Anne, ITV, ITV Hub, written by Kevin Sampson.

https://www.itv.com/hub/anne/2a5505a0001

Not many programmes can get away with a one-word titular introduction—Anne. I’d have had no idea of who it was referring unless I’d read the pre-publicity for the four-night drama starring Maxine Peake.

Anne Williams, an unremarkable woman from Liverpool who worked in a shop, and who died in 2013.

That might have been that. But if we throw in another word, Hillsborough, the unremarkable becomes remarkable. I’m old enough to remember the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989, both serial European Champions. Kenny Dalglish moved to Liverpool from Celtic for a £440 000 transfer fee. He was now the Liverpool manager. As a Celtic fan, I didn’t take much notice of the match or care who won. I didn’t know what happened. But imagined it was much the same as the Ibrox disaster of 1971. Media reports concentrated on the pageantry of Anfield covered in tops and scarves and token of remembrance for the 97 men, women and children killed and around 766 injured.

One victim was Kevin Williams, a few days short of his sixteenth birthday. He attended the match with his mate. Kevin died in pen 3, at Hillsborough. The official line was compression asphyxiation. After The Ibrox Disaster, Glasgow Lord Provost, Sir Donald Liddle wept at a press conference. He declared, ‘It is quite clear a number died of suffocation’. Anyone that has ever been to a big match knows the feeling of being lifted off their feet after their team score and being swept away down the terracing—a mass love in. But that turns to terror when barriers break, people stumble and fall, and there’s nowhere for fans to go and the bodies pile up.

At the end of the first episode, Anne Williams gets on a train and introduces herself at a meeting of The Hillsborough Support Group. Something just doesn’t add up. The official line was that Kevin had died instantly. Stefan Popper the coroner cajoled witnesses until they supported the narrative being sold to the public by South Yorkshire Police under Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield. Victim blaming.

A Director of Rangers adopted a similar approach and the club did not admit culpability. Spectators helped police carry victims onto the Ibrox pitch and pavilion. A general appeal went out for first aiders. Fifty-three bodies, still in their club’s colours, were laid out on the pitch.

Mist was falling in Govan and ambulances, police and fire engines were delayed by the crowd leaving the stadium, unaware of the tragedy. Eye-witness accounts such as eighteen-year-old, First-Aid assistant, Ian Holm told us he wasn’t even sure what happened and he was inside the stadium.

At Hillsborough there was panic and no coordinated response. The Miner’s Strike 1984-85 had given the police force a blank cheque in Yorkshire. They were dealing with the enemy, working-class men. Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield already knew the official line before any major event. It had worked before and drawn nothing but praise. Rupert Murdoch’s Sun (let’s not call it a newspaper) carried reports of looting and drunken brawling among Liverpool supporters. Let’s not forget a frail and senile acting Murdoch appearing before a Common’s Committee after the News of the World debacle. Then suddenly regaining his mojo in time to help the moron’s moron get elected. That’s the kind of leverage he had then and now. But long memory.  Graham Sourness, the ex-Liverpool captain and Rangers manager, was ostracised in Liverpool for taking the Sun’s money for a story a few years later.

Mary, my partner, watched the first episode with me. She was crying. I guess, like many others, we’ve been there before with unexpected deaths that don’t make sense or the news.

‘But he was already dead,’ she said. ‘What more could they have done?’

I tried to explain about the official delays to ambulances. The chaos of fans using pitch-side barriers to carry victims away. Impromptu, mouth-to-mouth and heart massage. And this is what Anne Williams heard. She was convinced her son cried out her name. A volunteer policewoman said he’d been alive. The coroner said he’d most likely been brain dead and that was highly unlikely. He imposed a 3.15 pm cut-off point, after which anyone on the pitch was presumed to be already dead.

‘What happened to my boy?’

An Observer report concluded if Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield and his compromised police force had behaved professionally, 40 victims might well be alive. In other words, Frank Williams, who was breathing, might well be alive.

What have we learned from Hillsborough? Nought. I look at the Grenfell tower fire. The way the official narrative switched when officials could no longer blame the victims, but instead focussed on those that had cheated and were trying to claim compensation money they weren’t due. Then those that were victims were allowed their day in court. When that was out of the way, the adults in the room could get on with the real business of cutting a deal. No one to blame. Nothing to see. Business as usual.   

Timothy Snyder (2017) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century.

on tryarnny.jpg

On the eve of President Trump’s ‘working visit’ to the United Kingdom this is a handy book to read. President Trump features more than Putin, or other twenty-first century despots. I guess this short book is a riposte to that shock election result, which wasn’t a shock to Snyder. Depots don’t read books. And Trump doesn’t read. His library consists of stored Tweets.  Snyder’s lessons  On Tyranny shifted through the sands of the mass killings of the Holocaust and Stalinist purges looks at then and now. It’s a call for vigilance, but more than that it’s a call for democracy to be transparent and for that to happen we need a more equitable and just society in which each citizen can be held equally accountable for his or her actions.

Our own traditions demands that we examine history to understand the deep sources of tyranny, and to consider the proper responses to it. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communisim…

1 Do not obey in advance.

A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do. #MeToo

First they came for the Socialists

I did not speak out.

I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Windrush generation

I did not speak out.

I was not black.

Then they came for the homeless and unemployed.

I did not speak out.

I was not homeless or unemployed.

2 Defend Institutions

We do not subscribe to the view that Mr Hitler…will suddenly deprive German Jews of their constitutional rights.

We do not subscribe to the view that Mrs May…will suddenly deprive us of the NHS and we will need to pay for health treatment.

We do not subscribe to the view that…some people do not deserve housing, or food, or their children should be educated.

We do not subscribe to the view that 1 in 4 children live in poverty.

3 Beware the one-party state.

‘eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’.

‘The hero of a David Lodge novel says that you don’t know when you make love for the last time that you are making love for the last time’.

We don’t know that when we see a Tory gerrymandered system based on patriotism and lies that we’d see such atrocities such as foodbanks on our streets and some children labelled at birth as being the wrong kind of children. Rejected.  Shame on us.

4 Take responsibility for the face of the world.

The symbols of today are the reality of tomorrow.

In the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin prosperous farmers were portrayed on propaganda posters as pigs.

Under the Cameron and Osborne era anyone on benefits were portrayed as the worst kind of scum. Channels 4 and 5 tried to outdo each other featuring characters, that happened to be –stereotyped- real people, with programmes ending in the tagline Benefits.

‘A neighbour portrayed a pig is someone whose land you can take.’

‘Thus the German who marked shops as ‘Jewish’ participated in the process by which Jews really did disappear.’

Amber Rudd’s migrant memo and ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants in which she did not/ did have targets really did make immigrants disappear.

5 Remember professional ethics

Before the Second World War, a man named Hans Frank was Hitler’s personal lawyer. Later, governor general of Poland where millions of Jews and other Poles were murdered.

I G Farben and other German firms exploited the labour of concentration camp inmates.

Poundstretchers take on staff from benefit office to ‘train’.

‘Just following orders’ doctors and nurses in the health assessment centre in Cadogan Street.

‘Just following orders’ the benefit clerk who sanctions the unemployed.

‘Just following orders’ care staff who puts your mother to bed at six o’clock

6 Be wary of paramilitaries.

‘American state government pay corporations to run prisons, the use of violence in the United States is already highly privatised.’

‘As a candidate, the president ordered a private security detail to clear opponents from rallies.’

Mob violence and the ideology of exclusion.

The British government pay corporations to run prisons…and schools and railways and the NHS.

7 Be reflective if you must be armed.

The evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers doing irregular things. Be ready to say no.

In the Great Terror of the Soviet Union, NKVD officers recorded 628 691 executions of supposed enemies of the state.

The Holocaust began not in the death facilities, but over the shooting pits in eastern Europe.

Black Lives Matter# because time and again it’s proven they don’t really.

8 Stand out.

Remember Rosa Parks.

Remember Hillsborough.

Remember Grenfell Towers.

9 Be Kind to Our Language

Read books.

Victor Klempner noticed how Hitler’s language rejected legitimate opposition. The people always meant some people and not others (the president [Donald Trump] uses the word in the same way) encounters were always struggles ( the president says winning), and any attempt by free people to understand the word in a different way was defamation of the leader (or, as the president puts it, libel).

George Osborne used the word welfare to legitimise the use of taking money from the poorest members of society and give it to the richest. This wasn’t called theft but wiping out the deficit and balancing the economy.

10 Believe in truth.

The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

Victor Klempner – truth dies in four modes.

  1. Open hostility to verifiable reality. e.g. One attempt during the 2016 presidential campaign found that 78 percent of his factual claims were false. e.g. the cladding on Grenfell towers was fireproof.
  2. Shamanistic incantation and endless repetition. e.g. Build the wall. Lock her up. e.g. the NHS is safe in our hands
  • Magical thinking, or the open embrace of contradictions. e.g. president’s campaign involved cutting taxes for everyone, eliminating the national debt, and increasing spending on both social policy and national defence. e.g. George Osborne and the Conservative Party promised to eliminate the national debt and maintain the same levels of services. e.g. The NHS is asked to find savings from its savings and decrease bureaucracy by appointing more managers to manage change.

A blatant abandonment of reason. Amber Rudd’s I did not set targets for deportations of immigrants from the UK. These were set at a local level and they weren’t really targets.

  1. Misplaced faith. e.g. the Fuhrer’s all-knowing greatness. Trump’s ‘I alone can solve it’ from local crime to the problem with Russia or North Korea, but not Israel. He’s already solved that. e.g. the doublethink of Osborne cutting money to the poorest in our society and telling them he was helping them.

11 Investigate.

Like Hitler, the president [Trump] used the word lies to mean statements of facts not to his liking, and presented journalism as a campaign against himself.

We will be better off after Brexit. Lies.

The NHS will gain an extra £150 million a week. Lies.

There will be no hard border in Ireland? Really? How?

12 Make eye contact and small talk.

It was no great surprise that Teresa May fled from victims of the Grenfell fire. Like Trump she doesn’t like dealing with minions. They leave that kind of things to their servants.

13 Practice corporeal politics.

Power wants your body softening in a chair.

Solidarity in Poland began small. #MeToo. #Black Lives Matter.

14 Establish a Private Life.

Scrub your computer. Tyrants seek the hooks on which to hang you. Try not to have hooks.

Facebook theft and manipulation put Trump in the White House. Few journalists talked of Russian involvement and the trashing of privacy codes.

Hannah Arendt suggests totalitarian regimes seek to remove the idea of privacy, everything is public, unless you’ve got something to hide (tagline). Society becomes a mob seeking sanctioned scapegoats.

15 Contribute to good causes.

Support civil society and help others to do good.

16 Learn from peers in other countries.

Russia used many of the cyberwar techniques against the Ukraine that is deployed against the United States.

Most Americans do not have passports. Most claim they would die defending America, but against what?

17 Listen for dangerous words.

Extreminsm. Terrorism.

Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotism. We surrender freedom for safety against the other. Immigrants. Asylum Seekers.  Health tourists. Families on welfare. Feral children.

Extremism, those not in the mainstream. The poor and disadvantaged who need to be controlled. Locked up.

18 Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.

The oldest trick in the book, burn the Reichstag, blame the Jews, suspend freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, the only way to deal with terrorists is to torture and terrorise.

Create a hostile environment in which asylum seekers do not have legal aid, do not have the right of appeal, do not have any rights. Send them home. Don’t worry where home is. We will define it for you.

19 Be a patriot.

Mr President. What is patriotism?

It is not patriotic to dodge the draft

It is not patriotic to mock war heroes.

It is not patriotic to discriminate against active-duty members of the armed forced (i) in one’s companies, or (ii) to campaign to keep disabled veterans from one’s property.

It is not patriotic to compare one’s search for sexual partners in New York with military service in Vietnam that one has paid to dodge.

It is not patriotic to avoid paying taxes, especially when American working families do pay.

It is not patriotic to expect American taxpayers to finance one’s own presidential

campaign and then to spend their contributions on one’s own companies.

It is not patriotic to admire foreign dictators

It is not patriotic to share an adviser with Russian oligarchs.

20 Be as courageous as you can.

Be an enemy of the people, if that what it takes.