SORRY. Everyone is sorry.
David Cameron is sorry. Kelvin Mackenzie is sorry. David Bernstein is sorry.
Boris Johnson is sorry.
Sir (how?) Norman Bettison is sorry. Sir (how?) Irvine Patnick is sorry.
Dominic Mohan is sorry.
Sheffield Wednesday are sorry. The Sheffield City Council is sorry.
Sorry that we live in a society that, by in large, stood by and allowed grieving families to be put through 23 years of unnecessary hurt and pain when they were right all along.
Sorry that we live in a country where so many are happy to swallow the establishment’s propaganda without question.
And sorry that Liverpool – the city, its people, the club, its fans – had its reputation dragged through the gutter for the sake of keeping up appearances among corrupt so-called public servants, many of whom are now retired, living a comfortable, care-free existence.
I am truly sorry about all that. It’s a travesty. It’s scandalous. It’s staggering that it can happen in a supposedly civilised society.
But those above – how truly sorry are they? And what exactly are they sorry for?
An avalanche of apologies arrived almost a quarter of a century late. Why? Is it because these people – these organisations – have suddenly had a moment of clarity? Have they suddenly realised the role they played in human misery; in blackening the name of dead football fans, their heartbroken families, the city they lived in and the club they supported?
Did basic human decency finally come knocking? Did commonsense finally prevail? Did compassion belatedly rear its head?
Or, is it simply because they’ve all been caught out; that the irrefutable evidence has finally been presented in the public domain?
Is it because they’ve been found out; their incompetence laid bare for all to see, their treachery and lies exposed?
Did, in fact, the alarm bells start ringing among the PR advisors when they realised that being complicit in a deep-rooted conspiracy that anyone with a heart would find disgusting, unfathomable and inhuman was perhaps not the best news for reputation?
The truth that emerged this week is the truth the Hillsborough families, the justice campaigners, fans, the people of Merseyside and supporters of Liverpool worldwide have know for a long long time.
People nationwide, in Europe, and across the world, have digested the detail of the one of the biggest cover-ups and smear campaigns in history with incredulous eyes. They’re truly staggered. And so they should be.
How could the emergency services – the people we trust, or should be able to trust, so implicitly – act in that manner?
What mindset do you have to be in to immediately start a cover-up minutes after witnessing scores of people die?
How could families be treated so coldly, so cruelly?
How could anyone test blood for alcohol or search for criminal records for a child?
And how could anyone – anywhere – ever believe a fan could urinate on, steal from and have sex with a corpse?
They’re just some of the questions on the lips of the world right now. It’s right and proper that those questions are being asked. But the world is 23 years behind.
Here, in our bubble, we just nod. We know. And we’re left wondering how to react.
We knew the statements were doctored. We knew the police lied, the ground was unsafe and there was no safety certificate.
We knew about the police cover up, the smear campaign cooked up by coppers and delivered by an MP and the morally vacuous MacKenzie.
We knew about the damage limitation exercise and we knew there wasn’t a word of truth in the report headlined so.
And we knew a miscarriage of justice had taken place and that there were huge wrongs to be righted.
So how do we deal with it now such a significant step has been made? With anger? Relief? Joy? Are we really meant to take these apologies as sincere, meaningful and anything other than the revisionist bullshit they in fact are?
Or with renewed resilience, do we now see the job out; do whatever possible to achieve the ultimate goal: justice –people behind bars and families with the full and frank details of how their loved ones died. Closure.
The answer is obvious.
In the meantime, these hollow words from despicable people count for little. MacKenzie’s apology is throwaway self-servng PR guff – a cry for mercy from a repulsive right-wing dinosaur worried about the future of his bank balance and his ‘media career’.
His feelings about Hillsborough, Liverpool and its people are well known – he’s gleefully rammed them down our throats at every opportunity.
Cameron seemed genuine. But seeming genuine is his job. The words of a Prime Minister – regardless of political party – will always carry weight. For that, at least, we should be grateful. It has pulled open the eyelids of a general public that has slept for 23 years and still squints with suspicion even when offered the true version of events of April 15, 1989.
Now that version of events is unequivocally the right one, the only one – it’s etched in stone and anyone who now says different is in the minority, liable to be ridiculed and sure to be labelled irrelevant. Now they’ll know how it feels…
Nevertheless, it’s hard not to place Cameron’s apology in the context of his comments last year when he compared the Hillsborough families to “a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there”.
Cameron also bemoaned the fact that Andy Burnham MP was, in his eyes, garnering too much credit for the release of papers related to the disaster.
In other words, he didn’t think his own party was banking enough political capital out of the situation. Worth bearing in mind that when apologies are issued for a topic that is so clearly black and white once the evidence is presented.
All things considered, Cameron had little other option than to do what he did – ditto the rest of those now saying sorry.
In fact, so cack-handed were the attempts to say something and nothing at the same time that two of the apologies – from the FA, and from Bettison – were quickly followed by a second apology…for the apology.
It hardly gives the impression that the dam was ready to burst with emotion; that contrition was at the forefront of these minds. Rather, it screams an off-the-cuff realisation that something – anything – needed to be said to tick a box and salvage a crumb of credibility. Mission failed.
Their words mean little, but the fact they felt compelled to say them to protect their own skin means we – the families, Liverpool, campaigners, the fans – finally got underneath it.
This week was a victory for truth. Now the goal is justice. And this time the world is watching…
Justice for the 96.