Liverpool Echo letter: Austerity

Dear Editor,
Mayor Joe Anderson protests a little too much. Yes, I remember one demonstration in 2011, but we are six years into Tory austerity and it has given us both an ever-growing national debt, now at £1.6 trillion, and massive cuts to services.
On Mayor Anderson’s own admission, the Tories just keep coming back for more and we could lose all our libraries, sports centres, street cleansing and more. The very fabric of this city is under threat. This is not a sign of success for a strategy of ‘realism.’ It is a sign that it has failed.
There are 6,980 Labour councillors. Imagine if even half that number put themselves at the head of a huge protest march outside 10, Downing Street. The political impact would be huge.
It is no time to talk about what he has done, but what he will do. Tory austerity is a busted flush. At the very least, we should be launching huge protests at the damage it is doing.
Yours faithfully,
Alan Gibbons
Libraries campaigner

Remembering Charles Wootton, 1919

Remembering Charles Wootton, 1919


A young man, twenty-four, Bermudan, ship’s fireman

Runs from a house, flees from a mob

And the mob pursues him, hunts him down.

They want to drown him in hate.


A young man, twenty-four, Bermudan, ship’s fireman

Winds up by the water, chill water,

Unwarmed by the June sunlight and cold hearts

Want to drown him in hate.


This young man, twenty-four, Bermudan, ship’s fireman

Is pushed or driven by the press of the mob,

Winds up in the water, chill water.

Drown him, drown him, they chant.


There’s no justice for this young man, twenty-four

Who has drowned in the dock.

The inquest opens, closes, minds stay closed.

They drown him with their injustice.


As a young man, twenty-eight, white, British,

I witnessed the rising, uprising

On Liverpool’s streets drowning

The city in rage and revolt.


As an older man, sixty-three, white, British

I have never changed my view

That Liverpool needs drowning

In love and respect, unity, hope.


I urge you to remember a man, twenty-four,

Bermudan, ship’s fireman who came for work,

Found hate and found death,

And drown racism in love, respect, unity, hope.



Zombie austerity

As the national debt reaches two trillion pounds and every deficit target is missed, as wages have fallen worse than anywhere in Europe except Greece, as public services are slashed, read what Osborne said as the main architect of austerity:


If we don’t get a grip on government spending, there will be no growth. George Osborne


I think you can look at the British economy with confidence. George Osborne


I have done everything I can to move Britain out of the financial danger zone. George Osborne


Britain can only spend what it can afford. George Osborne

Sound public finances are not the enemy of sustained growth – they are its precondition. George Osborne


Austerity has failed in political and economic terms, but it will not end. Hammond represents zombie austerity, austerity that stumbles on when it has been proved to be dead.

Round up

The Guardian : 21 November

School libraries are a good thing: it’s official



The Big Issue : 21 November

Alan Bennett Interview | “One of the real regrets in my life is that I have never kept a donkey” 

There’s also a simmering anger which frequently bubbles over at the decaying state of a nation that claims to revere Shakespeare yet closes its libraries…… He writes despairingly: “As the government continues to pick the state clean, one marvels at its ingenuity in finding institutions still left unsold.”



The Bookseller : 21 November

Chancellor urged to end ‘toxic’ cuts and provide emergency relief for libraries


Coventry Telegraph : 21 November

Budget: Coventry council admits it can no longer protect most vulnerable

library provision is also set to be massively cut


Peeblesshire News : 21 November

Scottish Borders | Job cull looms at Live Borders

The charitable trust which, in April 2016, took control of the museums, libraries, community centres and public halls previously run by Scottish Borders Council (20 year contract) is seeking to cut its 400-strong workforce in a bid to save cash.



Chester Chronicle : 21 November

Chester Library drop-in sessions will reveal more about its new home

Chester library to become ‘Storyhouse’ – a theatre, cinema and library space



County Echo : 21 November

Pembrokeshire | Library set to continue to open

St Davids library has opens for two hours on a Saturday since Summer due to rota of volunteers. Scheme extended till end of January. More sought.



Scottish Daily Record : 21 November

Nicola Sturgeon ‘dares’ kids to write reviews and leave them inside library books to encourage reading culture

Trump: the predictable shock

It is the most predictable shock I can imagine. Trump is almost certainly the next US President and anyone willing to look at the signs honestly sensed it was coming. Whether to the left or right of politics, we are seeing an era of distrust in the traditional elites and the emergence of movements, populism trumping politics as you were (see what I did there?).
A few days ago a FB friend asked me how I thought it was going. I said I felt the wind was in Trump’s sails, but I hoped I was wrong. This wasn’t Mystic Gibbo. Many people felt this was coming. Clinton represented establishment continuity. The Trump base of disaffected white voters seemed more likely to mobilise.The process was probably secured by the re-emergence of the email server issue, but the general trend was about a distorted anti-establishment rising.
My own feeling is that Bernie Sanders could have won because he too represented an insurgent movement. This has implications for the future. Can we really be so sure Le Pen can’t break through? Is the traditional Labour leadership so sure Corbyn can’t? All the old certainties are crumbling.

Now for a North West march for libraries, museums and galleries

This is a general heads up. After the fantastic 2,500 strong National Demonstration for Libraries, Museums and Galleries, we are now planning a series of regional marches starting in Warrington which faces drastic library cuts. The local campaigners are looking at dates, depending on when the council plans to press forward with its plans. Please be prepared to pull out all the stops to support this initiative. We want all public sector campaigns to rally around this issue. It is not just about Warrington libraries. It is about every area in our region making cuts, Lancashire in particular where there is a terrible closure programme.
I will confirm the date at the first opportunity.14910306_1857680254461219_4279602171415323137_n

After Saturday’s successful march for libraries, museums and galleries, what next?


cwg9vpwxuaemwge-jpg-smallOn Saturday, November 5th, the National March for Libraries, Museums and Galleries drew a good crowd, estimated between two thousand and two thousand five hundred people in press reports. Initiated by local trade union branches representing public sector workers in the cultural services and library campaigners, the march drew library staff, members of the public, workers in museums, galleries, archives and the arts, trade unionists, authors and illustrators. It surpassed the organisers’ expectations.

On a bright, crisp autumn morning, supporters including campaigners from Warrington, Swindon, Coventry, Merseyside, the North East, Wales and elsewhere gathered near the British Library to hear speeches from Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Warrington, Swindon and Coventry campaigners, authors Philip Ardagh and Alan Gibbons and others.

A lively march weaved its way through central London to Trafalgar Square where the legendary Ralph, eleven-year-old Barnet campaigner, poet Steve Tasane, Clara Paillard, President of the PCS Culture Sector, Kathleen Smith from Bromley Unite, Barnet Unison members striking to save local libraries, poet and broadcaster Michael Rosen, Douniazed Zaouche from the French trade union, the CGT, Paula Peters from the disabled campaign group DPAC, Zita Holbourne from Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Sara Wayid from the Museums Association, Sarah Kasab of Unite, a representative of the Durham Teaching Assistants, Bob and Roberta Smith, Cathy Cassidy, Sian Berry of the Green Party, Corinne Sweet of the Writers’ Guild and Megan Dobney from the South East Region of the TUC were on the speakers’s list.

For years the Department of Culture Media and Sport has hidden behind the funding arrangement for the cultural sector which leaves councils in charge, but operating within nationally determined funding and strategic planning. This allows central government to step back and say, mischievously: “Not down to us, people. It is all the responsibility of those wicked councils.” Added to this, cuts have fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of the large metropolitan councils, most likely to be run by the Labour Party, with areas like Liverpool and Manchester the hardest hit. Saturday’s demonstration, while not absolving councils of responsibility, reminded the public that it is the government which sets overall funding and which has failed consistently to provide leadership. Ireland and New Zealand face the same severe economic conditions, but have made far fewer cuts, partly because, particularly in the case of libraries they have national plans.

Campaigners are now seeking meetings with the Culture Ministers and are actively discussing a series of regional demonstrations to further raise consciousness among the public of the havoc wrought by the failed ‘austerity agenda.’ The North West region is taking responsibility for staging the first such march and is scheduled for Warrington in the New Year. As speaker after speaker insisted, this was a qualitative gear shift in campaigning.

The campaign has only just begun.

This film gives a sense of the march:



Round up

BBC News : 28th October

Hay-on-Wye: ‘Town of books’ library battling closure




Public Sector Exec : 28th October

Libraries that fail to serve communities ‘need to close’, digital charity says

“I’m fed up of seeing them get a free pass …”



Warrington Guardian :


Union hits back at plan for volunteers to run libraries

The good immigrant

I am the good immigrant,

The best of the desperate,

Photogenic in my wide-eyed desperation,

Unthreatening in my downcast passivity.


I am the good immigrant,

Vulnerable, childlike and silent.

I don’t grow facial hair

Or allow my voice to deepen,

My balls to smack my thighs

With a threatening slap.


I am the good immigrant,

Feminine, obtainable, doe-eyed.

I don’t have periods,

Grow breasts, walk with a sway of my hips,

Threaten the fall of new good immigrants

From my loins.


I am the good immigrant.

I sit in shit for months on end,

Cross continents and stay silent

When you call me lazy,

Stuff my knuckles in my mouth

When you say I want your benefits,

Choke on rising bile

When you say I have nothing to flee from.


I am the good immigrant.

My goodness is beyond reproach.

I tremble under canvas,

Shudder in stifling containers,

Wheeze and blink when you welcome me

With CS gas.

I am the good immigrant,

The good immigrant

You may yet make bad.