Cruise wars: Liverpool vs Southampton
You've got to admire Southampton and the way they have jumped to defend their port business.
In fact the level of ferocity of anti-Liverpool sentiment that has been stoked up betrays the fact that Southampton is genuinely worried.
And so it should be. When you look at what Liverpool has to offer compared to Southampton, there is no comparison.
Liverpool is the Capital of Pop. Our artists have produced more number one hits than those from any other town or city. The Beatles are our most famous export.
Southampton's most famous musical export is probably Craig David - unless you count Benny Hill. He hit the top spot in 1971 with Ernie (Fastest Milkman in the West).
Liverpool is the most filmed British city outside London with credits including: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Sherlock Holmes, 51st State, The Hunt for Red October, Nowhere Boy, In the Name of the Father, Letter to Brezhnev, Backbeat and Priest.
The One Show once filmed a feature in Southampton called 'Why ice is slippy'. The city was the location for an HSBC training video.
Liverpool FC are the most successful club in British history, with 18 league championships, five European cups, three UEFA cups, seven FA cups and seven league cups. Everton have competed in the top flight a record 107 seasons and won the league nine times, the FA Cup five times and a European trophy (Cup Winners Cup).
Southampton FC have won the FA Cup. Once.
Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and has been a UNESCO World Heritage City since 2004. The city has 2,500 listed buildings and 250 public monuments - including the largest collection of Grade II listed buildings outside London. Liverpool Cathedral is the largest in the country.
Southampton has the world's oldest bowls green.
I suppose what's galling about this is the way stereotypical anti-Liverpool comments start getting bandied about.
Take Gareth Lewis, business editor of Southampton's Daily Echo:
"Looking south with envious green eyes, dock chiefs drooled over Southampton's cruise business, the jewel in the city's crown and, to paraphrase children's favourite Burglar Bill, said: "I'll have that"...
"The Liver Bird that now aims to fly away with that hard-won title on wings feathered with public funds should find instead only shame stuck in its craw."
The implicit undertone of this is: "Look these thieving Scousers want to come along and nick what is rightly ours."
A quick check of Southampton Port website reveals there are four cruise terminals. Liverpool has one on its waterfront.
Liverpool's Pier Head terminal has 16 cruise ships visiting this year, Southampton has 300.
Yes Liverpool is great, which is why they are so worried down in the Hampshire.
But the truth is the two locations are not in competition. Liverpool is capturing business for the UK that was previously not coming here.
And before we let Southampton get too carried away about "abuse of state aid", let's look at the history of Associated British Port which owns the city's port.
Associated British Ports started life as The British Transport Docks Board (BTDB) when it was established as a body corporate under the Transport Act 1962.
So yes the tax payer helped Southampton establish its dominant position.
Oh, and now it is "a limited liability company domiciled and incorporated in Jersey", to me and you that's a low tax jurisdiction.
So a company complaining about unfair state aid does not even pay taxes here.