Mack’s Craic

The road is long.

The road is long.

At first I wasn’t sure about the choice of the song used to help raise money for the Hillsborough families’ fight for justice. I thought that maybe a football song or a song more connected to Liverpool should have been used, but now I’m certain it’s exactly the right song at exactly the right time.

In September we learned so much more about what really happened on 15th April 1989, that blood was taken from the bodies of the victims, even the children and tested for alcohol. It was to somehow prove that they were drunk and therefore to blame for the crush. We also learned that the lives of 41 people could have been saved, if the emergency services and police hadn’t held back, and that statements were amended to clear the police. The cover-up is one of the greatest scandals of modern history.

This week, the Home Secretary, Theresa May announced there would be a fresh criminal investigation.

The disaster and its despicable aftermath were the consequence of prejudice; that Liverpool is a city of rebels & chancers and that football is the preserve of yobs and drunks. These simplistic caricatures were exploited by those engaged in the cover-up. If that prejudice was against people of colour, ethnicity or sexual preference there would be a public outcry.

The families’ pleas were ignored for so long because of that deep-seated prejudice. A prejudice that says Scousers are hooligans, thieves, or simply “always up to something” – as Jack Straw once said. People from Liverpool are also said to be obsessed with holding grudges and wallowing in grief.  That’s why demands for a fresh inquiry or inquest were cast aside for twenty-three years. It’s to the families’ immense credit that they never gave up.

While the Home Secretary’s announcement is good news, I have to say that I’m disappointed that another inquiry, the Levison Inquiry into press standards, didn’t make more of the media’s role. The way some sections of the media portray the people of Liverpool continues to justify the prejudice and is what made the lies of those responsible believable.

Some say things have changed, I hope so and I hope it’s just laziness or ignorance and not prejudice that’s responsible for the lack of respect. Have you noticed that when news about Hillsborough is printed or broadcast, even now, the victims are described as “96 Liverpool supporters”. Never 96 “people” or 96 “men and women including 22 children, one of them only ten years old”?

I was always taught that the basics of journalism are, “who, what, where, when, why and how”. It’s “Who” that comes first. Describing them simply as “Liverpool supporters” only describes part of who they were. They were many other things as well, including parents, sons, daughters, friends and family. So it’s perfect that the song chosen as the charity single is “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”.

Check out the latest Mack Nuggets at .


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