Amazon or Local Retailers

Yesterday we had a marvellous day in Allerton Road. The Christmas Market was the best event we have ever had with some stalls selling out before midday.

The stall holders were largely people from the locality or Merseyside with the meat coming from a hill farm in the Pennines, the Pickles from St Helens and a pie maker from Manchester. Some of the shops along Allerton Road such as Voglio, Rays Bakers, Benetton (an international brand but a local franchise) Oddbins and the Chandlers took stalls to complement eh offers in their shops.

It was great to see money going into the tills of people who live in or around Liverpool, who pay taxes in or around Liverpool, employ staff in or around Liverpool and contribute in so many ways to the community in or around Liverpool.

The afternoon continued in the same way. Mike from Oddbins doing wine tasting in Voglio, Hand bell ringers from Ormskirk outside Chandlers while staff from the Reader Organisation read to children in shops such as Benetton. Interesting Eating and Pod both gave us samples of their cuisine.

Everyone enjoyed the day and not only was money circulated within our community but there was a great sense of community. Those shopkeepers knew a lot of the people who came in and now know a lot more. There was banter, there was give and take. Somehow the spirit of Christmas shone through the commercialisation and made that commercialisation very acceptable.

Today I read in the Observer about the ‘dark, satanic mills’ of Amazon. Let me be clear I know just how much I have ever spent with Amazon – nothing. I know exactly how much I intend to spend in Amazon for the rest of my life – nothing! But my prejudices have been confirmed by today’s Observer article.

The Amazon business model seems to depend on two things:

1.      The exploitation of their workforce with Dickensian work practices and major exploitation of the needs of propel for any paid work in areas of high unemployment. There appears to be no dignity of Labour in Amazon. Supervise toilet breaks, second by second monitoring, enforced o0vertime but no job security for most.

2.      Dodging taxes. Paying £4 million of Business tax on a turnover of £4 billion is obscene. And only possible because there have yet to be effective agreements between countries about taxing at point of sale and not where profits can be transferred to for reduction in tax purposes.

Both of these seem to me to be obscene. Yet I hear people who claim to be liberals or socialists merrily telling me of how they can shop online at places like Amazon. Some of these people actually know that by buying in such places they are encouraging human and fiscal exploitation but apparently if they can’t see it they can claim not to know about it. No-one who claims to be a liberal or socialist should ever buy from the likes of Amazon.

So as I start my Christmas shopping I will be able to buy most of what I want on Allerton Road either from the types of shop I mentioned here or from Oxfam who have excellent new and second-hand bargains.

When I do so I will buy with a clear conscience that I am buying stuff that my friends and family want and doing so in a way that keeps what little cash I have inside my Liverpool community. What I cannot buy locally I will buy in Liverpool City Centre from ethical traders such as LUSH (who are themselves taking on the abominable Amazon.

I hope that when you sit wrapping up your presents you too will have a clear conscience about what you have bought and where you have bought it.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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