Preston, here in North West England, is having a bit of a moment. A moment about doing things for itself. Obvious things, in some ways, but a combination of obvious things that no one else is doing in quite the same ways. Economic things, social things, using your own resources and imagination kinds of things that are getting it a good deal of curious attention. So I’ve decided to come and have a look, and a listen.
Not a long ago tale of suffragette struggle but a dystopian story from the Liverpool City Region today, expressed as a heart warming seasonal song, via The Handmaid’s Tale.
Much more of the song later, first let’s talk.
Now I’ve got no particular problem with men. I’ve been one, at first a boy version of one, all my life. Furthermore I’m perfectly happy being who I am. Having said that, I’d never try to run anything or take any important decisions in my life without asking the women that I know. This would feel not merely wrong but also deeply unwise and self-defeating. Ignore half the people I know with all their knowledge, opinions and feelings? As if.
Which brings me to the problem I want to write about. Devolution to regional city authorities and the exclusion of women from nearly all of their leadership groups. There’s a good article here at the New Statesman you might want to read for the full national picture on this. In summary, all of the head elected jobs as ‘Mayors’ in the devolved authorities are held by men. Then the article shows figures of 94% men having a vote in their running, with just 6% women.
In the Liverpool City Region, yes I’m mainly writing about Liverpool as ever, the percentage figure for men has been rounded up to an easy to comprehend 100%. Yes, no women. A City Region of around 1.5 million people, and therefore around 750,000 women, being run by a small group of men. Continue reading “Votes for Women? Liverpool 2017”
American Talk Show host Jimmy Dore talks up the Labour Party Manifesto.
So here’s the thing. Jayne Lawless and I are talking politics during a brief gap in talking about Coming Home Liverpool, which we run together. And Jayne is enthusing about something by someone called Jimmy Dore that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook. But which she can’t send to me because of my outright refusal to have anything to do with Facebook.
“You’ve got to see it Ronnie, you’ve absolutely got to see it. Go home, find it on your computer, find it anywhere and watch it!”
So I do and it’s brilliant. A point by point discussion on the brilliance and straightforwardness of the UK Labour Party’s Manifesto. An unexpected delight, coming as it does from the United States, but a delight nonetheless.
Except its 21 minutes long.
“It would make a great Labour Party political broadcast if it could be edited down to much, much shorter” I tell Jayne.
“So ask him. Ask Jimmy if he minds you doing an edit?”
It’s been a confusing week in politics. The Referendum and its European aftermath that I’ve already written about on here. Followed by the spectacle of our two main political parties choosing consecutive days to appear to tear themselves apart. No one I know was very surprised to see the Tories behaving so badly, but when the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to turn on their own recently elected leader I was, to put it mildly, disappointed.
But we’ll come back to that after a bus ride to town.
And, equal but opposite, what was it I wanted to stay in?
A few days after my gentle poem, urging everyone to vote and suggesting staying in Europe might be the best option, our world here in Britain and Northern Ireland has changed. And I don’t want to add too many words to the mountain of them already written.
Today I was in town keeping an eye on the place. Nothing unusual in that you might think. For some self-appointed reason that’s the kind of thing I do. But today I was there looking for fascists and making sure, in so far as I could, that they did no harm.
All week a particualrly nasty bunch of the species, who I won’t dignify by naming, had been threatening all sorts if they weren’t allowed to do their march. Their ‘right’ they’d been calling it. ‘Free speech’ they’d been calling it. This bunch of racist, Islamophobic, holocaust denying, white supremacist totalitarians who’d apparently written to the City Council threatening “an action-packed weekend of ethnically-enriched chaos and mayhem” if they were denied their rights.
I remember a good few years ago when I used to read such stuff ‘management and leadership’ books were fond of quoting Sun Tzu’s classic Chinese text ‘The Art of War’ when giving modern leaders things to think about. Wisdom like:
“All warfare is based on deception.”
So, the explanation might go:
“Don’t be so foolish as to let your competitors in on all your thought processes if you seriously want to outsmart them.”
Naturally I’ve thought of all this again during the current omnishambles that is the Labour Leadership Show and have returned to Sun Tzu to look for an opinion. Reckoning that the class war the Conservative enemy is now pursuing against the people of the country is certainly the kind of war we wouldn’t want to lose. And other than the above, I’ve found nothing. Undeterred I’ve decided to make up my own Sun Tzu quote, informed by his above real words, but to fit our current situation:
“After a heavy defeat the wise army recovers its strength in its barracks.”
I’ve done this before on here, walking round the North and the South of the city taking photographs to roughly see how it’s doing on an ‘ordinary’ day. Meaning not some great holiday or special events day, but one where the streets and the people are just going about their business much like they always do. My favourite kind of day.
In fact I’ve been doing this ‘inspecting’ for years, since long before this blog. Reasoning partly that someone’s got to and it might as well be me, and also simply out of love for the place where I live. This particular week I’d been mostly working in London and so felt a particular urge to see how Liverpool was doing once I returned.
Lately and increasingly I have resumed writing in long hand when something really matters to me, when something needs working out. The slowness of it, the active thinking, from my heart directly down my left arm to the tip of my pen.
I’m writing in long hand now, sat on the wall of Sefton Park, the Sunday afternoon before the 2015 General election. Sefton Park where I have come for most of my adult life to walk, reflect and think about all the really big decisions. When to invite, when to leave? When to say yes, when to say no. Today I’m here to keep writing until I can decide who to vote for this Thursday.
As you can tell by the title above, several parties and candidates have already been eliminated by the thinking and experiences of my life up to now. I am a socialist and always have been since, I think, my first ever visit to a public library some time late in the 1950s:
“We’d moved to our new house on a new estate, just North of Liverpool. And in one of our early explorations of the new place, called Maghull, I remember my Dad taking me to the Library there and explaining how it worked. That I could pick the books I wanted and take them home. Then after we, or rather he, had read them to me, we’d bring them back. ‘It’s part of how we’ve decided to run the country. Books are important and this is a good way of making sure everyone can read the books they want,’ he said, gently educating his little son in the gently British version of socialism.”