Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Justice for the 96

Yesterday (26/4/2016), 30 years after Chernobyl blew up, and 27years since Hillsborough, a jury in Warrington delivered perhaps the most condemnatory set of responses to 16 questions that the UK establishment has ever suffered.

There cannot be justice without truth.  That is why the State acts in the way it does, even today.

Few will have been able to hold back the emotion, partly due to the sheer length of time and hostility the families have had to endure.  And partly that they have, finally, overcome a powerful establishment intent on wearing down and destroying them and their lost loved ones.

Now that reality has returned to the Hillsborough story, attention is quickly - and rightly - turning to those several who modified witness statements, and pursued a 27-year long campaign of falsely blaming Liverpool fans for the tragedy that unfolded.

For me, whilst the lies, cover ups and unlawful killings are terrible, the really important point I see is this: just how quickly the establishment began orchestrating a sophisticated web of deceit and false information, such that these lies were fed, as the tragedy happened, to BBC commentators at the stadium. 

This was no bungled attempt to throw mud.  Those who spun the lies were clearly well-versed and well-supported in what to do when the shit hits the fan.  It's clear a network of advisors and wonks spun into action.  Once the BBC commentators had, in good faith, repeated what the supposedly trustworthy 'authorities' had told them, the lies would propagate like wild fire. 

And so they did, appearing in the infamous Sun headline: 'The Truth'. 

This kind of 'trash the families' approach to dealing with facts that embarrass the State is not limited to enormous catastrophes like Hillsborough.  Indeed, it seems to come straight out of some handbook that all in senior public office have, hidden under their desks for retrieval when needed.

The overall response to those who dare to ask probing questions, criticise or condemn the State - from local council upwards - is to immediately cast doubt on those who are 'stirring', as they would see it.  Lies usually follow, with kagaroo 'investigations', the appointment of friends and colleagues, cast as 'independent', who are paid to prop-up the party line.  And so they do.

This 'shoot the messenger' industry in public office is endemic and destructive.  That it is destructive is, of course, it's whole raison d'etre

But that it is endemic is utterly unacceptable.  These attitudes - and the people who propagate them - belong to a time past.  Indeed, many of them seem not to have really understood they no longer live in the 1970s or 80s, where media management was easy, because the public had no ready and immediate access to the papers and broadcasters.  Today, anyone can alert a material-hungry media to an interesting story as it unfolds.

Justice for the 96 was long overdue.  That much is clear.  Less clear is that those in wider public office are learning any lessons at all about falling on their sword, rather that trashing the public, when they make even the slightest of mistakes.  Let also their legal departments, full of lawyers who have long forgotten their professional duty to the truth, learn that they are not in post to spin-out lies in support of their masters.  From little lies, big tragedies grow.

Let's hope that the terrible conduct of the State, such as it has been during the 27 years of searching for truth in Liverpool, brings much more than peace for the families.  Let's hope it opens the door wide open on the ways of the State, and just why it prefers to blame the affected, rather than stand up for justice.

Above all, let's hope it brings lasting change to accountability.