Apparently there is a mayoral election on at the moment. It gets tremendous amounts of publicity for candidates called Brian, Jenny, Ken and Boris. “That’s funny”, say people in Liverpool, “we have 12 candidates and our leading candidates are called Joe and Richard!”
What stupidity from people from the provinces like us. The media herds together and normally live and work within 3 miles of Westminster. If it isn’t London it isn’t real politics. Why should they care about the people up here who pay our licence fee to keep the BBC going and buy their newspapers and subscribe to their papers and TV channels.
When I challenged a journalist from the BBC she said, “shouldn’t the Liverpool election be for Scousers!”. “Fair enough”, I replied, “then shouldn’t the London election just be for Londoners?” That at least made her think.
The election in Liverpool is an important one. We are the 5th biggest English city and sit at the heart of a conurbation of 1.65 million people. What we do in Liverpool affects all these people and many more as they ship their imports and exports through our Port or come here to see their football teams trounced. (OK I admit that the last sentence was a bit optimistic at present!)
We have our local media doing their best. I have recorded stuff for City Talk and Radio Merseyside, have done a 3 minutes session on my manifesto for Look North West and the indefatigable David Barlett is doing his stuff in the Post and Echo. But for all the attention Liverpool is getting from most of the media we might as well not exist.
I have spoken to the Times about cycling, done a blog for the Guardian and answered three questions at short notice for Inside Housing but apart from that next to nothing.
Of course we could get publicity if we conformed to their ill informed view of us. They would happily report a riot, or a murder, or Scousers feeling ‘sorry for themselves’. But their mental frame of mind means that they can only see us as a problem and not as an opportunity. They presumably feel that we cannot have a serious political debate. Having heard part of a London mayoral debate last week. I know we can do better than that!
This is not just another Scouser whinging. Unless we take on the attitudes of people in the media, government and commerce then their view of us will forever be based on ‘Boys from the Black Stuff’ or ‘Blood Brothers’. That means reduced investment from public and private sectors and reduced opportunity for local people. Whether our mayoral election is noticed is not of vital importance BUT it’s what happens after the election that is.
All of us up here need to be far more aggressive with people down there about the inequality of opportunity which stems from South Eastern attitudes. This is a problem which cannot be tackled by opening an embassy in London. It can only be tackled by us all getting together to fight anti Northern prejudice wherever we find it.