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Liverpool CNWP call for an Alternative Capital of Culture

for the millions, not the millionaires

Liverpool will be Capital of Culture in 2008, but the event has become the product of the spin-doctors and marketing entrepreneurs. Much controversy has surrounded attempts to organise blockbuster events with expensive entrance fees. Declarations of this big name and that celebrity, along with a plethora of job titles and lavish salaries, have been the hallmark and emphasis of the (dis)organisers.

 

A lot has been made of the musical heritage and the great showbiz names that adorn the history of the city. Whilst music has contributed to Liverpool’s cultural life we can say with certainty that this city was not built on rock and roll. But what is noticeable by its absence is any profile given to the role of the Labour Movement and community organisations in its development.

 

The struggle for housing, health care, an end to casual work, stable employment, decent wages and conditions, a Health Service, an end to sectarianism: all of these were fought for and won by organised labour.

 

The great shipbuilding and maritime industry gave employment to hundreds of thousands by fuelling the growth of transport, construction, engineering, printing, the railways and so was a key factor in the development of Liverpool as a great city. 

 

Historic landmarks of the last century included the great transport strike of 1911for trade unions recognition and decent wages, gunboats were sent to the Mersey by Home Secretary Winston Churchill who ‘smelt revolution in the air.’ The legendary solidarity of the Liverpool working class was again displayed by a towering level of support for the 1926 General Strike called to defend the miners who were threatened with wage cuts and longer hours. During the two world wars the bulk of imports and exports passed through the Liverpool docks which author Herman Melville described as being ‘as timeless as the pyramids.’

 

A great socialist once said that culture could be defined as the superiority of humankind over nature. The pressure of organised labour has been a constant factor in demanding an improvement in working people’s living standards. With child poverty still at an unacceptable levels and deplorable housing still a feature of many people’s lives, much remains to be done before the title City of Culture becomes a reality for thousands of Liverpool citizens.

 

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