I once thought that the very idea of parallel universes belonged solely within the realm of science fiction fantasy. These days, I am not so certain… I was reminded of this when I saw the Echo headline – “Cheating tactics of university students”. Now, I do not condone cheating, but such prominence given to an issue of rather peripheral importance to most people in the city-region at this time, I decided was undeserved. Where and when was such emphasis given to reporting on the scam artists, career crooks, and sham developers who have bedevilled the LCR in recent years? I cannot recall such a banner headline describing the failure of public officials, councillors and police to protect the many sub-contractors, investors and councils who have been defrauded on a massive scale in the last few years.
Of course, it would be wrong to place the blame on the young journalists tasked with writing up the trivial, or pushing the press releases of the local “great and good”. They are acting under orders, and – in my experience – are often naively ignorant of the subject matter which carries their names. Unprofessional perhaps, but the real culprits in this are the senior editorial staff who seem to inhabit one of those parallel universes to which I have referred. In their eyes, all developers are ministering angels, and the crooks are actually benevolent, hard-working entrepreneurs, committed to the public good.
One story in the same edition of the Echo caught my eye. It was the inquest on a young Widnes groom-to-be who tragically fell to his death in a Liverpool hotel. The jury said that the death “may have been avoided” had previous concerns about an internal balustrade been addressed, and a thorough risk assessment and action taken. Previously, it was reported, Liverpool council had seen no problems in the hotel. However, following the jury’s report, the family of the deceased are to take civil action against the hotel’s owners, Signature Living. This is the firm of noted self-publicist Lawrence Kenwright and his wife, although they, like Liverpool council, apparently live in another parallel universe as there is no mention of them in this court report.
Meanwhile, dependent on your politics, the same cosmological phenomenon might apply in the Wirral. Amongst the dominant Labour group, there are those who see a black hole opening up before them, as councillors long in positions of power, are removed from their political offices within the Labour Party, or their candidacy at the next election. Others seem to be jumping ship before they too are sucked down a worm hole. In their world, all is doom and gloom. For those displacing them, the outlook could not be brighter as they anticipate a brave, new world in both the Wirral Labour Party and in Wallasey Town Hall.
Yet even in this multiplicity of universes, there is no show without Punch. On cue, step forward the Liverpool Mayor and the new, young Labour candidate for Church ward. Joe Anderson, declares our brave, teenage wannabe, is – politically speaking – a dead man walking. Unusually, hizzoner appeared to be lost for a suitable response. Perhaps in his heart, he recognises that his political days are numbered. However, it could be that that the mayor has gone too close to his own event horizon, edging him into his own unique universe. In this weird place, all of the nonsense he has spoken over the last eight years; all of the promises he has broken; all of the money which has been wasted; all of the political enemies he has made – are totally irrelevant. At least they are to the mayor.
Still he ploughs his furrow of borrowing many millions of pounds to finance a new stadium for Everton FC, despite a steady stream of leaks from the latter that the football club is keen to get its finance elsewhere (from Moshiri’s chum Usmanov?). Alongside his failure to appreciate that many thousands of electors have expressed their opposition to his attacks on parks and green space, many, many more who are broadly supportive of a new stadium, have no wish to see the council involved in the financing of it. Lost in another dimension, this doppelganger of Liverpool’s mayor is totally divorced from the political reality in this bit of the cosmos, where he faces the oblivion of his own political black hole.