'I want you to be f***ing abolished'

Two protests converge in Manchester

Millers — if you missed our bonus Sunday newsletter yesterday, it had some exciting news about The Mill:

  • Dani has joined as our first staff reporter (and photographer).

  • We’re about to get a little office in the city centre.

The whole post is worth a read...

This week’s weather

The location of this forecast is Manchester and it’s sourced from the Met Office.

The big story: Pressure on the police

If you were at a loose end in Manchester city centre on Saturday afternoon, you had options: a noisy anti-lockdown protest at Piccadilly Gardens or an even noisier anti-police demo at St Peter’s Square.

  • At the lockdown demo, no masks were worn, union jacks were waved and the crowd sang “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. “I will not be masked, tested, tracked or poisoned,” read one protest sign.

  • At the policing one, organised by the women’s activist group Sisters Uncut Manchester to protest the controversial new policing bill and express anger over the killing of Sarah Everard, one speaker pointed at a group of police officers standing nearby and shouted: “Why the fuck haven’t you quit? I don’t want you to quit — I want you to be fucking abolished.”

The response: Greater Manchester Police had clearly chosen to hang back this weekend. “A careful assessment was made about the policing approach and it was decided that a low key approach, which was sensitively policed, would be the most appropriate form of action,” says Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey.

  • But punishments might still be coming… Bailey again: “GMP has gathered evidence in relation to all the protests and will be concentrating our investigations against those who have organised these events and will where appropriate take enforcement action.”

On the ground: Dani reported on the Sisters Uncut protest for us, and says that while it remained entirely peaceful, very strong feelings were on display about the police’s failure to protect women in Greater Manchester. Yes, the participants in this demo were objecting to the bill going through parliament that would give police greater powers to control protests. But GMP’s widely-reported failure to record and deal with thousands of crimes — including domestic abuse and sexual assault — was also raised. One woman accused the force of taking far too long to come out after an incident at her house.

  • “You’re fucking cowards – every single fucking one of you is a coward,” she said. “I was in danger and you took three hours to arrive at my house. Can you hear the fucking rage in my voice?”

Here’s a flavour of what Dani heard when she spoke to protesters in the crowd.

Henry, 23, an interior design student at MMU, told The Mill: “It is wrong that the government could take control over protests in such an overreaching way.”

Lisa, 42, who has two small children at home, was fearful about the type of country they’d grow up in. She said: “I feel that we’ve had a sustained attack on our civil liberties since this government came into power. The bills they’re passing are borderline fascist. I couldn’t just stand there.”

Context: Last night an anti-police protest in Bristol turned violent in the evening, with a police van set alight and officers suffering broken bones. That didn’t happen in Manchester, but clearly the police are in the firing line.

  • What’s hard to unpick is how much of that anger has to do with local issues like GMP’s crime recording failings, recent national talking points like the death of Sarah Everard and the policing bill, or more generalised anti-government feeling from young people in particular. It is a story we will be watching closely.

Cartoon by Mill member and longtime Private Eye sketcher Tony Husband. We’re tentatively looking forward to April 12, when Manchester’s beer gardens and outside restaurant spaces are set to reopen.

Covid-19 update

  • Case rates: Greater Manchester’s case rate is falling again, albeit only by 0.8% versus the previous week. It’s now 94.7, down 0.8%, compared to England’s rate of 56, down 4.5%. Rates are falling in Stockport, Trafford, Oldham and Rochdale, and either rising or level in the rest of GM.

  • Hospitals: The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care is down to 77 from 93 last week, meaning pressure on hospitals is similar to what it was in October. Admissions of patients with the virus are now extremely low — down to 67 last week, which is half the level we saw a fortnight ago and way down from the 288 we saw in the last week of January.

  • Vaccinations: 1,026,030 people have now been vaccinated in Greater Manchester (that’s first doses), including 63% of 50-69s, and 46% of all residents over the age of 18. And we had significant news from the US this morning, as a long-awaited trial shows the Oxford-AstraZeneca is “79% effective at stopping symptomatic Covid disease and 100% effective at preventing people from falling seriously ill,” reports the BBC.

Home of the week

Worsley in Salford is one of the areas that researchers expect to benefit from the move to remote work, and with beautiful Grade II listed 15th-century cottages like this, you can see why. It’s on the market for £395,000.

Five stories worth reading

1. Bury’s North Korean Conservative

“The four of us slept in the living room covered by a single blanket,” says Jihyun Park about her first life in Bury after arriving from North Korea as an asylum seeker. “But everyone helped us. The council. Our neighbours. We will never forget this.” David Collins from the Sunday Times did a moving interview with Park, who is running for a council seat for the Conservatives and hopes to become the first North Korean elected politician in the UK.

2. Wife murder trial collapses

“The trial of man accused of murdering his wealthy wife after taking out seven insurance policies on her life has collapsed,” the Guardian reports. “Donald McPherson, 47, stood to gain £3.5m on the death of Paula Leeson, the heiress of a skip hire business whom he married in 2014. McPherson was charged with murdering Leeson, 47, after she drowned in a shallow swimming pool while the couple were on holiday in Denmark in 2017.” Proceedings were halted last week after the judge cited insufficient evidence to convict.

3. Covid’s long-term impacts

Research conducted by the University of Manchester and NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) has found that hearing loss and other auditory problems are “strongly associated” with Covid-19. Kevin Munro, Professor of Audiology, said: “There is an urgent need for a carefully conducted clinical and diagnostic study to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the auditory system.”

4. Shakespeare goes hi-tech

“The camera hovers over a forest drenched in mist, then swoops in as if entering a 3D DreamWorks movie.” Read the Guardian’s review of Dream, a virtual performance that took place last week, produced by Manchester International Festival, the RSC, Marshmallow Laser Feast and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

5. Linder’s post-punk pictures

“Her punk-era images are furious and precisely focused.” Brian Dillion writes in London Review of Books about Linda Mulvey (aka Linder) who fronted post-punk band Ludus. “An intellectual, art-glamour side to the Manchester punk scene emerged after everyone, Linder included, went to see the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976.”

Things to do this week

Podcast | Comedian and actor Isy Suttie attempts to chill out by listening to “the most relaxing piece of music in the world”, a track called Weightless by Manchester band Marconi Union in this episode of Art of Now on BBC Radio 4.

Music | There’s a feast of classical music from Manchester this week. Here’s your line-up:

  • This evening: The Halle Orchestra 7.30 (BBC Radio 3)

  • Tuesday: Manchester Camerata 7.30 (BBC Radio 3)

  • Wednesday: Stoller Hall’s Around The World in 80 Concerts. Tickets here

  • Thursday: Manchester Collective – described by BBC Radio 3 as ‘ground breaking’ will be performing a live concert on Thursday. Listen to the electrifying ‘Ka Bohaleng’ from Abel Selacoe, Manchester Collective and Chesaba.

Exhibition | Ever wondered what it takes to repair the gates on the Rochdale Canal? The Canal & Rivers Trust have created a ‘virtual open day’ where you can join their teams as they carry out work on the Lock 83 project. Watch here.

Art | The team at Manchester Art Gallery are challenging you to get creative. They’ve curated a list of ideas, activities and prompts to help inspire you at home. Take a look here.  

We love this photo from @manc_wanderer, who always captures the beauty of Manchester in his posts on Instagram and Twitter.

Letters to the editor

Like many city centre residents, over the last year I have spent a lot of time exploring what’s on our doorstep. And it has made me appreciate just how much water there is in Manchester: the Rochdale, Bridgewater and Ashton canals, the Irwell, the Medlock. Yet despite pockets such as Castlefield and New Islington where water is integral to the neighbourhood, most of our waterways feel neglected: polluted, litter-strewn and generally unpleasant to be near. Cities like Amsterdam show this doesn’t have to be the case, so why are Manchester’s so bad? It would be nice to see political leaders give this some thought as the city continues to develop; post-Covid, Manchester’s waterways, alongside more parks and green space, could provide some of the much-needed outdoor recreational space that the city sorely lacks. Nick Thornsby, Oxford Road

Your piece about the company in Ashton having to fight tooth and nail for its intellectual property rights (‘He won a David and Goliath legal battle. But at what cost?’) was interesting, sad and anger-making. There’s something wrong with our legal system if small family-run firms like Christopher’s need to spend that much time and effort protecting their trademark and good name. Sarah Battersby, Bury

Since the disappearance of Sarah Everard, I like — many other women — have been grieving, for all the women who have suffered at the hands of male violence. Last weekend women across the UK were desperate to grieve together, to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another and feel understood. Groups applied legally to be able to do this and were turned down and threatened fines by Greater Manchester Police because of Covid regulations. Andy Burnham took the opportunity to take the top spot on an online vigil organised by one of these groups who had their in-person plans banned, and promised to act quickly to protect women. This weekend hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets in Manchester and I saw GMP walk along with them, making no attempt to dismantle the group. How can this not be a greater threat to Covid regulations than a group of grieving women? One way Mr Burnham could have helped women immediately would be to have given the vigils the same protection the anti-lockdown protesters received. Caroline, Chorlton