Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past – George Orwell
The FA Cup semi-final in 1989 at Hillsborough and I was working at Key 103 in Manchester playing all those great up and coming Madchester era bands like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets , James, 808 State etc. The sickening feeling in my stomach that day as I saw the TV pictures and heard the news of the deaths , was immediately to think, they’ll cover this one up easily – they’ll blame the Liverpool fans.
In Thatcher’s Britain there was no such thing as an objective truth. Leadership worship in British politics was at a giddy height – even in the case of Winston Churchill , despite his ‘Fight them on the beaches’ rhetoric , most British citizens couldn’t wait to vote him out of power once the war was finished. But Thatcher’s Government was different. They’d spent billions of tax-payers money to defeat the tax-paying Miners who were striking for job security and to keep our coal industry alive and throw them and their communities onto the dole scrapheap. The amount of money spent policing the Miner’s strike to destroy that industry in the UK and wipe out Britain’s most powerful union was enough to have kept every single pit at full capacity for another 20 years.
Police over-time payments, the smearing of National Union Of Miners leader Arthur Scargill by the Murdoch press and by that pensions Thief Robert Maxwell’s supposedly labour supporting Daily Mirror, with front page headlines that he’d used Libyan money to pay off his own mortgage ( proved to be a lie – but never retracted by any of the press or by Maxwell), the battle of Orgreave where 95 miners faced 10-15 years in prison on falsified evidence by a brutal South Yorkshire Police force, with miners accused again in the Tory press of being communist thugs .To the corporate bosses and their PR agents like Rupert Murdoch’s News International , Thatcher was a hero
So if a smear campaign can be carried out successfully and fed by a tissue of lies in the press by the Government and Police against arguably Britain’s most powerful Trades Union, what chance did mere football fans have. Years of hooliganism , Liverpool supporters involved in the Heysel trouble which lead to the deaths of 39 Italian fans, the temptation for the South Yorkshire police was too much, it was football fans , and more than that it was scousers , villified in the media and in terrace songs as thieves and layabouts for years, , the seemingly harmless banter of opposing football fans had reinforced a stereotype , no wonder the Police thought they’d get away with blaming them.
The Leveson inquiry shows, for years the police had been accepting payments from journalists as had politicians , and politicians had been cosying up to the press and media barons both when in Government and in opposition. For most of the general public we read newspapers , watch TV , listen to the radio and we believe what we’re told , that should never be the case. As for New labour , think about The Dockers strike in Liverpool and the way it was suppressed in the media , and you wonder why the truth about Hillsborough didn’t come out under Jack Straw and so-called New labour ( Thatcherites in disguise).
The Establishment want to retain the status quo and are virulently anti-working class. We read constantly about over paid teachers , greedy unions and public sector workers with supposedly fat pensions – but never read that Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre earns 1.8 million quid a year for over-seeing a paper churning out nonsense about single mothers, chavs and so-called scroungers and immigrants or ruling over a newspaper empire with journalists too frightened to report real news about what goes on in the world.
Hillsborough was in the press last week and the evidence of collusion between senior South Yorkshire police officials , the press and the Government at the time could be seen clearly. Yet people still , after years of reading the so-called establishment verdict of accidental death with its faint echoes of drunken scousers on the rampage and an investigation into that days events by another police force under a tory government still seem to be desperate to believe it’s not political and merely a South Yorkshire police cover up. What do 96 mainly working class lives mean , when the alternative is to uncover a web of establishment deceit and result in senior policemen being possibly imprisoned , massive compensation payouts and politicians and the media shamed for their blackest of lies .
So the families of the 96 were left to ponder the ‘accidental deaths’ of their loved ones , who had taken the huge ‘risk’ of going to an FA Cup semi-final. It was no-one’s fault – these things happen in a country where there is no objective truth, only their truth and our truth.
The Powerful versus the powerless is as the old saying goes , the struggle between memory and forgetting. The systematic impoverishment of our population is filed nowadays in the media under ‘Underclass’ , an American term describing a corrupting anti-social group outside society. The basic solution to poverty , which is a return of some of the vast wealth taken by the rich off the poor back to the poor is never mentioned in our media. The ‘new’ system of capitalism for the powerless and socialism for the powerful under which the powerless are persecuted and ridiculed for their poverty and the rich are given billions in public subsidies is never mentioned either. Instead they call it ‘Modernisation’.
So with Hillsborough the truth is at last out. But what will happen next. Will anybody ever be brought to trial for culpable manslaughter/murder or cocking up. Will we ever be told why public servants paid by our taxes are allowed to keep documents which aren’t a matter of national security – secret from the public they are supposed to be serving. History without memory in the media age makes us live in a kind of eternal present. Our memories seem to struggle with the fact that our rights don’t come from consumerism or technology , but from a long and painful history of struggle. Our rights don’t extend to big corporations or other artificial entities and they don’t belong to un-elected committees (quangos) and review bodies or international bureaucrats who are redefining our rights in ‘agreements’ with which most of us would disagree.
87% of us in this country don’t approve of the growing divide between rich and poor and we support the redistribution of wealth and income and tax-funded support for public services, and 75% believe that profit should be invested and go to the benefit of working people; barely 3% believe that shareholders and managers should benefit. Yet the media still see us all as part of the false conservative consensus and the big corporations have spent billions year after year on relentless brainwashing projects marketing ‘The Capitalist Story’..
Just after New Labour won the election in 1997, the laissez faire Guru Samuel Brittan wrote in the Financial Times that his followers should count themselves lucky to have Blair, as Labour would certainly have won on a socialist platform. The British Public , he lamented, remains ‘ hopelessly collective’.
Whether we’re collective or not , there’s a critical intelligence and common sense in the way most of us arrive at our values. The Murdochs and Kelvin Mackenzies of the world must despair that in attacking single mothers, naming and shaming deprived schools and calling the unemployed scroungers, they don’t gain popularity. That’s because , as the venerable , British Social attitudes Survey of some 10 years ago showed, , the British people aren’t inately conservative, as politicians and journalists caricature them. Having said that , you still get people who seem to be full of common-sense and very grounded , yet never ever have an opinion that goes against the establishment view, or as George Orwell described them – ‘amateur fascists’, the sorts of people who have a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective ‘truth’, because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuehrer whether it’s Thatcher , Hitler or Mussolini.
Hillsborough may be currently off the front pages and out of the Headlines , but the fight for the truth and justice and the amount of support the campaign has had, whether you think it’s political or not , does tell us that as a people , we don’t have the media that we truly deserve and that our public servants think and act like our masters , and need to be reminded who it is that actually pays their wages. Let’s not forget just because the media do and let’s endeavour to make sure that in the case of the 96 , that justice delayed is not justice denied.