Scarcely a day passes without President Trump chanting his mantra of “fake news” on twitter in his attacks on the American media. Here on Merseyside, it is too often a case of “no news” – at least in regard to anything meaningful. Yet we do have our poor people’s versions of what were once disparagingly referred to as spin doctors; and they have been fiddling their own version of fake news recently.
So, when I read of the mending of fences between the metromayor and the city mayor, I do so with a large degree of scepticism. Not, I hasten to add, about the notion of our senior representatives in the city-region working together constructively for the good of the city-region. I would expect that we all want to see positive collaboration between them for the good of all of our people. It is just that mayor Anderson has too often cried wolf whilst rejecting co-operative working – with the Combined Authority, with Steve Rotheram, and, most recently, with Dan Carden.
Perhaps it was the language that was used. It was that of a spin doctor, and one that was partial in favour of mayor Anderson. It sounded like an apology from the injured party in this latest spat – “we are immensely fortunate to have a leader with his (i.e. Anderson’s) experience and skills“, Rotheram is supposed to have said. I find this difficult to believe, given the way in which he has been abused and undermined by Anderson.
A more obvious use of fake news concerns the extraordinary line taken by Liverpool Council on the Chinatown fiasco. This is a huge development which has been used to dupe overseas investors, to their detriment and to that of Liverpool’s reputation as a place in which to invest. It is notable that mayor Anderson has ducked out of this one, dropping it on the toes of his ambitious deputy, Cllr. O’Byrne, for her to explain it away. The thrust of their line is to portray the council as a victim. I beg to differ. The victims are the investors and the unpaid contractors. The council leadership is one of the villains of the situation.
In a city currently without a chief executive and a chief planning officer, the buck stops fairly and squarely with the city’s newly self-designated executive mayor and his cabinet. The companies and individuals involved in the Chinatown scam have form, and are well known to the council. The same unsavoury bunch are also involved in other dodgy developments across the city, and elsewhere. Indeed, Greater Manchester Police are heavily investigating their deals in Manchester. All of this should, and would, have been apparent to a half-decent council applying due diligence to these cowboys. They did not, and continue to allow these con men to operate in Liverpool, apparently with impunity.
It is both ironic and sad that our reputation with Chinese investors is being tarnished. We have in Liverpool the oldest Chinatown in Europe; and we are twinned with Chinese megacity and economic powerhouse, Shanghai. Meanwhile, China invests £1 billion of real money in Manchester… Draw your own conclusions.