A week of Reflection to direct the future

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 17th, Nov

Two events stood out for me this week as reflective and poignant in differing ways.

Last Sunday I had the honour of laying a wreath at the City’s outstanding Remembrance Service at St George’s Hall. The Chamber has undertaken this duty for many, many years and it was truly humbling to witness the dignity and respect conveyed to the brave men and women who served – and continue to serve – in our armed forces.

It was a tacit reminder that whilst we undertake our daily lives seeking to enrich ourselves and our businesses – with all the stress, anxieties and pressures it may incur – those who serve to protect and serve our country are undertaking a role which enables us to live and work in our great city with comparative freedom and safety.

The second event which caused genuine reflection also took place at St George’s Hall at a Waterstone’s event on Wednesday, where the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, spoke passionately and with a great deal of humour and humility about his time as Chancellor and the shifting political landscape of the past decade.

Listening to a relaxed, charismatic and genuinely statesmanlike Brown extol the virtues of ‘a national conversation’ about Brexit, Britain’s place in the world and the economic realities of austerity upon the inequality of the country, I was struck by how his persona differed from the perception of him as PM in the dying embers of the New Labour government.

There is no doubt that our country is a different place to that which Brown left in 2010, yet the chord struck with me was his reflections on the lack of consensus-building in politics and within society. We have seen in the build up to next week’s budget dominated by very public disagreements between figures within government on the way forward. Social media is dominated by extreme and entrenched positions on every subject – Brexit, transport strikes, northern inequality – and the prevailing environment appears increasingly bleak and negative.

Yet there remains much to be encouraged about and the opportunity for our city to be at the forefront of the UK’s economy – post-Brexit or otherwise – remains in our hands. Ten years on from Capital of Culture, the shift in politics and the economy can result in reflections of Mr Brown’s time in government being viewed through a misty-eyed haze. Now however, the opportunities reflected in both the Metro Mayor’s policy announcements on Wednesday and the government’s commitment to Transport for the North on Thursday are indicative that Liverpool need not be subject to the negative psychosis.

Issues remain and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs in the ensuring period as both the country and our city find our place in the world. There is no doubt that the Chancellor’s Budget will be one of the most intriguing and instructive for many years and we do not know at this stage the extent to which there will be good or bad news for our businesses. We hope that a commitment to limit additional up front taxes, to invest and commence imperative infrastructure projects in the North and to provide greater clarity and funding for our education and skills system will be prominent within the announcements. 

The poignancy of Remembrance Sunday should remind us all that a century on from the ‘war to end all wars’, our city has survived and emerged from difficult times in the past and remains capable of adapting to, and leading in, this new economic world.

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