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

13 Responses to “The SevenStreets Christmas Message”

  1. God…what a load of toss. So you printed yet another ill-thought out rant got told off, by the bad man, took it down and hid for a bit. Now you are back earlier than promised with another “we (The Royal we, I take it) )got it wrong and another load of nonsense. And astonishingly, the usual glee club Sid and Doris, I presume, message to say Yaaayyy you are great well said….etc.

    Not sure of their methodology in reaching that conclusion.

    But okay I think I see the pattern so now withdraw all of the above….I got it wrong. No more negativity from me.

    See…I’m great now too! Well said me. I think. Readers will be 100% with me on this.

  2. Gerry Proctor

    Totally agree. I’m on board. We desperately need to create a kind of civic forum where we can all say our piece and contribute to the city’s progress with respect and dignity. I want this city to succeed but like many others I watch Manchester and it’s city region leading the way while I feel ashamed and embarrassed by what goes on around here.

  3. Historic Liverpool

    Hear hear! It seems to me that the more positive stories we hear, the worse the infighting and negativity we get. We should encourage each other because, when it comes down to it, we’re all we’ve got.

  4. That’s a bit unfair, he does do some good stuff, no need to call him names like that. We reserve that kind of language for the likes of Giles Coren, don’t we?

    Ignore Sid Bonkers Mr Lloyd. You carry on

  5. Hang On . . .

    There are a lot of airy questions in this piece, but very little by way of concrete answers. The idea of us all working together, fighting for the same cause to achieve a common goal is all very nice, but it doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s like you’re picking an argument without having a position to defend; just an axe to grind.

    I would be interested to read about what policies you would propose to build Liverpool in to a world class city, or for you to go out and find people with the ideas and give them a platform, or find people that are already doing things you think are worthy of a world class city and report on them. You know, stick to actual journalism (stuff you already do and do well).

    These rants – and they are rants – must be very cathartic on a personal level, but beyond that what purpose do they serve other than to invite pats on the back from certain readers and incite antagonism from others? Isn’t that exactly what you’re arguing against in this very piece?

  6. SevenStreets, like the city itself, is at its best when it’s enthusiastic about what’s on offer – if there’s a little more of that, and a little less of the antagonism, then I think things will be just fine. There’s enough antagonism out there, a lot of it from people either lashing out for the sake of it, or because they have something to gain, and once that starts, it’s hard to get back to rational, constructive discussion. I like to think of this place as aspiring to be constructive and enthusiastic, and when it falls a bit short of that, it’s disappointing. Anyway, here’s to 2015!

  7. david_lloyd

    But yes, I’m sort of agreeing with you in that piece, aren’t I? That’s exactly what I’m saying. Less adversarial chest-beating and more discursive engagement. This piece is just saying, look, we do fire off strongly at times, and sometimes that has a habit of closing down the conversation. I’m thinking out loud here, and saying ‘maybe next year we should devise some way to focus all this real and obvious passion the original piece kindled, and set out a civic forum, or some kind of lose alliance to push good ideas, best practice and genuinely smart urban thinking into the arena. I dunno. It’s a thought…

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