A new song from Billy Bragg that addresses the rot that has long infected the Murdoch empire. The lyric is “Scousers never buy The Sun,” of which some background here:
“Never Buy the Sun” is a good song, but its title, and its most repeated lyric — Scousers never buy the Sun — depend on a bit of knowledge of British history that most Americans don’t have. Here’s the skinny:
On April 15, 1989, Liverpool’s local football (soccer) team was playing an important game at Hillsborough Stadium, a neutral venue. At the time, Hillsborough — like many British stadiums — had non-reserved seating and high fences between the stands and the playing field. There was a big crowd for that day’s match, and a bottleneck developed at the entrances at the Liverpool end of the field. Large numbers of fans remained outside even after the game began, and when police opened a small gate to eject a fan, some members of the crowd surged forward. In response, the police opened several larger exit gates to serve as an additional entrance, without putting crowd control measures in place to direct foot traffic. As a result, thousands of fans pressed forward into stands that had no room to accommodate them, and those in the front had no ability to leave — or even move — when they began to be crushed by those behind. Ninety-six people were killed in the crush, one of the worst such disasters in British history.
Four days after the Hillsborough Disaster, the Sun newspaper — like the News of the World, a part of Murdoch’s News International empire — ran a front-page story claiming that as events were unfolding, Liverpool fans attacked and urinated on police who were trying to bring events under control, sexually abused the body of a girl who had died in the crush, and picked the pockets of the dead.
These were all lies.
The Sun did not immediately retract its story, and the paper has subsequently veered between apology and justification. Sales of the paper in Liverpool plummeted in the wake of of the incident, and have never — twenty-two years later — recovered. Today Liverpool is one of Britain’s largest cities and the Sun is one of the country’s best-selling newspapers, but only a few thousand copies of the paper are sold in Liverpool each day. Many newsstands won’t even carry it.
In local slang, a person from Liverpool is called a Scouser.
And Scousers never buy the Sun.