Ellie Mae O'Hagan (co-editor of New Left Project) on the terrible, burning injustice done to ‘Self Pity City’:
Last weekend I went to Liverpool – the place that was my home for most of my adult life. I stayed with my best friend and we caught up on the news: riots in Toxteth, a local economy in freefall, and finally the Hillsborough petition, which reached over 100,000 signatures this week. Now, pending approval, the petition will be debated in parliament.Along with the one to strip convicted looters of their benefits (with nearly half again as many signatures) and – perhaps by the time this is posted, the one calling for cheaper petrol and diesel.
I’m guessing you won’t be so pleased about those, though?
For me, it's not surprising that this 22-year-old news story is as newsworthy as if it had happened yesterday. The Hillsborough football disaster is written into the DNA of Liverpool.I’ll spare you my thoughts on the quality of the DNA of the average Liverpudlian. Or rather, Scouser…
It represents both the city's darkest moment, and its extraordinary capacity for solidarity.And also it’s extraordinary capacity for mawkish sentimentality and dog-with-a-bone-style grip on old hurts…
To understand the Hillsborough disaster, one must first understand the context in which it happened. In 1989, four years after the seismic defeat of the miners, the unemployment rate in Liverpool was among the highest in the UK and the city's council was on the brink of bankruptcy.
The Liverpool fans attending the match that day were already on the receiving end of a hostile media and government ...the match saw them caged "like animals in pens", as though the players on the pitch needed to be protected from them.And as the commenters BTL point out, that was not a factor unique to Liverpool, but was indeed widespread at the time across all football matches, much to the annoyance of other teams.
Later, Superintendent Marshall's account of the day would place undue emphasis on the amount of alcohol consumed by the fans.Was that not a factor at all then? Was everyone there sober as a judge?
My, this truly was a totally unique football match!
So here we are again. Twenty-two years later and the old maxim, "red sky at night, Toxteth's alight" is relevant again. The Murdoch press is once again in disgrace, and Liverpool is facing the worst budget cuts in the country. As history repeats itself, the families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster are on the receiving end of familiar obfuscation, familiar "unjustified and excessive delays" in releasing the information by the self-proclaimed children of Thatcher.Oh, for heaven’s sake…
It's not right. Some wounds cannot be healed by time.Well, no. If you keep picking at a scab, of course it won’t heal!
The 96 families in Liverpool are still waiting for justice.And if the papers are released and don’t contain the answers they think are in there?
Will they consider it ‘justice’?