Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 20/05/22

Citizens? Myth!

I've had a strange sense of foreboding over the last few days, as if I knew at an unconscious level that something shitty was going to happen.

In the early hours of this morning, slightly before dawn and in an access of insomnia, I was at my phone seeing what was going on in the world (or at least what the state/corporate media wants us to think is going on), when the source of my undefined unease was made manifest:

Screenshot from BBC news: 'Queens' Jubilee: Wrexham becomes Wales' seventh city'

So they finally got what they had been drooling over for the last twenty-odd years. The 'they' in this case being the preening councillors and calculating officers of Wrexham County Borough Council, along with those of their chums in parts of the local 'business community' with the sharpest eyes (and elbows) for the main chance. That over sixty per cent of the responses to what passed for a public consultation expressed opposition to the bid counted for nothing when the decision was ultimately made by a select clique of Tory and 'independent' (i.e., Tories without the guts to say so openly) councillors behind closed doors, with the rest of the fifty-odd councillors effectively shut out of the whole process. It was A Done Deal.

It is of course easy to see why those pushing for such a prize have been slavering at the prospect: the politicians will now be able to strut their funky stuff as city councillors, with their self-estimated rise in status no doubt reflected in, shall we say, other ways; the council's officer class - who have long reversed the proper order of things and taken advantage of the cluelessness of the elected members to steer policies and decisions their own preferred way - will doubtless seek remuneration more in line with their newly-elevated positions; and the small cabal of business bods (quite possibly including this twerp who has - in anticipation of the upcoming jubilee jollies - predictably slung Butcher's Apron pennants right across the soon-to-be-city-no-really's Central Arcade) who have placed themselves on the inside track by one means or another will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of further advancement and preferment.

As for the rest of us, what will change? As a 'shopping experience', the place will continue to lack a certain something. Like shops. We will see the same - if not accelerated - neglect of the same peripheral areas of the county which have been left behind already, but now on the grounds that the centre must be infinitely enhanced because, "...we're a city, don'tcha know?!". There will have to be new headed stationery, a repaint job for all of the Council's vehicles (all sporting a brand new emblem, natch) and a change to all the road signs on the approaches to read, 'City Centre'.

And we are the mugs who are going to have to pay for it all, either by hikes in the council tax or by money being taken away from more socially and economically useful areas of activity.

Put briefly, the whole charade has been, is and forever shall be an ego trip for the panjandrums and petty potentates of local bureaucracy, politics and commerce. Because it is they - the same people who have got us into this situation of decrepitude and dilapidation in the first case - who will still be in charge, especially as the recent elections have consolidated the grip of the 'independent' group (and how can you have an independent group? You can't be in the one and still be the other, it seems to me) with their natural allies in the Officially Blue corner.

Apart from that, then what? Will the local professional football team change its name (although the area's Tory member of the House of Claimants and Catamites - a particularly dense specimen of the breed - seems to think it already has)?

It won't bring a single new shop into existence in our hollowed-out to... city centre; it won't lower the financial or social burdens on a single poor person, everything will be reserved for 'prestige' projects (there will no doubt be a further outbreak of 'hubs' of one sort or another), and only the ambitious and the predatory will be cheering.

It's all fluff, flannel and flummery. There was a time when, in Greater England at least, you could only call yourself a city if you had a cathedral of the State Church. Then - in a standard piece of Blairite window-dressing, in which real power is removed and replaced by the administrative equivalent of chicory - it became a competition (one hesitates to say a 'beauty contest' given the nature of some of the locations granted the accolade this century), with the inevitable scope for politicking and similar acts of bad faith and malfeasance. It would be much better to have a free-and-easy approach as to which locations may claim the word 'city' for themselves; rather like those places in the Untied Stooks of Arnica which call themselves things like 'Fudpucker City, Wy.' even although the sum total of its population is forty-seven people, two-hundred-and-ninety seven firearms and one pocket gopher.

In short, it means nothing. Except to those in the local gratin who will be the primary beneficiaries, of course. And to the terminally easily impressed; for one cannot turn what has always been and always will be in essence a border market town into something on the same conceptual plane as Madrid or Tallinn simply by changing the name on the doorplate. The superficiality will always stand to our town's (there, I've said it! Am I not wilful, and thereby unworthy of my newly-enhanced status?) detriment, as the appellation will be widely treated as a joke along the lines of gold-foil-covered chocolate doubloons. And with much the same nutritional value.

Happy, citizen?