Update, Friday 19th December
Well, a huge thank you to everyone, named and anonymous, who helped us to reach David Lloyd’s stated target of £2,000 in less than two days. A hugely encouraging response from all who want to see SevenStreets remain a going concern despite everything you can read below. As I write, here on Friday evening, nearly £2,500 has been chipped in to the Free Speech fund which is being left open for the moment, due to people’s continuing kindness, plus uncertainty over how much might yet be needed. A new target will not now be set though as your response so far has been nothing short of magnificent.
See also David Lloyd’s note in the comments below about his intentions if any money from the fund should be left over.
Things in the legal world are slowing down for Christmas now, so it’s unlikely I’ll have anything new to report until the New Year.
Over the weekend I was concerned to read Councillor Richard Kemp’s blogpost about the matter of Liverpool City Council’s support, to the tune of £10,000, for something Richard himself described as a ‘self-congratulatory luvvies festival‘. About which I will say no more, for reasons you will soon come to appreciate.
Because later in his post Richard tells us this:
“Lastly, I am saddened by a related matter. I understand that a blogger in Liverpool has now received two legal letters threatening action because of a blog that he has written about this issue. It is not my job or within my experience to comment on legal issues. As I have said before I never have and never will take people to court for either libel or slander although many false things have been said about me over the years including comments in council and on the radio recently.”
He goes on to wonder if ‘People who resort to the legal process in matters like this are trying to stop proper debate and enquiry.‘ Then very decently, at the end of his post, Richard says he will ‘make a contribution towards the legal fees‘ of the blogger involved.
Well the blogger involved is David Lloyd, we are of course talking about SevenStreets. And it’s time for all of us to contribute to his legal fees.
I’ve spoken with David about what’s been happening and can tell you that his legal bill for sorting it all out amounts to £850 (now revised upwards to £2,000). Which I don’t think he should have to bear on his own. Therefore I suggested he should set up a safe place where we can all chip in and help to keep SevenStreets going.
He’s now done this at GoFundMe.com and the site is open for as much as you’d like to contribute.
So why should you, why should we?
It’s complicated in some ways. There are clearly questions in all of this about the transparency of our system of local governance, given that a Freedom of Information request was apparently necessary to bring it to light, according to Richard. Then there’s the issue of free speech. Apparently easy enough to define and defend. But where does, say, mild offence become more serious and who says so? It’s complicated and, like Richard, it’s not within my experience to comment on legal issues.
But it is within my experience to comment on SevenStreets. Since I emerged blinking into public with my own blog a couple of years back David has never been anything less that encouraging and enthusiastic about what I’ve been writing and trying to do. Sometimes people have been kind enough to mention our blogs in the same breath. Kindly meant this, but actually, other than both being about the place we call the wider Liverpool, they’re not the same at all. Because we’re not the same. And that’s the joyous thing about blogs. Freely written they reflect the character of their writers.
So SevenStreets reflects David. Quick to anger. Quick to question (Someone said to me recently ‘He shoots from the hip’). But also brilliant at enthusiasm, at overviews, seeing the shape of history as it’s actually happening, caring deeply and openly. Which is why we all read SevenStreets. Why we all read what David Lloyd writes
And yes we’ve all experienced those ‘SevenStreets Moments’ – that wince when you read something that you know has gone much closer to the edge of some issue or concern than you would be likely have gone yourself. The sort the city will then joyously retweet and repost, because one of our own has said something we all thought needed saying and needs debating.
It’s part of how a healthy modern democracy happens. People think about things, comment on things, wonder about things. Because we care and because it matters. But because it’s a modern democracy we’re not just sitting round commenting in pubs or cafés. We’re commenting through social media. Which is mostly great and modern and all that, but can occasionally become, well, the sort of thing that’s happened here.
So, not wanting David to shut up shop and certainly not wanting him to lose his nerve and nouse, I’m about to click on the ‘Donate Now’ button over on his GoFundMe.com site. Where I hope you will soon follow me.
Let’s look after one of our own here, this Christmas. It’s Liverpool, we’re Liverpool and it matters.
So that’s £850 (now revised upwards to £2,000), our target to meet David Lloyd’s SevenStreets legal bill by Christmas. Go on!