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I see this grotesque slander by #BorisJohnson is doing the rounds again. A tirade so easy to counter I am delighted to do so. Let’s call it Lessons from Liverpool, shall we 1.
He put his name to the piece so it’s his. Unless Simon Heffer had a gun to his head it is all his.
For those who may not know, Ken Bigley was a civil engineer from Liverpool who was held by the Tawhid and Jihad ("Oneness of God and Jihad") Islamic extremist group, along with two American Colleagues.
He was filmed. He was used as bait. He was beheaded. His elderly mother lived through all this and died without giving her son the Christian burial she wanted for him. Her city - my city - grieved for her. Here’s how....
Our local council organised a vigil. People prayed or just gave witness to the shared sorrow they were feeling for a family much like their own. Ken’s face is a Scouse face. Look at any photo. It has a map of Ireland on it plus years of Liverpool - wry, mischievous, kind.
Boris Johnson called all of that an ‘extreme reaction’.
He then spaffs on about the docks (see Michael Heseltine for sensible stuff on Liverpool’s port history), an ‘excessive prediliction for welfarism’ (also known as poverty caused in part by Government policy (see Hezza again for sensible stuff on this).
Then we come to his peroration (yes, Mr Johnson, we can all fancy ourselves a Cicero). ‘Flawed psychological state’. A ‘sense of victimhood’, and in a stunning act of pshychological transference he posits this ...
‘They (the psychologically flawed people of Liverpool) cannot accept that they might have made any contribution to their own misfortunes’. The hubris is staggering. The blindness to himself complete.
His assessment of Hillsborough is derived from precisely nothing. He halves the number who died, he blames dead teenagers for dying crushed underfoot then crushes their good names underfoot for good measure. (See David Cameron, House of Commons Sept 12th,2012 apology).
He refers to South Yorkshire Police in the breathless tones of an eager young freemason, and concludes by making the Sun newspaper the truth teller on the whole sorry tragedy. The gall of the man.
The Liverpool people’s community response to Ken Bigley’s murder was infused with simple things - care, feeling for others, and revulsion at the horrifying beheading of a man by crazed extremists. It was 2004...
Over a decade later names like James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig, Kenji Goto and countless others would be murdered similarly. Each death met with international outrage. Extreme reaction?
I wonder if the communal, the personal, the intimate way people in my home city respond to public events alarms Johnson so much - revolts him even - is that in those things lies something I suspect he does not much care for. Responsibility.
Mutual responsibility. If that means just showing up, show up. If it means listening for thirty years to the Hillsborough families when ‘polite society’ has decided it prefers to listen to Kelvin Mackenzie, South Yorkshire Police, and Jack Straw, then listen to them.
If it means arguing back at charlatans like him and hearing shouts of ‘whingeing Scousers’, victims, and any other lazy slurs, then we argue back.
If caring and showing it and bleeding out loud sometimes is ‘extreme’, I’m in.
One of the proudest moments of my life was when a crowd of 30 thousand people at Anfield shot the messenger from the Brown Government when his inadequate words on Hillsborough evidence were met with a loud, communal NO! It changed everything.
Beware the loud, communal NO!, Mr Johnson. You might hear it sooner than you think.
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