Beyond the brink – but where is Liverpool going?
Liverpool is an endlessly fascinating, challenging city. It has a grip on people’s imaginations in a way few other cities do – nationally or internationally. Everybody – business, government, policy makers, the media, pundits and punters – wants to know what is happening in Liverpool. Is it up, is it down? Is it winning, is it losing? Is it at peace or is it at war? But the irony of Liverpool is that you never quite know where the story is going. Just when you thought a path had been laid out, it changes direction all over again. During the past century the city went from being the second city of the greatest empire the world had ever seen into a post-imperial period of economic decline and political despair. But it emerged phoenix-like as one of the most significant examples of urban renaissance in the UK. Thirty years ago few would have predicted its metamorphosis or even believed it was possible. Its story has many lessons for the external world and even more for Liverpool itself.
Liverpool is different
The constantly offside city’ – Sir Simon Rattle
‘Liverpool – Threshold to the Ends of the Earth’ – Michael O’Mahoney
‘Liverpool is the pool of life, it makes to live’ – Carl Jung
Liverpool may not be better than, but it is different from, other cities. It is not an English but a Celtic city. As the iconic banner on the Kop at Anfield proclaims, ‘We’re not English, we’re Scousers.’ Its cultural blend of poets, philosophers, storytellers, flâneurs, comedians and musicians; its wide river and seaport; its history of immigrants and emigrants; its combination of global aspiration and intense local chauvinism – all make it different. It is an aggravating, cosmopolitan, self-regarding, expansive place. Its people are simultaneously big-hearted, open-minded, generous, literate, argumentative and querulous. Liverpool is ever so slightly surreal. That's what makes it interesting – and important. It will always have ups and downs. Economic crashes, buildings and people will come and go. But Liverpool will always be the same. It will always attract the curious and the interesting. They come because they never know where the story is going. That's why it will always be there. That's why, if it didn’t exist, we would have to invent it.