Up The Boro!


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Middlesbrough’s Political Sketch Book
Compiled by Gordon Shippey

ISBN: 978-1-84747-133-8
Published: 2007
Pages: 85
Key Themes: law, environmental issues, campaigning, investigative journalism, socialism, politics



Gordon Shippey is a fierce campaigner on local issues in his native Middlesbourough. In this book Gordon takes on, amongst others, the local Council, developers who are pushing out poor families and local companies who’s record on environmental protection leaves much to be desired. Gordon exposes many a cover-up and hypocritical stance as he attempts to discover what the people in power are doing to ruin our lives.

Though Gordon may be tackling issues local to Teesside, these issues will be common across most of the UK. Gordon is doing us all a service; in acting as the eyes and ears of society he is in the frontline of the battle against the gentrification, destruction and dehumanisation of the UK. Support Gordon by reading this book – be inspired to campaign in your local area, on issues you care about!

About the Author

Gordon Shippey was born in May 1973 in Middlesbrough, where he still lives. Gordon is a trained physicist and is skilled in electronics, he worked for some time in the nuclear industry. After suffering an accident, Gordon developed acute epilepsy, and was exposed to the gross inequality facing many people with different disabilities. Over the years, he became disillusioned with the ethos within the health system. This lead him to write his account of the awful experiences many people had within the health and disability services, the resulting book ‘Disabled Gehhto’ was re-published by Chipmunka in 2005. He has become a campaigner for civil rights, particularly for those with disabilities, and even ran as a candidate for the 2003 local elections.

Book Extract

Their Town and OURS!

The first Motto of Middlesbrough was something borrowed from Robert de Brus II ‘Fuimus-We have been’ which was later changed to match the aspiration of a young town ‘Erimus-We shall be’. Rather than the reality. The writer William Lillie (a Borough librarian) said in 1953: Whatever ‘we shall be’ depends on each one of us – titles, names can mean something or nothing in the end it depends upon the moral and spiritual texture of the holder…It depends on each one of us whether we are worthy of our present status, or shall be worthy of any higher status that may come to us”.

It should not be up to the Council, Editor of the Gazette or the CEO of Teesvalley Corporation as to what trendy new name or designer label they give to this Town it should be up to the people who live in it. In a letter to the Gazette (Messed with our motto 11/05/06) M. Symonds rightly points out M’bro Council has totally failed to consult with local residents on the recent change of motto to that of ‘Moving forward’ (into what is never explained?). However, perhaps we should not be so hard on them as they are merely following the undemocratic traditions of Bolckow & co. So perhaps some were right back then to suggest a motto more fitting for our council instead of Erimus ‘we shall be’ to that of FUIMUS (We have been). This is true and if we learn from the history of our Local Authorities rather than merely reiterate the myths, we can see parallel links with OUR present. From this it would appear that in the case of M’bro council Fuimus seems very apt. Where Fuimus clearly describes the system (Elected/unelected-dictatorships) doomed to be stuck in a time warp of the past, a prisoner of its own self-interest and denial……….just as the symbol of the Ouroboros (a snake eating its own tail). Where as Erimus clearly matches the noble aspirations of the people who inhabit, built, maintained and suffer for this thing we call a Town.

You know little children can have imaginary friends, some children who get up to mischief generally blame it on their imaginary friend; however, when your child grows up you hope that he or she can give this up. Well, it would appear that none of us have, we still have them in fact. Governments approve laws, which give corporate bodies rights far beyond the rights of flesh and blood; thus people, in fact, are defined as a ‘legal person’, and when damage is caused to the environment, jobs, communities, they usually blame the people. In fact, these imaginary friends are sometimes invoked by those in power (or who own society) such as Govt’s or elite groups of bankers in order to get blind support for one policy or another. We sometimes rally around these imaginary friends at times of need such as war or jobs, in an almost patriotic way. We are told by the moneyed classes that these legal persons are OUR friends and yet, we are subservient to them, they create ‘wants’ for us. They get us to pay taxes, get us into debt and reduce our wages. They promote tyranny and anti-democratic values, yet the people who are in charge of them (maybe the nicest folk you could meet) however, they act in an a-moral fashion when working within their imaginary friend (a-moral institutions). Yes, they are ‘corporations’ and they do not only own Middlesbrough but it’s one itself. In fact, when it comes to local Councillors (and now the Mayor) who are elected and come to office, well he or she is in fact NOT representing YOU the voter, but an elusive entity called the Town and ultimately the corporate body. And the primary goal of any corporation is to think about its own self interests and its wealth gaining capacity in the case of a private company. This falls in to line with the anti-democratic Dogma that has been imposed on us long before this Town was even built, that of Corporate/State-capitalism. During one of the 17 Toasts to Middlesbrough William Fallows summed up this corporate dogma exactly “ Though our Town cannot boast of the ancient and valuable institutions which may be seen in older towns around us and which are the glory of their populations, yet we have far greater pleasure in seeing those institutions rising up in midst of us by our own industry and exertions, growing with our growth and strengthening our strength” Meaning an elite few who own the Town while the rest of us common folk see these a-moral institutions raise up all around us only to become more powerful than we are. Mr Fallows makes it clear that we must worship these institutions over and above society or even the individual. However, he shows little historical evidence that the majority of the town’s folk have actually gone so far as to glorify them? We are also taught from a very early age that the whole of the town’s folk are some way monolithic in their worship of their Gods of institute or, at the very least, slavishly patriotic. This belief system continues to this day and was recently glorified in Andy Croft’s book on Middlesbrough’s entitled One Body Politic (2003).


Also Available

‘Disabled Ghetto’ by Gordon Shippey
Paperback / e-Book


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