OVER the last few days there have been some genuinely excellent articles about Hillsborough and the verdicts from the inquests, many of them appearing on this very site. Most of them have been difficult to read, with some managing to shed further light on a story that it seemed impossible to be more shocked by.
David Conn’s thorough article on everything that’s happened over the last two years is unmissable. It outlines, as simply as possible, all of the facts that have emerged during the inquest and it explains why the jury reached the decision it did; the decision we all knew was the right one and the decision that vindicated the families and their 27-year fight.
One of the most remarkable things about the findings of the inquest is how little they differ from Lord Justice Taylor’s findings from 26 years ago. We know more detail now, of course, and more and more evidence has been revealed about the way in which South Yorkshire Police went about the cover-up that has smeared the victims and the survivors of the disaster, as well as Liverpudlians in general, for more than two and a half decades. But, put simply, it came to the same conclusion: Liverpool fans were in no way to blame for the accident and it was entirely down to police failures that 96 innocent men, women and children lost their lives.
- Hillsborough: The Media Let The Country Down For 27 Years – And I’m Ashamed
- Hillsborough: Now To Stop Demonising Football Fans
- Hillsborough: Important Lessons Learned – And Not Just For Liverpool
- Hillsborough And Liverpool: The Generation Gap
- Hillsborough: Justice Must Be Followed By Accountability
- Hillsborough: The Verdict Isn’t About Football – It’s A National Disgrace
- Hillsborough: The Sun Shines Now
Even in spite of all of that there are still people out there that I’m going to label as the ‘what about’ brigade. You know the sort I mean. They’re the type that have sent tweets over the last couple of days saying things like, ‘The fans were completely sober and well behaved that day. Glad that’s settled then’, before signing it off with a glib hashtag like #okthen.
In the past I tried to engage with these people. I don’t know why, but I tried to help them to understand what happened and to educate them about the events that led to the darkest day in British sporting history. I tried to explain why the families shouldn’t just ‘let it go’ and why justice really did matter.
Before the jury came back and delivered its verdicts these people still had the excuse that, inexplicably, nothing had been written officially to contradict their story. Yes there was the Hillsborough Independent Panel Report and of course there was the quashing of the original inquest, to say nothing of the Taylor Report. But politicians like Boris Johnston were still saying Liverpudlians ‘refused to acknowledge…the part played in the disaster by drunken fans’.
As recently as 2011, more than 20 years after the Taylor Report was published for anyone that might want to find out about the actual facts of the case, David Cameron said that victims’ relatives would never get over Hillsborough and likened all who wanted justice to a “blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there”. I’m not even going to say anything about Alan Davies, the fuzzy-haired prick. The politicians that are now desperately trying to climb aboard the bandwagon of public opinion spent the previous 27 years trying to derail it.
It’s little wonder, then, that the ‘what about’ brigade felt that there was some legitimacy to what they were saying. If people in authority, despite all of the evidence in front of them and available for them to read, were still happy to make ludicrous remarks about Hillsborough then why would some pimply virgin on Twitter care?
Some people were willing to listen to what I had to say, as some people always are. I know I changed one or two minds about the tragedy and encouraged a couple of people to find out more about it. But others still were too entrenched in their tribal hatred of everything to do with Liverpool to listen or to care.
The findings of the jury have done so much for so many people that I can’t even begin to describe it all. For the families and the survivors a weight has surely been lifted, though no declaration by a court or otherwise could ever do anywhere near enough to make up for the past 27 years. They have now got what, at the very least, they deserved: They’ve got the truth.
On top of that, though, the whole world now knows the truth, too. The truth isn’t being lost in convoluted language. It isn’t being diluted by a campaign of false information. The lies told by South Yorkshire Police and the people in power that wanted to besmirch the supporters of our club and the people of our city have been exposed for all to see. Never again will someone in authority be able to suggest Hillsborough was anything other than it was: a catastrophic failure by the police to do their duty.
For that reason I’ll no longer bother to engage with anyone from the ‘what about’ brigade. The people who suggest things like ‘the fans were a little bit responsible because they kept coming even though the pens were full’ no longer have the legitimacy of moronic comments from politicians to back up their nonsense statements.
We’ve known the truth for years, of course we have. The truth was there for everyone to see as the tragedy unfolded on the television. Anyone could have found out exactly what happened by reading the reputable newspapers instead of the ones that you’d be done for animal cruelty over if you put them at the bottom of a birdcage.
Now, though, the world knows the truth in no uncertain terms. Liverpool fans were in NO WAY to blame and the 96 victims of the disaster were UNLAWFULLY KILLED.
The verdicts make those that are part of the ‘what about’ brigade look like exactly what they are, flat-earthers. They are conspiracy nuts, cranks, contemptible morons who deserve to be ignored and pitied, not risen to. They are arguing with indisputable facts that have been accepted the world over and they look stupid, small and ignorant when they try to suggest that nine intelligent people who spent two years looking at an incredible amount of evidence might know less than some dweeb who’s shared their opinion on social media.
There’s a reason why fans in places like Germany, France, Spain, and America show solidarity with Liverpool supporters over Hillsborough. They don’t have the entrenched views of the city or the club that comes with having listened to and accepted lies told about us for 27 years. They don’t feel the need to react to the truth not in a humanitarian way but in a tribalistic one. They, like us, have always known the truth because they didn’t have to put up with the lies.
The sad fact is that there will always be people who won’t accept the findings of the inquest. There will be people who ask why so much money was spent on a new inquest, as though over £20 million of public money wasn’t spent defending police officers by perpetuating lies that were proven to be nonsense 26 years ago.
Now those people don’t have a leg to stand on. Their arguments are flawed, based on nothing more than fantasy. They’re building falsehoods on a bed of sand and we don’t have to try to change their minds anymore. If people want to continue to believe the lies told over the past 27 years then it’s clear they’re nothing more than neurotic fruitcakes, standing in a room alone, agreeing with their own echo.