We are not going to build a world class city by bullying, threatening and throwing our weight around.
We are not going to build a world class city by wasting our energies defending the indefensible, condoning lacklustre developments, or by endlessly tweeting pictures of sunsets over the Liver Building.
We are not going to build a world class city from the top down.
We are going to build a world class city together. It’s the Liverpool way. And it’s the only way. Because we know how powerful we are when we come together.
But here are the rules of engagement: it’s going to be messy. And we’re going to fall out. Start over. Admit we made mistakes and try again.
But don’t, please, interpret our scraps as political axe grinding, or agenda-driven maleficence. Don’t mistake impassioned debate as ulterior motive. Don’t try to shut us up. Because we are 60,000. And we are not the enemy.
A Manchester friend of mine commented, recently, about how refreshing it is that Liverpool still feels like a city centre in which its inhabitants felt a sense of ownership. It’s a bond borne from bleak days. And it’s a wonderful thing.
But the flip side of this is a background radiation of knee-jerk loyalty and ill-judged nepotism. We’ve seen it a thousand times. People going nuclear because we’ve been critical of their mates’ new thing. People reserving the right to produce the ‘why are you so negative’ card when, and only when, it suits them. We are not going to build a world class city on platitudes.
Negativity isn’t a crime. Passivity is. We all need to engage, debate, and defend, yes. But, equally, we need to listen, learn and bend too.
We need for the Council (and Geraud) to look at our Christmas markets and admit it – they’re about as festive as a gulag. We need for Joe’s opponents to fess up and say the city feels vibrant and alive and full of possibilities. And much of that he can take credit for. We have come a very long way indeed. And tourists travel a very long way for our welcome. This is all brilliant. But now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back.
Now we need to take a long hard look at ourselves.
And that includes us. Of course.
At SevenStreets, we don’t believe apologising is an emasculating act. We don’t hold to the theory that saying sorry dents the brand.
Because we know we get it wrong. And we know getting it wrong, sometimes, comes from a right place. But that, too, is no excuse.
But here is the truth, as we see it.
The city stands at a precipice. Already Whitehall’s notion of ‘the North’ starts at Manchester and heads east. Already, we’re having to fight to stay on the map. Already, as the old joke goes, we wouldn’t start from here.
But here we are. And there’s no point moaning ‘it’s not our fault’. We need to take ownership not just of the city, but of our circumstance too.
We’re sleepwalking into the abyss, towards out-of-town Sainsbury’s and a student flat-studded core where our heart used to be. Meanwhile, UKIP is ready to pounce and strip us of our civility. Here, in Liverpool.
We can feel it. We bet you can too. And we’re fighting over Kim Cattrall.
Fiddle, meet Rome.
For that, yeah, I’m sorry. And, those councillors who tweet out selfies with a fly-in celeb at a slap up dinner? They should be too. What does it say to families heading to a food bank when they see that?
It says we momentarily took leave of our senses. It says we’ll keep putting our foot in it, because we cocoon ourselves in a sycophantic echo chamber. We’re too insecure of our place in the world to let a little honest criticism in.
But it’s fine. It’s not too late. If we say, ok, that was a bit weird. Back to reality.
Now, more than ever, we need to work together. We need to stop with our silo-minded mentality. We need to remember what Frankie said. Y’know, about when two tribes go to war?
Because, right now, we see a city that’s riven with petty insecurities and siege mentalities, a city desperate to shore up our clinker-built castles, when it should be fighting for its life.
And we’re not going to be a part of that. So, we’re taking the pledge. No more raging into the abyss. No more aimless salvos. No more friendly fire.
So here we are. At the beginning of a whole new chapter. Next year, we’re gonna stop shouting, and start talking. Forget that second bridge at Runcorn. Let’s start building some right here.
We’re Liverpool. We’re not like other cities. Why don’t we start proving it?
Stay with us.
Pic: Pete Carr