Tuesday 25 October 2011

Expose the Lies Before Maggie Dies

Being from Liverpool there are certain things that are just a part of your identity whether you like it or not. Our name, "Scousers" which stems from the Norwegian Lobscouse or Lapskause (a type of meat stew), The Beatles, Anne Clough, Gladstone and even Kim Cattrall form parts of our identity of which we are particularly proud. Then there's that Harry Enfield sketch, the less said about which the better.

One of the most prominent and divisive aspects of Scouse identity is football. While applying this to everyone in Liverpool would be a hideous generalisation, a large part of the city is divided along red and blue lines, with an inbuilt hatred of whomever you class as the opposition coming to most as naturally as breathing. For the most part this is clear cut and simple, until you broach the more problematic topic of Hillsborough.

The title of this post is taken from several groups (and something called a trendmap....) on Facebook expressing anger regarding the coverage of events at Hillsborough on 15th April 1985 which claimed the lives of 96 people and injured 766 more - all of whom were Liverpool fans.

Despite the conclusions of the Taylor Report - that failure of police control was the primary cause of the disaster - insinuations of blame on the part of the Liverpool fans caused and continues to cause outrage in Liverpool. In an article entitled "The Truth" the Sun accused Liverpool fans of pickpocketing victims, urinating on emergency services and assaulting a police officer administering CPR, all of which were later proved to be hearsay. Despite admitting since that its coverage of Hillsborough was 'the most terrible blunder' in its history, the above accusations are not easily forgotten - a fact reflected in the persistently low circulation of the Sun in Liverpool.

As a Blue I have never felt the same ownership of the legacy of the tragedy that a lot of my Red friends obviously hold. However the recent debate on the disclosure of all documents relating to Hillsborough made me realise how affected by it I actually am. Red or Blue there is a common sense that the families of the victims are still being denied information and that justice for the 96 cannot totally be achieved until there is complete transparency about what happened.

My personal reaction to the debate brought home to me that however close one may personally feel to the tragedy, it has become a fundamental part of Scouse identity. The shared sense of outrage and a lack of resolution evoked by Hillsborough were mirrored in the outpouring of anger and grief at the shooting of Rhys Jones. Such things, when shared, generate unity. I personally will never forget the moment when, in the aftermath of Rhys' death, Z-Cars was played in full to absolute silence at Anfield.

While our allegiances may be firmly declared on match days, Scousers share a sense that we are still being lied to and about and it is that which rankles. Whatever the result of the debate Hillsborough will always be a key part of Scouse identity and I think Scousers, football fans or no, will wait with bated breath for the outcome.

Justice for the 96.