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Militant Liverpool: A City on the Edge
by Diane Frost and Peter North
In May 1983, in the wake of her victory in the Falklands, Mrs Thatcher won the second of her three general election victories. Liverpool, going not for the first or last time against the grain, elected a Labour council that vowed to be different. In an environment of mass unemployment in which Liverpool felt abandoned by an indifferent government, the council resolved to join others across the land in refusing to set a budget that would hurt the poorest. It was at first wildly popular, but the scene soon became set for a battle between the city and central government that would shape the future of Liverpool. Published to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of the 1983 election, Militant Liverpool: A City on the Edge sets out an even-handed assessment of events with oral testimonies from many of the key protagonists. Thirty years on, Liverpool has to some extent reinvented itself as a visitor destination, but it is again facing major spending cuts while its deep seated social problems remain. This book sheds new light on what is for some a dark period in the city’s past, best forgotten, while for others is a memory of the city that refused to lie down and die and a continuing inspiration.
An enjoyable and timely read; I read it twice in order to write this review, and the first time I found that I could not put it down. The work is also a good way into a subject that is well known, but perhaps not fully understood, by many.
Reviews in History
Compiled from interviews with major and minor players, Militant Liverpool offers a punchy and at times gripping account of a city in revolt: the passion, the argument, the high hopes and the bitter disillusion. There's lots of talk now about Liverpool "getting its mojo back". Militant Liverpool makes the case that this process may have been going on for a long time and, for good and ill, Hatton and co were part of it.
Jamie Kenny - The Big Issue in the North
Liverpool: City of Radicals
Edited by John Belchem and Bryan Biggs
Uncontrollable, anarchic, separate and alienated from mainstream England, the Liverpool of popular imagination is a hotbed of radicalism and creativity. But is that reputation really justified? Starting in 1911, a year which saw a warship on the Mersey suppressing near revolution in the Liverpool Transport Strike, the remarkable exhibition of paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne and the European avant-garde alongside works by local artists at the Bluecoat, and the opening of The Liver Building, the first major building in the UK to use reinforced concrete in its construction and crowned by two liver birds that came to symbolise the city’s resilience, this fascinating book looks at one hundred years of radicals and radicalism in Liverpool. Ranging widely across a century of politics, music, football, theatre, architecture and art, Liverpool: City of Radicals concludes with a look at the contemporary city and asks what role radicalism can play in the future of Liverpool.
The reader will come away from this book with a rich understanding of “Mersey pride” and a wish to visit this remarkable city.
Philip Harling The Historian, Vol. 74, No. 3
University of Kentucky