Whether the country likes Derek Hatton or not - and thankfully most people don't - he has a point. Liverpool's two-year budget campaign, brought to a climax after the recent vote to balance the books, has had a deadly serious side to it. Militant's primary aim has of course been to use the City's financial crisis as a massive recruiting drive for the Tendency. But this macabre political jamboree could not have lasted this long had there not been behind it the deeply-felt grievances of tens of thousands of people conscious of the near-collapse of Merseyside's economy. And what the good old British public may not have realised as they viewed the nightly twistings, turnings and rantings of leading Militants on the TV news was that they were being given a chilling glimpse of their own future. For what has been happening to Liverpool may yet prove to be a mere dress-rehearsal of the fate awaiting most British cities. Part of Liverpool's importance, then, is that it provides a microcosm of what has been happening to the British economy. The difference is that Liverpool's decline is occurring at a grotesquely faster rate. The city - and the surrounding area, as in my own constituency of Birkenhead - have been hit by unemployment as if by some kind of Black Death.
LRB 19 December 1985 | PDF Download