We are meeting here in Liverpool today at a pivotal time for the City and for the entire Country.


We have Liverpool City Council and Mayoral elections on May 5th and on June 23rd, the Referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union.


The City is poised on the cusp of choosing its future – as is the UK.
And of all places – Liverpool probably has a more intimate understanding of what the EU means to the UK than anywhere else in Britain.


In the 1980s, when the Thatcher Government was actively considering managed decline as the future for Liverpool, it was EU structural funds – notably the European Regional Development Fund’s “Objective 1” money that kept hope alive.


And it was “Objective 1” money that eventually provided matched funds for Labour’s regeneration millions when the Labour Government elected in 1997 decided that our Northern Cities must be brought back to life rather than be abandoned.


The EU boosted the effort to regenerate the city enormously and Liverpool hasn’t forgotten it. According to a recent YouGov poll, Liverpool is one of the most pro-EU parts of the Country and the city is more inclined to be pro-EU than other parts of Merseyside


So now is a good time to take stock – to have a closer look at how Liverpool is doing.


There’s no doubt that over the last eighteen years, there’s been a tremendous renaissance in Liverpool – a regeneration of the City’s physical infrastructure and a surging of its spirit – a renewal of its engagement in the world, taking its place again as a global city of significance, with confidence and with optimism.


There’s also no doubt that this regeneration has been led by – has been symbolised by a cultural renaissance. This too was recognised by the EU.


That surge in confidence and activity culminated in our year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. – something that wouldn’t have happened if we had been outside the European Union.


08 really was a year like no other.


It changed our image as a city – both in the wider UK and globally – amongst all the other things it did.
It put Liverpool firmly back on the global map as a place for people from around the world to come to now – to visit, to do business, to live – not just a city with a significant past and a heritage to be explored, like a quaint relic from a bygone era, but a city with an exciting, prosperous future.


Where things happen.


Where things can be made to happen by people with ideas and vision.


As Mayor Anderson frequently says, Liverpool is a city with its best days ahead of it – notwithstanding its incredibly significant past.

And 08 changed – it improved – our view of ourselves.


Liverpudlians have always known that our City is special – and have always felt that we ourselves are special, we’re Scousers after all – but 08 meant that we were seen that way by the rest of the UK and by the rest of Europe and the world.


It was as if the fact that everyone else began acknowledging what a great place Liverpool is, translated into an even greater pride in our City than we already felt – and helped make us feel good about ourselves.


And that feeling has persisted


Our image of ourselves.


Our place in the rest of the UK


Our image around the world – all have been permanently transformed by the reinvention of our City’s purpose and place in the world – and the catalyst to that transformation was our year as European Capital of Culture in 2008.


And that points to a greater truth.


It was Culture that created this transformation. Just as it was our culture that kept us going through the decline, indifference, hostility and hard times that predated our renaissance.
And it is culture that will help this City find its new and improved place in the world going forwards.
The potential is enormous. And all of you are the ones who are going to make it happen.


Liverpool now has 19000 people employed in the creative and digital sectors bringing £878m to the city – and you are set to double that activity to reach £1.68bn in economic value by 2030. Culture really is the future for this city.


But let’s be clear – that future will be much more secure, much more certain if we vote to remain in the EU


The Tories are split right down the middle on Europe.


The Prime Minister is failing to control many of the ministers he sits around the cabinet table with, let alone his backbenchers. They’re fighting like ferrets in a sack.


And the Government has stopped carrying out their day-to-day job of governing the country. The Prime Minister is all over the place, first he delayed the Queen’s speech – now we’re reading that he’s reversed that decision, because he is desperate to distract his divided Cabinet from their epic infighting. Whatever the truth turns out to be – it’s chaotic management from a Government that is falling apart.


We’ve seen chaos in DCMS – they’ve put off the White Paper on BBC Charter renewal causing increasing uncertainty.


Yesterday, the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said “Europe is holding us back … the real economic opportunities lie outside the EU”. Really?


Completing the Digital Single Market could create 3.8m jobs and generate £325bn Europe wide. If it’s negotiated properly, UK companies are well place to take advantage of these opportunities. It’s a shame that the Culture Secretary is spending most of his time touring the television studios, trying to pull us out of Europe, the biggest single market in the world instead of getting on with sorting out this huge opportunity for UK creative industries – including those based here in Liverpool.


The Government are acting as if the EU referendum is all about the future of the Tory Party, but it isn’t.


It’s much more important than that.


It’s about the future of this country, including the health of our creative industries, the businesses and jobs which all of you create and depend on.


It’s about your future and the future prosperity of places like Liverpool and people like my constituents who stand to gain by your success.


That’s much more important than Boris Johnson’s Tory Party leadership ambitions or John Whittingdale’s obsession with Brexit.


The EU really matters to us all.


So it will fall to Labour voters in Labour heartlands, like Liverpool, to decide the outcome of the referendum and to keep Britain in Europe.


Labour will work hard – here in Liverpool and throughout Britain – to make sure that the EU referendum is won and that Britain votes to Remain


It plays a vital role in nurturing the UK’s creative industries.


The EU is worth almost £4bn to the UK music industry, and is our largest market. And European Union programmes have driven over £80m of investment into the British film industry.


This year, the EU will launch its Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Fund, which will underwrite millions of pounds of vital bank loans to help creative businesses invest for the future.


And between 2014 and 2020, the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund will be investing around £8.66bn across the UK. These are funds that will provide a lifeline for culture and the arts in disadvantaged areas that have already been hit hard by Tory Government cuts.


Britain is better off in Europe. Being in the European Union brings us jobs, growth and Investment. We need to make sure it continues to underpin our success here in Liverpool.


Now I was an original Beatles fan. Yes, I’m that old.  At the age of two – over in Bridlington where I was born – according to my parents, when the Fab Four came on the black and white telly, which of course they frequently did – I and my sister, for we did everything together in those days – would sing along to “Love Me Do” and all the other hits shaking our heads in all the right places. The Beatles truly did appeal to all ages.

Fifty three years on, it’s great for me to represent a part of Liverpool that has Beatles landmarks like Strawberry Fields within its boundaries– but it’s greater still when I read that the Beatles are still worth £89.1m a year to Liverpool and support 2335 jobs in the City today, by helping us to attract people here from around the world.


This illustrates an incredibly important thing.


The capacity of true creativity to manufacture value is huge – not just for the artists concerned – but for others around them and for the place from which they came and not just in the short term but for many years to come.


Now, I am not arguing that there are many Beatles equivalents out there – but there’s plenty of artistic talent that can add to the rich tapestry of this City’s story and its appeal and that can add to the prosperity and Gross Value Added of the whole of the UK – and the new creative industries fired by new technology just magnify that potential enormously.


And that success can bring prosperity and economic impact to the City just like the Beatles still do.


The completion of the Digital Single Market is an opportunity to maximise the economic benefits of these new technologies. By connecting 500m consumers it would provide a great opportunity to a city like Liverpool. It could create 3.8m jobs and generate £325bn across the European economy. There is no reason why Liverpool could not get a slice of that business – and an important one.
Liverpool isn’t just a city of music – though of course it is that – music runs in our veins here in Liverpool – perhaps that is why we have just been awarded the UNESCO City of Music status,


We are so much more – you all know this as well as I do.


From architecture more varied and better than anything outside London


To theatrical tradition second to none with theatres and talent to match


To the best museums and galleries around – including campaigning museums involving themselves in the social issues of the day, like the International Slavery Museum


There’s nowhere quite like Liverpool – and there’s a museum to prove that too, the Museum of Liverpool, of course.


Liverpool continues to achieve excellence artistically – our much loved rebuilt Everyman theatre is similar enough to the original to be totally recognisable to those who have being going there for decades – but it still won the Stirling prize for being a brilliant new architectural marvel


Or how about architects as artists – where else could streets of houses win the Turner prize? Regeneration and better homes as art – Liverpool, of course.


Liverpool truly is a city with culture at its core – an exciting city, a place where anything can happen – and probably will – a place where artists, musicians and the creative industries can achieve whatever they aim for – and I’m sure many of you will do just that.


This week is English Tourism week – and what better place to come to visit than Liverpool? Tourism is another one of the City’s great success stories. 08 gave us an enormous boost – with 15 million cultural visits alone. The potential is enormous and I think tourism will continue to grow, as it has since 08. Just wait until the new cruise liner terminal is built.


The Governments of which I was a member recognised the huge potential that arts and culture represents. Labour supported the arts and creative industries when we were in office and understood that a thriving arts and creative sector is essential to boosting our economy too.
In office, we:


Trebled Arts Council funding.


Introduced free entrance to museums and galleries


Introduced Creating Partnerships which benefitted 1 million children in 5000 of our schools


Introduced Artsmark to recognise quality arts education in schools


Invested in Regional arts and culture, including in Liverpool, directly and by boosting funding to local authorities


Established UK City of Culture as a legacy of 08 which was a huge success in Derry-Londonderry in 2013 and which I hope will bring huge benefits to Hull next year.


Stimulated regional TV production


Introduced Film Tax Relief – the basis for tax breaks for other creative industries


Ensured that arts, culture, heritage and tourism were at the heart of many of our regional development programmes and a key to the regeneration of places like Liverpool.


Unfortunately, since 2010, that positive effort has been undermined by the coalition Government and is now facing total decimation under the Tories.


The DCMS, which was a key Department under Labour has been undermined and weakened in the last 6 years.


In the extreme, ideological, never-ending austerity being visited upon Government departments by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the DCMS is unprotected.


Its budget was slashed by 24% by the coalition and its staffing by almost a fifth and it is facing 10% more cuts over the spending review period. That is without any further in-year cuts the Chancellor might decree in the budget next week.


And lately, he’s been making ominous noises about his intention to cut public expenditure by even more than his eye watering plans already imply – though I noticed he went all the way to China to make the announcement.


I’m afraid that the DCMS is becoming a very small, uninfluential and isolated Department of State under the Tories – and that is a very bad development.


It really doesn’t help that the Secretary of State John Whittingdale is on the wrong side of the EU referendum argument – opposing both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Indeed, he attacked the Prime Minister in rather intemperate terms just yesterday in his remarks to the Press Gallery. It seems that the only thing he agrees with the PM and Chancellor about these days is his ideological crusade to slash the BBC and sell Channel 4 to the highest bidder.


In his interview in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, he cast doubt on the accuracy of his own Government’s statistics, implicitly attacking the Home Secretary. He isn’t exactly focussed on his duties as Culture Secretary.


He’s spending more time arguing we should vote to leave the EU than doing his job in the Government – the publication of the White Paper on BBC Charter Renewal now seems to be being put off until the end of July because he can’t find the time to do his job.


He does seem to be able to find time to meet the BBC to try and bully them into being pro-Brexit though. The BBC have Tory Cabinet Ministers bullying them on both sides of the referendum argument – an intolerable position for them in the middle of Charter renewal. These are the people who are deciding the future of the BBC.


In addition, we have an Arts Minister in Ed Vaizey, who spends more of his time perfecting his Boris Johnson tribute act in the Commons than standing up for the Arts in Government.


This is bad enough for the arts and culture in London.


But for the English regions, this gloomy picture is made worse by what the Chancellor has done to DCLG budgets because regional arts and culture depends very much on local Government for support.
Liverpool has been hit incredibly hard in that respect.


Since 2010, its Central Government grant to Liverpool City Council has been cut by 58% from £524m to £270m


Since 08, the city has continued to invest in the creative and cultural sector and wishes to continue to do so. This is because it recognises that the impact of such investment on the wider city, its economy, society and people’s perceptions of Liverpool mean it is very smart investment with tangible, ongoing impacts.


But it can’t continue making this investment forever in the face of the cumulative impact of the huge cuts being imposed by the Government
That means that despite the City recognising that its capacity to fund our cultural organisations returns £12 for every £1 spent to our local economy in addition to the enrichment it brings to the lives of local people, it has still had to cut that support.


The Culture Liverpool Investment Programme has been forced to almost halve its spend despite innovative efforts to keep the investment going. The organisations supported are on a downward path of turnover that mirrors the reduced investment and there are threats to the viability of some cultural organisations if this level of austerity continues.


That is in spite of the huge potential that the sector has.


And the Arts Council is also being squeezed badly.


The 25% cuts in the last Parliament were bad enough, so when the Chancellor found £27.5 billion down the back of his sofa in the autumn statement, there was a sigh of relief when he promised the Arts Council a flat cash settlement. However, over four years, that is a 10% cut in real terms and that is without any subsequent raids he might make on in year budgets.


So the crunch is coming


It’s a pretty bleak prospect


But the budget is next week, so I have a couple of asks of the Chancellor.


He needs to start putting right what he has got wrong. There must be no more in-year cuts to Arts Council funding – anywhere – but particularly not to the regions.


He should be looking for ways to start undoing the damage he has done in core cities like Liverpool. Creative industries and culture are an engine of growth here – instead of making it harder for Joe Anderson to boost culture and the creative industries in Liverpool, he should be taking initiatives to make it easier.


At a time when interest rates are still low, investment in infrastructure makes great sense, So how about investing in Liverpool’s cultural infrastructure and that of other northern cities? If he is serious about his so called Northern Powerhouse, he will do so.


The North West receives 8% of Arts Council funding – £3 per person. London receives 50% – £19 per person. The North West receives 6% of lottery funding – £3 per person compared for 37% at £16 per person in London.


Now I am not saying the money should be taken from London and given to the English regions – though that would be one way of redressing the balance. But I am saying that the Chancellor must invest in arts and culture in the north – just as Mayor Anderson and Liverpool City Council have done – it will certainly pay dividends if he does.

Any decision or announcement on the funding of museums or specific arts and cultural projects must seek to redress the imbalance between London and the regions, rather than perpetuate or exacerbate it.


He can start here in Liverpool and our other Northern cities



The Government must start showing the real leadership on arts and culture in the regions that they have hitherto failed to do: starting with the National Media Museum in Bradford.


To move the photography collection, against the wishes of those who wanted their work preserved and accessible in the north, would be a huge backward step for Bradford. Ministers must now listen to the anger that has been expressed by leading cultural figures and others and take action to prevent the hollowing out of this important cultural venue.


It is just not good enough for the Culture Secretary to say, as he did earlier this week that he won’t micromanage the trustees of the National Media Museum when he spends most of his time trying to micromanage the BBC. He should have made a stand for culture in the North of England – instead he’s washed his hands of the issue.


Arts and culture are a key to the development of each individual person as they grow up. If we want to ensure that all people reach their potential as human beings, we must have arts and culture in the mix – in the school curriculum and in our minds. All people have potential and they should get the chance to explore that potential.


And for those who choose a different path in life, they must still have the opportunity to experience the arts and culture. This experience should not just be for those in London with deep enough pockets to afford tickets to the opera.


One of the greatest things about 08 was the fact that it brought arts to all of the people. 70% of all Liverpool residents took part in at least one Capital of Culture event and many have continued to access the City’s ongoing cultural programmes ever since.


There’s been a step change in participation, to the benefit of all of us and this has added also to the vibrancy of the city.


It happens that Britain excels in the arts and culture in all forms, so stimulating this creative potential is in the interests of boosting the UKs capacity to continue to punch above our weight when it comes to the creative industries.
The latest figures for the economic contribution of the creative industries are very impressive.


You contribute 1.8 million jobs to the UK economy and jobs are growing at twice the rate of the economy as a whole.


You are growing at twice the rate of growth of the UK economy as a whole and are now worth over £84 billion to UK PLC – that is over 5% of the economy.


You contribute almost £18 billion in exports – that is 8.7% of the UK total.


By any measure, the UK creative industries are punching above their weight and are a fantastic success.


In Liverpool, we have high hopes that you can help lead our fantastic city into a better economic future while boosting our reputation as a creative place to live and work.


You are a sector that is growing and able to compete worldwide – in spite of the economic difficulties of the last few years. What you are doing is one of the great hopes we have in this city to diversify our economic base and to look for the jobs of the future in up and coming industries.


I know you can do it.


And I wish you all the very best.