Posts Tagged ‘football’

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Class war in Britain

Posted: 29 April 2016 in Uncategorized
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A couple of days ago, I linked the 1989 Hillsborough disaster with the earlier attack on the striking Orgreave miners, since both groups were treated as the “enemy within.”

Suzanne Moore just did, too, arguing that the Hillsborough verdict shatters the fantasy that class war doesn’t exist in Britain.

It must be somewhat galling for those in power now to have to accept this ruling, for they do not hide their class contempt either. They have elevated it to actual policy: all schools must be modelled on the schools they went to, but with fewer resources. All hospitals must be run to make a profit. Taxes are for the little people. Those who don’t “get on” have only themselves to blame. An increasing range of theories come into play about why poor people are poor, which is never to do with lack of money but lack of civility. Or perhaps there is something wrong with their actual brains! Imagery of working-class people invariably invokes moral deprivation by showing a tendency to excess.

Social mobility, the supposed solution to all this, only allows the odd person to slip through the net. The middle class must simply hold on. Once there, one is required to be grateful (I am not) or merely chippy (I am). As I strain my ears to hear someone who talks like me on Radio 4 that isn’t in a drama about child abuse, I never know who I am to be grateful to.

Sure, class contempt works both ways, though it is impolite to show it except by gentle humour. Rage is so 1980s. We must not discriminate against the posh apparently, though class doesn’t really exist any more. As more and more people tell us it no longer matters, we see more and more of our creative stars were privately educated, that our leaders come from the same tiny enclave. Retro-feudalism.

This fantasy should be well and truly shattered by the Hillsborough verdict. This was a war crime committed in a war that was not then, nor is now, a figment of our imagination. Class war.

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The victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster have finally had their day in court. Not yet, though, the miners who were brutally assaulted five years earlier outside the Orgreave coking plant.

Yesterday, at long last, a jury found that 96 Liverpool soccer fans at the match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England had been “unlawfully killed” and the victims of what proved to be fatal police mistakes.

Last year, unfortunately, the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that the police would not be investigated for charges of assault and misconduct against the 8,000-10,000 miners who went on strike leading up to the June 1984 “Battle of Orgreave.”

Dave Smith, a former miner and former president of Dinnington NUM was at Orgreave on 18 June 1984.

He said it was a hot day and they had been playing football, but the police arrived and all “hell let loose.”

“Horses came out, short shields came out; we tried to defend ourselves as best we could.

“Most of us were running like hell. We finished up down embankments, on to railway lines with dogs chasing us.

“People were seriously injured and I mean seriously injured, and left by the police.

“That’s not helping, that’s attacking, and we were attacked.”

Football obviously (and, not surprisingly, for the British working-class) connects the two tragedies. So, too, does the extensive evidence of police violence and subsequent coverup (which, as we know from recent events in the United States, is not confined to England). But, even more important, both groups of victims—the fans who were steered into overcrowded pens at Hillsborough Stadium and the miners who went to picket lorry drivers supplying coke to the steel industry and were subsequently attacked by police with short shields and truncheons (the first time they were ever used in Britain)—were treated as the “enemy within.”

Both events, remember, took place during the heyday of Thatcherism, which combined a free-market economic strategy with authoritarian populism. Or, as Stuart Hall succinctly put it (in Drifting into a Law and Order Society): “Make no mistake about it: under this regime, the market is to be Free; the people are to be Disciplined.”

Hillsborough (where the families and friends of the victims have won a victory) and Orgreave (where they have not, at least yet), each in their different way, represent attempts to impose that discipline.

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Protest of the day

Posted: 9 February 2016 in Uncategorized
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British football (i.e., soccer) fans are plotting a mass stadium walkout in protest over rising ticket prices.

The decision by around 10,000 fans to stage a 77th-minute walkout of the Liverpool-Sunderland game was the clearest indication yet that vast numbers of supporters have been driven to breaking point over the failure of teams to share some of their new £8.3 billion television contract, a windfall set to widen the gulf between those within the game and those who pay to follow it.

The protest on Saturday forced Liverpool’s owners to revisit their pricing policy for next season and came in the same week as an online backlash forced Arsenal to scrap a season-ticket surcharge, both of which emboldened campaigners against the rising cost of attending matches to crank up the pressure on other clubs.

A meeting of supporters groups was planned last night for the end of this week or the beginning of next week at which a number of options will be discussed, one being the viability of a mass walkout.

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