“If you believe Sir Richard stepped down for personal reasons I’ve got a bridge in London I can sell you.”

So said one left-leaning Labour councillor in the aftermath of Marcia Hutchinson’s
excoriating open letter to the Labour Group – published originally on Tuesday’s
Levenshulme News Twitter feed before being republished in The Mill two days later.

The Ancoats & Beswick representative’s nuclear denunciation took aim at the ruling
party for a list of war crimes worthy of a Hague hearing: dictating policy through the
whip’s office, controlling members via a sinister anonymous complaints mechanism,
making up disciplinary rules as it goes along, pushing women around on women’s
issues and paying tokenistic lip service – at best – to persons of colour.

Pat Karney’s response in the MEN may have sought to suck out the poison, but as
the phony war hots up in advance of the coming leadership contest – expected to
centre on a shoot-out between deputy leaders Luthfur Rahman and Bev Craig – and
the media brims o’er with the story of how Sir Richard chose the timing of his own
departure, there’s a counter-narrative being spun from the Left Bloc, and it’s a quite
a thing.

Many scoffed when back in May Sir Richard was challenged for the leadership by
newcomer Ekua Bayunu. The Hulme rookie won her seat following the deselection of
Leese’s wingman, Nigel Murphy. According to Left Bloc sources it was assumed in
the Whips Office – who monitor these things intently, so we’re told – that Bayunu
would win a total of six votes. As it turned out she got fifteen, which though still the
crushing defeat it was always going to be, was enough to spook the regime far more
than was let on.

As the left would have it, in the months since Bayunu’s challenge the leadership has
become increasingly fearful – not of Sir Richard being deposed in Albert Square but
of his being deselected in his own Crumpsall back yard, having apparently lost the
confidence of the Asian contingent.

That procedure would have been due this coming week.

Of course, the Left Bloc wields limited power in the council chamber. It’s said that
Bayunu has not yet decided whether to stand again in the coming leadership
contest, but some around her are urging her to do so. In a close run thing, so the
reasoning goes, the bloc may find itself kingmaker – in a position to issue demands
in return for its support should the ballot progress to a second or third round.

Upon enquiring what such a list might look like, a string of bullet points dropped into
your columnist’s WhatsApp inbox late last night, courtesy of a councillor clearly
spoiling for an electoral ruck

  • eight year term limit for the leader; support for black and minority candidates to
    match the championing of women which has seen the group is majority female;
    overhaul of the Whips Office and the abolition of the anonymous allegations
    procedure; building council houses; tightening planning policies; a genuine zero
    carbon agenda…

Heavy left-sided spin or the early salvos of the Battle of Manchestergrad? We’re told
the contest will be swift but will it be good-tempered?

Watching Manchester United screw up in Bern on Tuesday night conjured all
manner of homespun philosophy.

Every match projects a vision of the future on the basis of its own narrative. Last Saturday’s encounter with Newcastle invoked the dream of all-conquering renewal. In the murky crystal ball of the Wankdorf stadium, on the other hand, could be spied glimpses of a near-future to vie with Greek fable.

We’ve seen such things before, of course…the grand old club clinging to the past
which buys up an embarrassment of riches, and which under the guidance of a living
legend brings back one of its great heroes to catalyse all the talents. Then the
legend gets eaten by the facts. As the curse unfolds and the two talismen enshadow
the young bucks nothing seems to work for very long. Failure and false dawn take
turns as the sightless leader and his impatient hero turn every which way in the
quest for the magic formula – only to find at the last that the magic formula involves
their own departure.

The rebirth of Manchester’s music scene has been prophesied before.

In fact, locating the site of said Lazarus act at Salford’s shadowy White Hotel nightspot has
been punted before too. The latest attempt to flag up the region’s burgeoning
underground scene – some kind of ketamine-fuelled, avant-garde, ambient-techno-
inspired, under-the-radar late-night party vibe with trans chihuahuas profiled by
Fergal Kinney in this month’s edition of The Face – may be the most persuasive in
recent times. Space Afrika, Blackhaine and CURRENTMOODGIRL were among the
artists being pitched at Face readers’ FOMO glands.

Last weekend offered as good a snapshot as any of the present state of things
hereabouts as two million loyal Mancunians hand-jived to New Order in Heaton Park,
after which a Parklife festival reinforced just how great we’ve become at staging
enormoculture. In the midst of all that newcomers Working Men’s Club had a foot in
either camp – first as support to the Factory legends (who ironically they’re said
sometimes to resemble) then later the same night in the sweat-lodge of TWH for an
exclusive 1am encore. The Todmorden four piece may or may not be the saviours of
the music scene, but as their jagged grooves throbbed and singer Syd Mynsky-
Sargent tore manically at his vest the messianic pout didn’t seem entirely out of
place in a venue with genuine underground credentials.


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