldn't remain competitive, she intoned. If they couldn't compete & keep their costs down, they had to lose their jobs. Sermon duly delivered, Thatcher left, alongside Hillsborough liar Bernard Ingham, in a speeding car which attracted a flying egg. The last nine days have served as a stark reminder that the divided realm she bequeathed is still with us. While central London was witnessing her funeral, whole swathes of the UK marked Thatcher's final journey in a way which reflected the impact her policies had on those areas. Liverpool, of course, wasn't to be left out of proceedings; this was the scene outside St George's Hall a little earlier: https://vine.co/v/bUB0OIDZJ15 . Merseyside was always going to be largely barren ground for the Tories during the 80s. Indeed, they knew that early on during the Thatcher years (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/30/thatcher-government-liverpool-riots-1981 ). The antipathy was mutual from the very beginning & was made clear to a national TV audience (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY_pgqX8qyo ). There are Tories who deny that the Thatcher years were marked by a targeting of areas like northern England, South Wales & Scotland, & it would be inaccurate to say that areas in & around London didn't suffer, too. They did, as Glenda Jackson pointed out in a damning critique last week during a Thatcher nostalgia-fest in the Commons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDtClJYJBj8 ). However, the regional nature of Thatcher's policies was pronounced & entrenched throughout the 80s, as well as beyond. The Tories knew, & still know, that there are no-go areas for them north of the Midlands. They can live with that. Their base is elsewhere. Anyone who still demurs from that harsh political fact need only listen to what Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph & Thatcher's authorised biographer, had to say on BBC 5Live this morning. Moore opined that areas which opposed Thatcher & everything she stood for were "less important" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGzOMTKOTMA ) -- his comments come at 4 minutes 50 seconds in the clip. "Managed decline". "Less important". With those two dismissive quotes you have the Tories' real view of those who opposed their policy of deindustrialisation. It's a view which Cameron, Osborne (didn't someone have any tissues for him today, by the way?), et al share.
It wouldn't be human to deny a certain grim pleasure from the passing of those whose actions have caused havoc & misery for others. Reaction on Merseyside to Thatcher's death has been pretty much as expected. Robin Brown penned an interesting piece on Seven Streets, too (http://www.sevenstreets.com/talk-and-opinion/why-liverpool-wont-mourn-margaret-thatcher/). At this time it would be tempting to recount the 80s, that baleful decade of Toxteth, Militant, Trevor Jones, Heseltine, the Garden Festival, Hillsborough et al. Too tempting. Another time, another blog post. However, I can't let today's reactions go by without highlighting the contradictory gibberish of one. It came from Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson with this tweet (https://www.twitter.com/joeforliverpool/status/321240214834126848 ): "Tories believe in division and inequality. Thatcher defined that and Thatcherism continues today as bad or worse than her period in office." It beggars belief that a Labour leader who makes a virtue out of his willingness to implement Cameron's cuts should bewail Thatcher's record & legacy. It seems to have escaped Joe's attention that the Thatcherism he condemns is perpetuated, in no small measure, by Labour councils which arrogantly tell people that they've got no alternative (to coin a phrase) but to make Tory cuts. Like, ooh, Liverpool City Council. Joe may lament the ethos of Thatcherism, but he does nothing to counter it; say what you like about the 47 (& many do), but they did stand up to the Tories. Selling off part of Sefton Park is an act one would expect from a Thatcherite philosophy which recognises the price of everything & the value of nothing. Today's Labour Party subscribes to that Tory tenet. Thatcher is dead, but Labour lieutenants of capital like Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson do nothing to oppose policies that she could only dream of.
Guido Fawkes (http://www.order-order.com ) might have chosen a better time to declare that arch-liar Kelvin MacKenzie was his "ethics adviser" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/feb/15/guido-fawkes-paul-staines-interview ). Fawkes, or Paul Staines, to give him his real name, was speaking just a few days before the Hillsborough families announced that they were going to sue MacKenzie for "malfeasance" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2013/feb/16/hillsborough-families-sue-kelvin-mackenzie ). The reptile who was described by Trevor Hicks as "a low-life" offered crocodile tears when the Hillsborough Independent Report was released last year. MacKenzie's true venality is something the families have always known & highlighted: "Although MacKenzie offered 'profuse apologies' last September after the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel exposed the article's allegations as wholly unfounded, lawyers for the families also accuse him of adopting a different approach privately." MacKenzie isn't the only one to finally face the reckoning. The families also indicated their intention to bring proceedings against South Yorkshire Police & Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. Proceedings against the South Yorkshire force are clearly necessary from a moral perspective. However, there is also a financial aspect which the Guardian report relates with damning clarity: "Families received payouts as low as £3,500 for the deaths of loved ones, sums later dwarfed by settlements to policemen, who were awarded up to £330,000 after suffering post-traumatic stress from witnessing the crush on the stadium terracing." That the police officers' "suffering" was judged to be almost a hundredfold bigger than that of the families is an often overlooked aspect of the greatest cover-up in British legal history. MacKenzie et al can be in no doubt that their moment of reckoning looms larger by the week. Staines might wish to reconsider his admiration for a proven liar.
It's difficult for me to pigeon-hole myself. Anyone involved in marketing or demographics would find that I've slipped through the net. I'm a maverick. I remain a philosophical marxist (note the adjective), although I'm the first to say that capitalism won that titanic war when the Berlin Wall came down. I have a very low threshold for bullshit, can be sarcastic & generally assume the worst in people (that way, anything else is a bonus).