Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

There's plenty being said about the verdict in the Hillsborough inquest today but for me, most of the questions about it tend to come back to those cages, to the metal fencing that penned in the Liverpool supporters and fans of other clubs, in those days.

How could a crush at a football game have been so deadly?  Because the people there were jammed into cages to watch their team play, and couldn't escape onto the pitch.

How was it possible for any kind of cover-up to take place, when the whole terrible thing had been captured on film?  Why would the Sun print outrageous slanders against the victims of the disaster?  Why were there so many people willing to believe those lies, and why are there still so many even today?

Because the people who died were the type of people that could be put into cages, without any real or material objections from anyone who could've put a stop to it.

The cages tell us a lot about the regard in which football supporters were held by the people responsible for their construction.  And not only in big flashpoint games or high-risk matches between rivals, but every game, week-in, week-out.  Ordinary men, women and children, the old and the young.  People just like you or me, any one of us who has ever been to a football game.

The truth of Hillsborough, not least the absolute contempt for the public at the highest level of society that led directly to it, has been public knowledge since I was a kid.   So why has it taken twenty seven years for some kind of justice to be done?  Why did the victims' relatives have to fight tooth-and-nail for the result that they got today?

And I'd say, just look at the cages.  That picture paints a thousand words.


Igor Belanov said...

Yes, quite right.

One of the things that regularly gets mentioned when the Hillsborough Disaster comes up is the idea that it was an aging ground with out-of-date facilities. This fits in well with the 'Murdoch transformed football', 'would never happen these days' arguments, but is manifestly false. The stand at the Leppings Lane End was less than 25 years old, built for the 1966 World Cup. Plus, even in the days where stadiums were frequently filled dangerously over-capacity, serious crushes were rare because the crowds could flow onto the track around the pitch.

The problem, as you point out, is that the grounds were deliberately reconstructed to treat most spectators as semi-criminals. At Bradford in 1985 the cause was neglect, at Hillsborough in 1989 it was complete disregard and even hatred.

I've also heard it said that such a situation could never happen now. Well, as far as the cover up is concerned it would be more difficult given the fact that football and football fans are somewhat more fashionable now, but to suggest that dirty tricks would not be employed by those in authority you would have to be living in fantasy land.

Anonymous said...

Now that the truth about Hiisbrough has finall come into the light, it's time for a public inquiry into the events at Orgreave. Just like at Hillsbrough, the government, the police and the media all connived to distort the truth. And if Thatcher hadn't militarised the police to deal with the miners, then Hillsbrough would never have happened; it's obvious from the footage of the event that the South Yorkshire police viewed the working class public as enemy combatants.

Witchsmeller P.

chris y said...

Witchsmeller, oddly enough my wife made exactly that point about half an hour ago. Won't happen, though. Duckenfield and his superiors may well be put through the wringer for bread and circuses purposes, but investigating Orgreave risks violating the cordon sanitaire around the memory of Sait Margaret of Kesteven. No Tory government will go there.

Phil said...

Andy Burnham was going for it in the Commons today. "Orgreave, Hillsborough, Rotherham – how much more evidence do we need before we act?" Direct quote. I may be doing Andy Burnham an injustice here, but the intransigence of that statement - and the anger with which he delivered it - sounded quite unlike the Burnham of old. A couple of years ago, I think we'd only have heard that kind of inflammatory anti-police rhetoric from some leftie backbencher like Jeremy Corbyn...

ejh said...

It's geuninely odd, I think, and maybe I've been looking in the wrong places, but I've seen no reference at all to this over the past couple of days. It would quite certainly have been implemented had Hillsborough not happened.

Anonymous said...

The facts have been clear about Hillsborough for some time. What this verdict does is get the law to recognise the facts.

This is important, though. The law has now recognised that officialdom told lies. It has therefore recognised that officialdom can and does tell lies. That has wider implications: it makes it slightly more difficult to smear those of us who ask questions about what officialdom says and does.


Anonymous said...


Via your Twitter, the transcript of the Fraser v UCU case. Referring to Mann and MacShane -

"Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking."

I think that Chakrabarti questioning various MPs will produce some interesting results.


Witchsmeller Pursuivant said...

Nick Cohen : "For Labour is not just led by dirty men but by dirty old men, with roots in the contaminated soil of Marxist totalitarianism. If it is to change, its leaders will either have to change their minds or be thrown out of office."

I take it the gloves are off then?

gastro george said...

The Blairites have been trying to nail Corbyn on this for months. The Hamas/Hezbollah stuff didn't stick. But the Graun has been running a continuous thread of articles on antisemitism based on almost nothing so, now Ken has put his foot in it, it's open season.

Rawnsley has, predictably, a lot to say, but here, for me, is the key sentence: "Many Labour MPs report that the surge in membership last summer and since has brought with it characters with extremely repellent views that should have no place in a party dedicated to opposing racism in all its forms."

Evidence? Open Democracy has a good summary.

You can be sure that there are people trawling historic social media posts for any kind of crap. And this is all they can come up with ...

ejh said...

In re: the original topic, there's an awful lot I'd like to say about Hillsborough but I find that after all this time, I can't put it into words, or even work out with any coherence what I actually think. The thing that bothers me profoundly, though, and which relates to the point about people in cages, is the same as in the last line here:

the string of police officers along the centre line, immobile in the face of carnage, still viewing the fans as hooligans, watching and doing nothing as people were dying before their very eyes.

These officers didn't actually want anybody to die, or actively mean people harm. But for some reason they were unable to grasp what was happening right in front of them, or even to see it at all.

bernard gibbons said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
flyingrodent said...

(Evening all: you might notice that I deleted the previous comment. Feel free to be very rude about the subjects of posts - God knows, I do it all the time - but I'd appreciate it if we didn't get into the business of spreading nasty, unsubstantiated rumours about them.

Apologies for the lack of posting recently: I'm having technical difficulties (busted laptop) which may not be resolved any time soon. I may put up short posts occasionally, but typing on a tablet is no fun at all).

Arrman Mia said...

Admin, if not okay please remove!

Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.



gastro george said...

Nothing on Nick's latest venture into the Islams?

"Channel 4’s What British Muslims Really Think could not have been made five years ago. It was properly scrupulous, going to great lengths to explain how its polls were not like the cowboy surveys the newspapers print ..."


"Properly scrupulous" because it confirms ... blah, blah ... yawn.

ejh said...

Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.

gastro george said...

I often think that also applies to people like Frank Field, who has worked so long with the poor that he's come to hate them.

organic cheeseboard said...

It is I'm sure testament to Nick's being on the True Left that the article you've linked to above comes in an edition of the magazine whose main article is this one, which also returns to that deeply suspicious poll:


And whose cover shows a medieval sword hanging over London's skyline. It includes this ultra-ugly piece of insinuation:

Under Mayor Khan, London will undoubtedly deserve more than ever the ironical nickname it earned a decade ago among European intelligence services: “Londonistan”. It is hard to imagine Khan taking the tough measures to root out Isis cells hidden inside Muslim ghettos that have been forced on French and Belgian police forces since the attacks on Paris and Brussels. Even in the aftermath of a similar attack on London, it is inconceivable that Khan would risk the accusation that he had turned his back on his Muslim heritage. His opinions change according to need; his allegiance doesn’t.

And it suggests that Khan will actively encourage ghettoisation and ultimately the destruction of British society:

France faces a cultural and political revolution within a generation. Paris, including its suburbs, is a microcosm of this new France. London, which is home to more than a million Muslims, is heading in the same direction.

Wonder what Nick, opposed to all forms of prejudice and who tweeted against the Zac Goldsmith campaign, thinks of the author of this article - who is, um, his editor at Standpoint?

Anonymous said...

Originally, many years ago, the "Londonstan" story was about how the intelligence services had allowed some dodgy characters to stay in the UK. It is unclear whether elected politicians were aware of what was happening.


gastro george said...

Am I going mad, but aren't the "Salafists" in Johnson article propagandising against IS, and his response is that "meh, these Islamists are all the same"?

ejh said...

The Standpump piece is extraordinary. I'm not particularly interested in whether or not Nick Cohen says aything about it: I am interested in the fact that it's as grim as it is and yet seems to have gone generally unnoticed.

organic cheeseboard said...

It probably says quite a lot about the actual readership of Standpoint. i.e. absolutely nobody reads it. circulation of 20,000 according to its own Wikipedia entry but it's surely fewer. (incidentally while doing some cursory research on this, I saw that the Jewish Chronicle apparently has a circulation of 21,000 which was a bit of a shock - I really thought it'd be more). From what I can tell it's been up on their site for at least a couple of weeks so to have had nobody notice it except a couple of right-wing loons says a lot. I'd imagine he was asked to do it by someone in the Tory party and if the Goldsmith campaign was working they might have made a bigger deal of it. But this is now two properly anti-Muslim front covers that magazine has had now (the first being the one where a Niqab's eyes were replaced with a bloody knife).

The piece is properly grim. I do so love these articles, too, where the author basically uses their own prejudice as the basis for everything else ('I thought some Muslims were laughing at me thus they're going to take over the country'). In any case, it's not like Johnson's mind has actually changed - he's been wanking on about all the usual anti-Muslim stuff for years.

The Nick Cohen point is just the usual one some of you make on Twitter, i.e. his own logic about 'sharing platforms' is undermined when he's happy to be published by, and alongisde, people who write this kind of thing. Here is an article with a photo of Nick literally sharing a platform with johnson: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/dialogue-january-february-13-the-socialism-of-fools-anthony-julius-nick-cohen-daniel-johnson-anti-semitism-the-left-judaism

aren't the "Salafists" in Johnson article propagandising against IS, and his response is that "meh, these Islamists are all the same"?

Given what he says about Khan's 'allegiance' I think he believes that all Muslims are the same. Of course, if anyone used that 'allegiance' line about e.g. someone Jewish, they'd correctly be called an antisemite.