By now you probably expect that when someone posts an open letter it will be some sort of rant about some subject or other. You may be relieved to know that this is not an open letter like that. Instead it is a letter of thanks, perhaps oddly a letter of thanks for reducing me to tears.
In recent years I have sometimes found it difficult to understand why you have stuck so steadfastly to your belief in the Labour Party. As the party moved to the right I found it difficult to understand how you could still support them. I was prepared to write them off as Tory lite but as Mr Corbyn took charge I can once again say that Labour is standing up for my personal beliefs.
On Saturday at Bearded Theory festival you managed to reignite my passion and showed the assembled fans that your own passion for social justice still burns fiercely in your breast. Seeing the crowd, fists raised in solidarity with the working man and woman, with those displaced by war and with those risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean in search of a better life brought a lump to my throat.
It was however your rendition of “Scousers Never Buy The Sun” that finally did for me. It was appropriate to remember the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough. It was appropriate to remember the sacrifices that their families have made in pursuit of justice for the loved ones they lost. I truly hope that those responsible for the mistakes that cost so many lives are finally held accountable for those fatal errors.
Of course to err is to be human. It wasn’t the mistakes that is the real injustice of Hillsborough, it was the cover-up that was the real crime.
Police, politicians, Thatcher’s government and scum journalists like the Sun conspired and colluded to blame the victims for their failings. Admittedly at the time of Hillsborough the UK had a real problem with football hooliganism so fans were seen as an easy scapegoat. What happened next was enough to make you hang your head in shame to be British.
The bravery of the Hillsborough families for over a quarter of a century reminds us that for evil to flourish it needs only for good men to do nothing. The Hillsborough families fought their battle against seemingly incalculable odds and yet they prevailed. To their never ending credit they fought their battle with dignity, respect and incredible fortitude. We should be proud of every man, woman and child who refused to allow the Sun to tarnish the memories of their loved one.
So thank you Billy for helping us to remember. Thank you for paying a tribute that had the tears streaming down my face. As I looked around I could see that I was not the only person in tears. My wife was weeping and there were tears in the eyes of everyone I looked at.
The most damaging aspect of Thatcherism was the lie that so many bought. There is no such thing as society, the unions were an anachronism, a bar to productivity and collective protest was futile. The Hillsborough families have taught us that “together we are strong.” We can change the future if we speak up and stand together against injustice. We can bring the institutions, no matter how big and powerful, to heel but only if we use out collective voice to stand up for what is right.
I hope that the Hillsborough families will take comfort from the fact that the 96 have been exonerated. I extend to them my total admiration.
To you Billy I extend my heartfelt thanks for a wonderful tribute to the 96 and their families. May your fire burn ever brighter and may you keep fighting for what you so passionately believe in.