Author: Pauline Hadaway
First published on the Irish Border Poll blog on 13 January 2022. Looking at the Northern Ireland centennial, I argue that British people need to confront their own history and join with Irish people, from every part of Ireland, to put the past to rights.
“There was a lot promised initially, a lot hoped for…so many things could have happened. We could have had a coin, we could have had a stamp. We were told none of those things could happen for a variety of reasons.”
Rev Mervyn Gibson’s disappointment in Northern Ireland’s centennial programme should come as no surprise. Though nowhere near as calamitous as its 50th anniversary (strapline Ulster 71 – come and join in the fun), the centenary year was far from auspicious. Coming on top of mounting political tensions surrounding the NI Protocol, Covid-19 restrictions dampened plans for public celebrations and political ceremonials, forcing the Orange Order to postpone its Centennial rally and parade. Even the Queen cancelled her visit on medical advice.
Speaking as secretary of the Orange Order, Mervyn Gibson’s complaint of false hopes and broken promises was directed towards the British government for failing to commemorate Northern Ireland’s past in ways that might inspire unionist confidence in its future. The complaint is well grounded. The NI centennial was part of the ‘decade of centenaries’, marking significant events that had shaped Ireland and Britain in the 20th century. London’s interest in commemorating the creation of Northern Ireland fell far short of the Dublin government’s engagement with the programme of public events, concerts, exhibitions and talks that marked the centenary of the signing of the 1921 Treaty, which brought the Irish Free State (Saorstat Éireann) into being. With not even a commemorative stamp to its name, Northern Ireland’s lacklustre centenary betrayed a remarkable reticence towards recollecting a significant historical moment that had, in the words of NI Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, ‘paved the way to the formation of the United Kingdom as we know it today.’
Britain’s ambivalence towards the centennial commemorations of the ‘precious Union’ speaks volumes about the semi-detached status of Northern Ireland in the Union. The gap between the illusion and reality of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been made even more glaringly obvious through the operation of the NI Protocol. As one wag remarked on Twitter: ‘nothing says celebration like a border down the Irish Sea’. Nevertheless, whilst Brexit and the Protocol are the immediate destabilising factors, the problem of Northern Ireland goes far deeper. British politicians like to talk about our responsibility for keeping the peace between Northern Ireland’s warring tribes, but they rarely address the question of how we came to be embroiled in these intractable battles, let alone why we remain. With his reference to the formation of the United Kingdom as we know it today, Brandon Lewis locates the answers in our history.
History does nothing, wrote Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, it possesses no wealth and wages no battles: ‘it is man, real, living man who does all that…history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims.’ By the early twentieth century, British industrialists, businessmen and land-owners had amassed immense wealth and shown great determination defending their interests through waging battles at home and all over the globe. As a ruling class they were, however, subject to intense fears. Threatened by the forward march of democracy, they feared the popular challenges that would inevitably be raised to their established order. Facing an increasingly militant working class and with men and women demanding the vote at home and growing resistance to colonial rule abroad, they found themselves on the defensive and paralysed by divisions. It was in this menacing atmosphere, that the Irish Question once again emerged as a testing ground for their determination and a focus for their fears.
Whilst maintaining the essential integrity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Liberals had adopted Home Rule for Ireland as a strategy for managing discontent and removing the Irish Question from everyday politics at Westminster. The Conservatives regarded calls for self-government in Ireland, even in this limited form, as evidence of a weakening of British power, verging on treason, at a moment of increasing great power rivalry and challenges from subaltern classes in the empire and at home. These divisions were sharpened in the political and constitutional crisis that followed the House of Lords’ rejection of the Liberal government’s 1909 ‘People’s Budget’. In the General Election that immediately followed, the Liberal government were returned by a narrow majority, with the Irish Parliamentary Party holding the balance of power. Home Rule was pushed back to the top of the government’s agenda, alongside a determination to remove the power of veto, exercised by the Tory peers that packed the House of Lords. The 1911 Parliament Act weakened their semi-feudal legislative veto and, in so doing, removed the backstop for preventing the enactment of Home Rule in Ireland.
Proclaiming that ‘there are things greater than parliamentary majorities’, Bonar Law, the Conservative leader, said that he could ‘imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster can go, in which I should not be prepared to support them’. Organised through well-established political networks, the Tory and Unionists’ resistance to parliamentary democracy between 1911 and 1914 went a very long way, mobilising popular support at rallies in Britain and Ireland, arming the 90,000 strong Ulster Volunteer Force and setting up a provisional government in Belfast that would take power after Home Rule. On 24 March 1914, elite British army officers stationed in Ireland declared they would not fight against loyalist Ulster. The Curragh mutiny sent a powerful message that sections of the military were prepared to defy Parliament over Home Rule. Writing in the midst of the crisis, Lenin described this ‘revolt of the landlords’ as ‘a world historical turning point’, where the government, unwilling to appeal to the wider populace in defence of the constitution, yielded to the mutinous officers, giving them written guarantees that troops would never be used against Ulster loyalists. In The Fatal Path, his illuminating study of British policy in Ireland, Ronan Fanning argued that, ‘after Curragh, even in the unlikely event of the government summoning up the will to impose the democratic verdict of the House of Commons on Ulster, it had no means to do so’.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed on 6 December 1921, created the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion within the British Empire. Ireland was, however, partitioned the very next day, when the Unionist government in Belfast moved to exclude six of the nine Ulster counties from the settlement. As Fanning wryly remarked, ‘the Irish Free State was what remained once Ulster had been secured’. The United Kingdom suffered a similar indignity at the hands of the Conservative and Unionist rebels. Their revolt against Home Rule had not simply ripped the Liberal government’s Irish policy into tatters but robbed the state of the authority to use its own armed forces to implement Parliament’s legislative will. As George Dangerfield observed about this period, in words that resonate for own times, ‘the government was helpless, so too was the Parliament…the destiny of Ireland, whether with the Union or with Home Rule or with some more extreme dispensation was now passing away from Westminster and Whitehall and into the control of Belfast and Dublin’. Thus, as much as it placed limits on the sovereignty of a unitary Irish nation, Northern Ireland’s founding moment expressed the limits of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty within what it still claims as its own territory.
Commemoration is not history, nor is it a suitable vehicle for historical thinking. By turning history into collective memory and myth, we reconcile ourselves to living as the children of our histories – winners or losers, victims or perpetrators – with no way out except retribution or forgetting. Successive British governments have attached great importance to the history of Ireland, by way of justifying our responsibility to remain as neutral conciliators. Most recently, by associating a return to the bad old days with more generalized perceptions of risk and uncertainty, ‘the tragedies of the past’ have performed an indispensable role as the threatening presence for building consensus around the need to avoid a ‘hard Brexit’. As Peter Ramsay and myself have argued on this website, Brexit is the proof that Britain’s presence in Northern Ireland is not simply a barrier to peace and democracy in Ireland, but a fetter on its own sovereignty. The British people therefore have a powerful self-interest in bringing the union with Northern Ireland to an end. So too do the people of Northern Ireland since Britain drew a trade border through the Irish Sea and gave concrete shape to the irresponsible and undemocratic nature of its rule there.
Britain’s inability after Brexit to assert either its autonomous law-making powers or any determination to disengage from Northern Ireland is rooted in the history of a union, that grew from the revolt of a powerful elite against democratic forces in both Ireland and Britain. That is the history that British politicians prefer to keep a distance from. And that is the history that British people need to learn from and act upon. The mistakes of the past cannot be washed away through rituals of commemoration, atonement and reconciliation. The past will only be laid to rest when British people confront, what Dangerfield called, ‘one of the saddest and yet most illuminating chapters’ in our history and join with Irish people, from every part of Ireland, to put it right.
George Dangerfield, The Damnable Question, Constable 1975
Ronan Fanning, The Fatal Path, Faber and Faber 2013
V.I. Lenin, ‘The Ulster Crisis’ in British Labour and British Imperialism, Lawrence and Wishart 1969
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works vol 4, Lawrence and Wishart 1975
Join Kevin Bean, Heather Alcock and Mick Owens to talk about three idiosyncratic practical utopias: the Chartists’ Land Plan, Port Sunlight and the 2012 Olympic Park.
The discussion begins in the nineteenth century, a particularly fertile time for social experimentation in England, with a look at two very different attempts at improving the lives of working men and women in a rapidly industrialising economy: the Chartist Land Plan, with its vision for extending democratic rights to working men and Port Sunlight, one man’s vision for an ideal factory town built in an arcadian and utilitarian form. Coming right up to date, we look at the Olympic Park regeneration as a promised transformation in East London from post-industrial dystopia to family friendly utopia.
Can practical development and planning bear the weight of political visions and dreams of perfection? What compromises have to be made between pragmatism and utopianism or between freedom and social engineering? Are utopian dreams suitable mechanisms for political transformation or distractions from ‘real politics’? Can they deliver all the benefits that they promise or are they always doomed to disappoint? Or is the desire to create something new a necessary starting point for future progress?
Want to continue the conversation over a post-event dinner? The Athenaeum’s Dining Room is taking pre-bookings. To find out more and make a booking, please contact [email protected] or phone 0151 709 7770
Kevin worked as a lecturer in Irish Politics at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool for eighteen years and continues to work as a writer and researcher. His interests include the history of British Labour movement and he is the author of The New Politics of Sinn Féin (2007). He writes on British and Irish politics in a variety of magazines, newspapers, and books as well contributing to radio and television discussions on these issues.
Heather is a PhD researcher at University of Liverpool, studying the global value of Port Sunlight as a heritage site and influential utopian settlement. Heather has twenty years’ experience in the research, analysis, adaptive use, restoration and sustainable management of listed buildings and conservation areas in the USA and UK. Her current research has supported Port Sunlight’s bid to the United Kingdom’s Tentative List for World Heritage Site inscription.
Born and bred on the Wirral, Mick worked for the Mayor of London, where he played a senior role in planning and development, including in the preparation for the 2012 London Olympic bid. Now a researcher, writer and lecturer, his new book, Play the Game, captures the drama of the Olympic bid and tells the story of the regeneration in the words of those involved.
The Liverpool Salon has been hosting public discussions around philosophical, political and cultural topics on Merseyside for over seven years. Join us at Liverpool’s historic Athenaeum club for Practical Utopias, the second in a new series of public conversations that take utopia and dystopia as themes for exploring the possibilities of building other, and better, societies, while reflecting on the shortcomings of our own.
Was Barry Gardiner right to call it a ‘shibboleth’?
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner came under fire last week for ‘trashing the Good Friday deal’, after letting slip that a customs border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would not prompt an automatic return to paramilitary violence. Secretly recorded at a supposedly off-the-record discussion, organised by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, a left-wing think-tank, Gardiner said there was no reason to fear a post-Brexit ‘hard’ border.
The Labour frontbencher drew a distinction between the old militarised border, with its ‘watchtowers, security paraphernalia and soldiers… with guns’, and the kind of checks and controls that operate on ‘normal borders’ between independent states. Acknowledging that his views were ‘deeply unfashionable’, Gardiner also suggested that the Dublin government had good economic and political reasons for ‘playing up’ concerns about Brexit and the border. He suggested it was using the ‘shibboleth’ of the Good Friday Agreement in pursuit of its national interest.
Gardiner’s challenge to the new orthodoxies surrounding the Good Friday Agreement came to light just as British, Irish and American dignitaries were gathering in Belfast to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that now sacred text. Cue waves of outrage, much angry tweeting and calls for resignation. Tony Blair, former PM and chief architect of the Good Friday deal, was lost for words. ‘I can’t believe that anyone could say that’, he said. Former shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith branded Gardiner ‘reckless’ and an ‘ideological Brexiter’. Cue Gardiner’s deeply felt apology, in which he said he didn’t intend to suggest the agreement was ‘in any way outdated or unimportant’. Call off the dogs! Barry was back on message, re-affirming his commitment to ‘no hard border between north and south’.
So what was the offence that drew such a clamour for public recantation? As a frontbencher, Gardiner stood accused of being out of line with Labour’s Brexit policy. But how could anyone know what its policy is, exactly? Labour’s manoeuvrings on Brexit are a masterclass in constructive ambiguity. More to the point, what is wrong with a politician expressing honest – if unfashionable – opinions in the context of a private discussion among his or her political comrades?
And what of the substance of his remarks? The claim that Ireland is pursuing its own economic and political interests in relation to Brexit and the border is hardly novel. The Dublin government has made no secret of its determination to exert maximum leverage at the negotiating table as a member of the EU 27. As I reported on spiked last year, the decision to designate the Good Friday Agreement as a ‘red line’ in the EU/UK divorce talks was hailed as a decisive victory for Irish diplomacy. One senior commentator rejoiced that Dublin had seized ‘absolute power under EU law to derail the whole Brexit process’.
Trashing the Good Friday Agreement used to be rather fashionable among politicians, commentators and academics on the left. But fears of Brexit suspended their critical judgement. Many thousands of papers have been published about the obfuscations and evasions in the agreement’s text. Northern Irish politicians used to rail against its legacy of unaccountable power-sharing structures, political cronyism and the way it has fuelled mistrust and entrenched communal division. While critical voices remain, it is a brave few who are still willing to state in public what many privately think – that the agreement has failed to deliver peace and stability. The power-sharing government has been inactive for over a year, following a scandal over a renewable energy scheme. Even if it were possible to restore the government tomorrow, it would simply mean, as one writer put it, returning Northern Ireland to ‘that same dysfunctional government which brought political, social and economic failure’.
The British and Irish 2003 Joint Declaration spelled out the aim ‘that Northern Ireland should be policed as a normal, peaceful society, building on the commitment in the [Good Friday Agreement] to as early a return as possible to normal security arrangements consistent with the level of threat’. And with that in mind, Gardiner’s distinction between militarised and ‘normal’ border arrangements raises key political questions. What is the level of threat and where is it coming from? What would constitute ‘normal border relations’ between the UK and Ireland? And what does a normal, peaceful society look like? Does it look like contemporary Northern Ireland? These are difficult questions, and answering them requires taking some political responsibility. But it is much easier to nod approvingly when Blair reassures us that the agreement is still ‘moving forward’ and clap politely when Bill Clinton sings its praises as a ‘work of surpassing genius’.
To borrow Seamus Heaney’s famous words, when asked about ‘the Irish thing’, ‘to be saved you only must save face, and whatever you say, you say nothing’. Say nothing. Not even as the winds of change blow open a window to rethinking all future political relationships across the island of Ireland. Not even among your political allies in a private discussion, in this instance hosted by a supposedly radical think-tank, named after a fearlessly outspoken German revolutionary who was dedicated to ‘critical thought and political alternatives’. When it comes to the ‘Irish thing’, just as when it comes to the ‘Brexit thing’ – whatever you say, say nothing.
Pauline Hadaway is a writer and co-founder of the Liverpool Salon. She is currently undertaking a professional doctorate at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Cultural Practices.
Constructive ambiguity only stores up problems for the future.
The EU’s decision to designate the Irish border as an issue that must be settled before trade talks with Britain can begin seems finally to have led the Brexit negotiations down the dark cul-de-sac of Northern Ireland peace-process politics. As British, Irish and EU negotiators focus on conjuring up the right form of words to allow the talks to proceed to the next phase, ‘constructive ambiguity’ has become the mot du jour.
The concept of constructive ambiguity has a long history in conflict resolution and peace processes. The constructive element refers to the tactical use of evasive and ambiguous language, which allows negotiating parties to park sensitive issues so as to build consensus on others. Above all, it allows the political leaders involved to tell different, often contradictory stories to their respective electorates in order to keep them on board.
But however expedient it is as a negotiating tactic, constructive ambiguity always carries the risk of undermining trust in the political process and opening up further areas of conflict. As sensitive issues are fudged to ‘keep the process moving’, imprecise agreements are held together through political spin, media briefings and backstage cooperation. The negotiating parties commit to ‘keeping to the script’ in front of the cameras, but when cooperation breaks down, compliance has to be enforced under threat of sanction by a more powerful, third-party implementer.
This is all too clear not only in the Brexit negotiations, but also the Good Friday Agreement itself. Though it is often held up as the great guarantor of peace and stability in Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement is a threadbare piece of New Labour chicanery, the product of diplomatic manoeuvres, arm-twisting, bad faith and media spin. While, when it was signed in 1998, it formally secured the defeat of militant republicanism and took some of the heat out of the conflict between nationalists and Unionists, the agreement left fundamental questions of citizenship and national identity open and unresolved.
In his 2008 memoir, Tony Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, describes the Good Friday Agreement as ‘an agreement to disagree’, a trade-off between ‘two sides, who couldn’t even agree on its title’. As one of its chief negotiators, Powell ruefully observed that the political instability ‘that was to dog us in the years that followed’ was a consequence of the ‘constructive ambiguity’ that had been deployed as a tactic for getting all the negotiating parties to agree. Far from securing peace and prosperity, these obfuscations and inconsistencies continue to fuel the mistrust that divides and impoverishes Northern Irish people and has now brought down the dysfunctional power-sharing government.
Beyond the management of cross-community relations and cross-border arrangements, the Good Friday Agreement opened a new chapter in British-Irish relations, based on Ireland’s formal abandonment of its constitutional claim to unification and Britain’s abandonment of its commitment to the Britishness of Northern Ireland. In other words, the agreement is symptomatic of the readiness of the political leadership of both states to trade national unity and the interests of their own electorates to score short-term diplomatic advantage.
The Good Friday Agreement was a declaration of retreat by a political class that has given up on governing. It draws its strength from the shared intellectual and political exhaustion of the governing classes, their evasion of democratic responsibility, and their abject loss of faith in their own ability to govern in the interests of their electorates. It’s far from the model for peace and diplomacy, the one thing holding Northern Ireland together, that it is being made out to be.
Pauline Hadaway is a writer and co-founder of the Liverpool Salon.
Published on spiked on-line 6th December 2017
‘To see something in the form of an image is an invitation to observe, to learn, to attend to’. Reflecting on the ‘vast repository of images’ that make it hard for us to maintain ‘ignorance or amnesia’ in the face of war and human suffering, Susan Sontag warns that photographs can’t do the moral or intellectual work for us, ‘but they can start us on the way’.
Featuring artists, filmmakers and photographers from Northern Ireland, Argentina, Colombia and Iraq, Invitation to Observe presents extracts from eight important works that record, bear witness and reflect on the experience of conflict and conflict transformation.
The continous screening includes images from Frankie Quinn’s Interface Images, and Israel-Palestine, Helen Zout’s Disparations, Bitter from Open Shutters Iraq (Um Mohammed with Eugenie Dolberg), Edwin Cubillos Rodríguez’ Labrando Memorias (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica), Jamie Holman’s LCpl’s Stan Holman’s Belfast ’71 collection, Chad Alexander’s Entries and Belfast Exposed’s Portraits from a Fifties Archive. Drop by, see the work and browse the accompanying books and catalogues.
“Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they still perform a vital function. The images say: keep these events in your memory.” Susan Sontag, ‘War and Photography’ in Nicholas Owen (ed.), Human Rights, Human Wrongs (2003).
Image from Entries by Chad Alexander
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awards World Heritage status on the basis that the ‘outstanding universal value’ of a site, whether in recognition of its natural beauty, historical or cultural significance, is deemed sufficient to ‘transcend national boundaries’. Liverpool was inscribed as a World Heritage Site (WHS) in 2004 in recognition of its rich architectural inheritance, unique maritime and mercantile history and its pioneering role in the development of modern dock technology, transport systems and port management. The designation covers several parts of the old commercial city centre, warehouses and merchant’s houses, including the Pier Head buildings and the iconic Three Graces, believed to be the inspiration for the Bund in Shanghai. While most agree that Liverpool’s status as a world heritage city has contributed to its sense of civic pride, concerns have arisen among the city’s business community and political leadership that the designation may be posing a significant threat to future prosperity.
The city council’s 2011 decision to grant planning permission to a £5.5 billion docklands development lead to a dramatic fall from grace, with UNESCO placing Liverpool’s cultural and architectural inheritance on its list of ‘World Heritage in Danger’. However city mayor Joe Anderson is continuing to back the development, in spite of a recommendation by UNESCO for a two-year moratorium on new developments in the city’s heritage sites and their surrounding ‘buffer zone’, including large parts of the city centre alongside derelict dockland and deprived neighbourhoods to the north of the city. The controversy not only places Liverpool’s WHS designation in jeopardy, but also raises important questions around local accountability for political decision-making and the problem of managing conservation in the context of the need for cities to grow and build prosperity for their citizens.
Aimed at reclaiming disused dockland to the north of the city, the Liverpool Waters development includes plans for apartments, offices, hotels and bars, as well as the 55-storey Shanghai Tower and other skyscrapers, which promised to ‘turn Liverpool into an international standard waterside destination’ that could rival New York, Vancouver and Shanghai. The dockland development is part of a wider Mersey Ports Master Plan aimed at building transport infrastructure as a drive for investment and trade, including an ambitious plan to develop ‘water freight transport solutions’ by re-connecting the Port of Liverpool to Manchester via the Manchester Ship Canal.
While initially supporting ‘the principle of a major scheme of regeneration in the Central Docks’ and recognizing the need for investment, particularly in the deprived north of the city, English Heritage raised objections based on the ‘density of development, the mass and scale of the waterfront blocks and the height and scale of the tall buildings’, alongside threats posed by underground car parks to ‘buried remains of the docks’. Some compromises have been reached around structural issues, however English Heritage’s key objection is based on its perception of the dockland development as a threat to the authenticity and integrity of the city’s cultural identity, by virtue of its location:
…..within an historic environment of international importance that reinforces the distinctiveness of Liverpool, allowing the City to be instantly recognisable, legible and rooted in its highly influential history. [Liverpool Waters-English Heritage Report Executive Summary. P.2]
This view that scale of the development would detract from the ‘historical primacy’ of Liverpool’s cultural heritage was echoed in a UNESCO inspection report published in November 2011, which warned of the threat of a ‘serious loss of historical authenticity’. The city council’s counter argument appears to be based on a very different concept of the city as a diverse, dynamic and political space where economic, cultural and social priorities remain contested:
We value the heritage status but we can’t let it stifle the growth of our city. People …come here for so many reasons – our culture, yes, our buildings, and because we are open and developing .
In a recent assessment of the impact of Liverpool’s WHS designation the Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC) explored perceptions and attitudes among citizens. Based on interviews and surveys of people involved in managing or promoting Liverpool’s visitor economy alongside ordinary Liverpudlians, the ICC report suggests that while people are generally agreed that Liverpool’s designation as a world heritage site has ‘contributed significantly’ to a sense of civic pride, those living in deprived areas outside of the city centre feel much less positive about the benefits than more affluent city centre residents. Local opinion is also divided on the economic value of the designation, with many citizens struggling to identify clear economic benefits. On the question of Liverpool losing its WHS designation, most agreed that this would have adverse impacts on the city’s image and attractiveness as a visitor destination. However, concerns over the negative impacts of delisting appear to be much greater among city centre residents than citizens living in ‘outlying and deprived city areas’, where the proposed Liverpool Waters development was ‘more likely to be welcomed as a much needed and long overdue’ stimulus for the economy.
The findings of the ICC Report appear to suggest a degree of sympathy among Liverpool citizens for the city mayor’s argument that compliance with the UNESCO moratorium on development would place ‘hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment and jobs at risk by sending out the message that Liverpool had ‘shut up shop and was closed for business’. The ICC Report concludes that the city should do more to promote and educate its citizens on the positive outcomes arising from the social, cultural and educational values associated with the WHS title. However the differences between ‘the heritage and development camps’ appear to run much deeper than questions of perception. How do ideas associated with defending the integrity of ‘threatened heritage’ translate into the messy business of local decision making in dynamic urban contexts, where people live and work? In an era of prolonged austerity and public spending cuts, might the object-based logic of conservation, authenticity and ‘historical primacy’ be more and more called into question as cities seek to recover the dynamism of the past as a way building a better future?
Tate Exchange Liverpool
2.00 – 4.00 pm, Tuesday 23 January 2018
At the start of the 21st century, in one of the world’s richest economies, why should the problem of homelessness seem so intractable? Should we blame government welfare changes, including the introduction of Universal Credit and cuts to housing benefit? Does the problem lie with the shortage of affordable housing? Or is there a problem with a growing culture of illegal street behaviour? Should we be arguing for better support services, changes in societal attitudes, or simply more affordable homes? Join the Liverpool Salon and Museum of Homelessness to debate the crisis of homelessness today, in Liverpool and across the UK. This event is a partnership between the Liverpool Salon and Museum of Homelessness and part of State of the Nation conversation on Homelessness at Tate Exchange Liverpool. Museum of Homelessness will be presenting Frequently Asked Questions an artwork by Anthony Luvera exploring the support and services available to homeless people around the UK.
Julie Fadden is Chief Executive of South Liverpool Homes. She joined the organisation in 2005, bringing more than 25 years of local authority and housing management experience to her role. For the past 12 years she has proved that if you have the right people and the right focus, you can achieve fantastic results. This approach has turned a loss-making organisation into a profitable one, a blame culture into the best not-for-profit company to work for (for four years running) and a poor performing housing service into one of the best in the country. From May 2016 to September 2017, Julie served as President of the Chartered Institute of Housing where she campaigned for organisations to work together to end homelessness for good. During this time she raised over £60K for homelessness charity, Crisis UK.
Dave Clements is a writer, adviser to local government, and first convened the Social Policy Forum at the Institute of Ideas in 2008. He has over 15 years experience in policy and strategy development, in children’s, adults’ and integrated services, working across the public and charity sectors. Dave is contributing co-editor of The Future of Community (Pluto, 2008), author of Social Care for Free Citizens (Manifesto Club, 2010) and a contributor to The Future of the Welfare State (Axess, 2017). He also writes widely on contemporary policy culture for publications including the Guardian and Huffington Post; and online journal spiked. An archive of his writing can be found here.
Follow Dave on Twitter @daveclementsltd
Anthony Luvera is an Australian artist, writer and educator based in London. His work has been exhibited widely in galleries, public spaces and festivals, including the British Museum, London Underground’s Art on the Underground, National Portrait Gallery London, Belfast Exposed Photography, Australian Centre for Photography, PhotoIreland, Malmö Fotobiennal, Goa International Photography Festival, and Les Rencontres D’Arles Photographie. His writing appears regularly in a wide range of publications including Photoworks, Source and Photographies. Anthony is Principal Lecturer and Course Director of MA Photography and Collaboration at Coventry University. He also designs education and mentorship programmes, facilitates workshops, and gives lectures for the public education departments of the National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, The Photographers’ Gallery, Photofusion, Barbican Art Gallery, and community photography projects across the UK. www.luvera.com
Pauline Hadaway has worked in arts and education in the UK and Ireland since 1990 and is co-founder of The Liverpool Salon, a new forum for public debate on Merseyside. She is undertaking a professional doctorate at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Cultural Practices, researching different uses of cultural heritage as a tool for peace-building in Northern Ireland and Britain. She has been published widely including: Policing the Public Gaze (2009), published by The Manifesto Club; Re-imagining Titanic, re-imaging Belfast, in Relaunching Titanic: Memory and Marketing in the ‘Post Conflict City (2013) and Escaping the Panopticon, Photography Reframed (2017).
According to statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, homelessness has been rising in the UK since 2010. Over and above the official data, homelessness charities point to the scandal of hidden homelessness affecting ‘potentially millions of sofa surfers’ and families bringing up children in unsuitable temporary accomodation. Meanwhile rough sleeping has risen dramatically with numbers of people with an identified mental health support need increasing three-fold since 2009-10 as a recent study by housing charity Shelter, found that 307,000, or one in every 200, people are now either sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation.
Liverpool has seen an increase of almost 20% in people asking for help and advice over homelessness issues since 2010, with more than 6,000 queries last year. The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Liverpool is also visibly on the rise. However, in spite of the best efforts of many individuals working in services designed to support homeless people, a recent study found a high degree of consensus among people with lived experience of homelessness that the current system on Merseyside is not working effectively for people with complex needs. Recently elected Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has called for new approaches to help rough sleepers, through the Housing First model, which advocates getting people into a house or flat as quickly as possible and then providing them with visiting support services. However a 2017 report commissioned by Liverpool City Council points to deep structural and political problems that challenge easy solutions, while drawing a distinction between rough sleeping, homelessness, begging and ‘problems linked to ‘wider crime and criminal offences’.
Photograph from Assembly (2012 – 2014) by Anthony Luvera
Thursday 17 November 2016 from midday
School of Arts Languages and Cultures Graduate School Atrium, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester Manchester School of Art, Ormond Building Council Chamber, All Saints Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University
‘The Subject of Study – Collaboration in Research and Artistic Practice’ is aimed at exploring research collaborations in academic and artistic practice. The conference opens with an afternoon of researcher lead discussion, exploring different forms of collaborative practice and relationships between the agency of individuals engaged in collaborative research and the institutional or disciplinary context in which they operate. This is followed by an early evening Reception and Keynote by artist, writer and educator, Anthony Luvera whose work explores tensions between authorship (or artistic control) and participation, and the ethics involved in representing other people’s lives.
The Subject of Study is hosted by Common Ground, an interdisciplinary research network aimed at fostering dialogue between researchers and communities who are the subject of research, with a particular focus on the northern and border counties of Ireland. Common Ground seeks to extend dialogue across disciplines and beyond regional boundaries and has designed this conference to be of interest to researchers working in similarly contested territories or contexts. This free event is open to emerging and established academics, independent scholars and interested members of the public and may be of particular interest to Post Graduate Researchers in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Irish Studies, Drama and Performing Arts and Screen Studies. Please note that Common Ground is planning a conference in Belfast for 2017 and will be talking about our plans and inviting interest during the course of this event.
Image: Documentation of making of Assisted Self-Portrait of Ben Evans from Assembly (2013-2014) by Anthony Luvera
12:00-13:00 Registrations and Networking Lunch (to be held at the School of Arts Languages and Cultures Graduate School Atrium, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester)
13:00-15:30 Facilitated Small Discussion Groups (to be held at the School of Arts Languages and Cultures Graduate School Conference Room C1.18, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester)
Delegates draw on their own research practice to explore ethics, methodology and questions of public interest arising from relationships between research, researchers and subjects of study, asking:
– What is my relationship to the subject of my study? (ethics: power dynamics, private/public, duty of care)
– What is my process of inquiry to my subject of study? What is my position to my subject of study? (methodology: crtical distance)
– What is the public interest in my subject of study? (public interest: form of presentation, purpose of study, contribution to field of knowledge)
Ann Carragher (Fine Art Lecturer, School of Creative Arts, Blackpool and The Fylde College)
Elizabeth de Young (Editor Liverpool Postgraduate Journal of Irish Studies. Doctoral Researcher, University of Liverpool)
Jamie Holman (Artist, writer, lecturer)
Sandra Plummer (Research Associate, UCL Slade School of Fine Art)
Fearghus Roulston (Doctoral Researcher, University of Brighton)
Anthony Luvera (Artist. Principal Lecturer and Course Director of Photography, Coventry University)
15:30-16:00 Open planning meeting for Common Ground 2017 Conference in Belfast (to be held at the School of Arts Languages and Cultures Graduate School Conference Room C1.18, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester). Find out about our plans and how to bring your ideas and interests into the planning process
17:00-17:30 Reception and Keynote Registration (to be held in the Ormond Building Council Chamber, All Saints Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Lower Ormond Street. Manchester, M15 6BX)
17:30–19:00 Keynote, Anthony Luvera, Artist (to be held in the Ormond Building Council Chamber, All Saints Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Lower Ormond Street. Manchester, M15 6BX)
Through his work and the relationships upon which it is based, Anthony Luvera is interested in exploring the tension between authorship (or artistic control) and participation, and the ethics involved in representing other people’s lives. Anthony will present a recent body of work, Assembly, created in Brighton between 2013 and 2014, where people used cameras and digital sound recorders to capture their experience of homelessness. Later, in conversation with PGR, creative producer and former director of Belfast Exposed, Pauline Hadaway, Anthony will talk about his work creating long-term photographic projects with people experiencing homelessness in cities and towns across the UK, including the on going Assisted Self Portraits project and Residency, exhibited in 2008 by Belfast Exposed, which featured a series of assisted self-portraits made over a sixteen-month period in the city.
Chair: Fionna Barber (Lecturer, Art History, Manchester School of Art – Manchester Metropolitan University)
7 pm – Conference ends
Anthony Luvera is an artist and writer. His work has been exhibited in galleries, public spaces and festivals including London Underground’s Art on the Underground, the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery London, Belfast Exposed Photography, Australian Centre for Photography, Malmö Fotobiennal, PhotoIreland, Goa International Photography Festival, and Les Rencontres d’Arles Photographie.
His writing appears in a wide range of publications, including Photoworks, Source and Photographies. Anthony is Principal Lecturer and Course Director of Photography at Coventry University. He gives workshops and talks for the Royal Academy of Arts, National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery, the Barbican Art Gallery, and community photography projects across the UK.
This event has been made possible through the generous support of the University of Manchester’s artsmethods and the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership.
Join the Liverpool Salon on Saturday 5 November at 2.30 pm to debate the future of the UK economy.
While Project Fear was accused of exaggerating the long-term economic impacts of breaking with the EU, early indications – from the fall in sterling to fears of losing access to foreign skills and investment – suggest that the short to medium term impacts will be painful. Yet, with economic output already weak, borrowing high and productivity and wages on the slide, the UK economy has been in trouble for decades. After years spent ‘kicking the can down the road’, has Brexit finally forced the future of the economy back onto the political agenda? And if so what does that future hold?
Here in the North much has been made of plans to devolve power to local authorities and appoint metro mayors for big city areas such as Greater Manchester and Merseyside to build a future ‘northern powerhouse’. Yet, many remain sceptical about the potential, let alone the will, to initiate ambitious projects that could turn the economy around. Behind the rhetoric of building a new industrial revolution, the powerhouse economy has delivered very little beyond the beginnings of a property boom, limited cultural regeneration, and a boost to Manchester’s financial services and ‘creative industries’ sectors. Meanwhile, many new industries and ambitious infrastructure projects with the potential to revolutionise the UK economy – from fracking, nuclear power and biotech to new runways and high-speed trains – continue to face considerable resistance.
Is the powerhouse running out of steam? Or can the North come up with a ‘modern, active industrial policy’ that is capable of providing the jobs, houses and public services that people need? If Brexit provided the political wake up call, what should future economic plans look like and who will drive them?
Hilary Salt is a Founder of First Actuarial LLP and provides actuarial and consultancy advice to pension scheme trustees and employers and works extensively with trade unions where she assists in collective bargaining situations and advises on the pension schemes run by trade unions themselves. Hilary has recently been re-appointed as the independent adviser to the governance arrangements of the NHS Pension Scheme, a position she previously held for 10 years.
Rob Killick is the founder and director of the digital agency Clerkswell and also the software company EasySharePoint. He is a writer and speaker in his spare time and the author of the economy blog The UK after the recession.
Laird Ryan is an urbanist. town planner and editor of OpenDemocracy’s LocalismWatch site, aimed at making sense of the government’s localism agenda. Laird’s CV includes roles in government, academia and the third sector, including acting as chief advisor to Stoke’s Elected Mayor, leading a ‘Green Papers’ initiative, enabling the wider community to engage with public policy at an earlier stage and higher level. Laird currently designs distance-learning modules for University College of Estate Management, Reading and is Vice-Chair of a Liverpool-based environmental charity.
Pauline Hadaway has worked in arts and education in the UK and Ireland since 1990 and is undertaking a professional doctorate at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Cultural Practices, researching different uses of cultural heritage as a tool for economic regeneration in Northern Ireland and Britain. Pauline is currently a policy correspondent for the public policy research network ‘DevoCulture in the North’.
Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has exposed the astonishing depth of disaffection between different regions and sections of society and between large numbers of British people and their political institutions. Many fear the consequences for democracy of overturning the decision to leave the EU. However, for many who are signing petitions or marching for a second Referendum, fears of a post Brexit Britain seem to prevail. Meanwhile politicians seem paralysed, unable to confront reality, let alone govern. In an atmosphere of anger, fear and recrimination, there is a sense of things falling apart.
But whatever we think about the outcome of the Referendum, most would acknowledge that the problems we face as a society did not suddenly arise on the morning of 24 June. Over the last few years, the Liverpool Salon has been hosting public conversations around the very issues we are grappling with today: questions about citizenship, national borders and migration; about democracy, political agency and the political choices that face us; about the future of the economy. Above all questions about the kind of society we want to live in.
Once again, we are joining forces with Ullet Road Unitarian church to host a public conversation. The theme is post Brexit Britain and the direction it should take. How do we go forward as a society? What values do we defend and take with us. What challenges do we face? We don’t propose to re-fight the Referendum. And we don’t expect to find answers to all our questions. But we want to be part of a new national conversation arising from the grassroots. We are inviting speakers with different points of view to lead off the discussion. We will be announcing them over the next weeks. But hope that people from all shades of opinion will join us and contribute their ideas and opinions to the conversation.
Ullet Road Unitarian Church, Ullet Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool L17 2AA
Friday 12 August from 7 – 9 pm
All are welcome. There is no charge, but feel free to make a donation. And bring some food and drink if you can, to add to the spirit of good will and conviviality that The Liverpool Salon and the Unitarians seek to promote.
John Fitzpatrick worked for many years in community law centres in Brixton and Hammersmith in London and joined the University of Kent in 1991. He is Director of the Kent Law Clinic and teaches human rights law at Kent. The Law Clinic provides free legal representation to those who can’t afford it – in employment, housing, welfare benefits, immigration, asylum, public rights of way and other cases. while teaching students in the process.
Pauline Hadaway has worked in arts and education since 1990 and is co-founder of The Liverpool Salon, a forum for public debate on Merseyside. In her doctoral research at the University of Manchester, Pauline is exploring different uses of arts, heritage and culture as tools for peace building in Northern Ireland. Pauline has been published widely including: ‘Policing the Public Gaze’ (2009), a report for campaign group, The Manifesto Club and ‘Re-imagining Titanic, re-imaging Belfast’ in ‘Relaunching Titanic: Memory and Marketing in the ‘Post Conflict City’ (2013). ‘Escaping the Panopticon’ will be published in an essay collection by I.B. Taurus in 2017.