What now after Hillsborough?

 

Two serious blogs in three days but I make no apologies for it. Events are crowding in upon us and after the legal vindication of the fans at Hillsborough, there are things that need to be said.

The headline in The Sun at the time was deliberately crude and vicious and it has now been proved to have been a total lie. Far from behaving in the way The Sun described, the fans at Hillsborough, did everything they could to help one another. The police made serious mistakes on that occasion and are now facing the consequences but there should also be consequences for the newspaper men who decided to vilify the men, women and children who were killed in this appalling event.

The time has surely come for those who tell deliberate lies to face up to the horror of what they’ve done and are still doing. These young men and women didn’t ‘pick the victims pockets’, they did everything they could to help them, they didn’t ‘urinate on the brave cops’ they were too busy trying to save lives, and when the lives were lost, too full of grief to beat anyone up. Shall we now see Kelvin Mackenzie in a court of law? I sincerely hope so. And if there are others in that newspaper equally at fault, they should be brought to book too. The 27 years the supporters of the Hillsborough 96 demands no less.

But the appalling behaviour of the senior police at this terrible event did not spring out of the blue. It was the result of many years in which our police force had been used by Maggie Thatcher as storm troopers in her battle to break the miners’ union and close down the pits. Unfortunately, they weren’t just following her orders they were copying her ideology. The events at Orgreave showed that hideously clearly. The miners had been demonised and could be treated like criminals. I hardly need to comment on the photo below, it says it all.

At Orgreave the police were used in large numbers and not merely at the pit head but all along the motorways, where supporters were driving in to show solidarity with the miners and to try to help them in anyway they could. But by then, it had become a crime to stand alongside your mates.

Now and then, simple human contacts were made. The faces in this picture demonstrate that very clearly. Under the helmets and the uniform there are normal human beings, capable of affection, understanding and kindness, all the virtues that a repressive state sneers at and belittles. Thank God for those who break through the barriers. They show that ‘you never walk alone’.

Now too, thank God for justice, even if it is horribly belated. Let’s have a little more of it. It’s been in hideously short supply for 27 years.

 

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