I just love Billy Bragg and his new song is so beautifully crafted
The song’s hook – “The Scousers never buy ‘The Sun'” – is a reference to a tragedy that happened during an English football match in 1989. In those days, people stood to watch football matches and on that day a human crush killed 96 people and injured over 700 more. It was a horrible disaster but it was made much, much worse when Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid newspaper “The Sun” accused Liverpool fans of appalling behaviour in the aftermath of the disaster:
On the Wednesday following the disaster, Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper with national distribution owned by Rupert Murdoch, used the front page headline “THE TRUTH”, with three sub-headlines: “Some fans picked pockets of victims”, “Some fans urinated on the brave cops” and “Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life”.
The newspaper cited the words of unnamed police sources and a Conservative MP for information relating to the alleged incidents.
The story accompanying these headlines claimed that “drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims” and “police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon”. A quotation, attributed to an unnamed policeman, claimed a dead girl had been “abused”, and that Liverpool fans were “openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead”.
The truth was very different. Of course none of that happened and many fans did what they could to help the first-responders. As a result, there was a boycott of “The Sun” in Liverpool and to this day, sales of the paper are extremely low in that city, with many newsagents refusing to stock the paper at all.
I didn’t know about the Liverpool boycott until I heard Billy’s new song and did some research, but I love how he used that one line – “but Scousers never buy ‘The Sun'” – as a prescription for solving the problem of the odious Rupert Murdoch. If only more people would follow their lead there might never be another “News of the World”-style scandal and, here in America, we wouldn’t have to put up with the lies Fox News spreads every day. Sadly, I can’t see it happening. People like their gossip and scandal and faux outrage way too much to ever give it up.