Lord knows I’m no fan of the Spectator, or its bumbling editor Boris Johnson, but I have some sympathy with their leader article this week (you’ll have to register, but it’s free) on the reaction to the death of Ken Bigley in Iraq by the country in general and Liverpool in particular.
Okay, so saying that Liverpudlians “see themselves whenever possible as victims, and resent their victim status; yet at the same time they wallow in it” isn’t exactly going to endear you to the folks from the other end of the M62.
Nor is suggesting that fans of Liverpool FC may have contributed to the deaths at Hillsborough in 1989, but that is taking such comments out of the context of the whole article. I know and have known many Scousers and for the most part they are just like everyone else; straight, decent, normal people.
But given a tragedy, their collective response is exactly as described, at least as viewed from outside. Victims cannot possibly be at fault; it must be the authorities, the media or anyone else who falls in the cross hairs.
Grief is becoming disproportionate. We are turning into a mawkish nation that hugs tragedy to its chest to make it their own. The death of Ken Bigley is the latest and the most media covered example. I do wonder what the families of the soldiers killed in Iraq, or those of murdered Iraqis, must make of this when the deaths of their loved ones have passed unnoticed and unrecognised.
Fret not, Liverpool, yours is not the only example, but perhaps the most extreme. I see bouquets of flowers where people have died in car crashes tied to lampposts, often at their own hands because they drove too fast; too stupidly; too drunk, whatever. They died. But, “IT WASN’T THEIR FAULT.”
I do feel for the Bigley family. What happened to Ken was awful and inexcusable, but the blood is on someone else’s hands. Just like it is for everyone else who will die today or tomorrow.
So I’m not being mean to Scousers when I say: grow up. Shit happens. Deal with it, get over it, move on.