Museum of liverpool

Live audience debate city’s multiculturalism
“Of course Liverpool is a global city” – Mayor Joe Anderson

The BBC held a live debate at the Museum of Liverpool last Tuesday, asking: ‘Is Liverpool Truly a Global City?’

March 25 saw a rainy, grey day but the museum was still abuzz with school trips, tourists and those taking part in the BBC World Have Your Say programme.

BBC World Have Your Say and BBC World Service have travelled the UK to explore the role of international communities, namely the Arab, Somali and Pakistani communities in Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester respectively.

On Tuesday the programme came to Liverpool with the discussion, ‘Is Liverpool Truly a Global City?’ with focus on the Chinese community. The floor was thrown open to the forty-strong audience, made up of locals, business owners, teachers, students and members of the Chinese community, who all voiced their opinions and feelings on the city with discussions spanning racism, tourism and civic pride, all of which being broadcast live around the world.

Liverpool a “racist” city?

The debate got under way with an elderly gentleman accusing the city of being racist and questioning why there were no other Liverpool-born black people present. This indictment sparked reactions amongst the audience.

A gentleman from Liverpool bit back, saying Liverpool has owned up to its racist past but it is doing its utmost to move on and to dwell on it too much borders on irrational.

Others agreed, describing Liverpool as “an outward looking global city, and any racist remarks come from an inward looking community.” This was supported by some Chinese members of the audience who had not experienced racism during their time in Liverpool and found it to be “the friendliest city in the world.”

Liverpool as a centre of culture

This then lead the discussion onto Liverpool life and what the city has to offer the world. Having been granted European Capital of Culture status in 2008 the city benefited from millions of pounds of investment and regeneration projects. From retail and leisure to arts and culture, the majority of the audience had high praise for the city.

Yet some Chinese members of the audience spoke of how Chinese tourists would visit London, Manchester and Birmingham over Liverpool, describing the city as low profile and it wasn’t long until The Beatles and Liverpool Football Club were raised. A discussion surrounded whether this is truly all Liverpool has to offer the world.

Mayor Joe Anderson dismissed this notion, mentioning how Liverpool will be hosting the International Business Festival and that the city is well and truly “open for businesses.” Furthering this, he stated that Liverpool has always been a global city – recognised worldwide for Albert Dock, which is also a world heritage site, and its history in trade.

Home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe, the Chinese members of the audience appeared proud to be living, working or studying in the city and felt that whilst the city’s population is roughly a mere fiftieth of that of Shanghai, it no less diminished in its viability as a global city.

Liverpool “proud” and “multicultural”

The programme came to a close with audience members describing the city in one word. Some of the offerings included: “passionate”, “cheeky”, “proud”, “vibrant”, “multicultural”, “boss”, “sound”, and fittingly, “global”.

LSMedia spoke to Mayor Joe Anderson after the event, who concluded “Of course Liverpool is a global city, it is a place recognised across the world and it is a brand people know and it is my job to keep that brand alive.”

Chloe Tilley of the BBC World Service commented saying that she was impressed by the pride the city seemed to have, describing it as “a passionate little bubble, not being part of Britain but rather part of the world.”