Friday, July 31, 2009

A Welcome Step

Remember this moment last April? .

David Conn is in severe danger of giving sports journalism a good name with the excellent features he's written, not least concerning the campaign for justice waged by the Hillsborough families. He yesterday penned a piece ( ) which guardedly welcomed the release of the documents relating to the disaster ( ).
Conn notes: "The chanting which interrupted [Andy Burnham's] speech on the day was a difficult moment for him, but it powerfully drew the government's attention to the strength of feeling which persists about Hillsborough."
It's interesting to compare that inescapable fact with the reproving, almost censorious tone of Echo editor Alastair Machray on his blog the day after the service, although he did concede that "the crowd's actions had merit." ( ).
Conn also refers to the required consent of other bodies to the release of the documents, including the Tories: "The consent of the Conservative Party will be necessary if government documents relating to the disaster are to be released, because the Tories were in power at the time."
There's long been speculation about the Thatcher government's dealings with South Yorkshire Police in the days & weeks after the disaster, not least because the force was instrumental in the battle with the miners a few years earlier; when Thatcher visited Sheffield she visibly appeared to be more concerned with the police officers on duty that day than the families of the dead & injured. Moreover, her arrival at one of the Sheffield hospitals treating the injured fans went down like a lead ballon. A friend of mine witnessed the scene as she robotically asked what the fans wanted. One of the supporters told her in no uncertain terms what he thought of her government's treatment of football fans (the tragedy spelt the end for the fans' ID card system she wanted to introduce) as well as her general policy on Merseyside, saying that if she really wanted to help them, she should provide jobs for the area's unemployed. Bernard Ingham ensured the incident received zero media coverage.

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