In June of 2003 Tessa Jowell, the then culture secretary, announced that in 2008 Liverpool would become the European Capital of Culture. The city beat five other hopefuls — Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle and Oxford.In welcoming the result, the head of the judges, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, declared that it was Liverpool’s stunning dockside development, its city centre and ‘strong visual arts’ that had boosted its chances. Council chief executive David Henshaw described the win as staggering, although not surprising, as the whole city had been behind the bid. Liverpool, he said, is growing up. We’ve got history and we should be proud of our history, but in the past we’ve been prisoners of our history. He was, of course, referring to the slave trade.