10° 40' N, 61° 30' W

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Full Circle

While looking for some information on the BBC Philarmonic Orchestra, I came across an old website for the preservation of Manchester's Free Trade Hall, the Philharmonic's former home. That would be unremarkable except for the fact that the campaign was being mounted by the folks at Indymedia.

The Free Trade Hall was a celebration of the achivements of the Anti-Corn Law League who were early exponents of the Free Trade economic doctrine. This is now THE economic doctrine of international trade - enforced by global bodies like the World Trade Organisation.

This is just a taster of the historical significance of this site and this building in Manchester and world history.

On another page, the campaigners write:

The original supporters of "Manchester economics" might remind us that free trade was a project, not an inevitability.

They might even recognise that it's high time we got rid of it.

That was then. The battle was lost, and the hall is being is being turned into part of a Raddisson Edwardian hotel. It's a bit sad, I think--the Hall had been a venue for Dickens, Bob Dylan, and the Sex pistols, and played a role in the the organisation of Britain's suffrage movement--but I realise that all things can't stay as they were. All the same, it's an odd sight seeing anti-globalisation activists campaigning to save a building called Free Trade Hall.