Thursday, 28 April 2016
British values? LOOK TO LIVERPOOL Mr Cameron!
When Cameron spouted on about 'British values' I shouted at the television screen, screaming the Tories wouldn’t know true values if they jumped up and bit them on the backside. When I challenged his supporters on the meaning of British values, no one could give me a definitive explanation. I gave them an answer – "Go to Liverpool and meet the people." They didn't like it one bit. I was called 'an idiot', 'ill informed', 'typical red' and even 'a defender of murderers'. YEP, it is true!
I bring my children up on the 'Liverpool values' – family; truth; honesty; integrity and fight for justice. I teach mine the importance of questioning pieces of writing – the motive of the author, the purpose of the article and to question, with respect, authority if they feel something is wrong. I even teach them 'respect' is NOT an automatic entitlement and has to be earned, regardless of who you are. Up to this week, there has been an inner anxiety that I have set them up to fail in a self-serving, dishonest world but I do believe they are now more prepared for the future than most adults I know.
Let me take you back to the late 1970s and 1980s. I am not a Liverpudlian – I am from Leeds and a true northern Yorkshire lass. My love affair with Liverpool started in the 1970s. My parents are huge Beatles' fans. We spent lots of family days over in Liverpool searching for all the Beatle locations, including primary schools, homes, etc. Those family days are really precious to me and led me to a life-long love of John Lennon and Liverpool FC. They were the happiest days of my childhood.
For me the 1980s represented then, and still do now, all that is evil about the Conservative party and the establishment they created. No one in my family is politically motivated and I have to thank Colin Burgon for opening my eyes and releasing what was already in my heart – socialism. I was ridiculed and berated for hating Thatcher but in my heart, even before Hillsborough, I had this gut feeling of dishonesty and disingenuity every time she spoke. I was SEVENTEEN. This was in my heart. I should have known then - always to trust my gut instincts. Then came the Miner's strike. At times, it felt like I was the only one who could see the Government was using the police force against its own people – the people they had sworn an oath to protect and serve. We would denounce any other Government for doing this!! The 1980s was a pure class fight, plain and simple. Thatcher could not follow true capitalist policies with a strong unionised workforce. I was SEVENTEEN and I could see it.
During this time, I had to endure racism at its worst within our extended family. One of our relatives was a police officer and I remember one day she came round to our house bragging about how she'd got a confession out of someone. I lost it. I totally let rip. In front of my Dad, I told her to stick her prejudicial views and her corruption up her a***. I even told her she was part of a fascist plot against working people. I apologised to my Dad after – not for what I said but out of respect for him.
Then, came Orgreave. I cried. I was devastated to watch the lies unfold. To watch the police batter people who only wanted to save their jobs, feed their families. It was a sad day when the miners were forced to give up their fight.
Hillsborough was heart breaking. The human suffering and devastation can never, ever be overstated. Anyone who has spent time in Liverpool, with Liverpool families, would never, EVER believe the lies that were told in the aftermath of the disaster. The truth has always been there and always known by everyone involved. The TRUTH has ALWAYS been there!
A couple of days after the disaster, we travelled over to Anfield to pay our respects. I remember the long, silent queue that spanned the perimeter of the fence, which is now the Centenary Stand. Poems and messages had been written all along the fence. The silence was overwhelming. A lady came out of her house opposite the ground and came over to us. She threw her arms around my neck – a complete stranger – and thanked me for coming to her city. That IS Liverpool; that is MY Liverpool. The city of kindness and heart-warming friendliness.
Years later, I took Wes to his first Liverpool game against Barcelona. There was just me and him. When we got in the ground, a steward smiled and started talking to Wes. He actually walked us to our seat!! That is MY Liverpool.
Watching the fight, the Hillsborough families fought, makes me immensely proud. Anne Williams was incredible and such an inspiration. She didn't ask for the fight but by God, she took it on and was fierce. I was in awe of her and there is not one word that can possibly explain how much influence her fight had on my life. She is the reason I am the Mum I am today. She taught me how to fight for our children, for truth and justice and she will always be my working class hero.
The Hillsborough verdicts have much wider implications than Liverpool. They are a catalyst for change and we ALL have a responsibility to pursue that change – to stop corruption and put those British values back into the heart of our country – family; truth; honesty and fight for justice; integrity. Thatcher stole these away from US as a nation, it's time to bring them back.
I stand by my prediction that, in years to come, it will be proven beyond doubt, Thatcher will be the worst Prime Minister in social British history. We know they lied about Hillsborough, I know they lied about Orgreave, what else have they lied about? The 1980s were rotten to the core!
The Government need silent compliance; they need us to roll over and accept their version as the 'truth'. They hate Liverpool because the people refused to roll over; they refused silent compliance. They picked on the wrong city and now, as a country, WE ALL need to FIGHT together to ensure the changes started by the heroism of the Hillsborough families and survivors, continue until we have a fully accountable establishment and media. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have my full support, not just because they are old, like me, and remember the horrors of the 1980s, but because they are everything that our public representatives should be – HONEST!!!
Thank you to the Hillsborough families, the courageous survivors, the honest people who tried to save lives that fateful day and everyone who wants to see a better world for our children. Most of all thank you to Anne and Sara xx
Rest in Peace at last 96 angels – you'll never walk alone