A Dickensian tale of two democracies
MAYOR Joe Anderson is not normally known for literary allusions.
Nor, of late, has he been known for being "ever so 'umble", but Dickens was certainly on his mind at the last cabinet meeting of the year.
He mentioned how, "with it being Christmas", it put him in mind not of A Christmas Carol, but a Tale of Two Cities.
Granted, it is not known for being a particularly festive work, but Mayor Joe soon developed his theme, explaining the currently contrasting fortunes of the city.
On the one hand, he explained, there are the swingeing cuts being imposed by the Government, and on the other, all the wonderful developments that are on the horizon.
Certainly, Mr B has mused on this point of late, not least when David Cameron came to the city last week to announce that next year Liverpool would play host to the International Festival for Business.
At the event were, of course, some of the usual suspects drawn from the city's business community of masters of the universe, like Peel Holdings and the high priests and priestesses of zero- turnover developers and vapid PR firms (who they? Ed).
But, of course, for all the gladhanding and back slapping, the stark reality of Mayor Joe's "tale of two cities" becomes quite apparent, especially when one considers the impending and seemingly unending cuts that are being made and continue to be made.
In a nutshell, it seems that if you're a flash harry in a sharp suit trying to grub money out of all these wonderful economic opportunities that our new form of local government offers, it's boom time.
But, if you're vulnerable and in need of support and assistance, even though the Mayor will warn of "civil unrest" and castigate the Prime Minister for the cuts, the new model seems to offer no comfort whatsoever.
For those people, it's tough luck. Or, to refer back to Dickens . . . Hard Times.
THE blitz on democracy continues with increasing vigour, it seems.
When, at the turn of the Millennium, the Government offered councils the opportunity to move from the old system to the widely adopted cabinet model, there were fears of disenfranchisement of ordinary members.
Met with even more scepticism was the mayoral system. In fact, Mr B understands, at the time one particular Liverpool politician not averse to protest resignations from public bodies remarked that, if the city adopted a mayor, he would resign from the council.
So to today, and a recent council select committee.
Liberal group leader and Generalissimo of Fortress Tuebrook Cllr Steve Radford is certainly forensic in his probing of the Labour council - hence his belief that scrutiny should mean, well, scrutiny.
But, if the knife has been repeatedly twisted in the belly of democracy over the last decade, its heart was scooped out with a spoon at the committee - he was upbraided for . . . asking too many questions!