Just off the coast of England, across the Mersey Sea, is a land inhabited by a proud race of mongrels. ‘Tis said that you need no passport to enter – but it will take more than elocution lessons to get you out again.
I refer of course to Liverpool, capital city of the State of Scouse.
The name of this sovereign nation was inspired by its culinary masterpiece, the Pan O’ Scouse. The recipe has never been recorded, for it is a moving target. You take the best of whatever is to hand, the sheep’s head that the butcher had no use for, the onions scallied from Fazakerley fields, a cherished tattie perhaps, and put all to boil on the stove before you returned to your afternoon shift in Sayers Bakery. By evening you had a pan of melded flavours, without benefit of Southern fripperies; unashamed to stand in testimony to the ingenuity of the Scouse womenfolk.
Liverpool has a proud culture of its own, distinctive, and its mongrel background has produced some equally proud and distinctive characters to send to Westminster as its representatives. Let’s start with William Gladstone, four times Prime Minister of the British Isles. Distinctive enough for you? Bessie Braddock, who needed no ‘women’s only short list’ to speak out loud and clear on behalf of the people of Liverpool.
‘Gobby’ is something of a national characteristic, Cherie Blair being a prime example, although Jack Jones put his ability to shout out on behalf of his fellow Scouses to better use.
These people were not the product of elite educations down south, they were born and bred in the back streets of L’pool; Jones left school at 14 and went to Harland and Wolff – already well aware of the back ginnel and candle lit existence of his friends and neighbours. Harland and Wolff taught him of the obscene working practices endured by the men in the docks. When he spoke on their behalf, it was from the heart, from personal experience, with passion. He spoke their language, and they spoke his. A true ‘representative’.
But Liverpool has another dish, one that they do not speak of with so much pride. It is called ‘Blind Scouse’. It is the Pan O’ Scouse when all the meat has been stripped from it. It is the tasteless, flavourless, boiled to death, shadow of its former self. It is the dish served at the end of the week, when you can find no goodness in your cupboard. You still call it Scouse to save your blushes.
The political scene in Liverpool became ‘Blind Scouse’ this week. A City of 400,000 gobby individuals could find no home grown mutton to represent them. No one who could relate to the culture or traditions, no one who spoke the language. No home grown son or daughter to represent them.
So they threw Luciana Berger into the pan, a southern delicacy whose main claim to fame is accommodating young Sion Simons in her bed. A woman who knows not who Bill Shankly was. Who can’t even tell you who performed ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’.
A woman who is probably quite unaware that the last time the British Government used the army to police the streets, the good people of Liverpool ended up with a Battleship and two Destroyers parked in the Mersey, with their 15 inch guns trained on the terrified inhabitants of Scotland Road – and you would have to be a local to understand how rarely the inhabitants of Scotland Road have tried ‘terrified’. Is she going to speak fervently against the suggestion that the army patrol our streets? Will she even understand what that notion means to Liverpool?
Will she understand that the people of Norris Green are more than just the neighbours of Rhys Jones, or that Broadway had a life and culture of its own before it begat the ‘Bulger boys’.
How can a young woman who arrived with her carpetbag fresh from the metropolitan political elite begin to represent such a rich tapestry of history. I wrote recently of her boyfriend, Sion Simon’s attempts to fill the boots of the mayoral tradition, it seems the pair of them are on some ‘fast-track’ ministerial promotion programme, masterminded by the Nu-Labour, to bolster the ranks of the Balls and Milibands.
The only howl of outrage so far has come from Ricky Tomlinson who is ‘so enraged‘ that he is hoping to run against her for Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party.
Luciana Berger arrived in Liverpool just one year ago, fresh from Birbeck University and a MSc in Government, Politics and Policy, and a day job in the government strategy unit of a management consultancy. So very Nu-Labour. Perfect attributes to woo the likes of Sion Simon – but to shine a light on Liverpool? I’ve seen bigger candles on the Wigwam altar.