Quiet Party Political Conferences Amid Continued Austerity: Time for Cities to Fight Back?


This Department’s Peter North has recently published a book on Liverpool in the 1980s co-authored with Sociology’s Diane Frost.   Back in the 1980s a radical socialist Liverpool city council challenged the then Conservative Government’s austerity, initially with much support in the city, but later with mixed results.


The then Labour Party Leader, Neil Kinnock famously denounced the then Liverpool Council for “playing politics with people’s jobs and people’s services”.  He argued that it was wrong to act illegally to defend jobs and services in the face of government cuts –  watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWLN7rIby9s

Thirty years on the city again faces difficult choices, and there has been some early signs of a fightback from the recently formed Merseyside Peoples Assembly (http://merseysidepeoplesassembly.org/)  – although the current Mayor is not organising such a fightback: he agrees with Neil Kinnock that this would be “toytown politics” : http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/joe-anderson-militant-sacrificed-liverpools-3572529

Peter was recently interviewed on the BBC, discussing the legacy of the past council’s actions: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03b4scw

He argued that Liverpool today is a much revitalised place attracting the best and the brightest to the city, especially to study Geography at the University of Liverpool, and the city’s revitalisation started back in the 1980s when people of this city said “enough is enough” and started to do something about the city’s problems. How much more could have been done if the private sector had been investing in the city, central government had been providing the funds the city needed, and if the great public support for the city’s fightback had been maintained?  Without it, would the city have gone the same way as Detroit, eventually going bankrupt?


This, and many other contemporary issues, will be studied by the students we welcome to Liverpool this week


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