Eurovision 2023: What did The Telegraph’s Ben Lawrence say and how Liverpool reacted

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When a newspaper column starts, ‘for a moment, I am going to step outside of my London bubble’, it’s not going to go down well.

The battle to be Eurovision’s host city next year came to the final stage on Wednesday, with Liverpool and Glasgow making it to the final two.

Whilst Liverpool celebrated the brilliant achievement, excitement turned to anger after the Telegraph carried an article that said the city had ’no art galleries, dance companies or opera houses – at least not any that carry any great significance beyond the North West‘.

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The article by Ben Lawrence, which began ‘For a moment, I am going to step outside of my London bubble’ received mass criticism from Liverpool’s political leaders, with Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram demanding a complete retraction.

Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery also called the Telegraph out, posting a Twitter thread listing some of the brilliant art and culture the city has to offer.

Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool said: “Liverpool’s cultural sector is the beating heart of our city. Not only do we have amazing art galleries, but world-class experiences.”

What did the Telegraph article say?

Ben Lawrence did praise Liverpool for music, celebrating artists such as The Beatles and The Coral, however he said: “And yet, if you are talking about Liverpool as a great city of culture (and it was awarded that title in 2008), a destination for patrons of the arts, the argument [that it’s the most culturally significant city] starts to fall apart.”

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He argued that Glasgow was far more culturally significant, concluding: “So, who is the real winner here? Both are great cities that, when I think of it, make me realise how much I regularly miss out on by being constantly stuck within the M25. But, I think Glasgow has the edge; a city with culture on every corner.”


Steve Rotheram referred to Mr Lawrence’s claim as a “deliberate attempt at misinformation” whilst Joanne Anderson said the journalist hadn’t done his homework.

The John Moores Painting Prize, one of the UK’s most important art prizes, is at the city’s Walker Art Gallery, while Tate Liverpool will exhibit the four shortlisted artists for the prestigious Turner Prize from October.

Locals expressed their anger, with one Twitter user arguing the article was ‘”typical Liverpool bashing” and another adding, “clearly never been to Liverpool”.

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Tate Liverpool. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorldTate Liverpool. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld
Tate Liverpool. Image: Emma Dukes/LiverpoolWorld

Liverpool has a huge variety of musesums and galleries, from Walker Art Gallery, to the Bluecoat, one of the oldest contemporary galleries in the UK.

The city is also filled with stunning street art, not to mention the masses of lambananas sporting different designs.

The Tate, The Beatles Museum and more are a five minute walk from the M&S Arena - where Eurovision would be hosted - and Liverpool will also host the annual Turner Prize ceremony in December.

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