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But still they went on: a tribute to the Hillsborough families

September 13, 2012

Today’s Liverpool ECHO’s front page

I worked for many years in the local Liverpool media and witnessed the Hillsborough families’ many efforts to raise the profile of their story. I remember them opening their charity shop, raising money, raising awareness and constantly gathering petitions and persisting when others would have said stuff it.

But still they went on.

They didn’t take it, because they were sure of their story and fervent in the cause of exonerating their relatives. It seemed, sometimes, to no avail. It also seemed we were writing and producing newspapers, radio and TV programmes for ourselves and not the outside world. That we were preaching to the choir and the choir could do nothing about it.

But still they went on.

Between Hillsborough and the Docks Strike, I often thought we were just sailing into a sea of anti-Scouse sentiment and indifference. Whining Scousers, whining working class oiks with their sense of entitlement. (I’m not a Scouser, I’m a blow-in, but a proud blow-in. I’m even more proud to be a blow-in today.)

But still they went on.

Those families have conducted themselves with an unstinting fortitude and dignity that few of us could ever muster. Shafted and denigrated by the establishment, they didn’t accept what was thrown at the many other groups attacked by that government. They faced, head on, the smears, the cover-ups, the half truths and charges of alcoholic, feckless, self-harming working class getting what they brought on themselves.

But still they went on.

They are a testament to collective action and fighting the establishment. When Steve Rotheram MP read out the names of the 96 in the commons to have them on Hansard record, I cried, because he put on record the names of people whose lives had been taken by the state.

Lives taken by senior police officers and covered up by the government (from the PM down) who did so to save political capital and, more damningly, the pensions of those in the old boys club. They did it because they thought they could because they were fortified  by the last kickings of power from the colonial era.

But still they went on.

Those families didn’t need the truth today because they have known the truth and have shouted it for 23 years. The people who needed the truth were those that either didn’t care, or, who colluded in injustice by choosing to believing the state lies. The people who made Hillsborough jokes and those that propagated the great lie – people like the current mayor of London and prospective Prime Minister.

But still they go on.

They go on because it is only a job half done. The truth is only one part. It is the merely the start. Punishment for those that colluded in the deaths and smearing of the victims can be the only justifiable end. It needs to happen as soon as possible, not in another 23 years and not because a group of people decided that they would not suffer victimisation from the state.

And, until it does, still they will go on.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Cumbriasloan permalink
    September 13, 2012 7:19 am

    A thoughtful and moving piece and so very TRUE but then we all knew the truth, everyone who witnessed that day, including me, knew it. what grieves me most is that so many of the relatives of the 96 did not live to see this day. Justice indeed but as you point out – just the beginning.

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