Thursday, 14 August 2008

Boris Johnston, Kelvin MacKenzie, and now...

Tim Leunig.

The think tank academic who urged scousers to move South because Liverpool has lost its "raison d'etre" has found himself on the wrong end of the city's wrath.

Not since blundering Boris and The Sun's infamous Hillsborough splash has there been such an outcry directed at one man.

Leunig's half-baked ideas have been the subject of acres of coverage, with stirring double page spreads in the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo.

Undeniably its been great fun to read, but should we be wasting our time on Leunig? By taking a swipe at the proudest city in the UK the LSE economist was always guaranteed to make the front pages.

Which has me wondering if our northern pride had been manipulated?

A friend at the Hull Daily Mail summed it up today when she said: "We fizz up like a bottle of pop when someone has a dig."

And we do. The fact is, far from harming his career this furore is going to make the Bill Gates look-a-like Leunig into a darling of academia.

You only have to look at Johnston and MacKenzie to see that they didn't suffer much for their ill-advised pot shots at scousers. Boris is now mayor of London and MacKenzie is a millionaire.

In a way it's a shame that Leunig went loopy and suggested mass migration as an alternative to making regeneration work, because there are questions to be asked about the received wisdom that "regeneration" is the saviour of our cities.

A week ago The TaxPayers’ Alliance came out with their own paper arguing that regional development agencies have cost the tax payer £15bn and have failed to deliver value for money, at the same time the National Audit Office are scrutinising the work of such quangos ready for a major report in 2009.

Now, there's something worth dedicating column inches to.

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