There is something special about Liverpool.
The North has been a place of poignant philosophy, fierce industry and radical politics for centuries: just look to Manchester’s fundamental role in the first wave feminism movement, proud home to Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters. Despite often overlooked and underestimated by London-centric politicians and media, Londoners are leaving the capital in droves to seek new homes in Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, citing better qualities of life.
Yet it is Liverpool that stands out, not ashamed of being a thorn in England’s side but proud of it – and rightly so. As orders initially went out to fly the flag for Prince Andrew’s sixtieth birthday, Liverpool council outright refused it in light of the Prince’s close friendship and association with now-deceased paedophile billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein.
A beautiful summary of the city’s psyche is captured by Jamie Bowman exploring Liverpool’s connection with psychedelia: “There’s a certain magnetism about that [Liverpool’s] open-minded outlook that attracts waifs and strays, wanderers looking for a journey of discovery.”
Yet it is Liverpool that stands out, not ashamed of being a thorn in England’s side but proud of it – and rightly so
Indeed, that discovery can be seen in the city’s diversity from boasting a wealth of Irish migration and culture to being home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Liverpool made news after the Toxteth riots in the 1980s, an eruption of protest against the injustices the city’s black communities were facing on a daily basis.
Whether born in Liverpool or arriving there, there’s a long history of welcoming the wanderers of the world.
A typical case highlighting Liverpool’s character is the birth of the Granby Residents Association, created in 1993 to prevent demolition in the once derelict area.
Residents were able to stop the demolitions in the 1990s and, since 2011, the community has won various contracts that has seen grants awarded to local community trusts that have renovated homes and shops in the area. Walk the Four Streets and you’ll see what it looks like when a community comes together and refuses to be pushed out: regular thriving markets of Bangladeshi, Somali, Persian and Scouse traders sell side by side, jewellery, food, Hindi art and more.
Regular thriving markets of Bangladeshi, Somali, Persian and Scouse traders sell side by side, jewellery, food, Hindi art and more
Granby’s success is typical of a city that refuses to accept the narrative often pushed it on it. Liverpool’s incredible success of almost banning Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun tabloid newspaper has been decades-long, kickstarted by The Sun’s appalling classist, hateful lies regarding the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989.
Across the city flyers and stickers are proudly displayed in bars, cafés, shop windows, taxis and bus stops; radical bookshop News from Nowhere on Bold Street will happily sell you “don’t buy the sun” badges and t-shirts. The boycott forever honours the victims of Hillsborough and, in recent years, also represents Liverpool’s rejection of Conservativism and the Tory Party.
From Thatcher’s attempts to engineer a “managed decline” of Liverpool to current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, senior Conservatives have underestimated and attempted to bully Liverpool for decades.
Johnson was editor of an article published in The Spectator in 2004 that insulted scousers, labelling the city’s residents as possessing “a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche” that leads to “see[ing themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status, yet at the same time they wallow in it.” Johnson has since refused to apologise for the comments and in good old Liverpudlian fashion, scousers haven’t forgotten.
Senior Conservatives have underestimated and attempted to bully Liverpool for decades
In contrast to what Boris thinks, Liverpool doesn’t resent its victim status because it isn’t a victim. It’s a proud city and that pride could indeed be repackaged and labelled as a flaw if one had a political agenda to demonise Liverpool.
There’s plenty of reasons for that pride: Liverpool was awarded Capital of Culture in 2008 and has been a key recipient of EU financial investment, possibly a reason as to Merseyside largely voted to remain in the European Union during the Brexit referendum.
In good old Liverpudlian fashion, scousers haven’t forgotten
In the wake of the General Election just before Christmas, the hashtag #ScouseNotEnglish began trending on Twitter as a defiant way of telling the rest of the country Liverpool doesn’t want to be associated with the new Tory majority Government. Why would it? The Conservative party has repeatedly shown its distaste for the city.
Just last month, activists and supporters held a “F**k the Tories” street rave in Liverpool city centre. A spokesperson for the gathering said: “We are just people who have lived our entire adult lives voiceless against countless Tory injustices. We are not going to meekly accept another five years.”
Liverpool doesn’t “meekly accept” anything – and that makes it dangerous to the establishment. Our current Government want, and need, its citizens to meekly accept what it does, relying on the British stiff upper lip and distaste for causing a fuss.
Liverpool doesn’t “meekly accept” anything – and that makes it dangerous to the establishment
Liverpool causes a fuss. Imagine if the rest of the UK followed its lead?
The Conservative Party has never liked Liverpool, so it’s no surprise Liverpool doesn’t like The Conservatives. Liverpool is a working-class melting pot of a city that refuses to shut up and put up. It is a city that is sure of itself, turning dirt into gold; from Thatcher’s attempts to render it obsolete in the 90s to Boris Johnson’s brazen contempt of it today.
Liverpool is unapologetic, unashamed and revolutionary. It refuses to bend the knee to austerity, to the whipping up of hatred against immigrants and the vulnerable and it shouts about it – loudly.
Liverpool is a working-class melting pot of a city that refuses to shut up and put up
If Liverpool’s energy ignited across the UK’s towns, villages and cities, a socialist revolution would surely start. But the reality is that we are headlong into a hard-right agenda with nationalist and populist politics becoming the mainstream.
This week, our Prime Minister hired a staunch eugenics supporter and vociferous racist while refusing to say that calling black people less intelligent than white people is xenophobic. So any hope for other communities to take a leaf out of Liverpool’s brave stance remains bleak.
That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. As Liverpool has shown over the decades, you can take them on and win.
May the city always be a beacon of inspiration to the rest of us.