157 thoughts on “SOS”

  1. I have to say I support said editorial.
    As Boris has said, no offence was intended, and although I haven’t read it yet, it seems obvious to me that it could have been written a little better. Still, it does make a perfectly fair and legitimate point.

  2. Hopefully Mr Johnson will recover from his Flu bout shortly, unfortunately 96 Liverpool fans will not be recovering from the events of Hillsborough and many thousands of Liverpool residents will be living with the repercussions and mental scars of that day until they die.

    I have no complaints about comments regarding Mr Bigley – I sympathise with his family but when its all said and done – he travelled of his own choice to a place where the foreign office recommended against travelling.

    No such recommendation had been made about travelling to Sheffield to attend a football game. A public event where the police where expected to provide safety and security. Despite what Mr johnson may erroneously believe, as was documented in the Taylor report, the police solely have responsibility for the deaths at Hillsborough and to suggest otherwise is not just obscene but actually repugnant to me.

    Mr Johnson, please let me tell you, as a life long Conservative voter in the North West of England, you have just persuaded me to vote Labour.


    Richard Barrett

  3. The editorial seems to be naive. To criticise the “us against them” attitude of Liverpool, whilst perpetuating Hillsborough lies is hypocritical. The point is valid, but Liverpool’s reaction to Bigley is not the best means to illuminate it.


    If anyone in Liverpool read The Spectator, I’m sure they wouldn’t now. I can understand this, and lament the Conservative anti inner-city Ethos.

  4. are we to excuse every person who deeply offends others – namely those who have suffered 15 years of hurt and pain of losing their loved ones through NO fault of their own, but through the sheer incompetence of those responsible for ‘managing’ such an event, if they happen to be ‘suffering’ from the flu?

    the families of the victims of the Hillsbrough Disaster have suffered enough due to what can only be described as absolute garbage and sheer incomptence and unprofessionalism of those involved in certain areas of the media. when someone in the public eye such as mr johnston decides to either make or attach his name to such rubbish as what was published regarding Hillsbrough in the specator editorial, they obviously have no idea of the hurt and upset it causes, not to mention fuelling the ignorance that still surrounds the true events of that horrible day.

    perhaps boris should think of the very real effects this incident has had on those affected by the Disaster?

    think of how the lies and hurt that this latest bit of media nonsence ‘has taken its toll’ on thos who matter – the families of those who lost their loved ones in the Hillsborough Disaster.

    perhaps a good starting point for boris would be:


    a great point of reference if you want the TRUTH regarding Hillsborough.

    i await boris’ take on this with interest.

  5. I have not seen said editorial in full yet, altho I will endeavour to do so. But, as we can see, Boris has apologised for any offence caused, and it must be said that with regards to Ken Bigley, as sad and horrific what happened was, it is true that he knew the risks when he went out there. Its still an awful thing to happen, but it sounds as if Boris was just raising a point…

  6. To people that were offended by the article: The truth always does hurt. I back Boris 100% on this matter, Liverpudians on the whole take things too seriously.

  7. “As Boris has said, no offence was intended, and although I haven’t read it yet, it seems obvious to me that it could have been written a little better.”

    Hang on…that doesn’t work. How do you know it could have been written a little better, if you haven’t read it….


    I blame the flu for my publish errors as well.

  8. Some bod being interviewed on PM today seemed to think the piece didn’t read like it was written by Boris. Then again, he also seemed to think the whole thing was a huge joke.

    However, I may have missed the nuances as I was also listening to my boss having a screeching fit about something or other.

  9. The calls for resignation are breathtaking. the whole war was built on false pretenses, thousands are killed, including Mr Bigley, and no one resigns, not even the Prime Minister says sorry. But one article in a popular magazine prompts calls for resignation? It’s quite possible Boris didn’t even write the article – it certainly doesn’t have his flair. As the article says – get some perspective, people.

  10. I think it has more to do with the media being involved with the hostage situation. Videos were released to TV stations giving a video diary of the the kidnapping. I don’t believe that the fact that Mr Bigley was a Liverpudlian made it more tragic.

  11. Boris,
    you daft twat.
    Have you gone completely mad?
    Now the cats completely out the bag.
    What possessed you to write/condone such a vicious piece of nonsense. It completely undermines the “lovable buffoon” persona you have so carefully cultivated for so long. It looks like your dad was right after all, you really shouldn’t be let out on your own.
    It’ll be all downhill from now on, mark my words.
    You shouldn’t ought to mess with scousers.

  12. Surely the controversy being caused by the article proves the point it made.

    Get well soon Boris.

  13. To be honest i am glad you have said what you did because now your career is finished.

    It looks like this flu may last a few weeks hey boris!! ostrich comes to mind…..

    you are the weakest link goodbye!

  14. You can read the article online here (until it goes behind the Spectator’s subscription wall, after a week I think):


    You’re supposed to have completed free registration to read it, but this should get you in:

    Email: splatterbox@mailinator.com
    Password: splatter

    (Courtesy of the excellent service at http://www.bugmenot.com)

    I must say that I was disappointed, but not too surprised, to find no mention of this fiasco on the Spectator website. I understand Boris has apologised, so why not have a message to that effect on the website?

  15. Hillsborough. Nothing to do with the fact that the victims were from liverpool. So some of them had had a beer, so what? The police knew they had been drinking and SHOULD have responded accordingly. Alcohol and being Liverpudlian were not the causative factors.This is prejudice on your part of the most basic type.

    You’ve lost the plot matey.

    Michael Howard must love you. Hopefully your votes will now go to a good home….

  16. The article has been taken out of all context. Everyone relax and act calm, read the artical and think logically. Jump off your latest bandwagon and continue with your lives.

  17. I do detect a certain lynch mob tendency here. Maybe the article was offensive (or simply expressing an opinion that’s not au fait these days), but so’s the hysteria and ranting that’s followed in its wake.

  18. Richard Barrett:

    “Mr Johnson, please let me tell you, as a life long Conservative voter in the North West of England, you have just persuaded me to vote Labour.”

    I’m sorry, but you really are pathetic if you base your vote, one of the most important duties you perform as a citizen, upon one little article by someone not even acting in his capacity as an MP but in a totally separate media career. Same goes for everyone else shallow enough to think this. For God’s sake, base your vote on things that actually matter, not on silly, trival issues such as this.

  19. Actually, Boris only said what I, and some other people I know, was thinking in many ways. Clearly, one has great sympathy for Mr. Bigley’s family but I did think that the reaction was a bit out of proportion particularly two minutes silence. As someone else on the reply list pointed out, Mr. Bigley did go there of his own accord. Also, and I usually have no time for the Prime Minister whatsoever, I found Mr Bigley’s brother’s remark that Tony Blair had blood on his hands completely out of order. Pressure in the media, as the Bigley family orchestrated, was a marvellous show of support but it didn’t transfer their thoughts into fact. The Prime Minister of Britain does not and should not react to one person’s view. Regarding Hillsborough. I knew someone, not from Liverpool, who went and came back alive. The families of those that didn’t will never forget, of course. But I don’t think that holding onto bitterness will help them through the next 15 years and I sincerely hope that somehow they can find peace and be enabled to move on. Finally, Boris, anyone who has the courage to say what they think always gets shot down. You will, of course, get up again stronger.

  20. Am i the only one who thinks Boris was spot on in what he said? From the days of Heysel through to Hillsborough, September 11 and now Ken Bigley the only thing we ever hear from the wonderful people of Liverpool is a great outpouring of grief.It seems to me that they are indeed professional mourners, seemingly unable to cope withhout the rest of the world knowing what they’re going through.Nowadays it seems almost a criminal offence to criticise the city or its people yet these are the very same people who steal a condolence book from the cathedral to remember ‘one of their own’ as they put it.People of Liverpool mourn by all means, just dont expect the rest of the world to mourn with you for eternity.

  21. Sorry, but have I missed something?? Bigley was a Liverpudlian, ok, but does that give the people of that city the exclusive right to feel sorry for him? And to take such a “proprietary” interest in the ability and right to grieve? Of course not – everyone feels sorry for him, but we don’t wander round beating our chests and wailing like the easily led sheep of Liverpool do…. Wake up and smell the coffee Liverpool, you were whipped up into an entirely media-led frenzy of “faux-grief” so they could get people with Liverpool accents to say “our hearts go out to his family” (that utterly devalued and meaningless phrase so beloved of bandwagon-jumpers) to use as a sound bite on TV news.

    Boris is ABSOLUTELY right this was not a “Liverpool” thing it was, if anything other than a family tragedy, a political scandal for the Government to deal with. So if the people of Liverpool have nothing better to do than pretend they knew Bigley BEFORE the TV cameras arrived, then I think that sums them up.

    Leave his family and true friends to grieve in peace and with dignity, and stop obstructing that process.

    I wonder how many copies of the Spectator are sold in Liverpool? 5? 10? If they now “ban” it that?s a sign of their intolerance, not something to be proud of.

    Grow up and stop pretending to be so outraged and put upon, Liverpool!!

  22. I would also like to point out that not everybody believes Hillsborough was purely the fault of the Police.As someone who visited the ground a year afterwards with my team and saw the pain and the anger of the stewards and the local people towards the actions of some fans on that day, there is many a story about Hillsborough that was never published so as not to offend Liverpool and its people,Simply because these stories were never published doesnt mean they didnt happen.

  23. Don’t people overreact??
    And I’m not talking about the Liverpudlians but people on this blog. It was an opinion that caused offence, however,a lot of people do agree with it without voicing their views. To the people it offended Boris has apologised.For me, that really is the end of the matter. It was ONE article. Boris Johnson’s career really isn’t going to disintergrate because of it, like some of you are suggesting. I am sure Boris will continue to be as popular as he ever was and still is ,because of his views.I’m sure he will carry on attracting many much needed voters for his party.

  24. Personally, I think this will knock Boris’s political career back a few months. But then, assuming no other faux pas, he’s come back again, stronger for it. I do think his flu might have led him to make the mistake of letting this article pass the editor’s eye, but of course that’s not an excuse. At http://www.boriswatch.com, I have had vicious emails wishing everything from death to cancer on Boris, from Liverpudlians. This is an outrageous overreaction, and only serve to confirm the article.

  25. George Bush would put me somewhere to the left of the French, however I might just start buying the Spectator now

  26. Boris got it spot on in my opinion. Everyone parading around on camera, pretending that they were Bigley’s closest friends, when they’d never even heard of him before he got kidnapped, seems rather tactless if you ask me.
    Don’t let the politically correct squad get you down, Boris.

  27. Chin up Boris, it’ll all blow over in a few days, it’s just been a pretty slow news week.

    The Sun blamed the Liverpool fans, the fans blame the police. As ever, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, the police handled the situation horribly, and deserve to take the lion’s share of the blame. But don’t pretend that all of the Liverpool fans were innocents led to their deaths. Police handling of large crowds at cup semis in the eighties was almost always terrible, so why didn’t this happen at every one? And it’s not like Liverpool fans had a flawless record concerning this type of thing – remember Heysel?

    Characterising anything as completely black and white is a mistake.

  28. Perhaps you should actually bother to go and read the Taylor report, Richard.

    And Liverpool were taking part in virtually every cup semi-final in the Eighties so by your argument it should have happened at all of them as well. The attitude – “liverpool had a hooligan problem (as did most clubs), Liverpool were involved in a crowd disaster, therefore Liverpool fans were the blame” is exactly the sort of ill-informed argument that lead the Sun to think it could print its stories before properly investigating them. Never mind the evidence (proper evidence not half-baked theories) – I’ll just go with my gut instinct.

  29. Boris u complete tit, get your facts right. This has come at a bad time for me. Particularly as I’m so pissed off with labour right now and was going to vote tory, no fckin chance, if this is what u propogate.

  30. The article was a well written opinion piece, absolutely justified in the current climate. The Spectator (not Boris personally) only said what a lot of people, including myself, were thinking. This fake show of emotion is embarrassing and entirely unjustified.

    Boris, well done on having the will to publish. This is what makes you a great politician rather than the other PC inoffensive wimps in parliament.

  31. God, Boris, what were you thinking? The article was insensitive enough without dredging up Hillsborough.

    Speaking as someone’s who’s lived in Liverpool all her life, I must say that the comments about the city’s victimisation complex and tribalism are all entirely true. The city’s ability to bear a grudge is one of the more unpleasant things about it. Also, the article was spot-on about Paul Bigley. But that doesn’t excuse the overall tone and the many things that were wrong about it. Bad move there, Boris.

  32. Instead of giving a knee-jerk reaction like M.Howard, people should read the piece first and THINK !
    The article was mostly correct in my view and if M.Howard forces Boris to resign over this he is a bigger twit than i think he is and will lose my vote.
    Right or wrong, in these days of boring political correctness, Boris is a breath of fresh air. He shoots from the hip, is amusing and mostly correct.
    Come on Mr. Howard, instead of giving the man a kick you should be giving him a promotion. The Tories ( like Labour ) are full of grumpy old men with tired old ideas. Bring Boris up front and you will certainly get more of the younger vote.

  33. Firstly Boris is, to me, entirely correct regarding Bigley. It was, as stated, a horrific situation but it is right of the article to ask for some perspective on the matter.

    Secondly with regards to Hillsborough. If you actually read the spectator article it doesn’t deny the part the police played in this tragedy it merely asks for a little rational consideration; that there were more factors involved than purely the actions of the police.

    The question is not whether the Spectator, nor Boris, believe that Hillsborough was a tragedy largely the fault of the authorities, it is whether or not those with an emotional tie to the event can see through the inevtiable pain and suffering and accept a certain amount of the blame, no matter how small, lies with some of the fans involved in the incident.

    The article does not ask you to ignore the pain and suffering involved (in either the Bigley case or Hillsborough) it asks for people to accept that there is more to both tragedies than meets the eye.

  34. Oh, brother. I can’t believe how het up people are over this.

    The article doesn’t make light of Bigley’s situation in any way. But the fact is, soldiers are over in Iraq serving their country; he was over there serving his wallet.

    You can’t compare the two.

    BTW, it’s annoying that the Spectator makes you register to read an article. Either you’re online and people are allowed to read, or you’re offline.

    Me, I used BugMeNot.

  35. Always the jester never the king

    Arguing that the Sun’s accusing Liverpool supporters of urinating on the 96 dead at Hillsborough, amounted to no more than a ‘hint at the wider causes’ was not clever…a city with a very unique sense of community that is not always healt…

  36. Your comments in The Spectator re: the people of Liverpool, with
    special reference to Ken Bigley and The Hillsborough Disaster are
    frankly a disgrace.

    Kens family are still mourning him, as he was only “murdered” less
    than a week ago. Your comments are unhelpful to the family at this or
    any time.

    As a friend of someone who lost a brother at Hillsborough, your
    comments on the disaster are unwelcome and at the very least ill
    informed. If you had read the FULL report of the disaster, you would
    have a clear understanding of that tragedy and the suffering of all

    Out of all the hostages taken in Iraq to date, Ken Bigleys plight
    captured the hearts and minds of the world. Representatives of the
    Muslim Council of Britain even flew out to try and help
    (Unprecedented) and the Irish government offered him citizenship. No
    other hostage of any nationality has had as many people actively
    trying to help and pray for him, and you rationalise this by drawing
    the conclusions you printed. By doing this you missed the point that
    Ken Bigleys plight UNIFIED so many people of different religions,
    worldwide – surely a good thing!

    I am sure that at some point in the future you will have the pleasure
    of visiting the City of Liverpool, and I have no doubt that the City
    will unite once again and afford you the welcome you deserve.

  37. The editorial, which is now nationally known even by those who do not read the publication, is an absolute disgrace. Ken Bigley was working in Iraq as a civilian contracter, helping to rebuild this war-ravaged country and restore some kind of civility to the nation. He should be honoured for his contribution, for which he paid the ultimate price, not lambasted by an overpaid egotist.

    To say the editorial was never meant to cause offense is itself offensive. How many other ways are there to take such demeaning and derogatory statements, as were made and approved by you, Mr Johnson? Making the comments showed a great deal of insensitivity to your fellow countrymen, and a lack of foresight of the repercussions of such statments. To then say they were not meant to cause offense is insulting to the intelligence of the nation. Of course they were meant to cause offense, how else could they have been interpreted? The comments on Mr Bigley, ascerbic in their own right, were only compounded by the hateful comments on the Hillsborough tragedy.

    It is with a great deal of irony that I note Boris is the Shadow Culture Secretary. Liverpool has been nominated European Capital of Culture for 2006. Personally, as a resident of Liverpool, I can’t wait until Boris visits Liverpool, which he will undoubtedly will have to do. Maybe then, Boris, you will see exactly what motivates Liverpool, and exactly why your comments have been so very very damaging. It is with regret, however, that I cannot show Mr Johnson first hand how damaging his comments have been. I would surely be arrested.

    It may be better for the Conservative Party hierarchy to save Mr Johnson the embarrassment of such a visit, and remove him from the party altogether.

  38. Is this nothing more then an arguement over a journalistic article? Please debate by all means – but all of this reads like a bunch of kids in a rugby scrum. It becomes a situation where both sides become as bad as each other.

  39. It seems the entire denizenship of Merseyside have discovered your blog.

    I must say, I think these roaring Liverpudlians are showing enormous hypocrisy. I distinctly remember the wake of the Heysel tragedy in 1985, when the manager and other senior officals at the club, together with much of the community insisted the blame for the 38 Italian deaths lay squarely with the Italians for having provoked the Liverpool fans into wanting to kill them. Yet to borow their reasoning and make an equivalent suggestion that Liverpool’s fans in turn had some role in their own catastophe, somehow makes a person execrable and lynchworthy. For all the misery and trauma suffered by the Hillsborough tragedy relatives, I’m not sure it’s particularly credible for anyone to suggest that constituent parts of the thousands-strong mob of Mersey drunks which chose to surge through the gates that day are blameless for the crush that followed.

    So, I’ve read this controversial Spectator article without particularly bristling at any of it. But I do fear in approving its publication you’ve probably made yourself Captain Nasty for generations of thieving welfarists.

  40. I do hope Boris wrote it, and not Mark Steyn (whose own insensitive piece on Kenneth Bigley the Telegraph refused to run; it’s on his site, use Google if you must). I agreed with all of it.

  41. The spectator editorial is a good, solid piece of abstract journalism that touches on many salient points regarding the Bigley & Hillsborough affairs. The tone of the piece is clearly evident and when living rooms and dinner tables nationwide resound with thoughts of sympathy, but a feeling of “the money comes because of the risk” why is this print article provoking such a mass of controversy. The wider issue here is that journalism is being stamped and degraded at every turn because issues caanot be discussed without utter nonsense and faux-disgust pouring from every idiot who wants to be seen to do the right thing – regardless of their personal opinions. Much as it pains me to support Mr. Johnson on this occasion you were bang on with a thought provoking piece and Michal Howard is proving himself more of an opportunist idiot than usual with this visit shennanigans. I mean christ it was a Spectator editorial, when merseyside turned on the Sun there was a palpable drop in circulation, I think The Spectator won’t notice somehow.

  42. I do think the article was offensive, inaccurate, poorly timed and unnecessary.

    However, I do think Boris is dealing with the situation well, and I may yet let him out of the dog house.

  43. Liverpool: 20/20 on this one, Boris (first time, mind you, don’t get complacent). Head, nail, nail, head.

    And since that nice Mr Howard’s making you go to Liverpool to apologise, don’t just defend yourself – the city’s reaction to the editorial largely proves your point, so tackle them on it! (Might do them some good).

  44. I live in Merseyside, and I think the article has a point about the motives of people working in Iraq. There was a man from Liverpool being interviewed on the news a few days ago, who despite the Ken Bigley affair was about to go to Iraq, because of the money being offered – in fact, he said, the money would be even better after the publicity the Bigley story received.

    I do think though that one of the more endearing characteristics of Liverpool is that incidents like these affect the populace in the same way as, for example, a murder in a small village might – the collective ‘grief’ expressed is not a result of self-pity, but a genuine feeling of community which most big cities simply don’t have. Unfortunately, the flip-side of this is that Liverpudlians tend to have long memories, and bear grudges far too easily. Hillsborough, in particular, is a sore-point, but the article merely suggests that other factors than errors on the police’s part played a role in the tragedy, which is surely fair enough.

    The people baying for Boris’ blood should lay off and stop being so silly – when last I looked, people in Britain were free to express personal opinions without being forced out of their jobs. Likewise, people using this as an excuse to ‘scouse-bash’ should get a grip. I’ve lived in or near several British cities, and have found nowhere as friendly and characterful as Liverpool, and those who live in suburbs of London (where, I’m convinced, people would quite happily walk over a corpse in the street) should visit the city before peddling the same tired drivel about the place and its inhabitants.

  45. Boris old bean, don’t take any notice of what Howard says you’ll be there long after he has gone. Be a man and publicly tell him to get STUFFED.

  46. Boris old chap, you are right in saying Ken Bigley brought it – to an extent – on himself. But “didn’t mean to cause offence”? Come off it… Not about the Bigley thing, maybe, but you had a fairly good shot at slagging off Scousers and you know it.

    You said they have an “excessive predilection for welfarism” and “a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche”, plus “wallow” in their “victim status” following the Hillsborough disaster, and you didn’t mean to offend any Liverpudlians by this?

    You’re an experienced enough journalist to know perfectly well that even if these comments were made in jest they would not be taken lightheartedly by a decent chunk of the population of Merseyside.

    You also know perfectly well that if you had made such sweeping statements about an ethnic rather than regional minority then you would be in far more trouble than you are. It’s not different to Kilroy-Silk’s comments about Arabs.


  47. Regarding Bigley as a mercenary..
    The exact same logic applies to military personnel: the quest for wealth is not to be mocked. The fact that Bigley was being paid so handsomely underlines the high value of his willingness to assist a war-torn country. Yes, he was aware of the risks, but does that mean war heroes deserve no support?
    The Spectator article was fair, and the Capt. Scott quote entirely fitting. Some of the comments it has generated have crossed the line, however. The Filter^

  48. Let’s get some perspective. It’s interesting the relative value we place on life, and The Spectator piece, as you say across the pond, is “spot on.”
    Bigley died as a result of geography. Wrong place, wrong time, but of his own volition. Millions suffer death by geography each year with no choice and nary a tear from the developed world.In the U.S. as we march to a swim in a fountain of youth, a celebration of 50 as the new 25 or middle-age crises starting at 70, much of the world is dealing with life expectancies we passed by a century or more ago.
    In Somalia today the life expectancy is only 45 for men. In Sierra Leone it is 49 for women.
    Worse, in Rwanda life expectancies are 38 for men and 39 for women.
    In the developing world people are dying because they can’t get enough to eat. In America, we’re worried about two-thirds of our population being fat, and dying because they get too much to eat.
    The director of an international laboratory on longevity and survival predicts by mid-century life expectancies in some nations may reach 100.
    What’s more, Dr. James Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, tells The New York Times that other researchers who share his views predict that life expectancies might hit 130 years in some countries by 2050.
    From 1840 until today life expectancies in the nations that are the best off have gone up about 2-1/2 years per decade. Is a straight-line increase with no signs of trending away, Vaupel said.
    There is no reason to believe that life expectances can’t continue to go up two to three years per decade Vaupel tells The Times. Biomedical progress is really impressive. We are beginning to understand cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease. In animal models we are beginning to understand how to slow aging itself.
    In 1776 the average U.S. life expectancy was 35 years old. It stood at 47 in 1900 and is 77 today.
    Let’s say Americans don’t eat themselves to death, and factor into Vaupel’s predictions about life expectancies in the highly developed world in 2050.
    And let’s say we continue to prosper while turning a blind eye to so much poverty.
    One fourth of all the people on the Earth live on less than $1 per day, and more than half of all humans live on less than $2 a day, according to Chip Carter, the son of former President Jimmy Carter and a volunteer at the human-rights-minded Carter Center in Atlanta.
    If some nations have life expectancies of 40, and others 130, it will elevate the gulf between the haves and have-nots to something closer to immortal and mortal.
    Some people would get half-lives while others literally would have double-lives.
    The speculation that life spans could nearly double in the next 50 years for the most fortunate human beings raises a laundry list of socio-economic-ethical issues, chiefly the growing divide between the rich and the poor.

  49. Boris shouldn’t apologise for his point of view. I think he was pretty much on the money anyway!

  50. Boris old bean. Just heard the 6 o’clock radio 4 news. Apologies – for Howard read HITLER

  51. The article maybe chose the wrong words and certainly was mistaken in being ill-informed about Hillsborough, but its point was valid. As a lifelong lefty, and being close to Liverpool and its people, I might be seen as one of those likely to take offence. But I don’t.

    The media-led ‘grief’ was totally disproportionate. The point made by The Spectator about such manufactured hysteria is timely and true. The writer and comedian Pete McCarthy died cruelly young in the same week. He could be said to mean far more than Mr Bigley to the millions who read his books, but there were no public outpourings of grief or black armbands for him. Why? Because the media hadn’t seen fit to fabricate a sentimental frenzy over him.

    Bigley went of his own accord and for his own ends. His death was shocking and barbaric and should be condemned in the strongest terms. But let’s get our reaction to such high-profile deaths in proportion and our response to those brave enough to criticise it. It’s time we all grew up.

  52. Jesus, leave him alone. The Torys dont need any help cutting their own throat as long as plonkers like ‘Horrible Boris’ are left free to speak their minds. An article written from the heart is all well and good but far from being just non PC, it was a true reflection on what most of these people think of those of us who live outside the Southeast. Vote with your feet, I know I have.

  53. Boris,

    Your endorsement of this article shows you up for what everyone knows you to truly be. A yuppie with a stupid haircut feeling resentment for what you are without in life.

    You claim Liverpudlians tribalism comes from us feeling sorry for ourselves. Utter tripe.

    I would counter your argument by saying that you yourself feel you are part of nothing. You and your type are loathed because of your “out for all I can get” attitude. You’d sell your grandmother if it made a profit.

    You feel resentment that you are not part of any such tribalism, that you do everything for your own benefeit and have no concern whatsoever for anyone around you. And as a consequence, no-one around you has any concern for you.

    We (I say we as i myself live in Liverpool) felt Ken Bigley was one of us. If, God forbid, you yourself got held hostage in Iraq, do you expect your city would pour out in support of you in the same way the Liverpudlians did with Mr Bigley and his family?

    The support given cannot be understood by anyone such as yourself as it displays a basic concern for our fellow men. Something you appear to lack. A common attribute of conservatives everywhere.

    The article displays many known manifestations of conservativism. Selfishness, being ill informed, predjudice verging on racism, and a genuine and basic lack of concern.

    It warms me to think such conservativism is widely percieved by the british electorate to be just that, and as such we don’t have to worry about it coming to power in British government any time soon.

    Adam Lewis

  54. {quote}

    Party leader Michael Howard told him to go to Liverpool, saying the article was “nonsense from beginning to end.”

    Mr Johnson said he would go in a “spirit of complete humility.”

    {end quote}


    It makes a mockery of Boris Johnson’s claim that what matters for a politician is truthfulness. He said what he thought, but now he’s withdrawing it, because it was impolitic.

    So much for truthfulness. Politicians – plus ca change …

  55. Victims, from whatever group or cause, will never need to be sorry, as they are the victims!!
    Mr Johnson’s comments, simply made victims once again of the Liverpool people. It was an unnecessary and unprovoked attack on a reigion who were seen to be offering sympathy and support to a family bereaved in the most appalling of circumstances.The Bigley family are true victims, and dealt with their loss in a very controlled and dignified way.
    To compare this murder with the Hillsborough tragedy was callous and unthinking. The memories of that day will survive in the hearts and minds of not only the people of Merseyside, but also in the hearts and minds of the millions of football supporters who watched those scenes on TV and who later visited Anfield to show their respects.
    If we, the people of Merseyside are victims, then it is our agressors and attackers who make us victims. If I am a victim, or am part of a group of victims, I will support and defend myself and that group with every means at my disposal.
    If I can by my actions make Mr Johnson a victim, if he loses respect, his job, or his position, he will have brought about his own downfall. I wonder how he might feel to be the victim of his own foolish and thoughtless actions!

  56. I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I thought Boris made some perfectly valid comments. Maybe Liverpudlians are a little too thin skinned. If you don’t like it – don’t read it.

  57. Boris is only saying what a lot of people think. AND he has produced the least convincing apology about being politically incorrect in the modern era. That in itself is likely to double turnout at the next election if it were Boris for PM.
    What do you suppose the followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi think when they see the sensitive people of Liverpool grieving so copiously for one of their own? Exactly… AHA! Let’s kidnap somebody else from Liverpool!

  58. If you read the article, it is five paragraphs long. It is generally a perfectly legitimate point of view, and it makes a valid point about the way we as a nation deal with such situations, and as such does not necessarily need apply to Mr Bigley.

    However, in it’s third paragraph, for some geographically-ignorant and biaised reason, it decides to specify and deride Liverpool as particularly afflicted. To mention things like Hillsborough in the way it does, to say things like the docks are on the wrong side for the European Union?! seems to be to trivialise an otherwise useful point.

    I may not agree with you, I may completely disagree with you… but to bring in comments which are doubtless freely traded amongst the circles in which you, Boris, and many of the Spectator’s readership move – a sneeriness and snobbery towards a city you rarely visit and barely know – is to completely undermine what is a perfectly valid point of view.

    I’m glad you’re going to Liverpool next week. But I think you should stay there for a month. I think you should rent a flat. And don’t do it as a grandiose gesture of humility. Just do it and see what it’s like. And invite your friends to visit.

  59. Strange how only those from Liverpool or Merseyside say so. I don’t see the upholders of Boris’s article telling us where they come from.

    No doubt the majority are from “Down South”. I have spent 30 years refusing to put L in my postcode as I was born in Wirral (Cheshire for 1000 years, previously). I did this not because I wished to disown Liverpool (my mother was born there) but as a reaction to having my county removed from my address.

    I am sure that if the majority of Liverpool people bashers came here for a few weeks or months they would be amazed at the sense of pride and community we have. (community being a scare word to Tories).

    We are not overtly sentimental nor do we wallow in self pity. We are no different than anyone else in this divided country (North/South) or more to the point North/London.

    If we are attacked we defend. I am sure that Cockneys would do the same. Unfortunately in the anger of the reaction to articles like this sometimes common sense disappears and this is true of us all no matter what region we come from.

    It seems to me that some people from London (not the South in general) think that they are somehow superior in intellect and reason than us up North. This attitude should have died decades ago.

    BUT then I’m a socialist by inclination so what do I know. People are far more important than materialism.

    If Ken Bigley or the people who died in the Hillsborough incident were from London do you think that the people of Liverpool would adopt the attitude that some of your contributors present? I think not, they would have been just as hurt, outraged, angry as anyone!

    Throughout writing this piece I have been on the edge of bursting with anger, afraid it would cloud my judgement. Forget inane, contrived and unimportant individuals like your Boris but concentrate on so-called popular, low brow media that has fostered these divides between us; it is they who have caused this rift.

  60. A bit strong worded but I thought the gist of the article was fair enough. Bigley gambled and lost, it’s all very sad but he had a choice of going there, the troops didn’t.

    One more thing, Adam Lewis…

    “Your endorsement of this article shows you up for what everyone knows you to truly be. A yuppie with a stupid haircut feeling resentment for what you are without in life.”

    Yes and the fact that Boris is the most popular politician in Britain in no way detracts from your well thought out argument.


  61. Being a scouser and having just moved back from London after 5 years down there I feel I am placed to comment. Peer out from behind the regatta bunting and stop being such a twonk. Arrogant and highly naive comments from an ill-informed wally. I am proud of my community and that in stiff upper lip Britain we can still stick up for our own and show a bit of feeling.
    Dear Boris did you leave your brain on your bedside that day?
    P.S get a hair cut.

  62. What a total twonk. Arrogant and ill-informed. Stick to matters you excel in – like “poor haircuts spanning the early eighties to modern day”.

  63. Sorry, Boris, but this kind of incident explains why you won’t make it beyond shadow minister for arts, which is a position reserved for the party jester – remember David Mellor? If you want to progress, I suggest you finish the transition from tabloid-style columnist to serious politician. But you’ll no longer be the Boris that amuses us.

  64. boris you ignorant cunt, there may have been too melodramatic a responce to bigleys death, it was greed that led him there after all, not that that was justified his killing.

    but the grief was from the whole of the uk, not liverpool. it was the whole of the uk that was acting like he was the only man to have been killed in iraq, or the only man kidnapped in iraq. it was the sun, the mirror and just about every talk show or staff canteen in the country that was wallowing in the tragedy and the drama, not just those in liverpool.

    if you want to talk about melodrama then talk about the ridiculous and now embarrassing reaction of the entire country to the death of diana.

    anti-working class wanker.

  65. As a Liverpudlian, but unfortunately not the normal characture as I am both a graduate and ACA, I am happy to confirm that Liverpool has not actually been in the depths of despair nor has it been wallowing in self pity since Mr Bigley’s murder.
    This is a press characture of a small community in north Liverpool where Mr Bigley grew up and his family lived being applied to an entire city. Naturally we all share revulsion and horror at the manner of Mr Bigley’s kidnapping and murder, but I honestly feel this would have applied to someone from Inverness, Newcastle, Lincoln or Broadstairs.
    There was no Diana like wave of public grief sweeping the city like some Hollywood generated tidal wave. There was shared revulsion and pity, a sentiment no doubt shared throughout the nation.I have seen no evidence over the last week either in the office, the city centre, suburbs or elsewhere of groups of down-trodden ‘Scousers’ weeping and wailing with self- pity or otherwise. This is a characature and the most intersting thing about a characature is that generated by a third partry. Could the press have (and I know this is a long shot) have exagerrated? urely not! Boris has my sympathy for getting into such troubles for something that didn’t happen! Still, there is an irony to it that may appeal to Boris’s waggish nature.
    The references to Hillsborogh where, however, badly misjudged – as an MP I would have hoped Boris actually knew the contents of the Tory enquiry. Too busy with rag mags like The Spectator I supose!
    I look forward to seeing Boris in Liverpool, and congratulate Mr Howard for (once) getiing it right.

  66. I am totally sickened by, a so called educated and respected mans, small minded comments.
    How dare he make such disrespectful comments when families across the city stil agonise about the issues he commented on, how dare he! Politics and stereotypes aside, people are still hurting and that commands a little respect, you are one disrespectful, ignorant little man and I wouldn’t bother making the first class trip to Liverpool!

  67. my golly, I’m quite full of indigestion with all this.

    Let’s hope Boris doesn’t commit this faux pas again! … or I’ve had it!

  68. I just find the mock rage that the Hillsborough Family Support Group somewhat insulting to the victims of the disaster. Yes, the police were partly to blame but so were the fans. The bandwagon backlash against Boris is just like the one against The Sun newspsper in Liverpool post-Hillsborough. Don’t forget Ken Bigley went to Iraq to make money. He knew the risks. His death was a horrible tragedy and his killers are sick, evil scum but Bigley’s death was more than avoidable and avoidable by Bigley himself. I think the few hysterical loudmouths who bemoan Boris should really put things into perspective and stop perverting the grief that stems from Hillsborough for their own propaganda purposes. They insult those who lost their lives at Hillsborough.

  69. I am a confirmed Southerner, I suppose, but felt that the article articulated much about my gut feelings about Liverpudlians, who all seem to be paid-up members of the bleeding hearts club. What offended me was the sense that, at least before poor Ken’s awful death, his family was attacking Blair personally for a failure to act, when clearly any possible intervention by the British government would in fact compromise the safety of troops and go-betweens on the ground,Q.E.D. All Western civilians in Iraq are a liability for the Western military, who are already compromised by being caught up in the vaccuum that always follows the fall of a dictatorship. One cannot be naive about the long-term political goals of the Western civilian presence in Iraq, but where there is real instability, military and freelance civilian personnel cannot work together simultaneously.

  70. I’m amazed those complaining about Boris’ comments are puzzled that flu should leave someone unable to face the media. No doubt many of those complaining have often used the flu as their excuse not to turn up to work on many occasions!
    If it really is flu he has (an acute febrile highly contagious viral disease as opposed to the milder common cold viral infection) then he’ll most likely be in bed where he should be; not out talking to journalists spreading his flu.
    Not so gracefully put Boris, but well said all the same.

  71. “I am totally sickened by, a so called educated and respected mans, small minded comments.” – (Liverpool student)

    Get a grip, this is a case of the melodramatic loony rubbish that’s plaguing this country these days, mass-hysteria is threatening the sanity of the nation, long live the freedom of speech!

  72. The People of Liverpool vs. Boris Johnson

    Ouch. Speccy Editor Boris Johnson has, it seems, decided to take a new direction, that of political kamikaze. The editorial this week refers to l’affaire Bigley – the case of the British third of three hostages (the other two were Americans) taken by a…

  73. Seeing as the actual content of the piece is being largely ignored just a thought for the outraged Liverpudlians amongst you. Why is it that the rest of us living in cities get mugged, burgled, harrassed and generally ****ed off by our fellow Manchester/London/Glasgow dwellers? Perhaps you could post and let us know seeing as there is no ill feeling at all between yourselves ever. I guess this is why the police are entirely to blame for Hillsborough – you see Liverpool needs no policemen because there is no crime so they were probably all middle class coppers bussed in from the hoighty-toighty south who actually wanted the tragedy to take place.

  74. I didn’t regard the Spectator editorial as nonsense from beginning to end (as Michael Howard said) but it did miss its mark. Leaving aside the comments about Liverpool (a city I don’t know), the problem remains that politicians in Westminster (and to some extent the general public) still don’t get the big picture of the suffering of the Iraqi people.

    This struck me most forcibly when David Kelly committed suicide. His death was so much more important in the eyes of Whitehall/Westminster than those of young soldiers, let alone those of countless/uncounted civilians in Iraq.

    We should be ashamed that we have a prime minister who represents that lack of humanity. His lack of conscience for misleading the country, his lack of responsibility for the disastrous, incompetent post-war management of Iraq, diminishes all of us.

    I have respected all the British prime ministers of my lifetime except two: Thatcher (responsible for the war crime of the sinking of the General Belgrano outside the Falklands Exclusion Zone) and Blair. Does the man have blood on his hands? After some 20,000 deaths in Iraq – isn’t it obvious?

  75. Boris, I always thought you played the amiable buffoon rather well but your recent article was sheer lunacy. All it showed is that you are prepared to make sweeping generalisations about people based on mere hearsay. Such abject ignorance from an educated man such as yourself is shocking and it boggles the mind that you can be so thoughtless as to condemn an entire city of people for the sake of an “editorial”. I can’t imagine how you think you are going to be able to apologise for what you’ve said but I do wish you luck. I just hope you’re going to apologise that your comments were based on ignorance of the facts, and on prejudice and unfair generalisations about the people of Liverpool. Perhaps that will go some small way to appeasing over a million people you have deliberately insulted.

  76. Simon: “Thatcher (responsible for the war crime of the sinking of the General Belgrano outside the Falklands Exclusion Zone)”
    It seems quite a trivial incident, in comparison with Bliar’s military tactic of shock and awe – aka devastate and destroy. But don’t forget the Basra Road massacre of retreating Iraqi conscripts during the Gulf War.

  77. The Spectator editorial might have touched a nerve with some people in Liverpool, but it will have touched a chord with the people of England. And the people of England haven’t spoken yet……..

    Boris for PM !

  78. Simon: “Thatcher (responsible for the war crime of the sinking of the General Belgrano outside the Falklands Exclusion Zone)”

    Just as people writing about Hillsbrough should do some research before writing about it, so people writing about the General Belgrano should do the same. Recently released secret transcripts have proven beyond doubt (and even the Belgrano’s captain himself has admitted it!) that the ship was rediverting on its way to attack the main British force. Despite their obvious political value these transcripts could not be released at the time – Thatcher’s government actually took security seriously. I doubt Blair’s government would have taken a similar attitude.

  79. As somebody who according to Mr Johnson apparently fought my way through from the back at Hillsborough, I confirm my disgust at comments from somebody so ill informed. There was no ring of police away the ground as there had been there the year before which stopped crowding at the gates. I think Dukinfield was wrong in opening the gates but my friends do not as they were being crushed outside the gates. Inside there were some police trying to help fans. Having pushed my way off the terrace the police told me to get off the pitch – they had no idea what to do. Before you make ill considered thoughts there are still many of us that remember that day.

    I survived, 96 didnt and their families live with that.

  80. Though I have yet to read the article, it would seem that Boris’s comments were probably best aimed at the whole of this country, where many people seem to think that we have to constantly show our sypmathies in public. Pretending we’ve been personally touched by the tragedies of others, just to prove that we are a caring nation.

  81. I have read the article now – several times, because I was sure I must be missing something – and if it was “bashing” anyone it was those who overexaggerate the grief they feel at the death of some-one they know through the media. Yes, Liverpool and Liverpudlians were mentioned, but the article did not sweepingly include “all” Liverpudlians – although admittedly it did say many.

    Personally, I would have thought the deaths of anyone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time through no fault of their own were more tragic.

  82. As both a Tory and a lifelong Liverpool FC supporter, I feel I am qualified to say that Boris’s problem is simply that he doesn’t understand Liverpudlians. They are different, Boris. They are kind, funny, emotional people. If you don’t know Liverpool and its people you can’t make an informed judgement. You have made a pillock of yourself.

    Having said that, I can also say that Liverpool’s decline was largely caused by the damage done while Labour ran the city in the 70s and 80s. As scousers would say, Labour couldn’t run a bath. So, whilst apologising for Boris, I will continue to vote Tory.

  83. The article does make some good points, but when it concerns the character of Liverpool and Liverpudlians it degenerates into nothing more than predjudiced slurs and sweeping generalisations. Those who have commented that they agree 100% with the article should bear in mind what they are agreeing with.
    As for those who make the usual lazy complaint about “whatever happened to free speech”, I may have missed something but I havn’t spotted anyone saying the article should have been banned. The author is entitled to his opinion, however misinformed he is, but a vital part if free-speech is the ability to disagree.

  84. Liverpudlians can say what they like and the rest of us can think what we like. We think the article was spot on.

    Nothing is ever the fault of a Liverpudlian – You ask Anne Robinson.

  85. ‘Sorry’ Johnson sent to Liverpool

    Boris Johnson has been ordered to visit Liverpool to apologise in person for his magazine article that criticised the city’s grief over Ken Bigley. The Tory MP wrote in an editorial in The Spectator that the city was wallowing in…

  86. After reading some of the comments on here, I am amazed, the amount of uninformed idiots who have bought into the Sun’s lies and are happy to blame the fans when the official report into the Hillsborough disaster stated quite clearly that they weren’t to blame is pathetic.

  87. There is one good and true thing about this article. It has livened debate on a subject that too often is covered over by the PC brigade and for that we sould be thankful.

  88. Other than maligning Liverpudlians in a sideswipe, the main point of the article is the “outpouring of sentimentality” in this country which began with the death of Diana. I find that idea interesting, as I always thought it was largely a media invention anyway. When Diana died, my life and the world around me continued more or less as if nothing had happened. It was only when I watched the News or read a paper that I found I was part of a Nation in mourning.

  89. It is a rather shocking faux pas, and I cannot support anything that was said.
    However, I believe Mr. Johnson is a cracking MP, and I pass on my sincerest hope that he will get over this embarrassing episode.

    David Vinton

  90. To John Dixon, re: your post, “What offended me was the sense that, at least before poor Ken’s awful death, his family was attacking Blair personally for a failure to act, when clearly any possible intervention by the British government would in fact compromise the safety of troops and go-betweens on the ground,Q.E.D.”.
    Be clear that his family, except his loud mouth brother who doesn’t even live here, said that the government and Blair had done all they could.
    Perhaps a little less generalisation wouldn’t go amiss. Rather bleeding hearts than stone hearts. And I’m not from a council estate on the dole with a bleeding heart. I even have a degree and a job!!! wow!

  91. For any city to display such “grief” for one Briton killed while working abroad is just grandstanding. What about showing such “grief” for all the British troops and Iraqis killed during this ongoing war. They did not have a choice about hether to be there or not!
    Boris should have stuck to his guns and not apologised. You should never apologise for speaking the truth even if the PC brigade don’t like it.

  92. Just read the article and in many respects it’s spot on, though the Hillsborough statement was rather ill judged / ill informed. Michael Howard should be ashamed of himself for sending Boris to apologise for that. When the Conservative leader stops pandering to overly sensitive minorities, then the party might have a bit more respect from sensible, right minded people in Britain. Doesn’t he believe in free speech?

  93. Boris Johnson should be supported……in the way that a rope supports a hanged man.
    I am a scouser, proud of what Liverpool has created & contributed, yet also contemptuous of the city’s negative aspects. Those negative forces, however, can be found in any large connurbation.
    It’s also sad that this ivory tower imbecile isn’t aware of the Taylor Report (commisioned, lest we forget, by a Tory government).
    I also speak from personal experience. I was on the Leppings Lane terrace. I witnessed the incompetence of the South Yorkshire police (constables stationed around the turnstiles & exit gates were not supplied with personal radios), the use of batons against people trying to scale the fence as the crush intensified, & the subsequent whispering campaign to denigrate the Liverpool fans, letting the police off the hook. The “Sun” headline & story (“The Truth”) was the result of spin by the highest figures in South Yorkshire police.
    Johnson has achieved an astonishing double-whammy. Not content with traducing the memory of 96 football fans, he causes grievous insult to a family mourning the death of a loved one in horrific & sickening cicumstances.
    In truth, Johnson’s spenetic & malicious diatribe reflects the attitude of the Tories & their hatred of working-class communities who have the audacity to oppose the parasitic system that Tories have always championed. (Geoffrey Howe said at a Tory cabinet meeting in the early 80s that the approach to cities like Liverpool should be one of “managed decline”.)
    I believe Johnson plans to visit the city in the next few days. No such invitation has been issued to this spineless creature. He should take the hint & crawl back under his stone.

  94. “Boris Johnson should be supported……in the way that a rope supports a hanged man.”

    Which pretty much gives credence to what the article said in the first place. Perhaps we’d all be more sympathetic if certain posters on this board and others weren’t so ‘hammer and tongs’ about their criticism. Still, never let reason get in the way of blind passion.

  95. Your comments re Liverpool are fully supported – pity you are obliged to apologise.

    I would like to know a little more about Mr Bigley background – one time barman on the Costa de Sol – married to a far eastern lady – so called ‘engineer’ all a bit fishy to me.

    Yes Liverpool people were responsible for Hillsborough and if my memory serves me right were they not associated with a disaster resulting from loss of life at another Football Stadium on the Continent.

    I have served in the Royal Air force and I have yet to meet a scouse with any integrity.

    To make it the Cultral Centre of UK is a joke particularly if Cilla Black and idiot Tarbuck are an example of the culture they can spawn.

    Alf Garnet was right when he referred to his son in law as a scouse git.

    Liverpool people have for many years contributed nothing to the well being of the Nation. They destroyed the motor industry with there indusrial disputes and the quality of work from their shipbuilders (Birkenhead) was terrible.

    Remember the TV Show ‘Not for Bread Alone’that just about sums up the average liverpudlian.

  96. Gerry Hill’s grasp of history & spelling surely qualifies him to be one of Boris Johnson’s Parliamentary colleagues.

  97. A wise move by Melissa to amend the original blog post.
    [Ed: really – thanks for that Greg. m.]

  98. anyone who publishes in the media is going to, at some point, say something that people dont agree with. i myself dont agree with this particular article but i have agreed with some of his other articles, thats not what matters though-what matters is that i love reading his articles and seeing him on television because he is always witty and perceptive.
    i dont see how it has ANY bearing on his political career-its just his opinion-every politician has the odd opinion that others wont like-big woo!
    and i REALLY dont think that the spectator is going to lose too many readers over this haha.
    i think boris johnson will just go to liverpool and charm the pants off them (he could charm the pants off me no doubt ;)) and all will be well.

  99. Don’t go, Boris. Tell your boss to take a running jump. (I’m not sure what this means but it sounds good).

    I watched TV on the afternoon of the Hillsborough deaths and I saw a live broadcast of Liverpool fans arriving shortly before kick off time in an ugly mood and probably under the influence. Had some idiot not ordered a senior police officer to accept blame on behalf of the police later in the afternoon, the blame would have rested where it should.

    Heysel and Hillsborough – spot the connection.

    Keep your pecker up. (That’s the innocent English pecker rather than the more controversial American one)

  100. The irony is that Liverpool’s reaction to Ken Bigley’s incarceration and eventual murder were fairly low key. The article wasn’t just offensive, it was daft and wrong. It assumed that Liverpool had reacted to Bigley’s murder in a manner that it hadn’t and then attacked the city based on this prejudiced assumption.

    I’m not sure to what extent Liverpool would have to have had under-reacted to Bigley’s murder in order to have avoided being attacked someone in the London media for overreacting, but Liverpool’s mild reaction to last week’s news must be seen as a fair attempt.

    In short, post Hillborough, ignorant and bigotted people assume that Liverpool overly dwells on any misfortunes, a man orignally from Liverpool is murdered and the town of his birth reacts in a subdued fashion (one service in a cathedral, a two minutes’ silence organised by the council and observed by about 7 council members, and little else) and a Tory newspaper attacks the city based on nonexistant overreaction. One or two dim posters on this forum has stated that Liverpool reacting to this slur proves their point, but again, the irony is that Liverpool (despite the contemptible paragraph backing up The Sun’s lies about Hillsborough) seems to be pretty much ignoring the article, as it should.

    I expect that Boris Johnson will be met with a better reception on his enforced visit to Liverpool than those who have a prejudice against the city might expect and, given the nasty and bigoted nature of the article, he probably deserves.

  101. After reading some of the posts on this page, it seems to me that your average Liverpudlian is extremely well-balanced, with a massive chip on both shoulders.

  102. Don’t you think that the citizens of Liverpool have suffered enough, without having to put up with the babblings of an anachronistic, bumbling Tory?

  103. Boris; given your current position [in the dog house] I think it an ideal time for you to do the right thing and turn on those responsible for this whole brouhaha; the media. Far from reporting news, they go out of their way to create it, turning tradgedy into drama time and time again; turning lives into public spectacle. It isn’t surprising we find it hard to know how to react to the news when it has become more like That’s Life than responsible reporting. Boris, fight back; and give that leader of yours a kick up the pants for being so bloody malleable; so bloody spineless. And even if you are wrong, what is so bad about that? Don’t we enjoy debate anymore? Are we so sensitive that simply reading another point of view condems us to years of therapy? [There will be a memorial service and huge heap of flowers in memory of sanity starting now and going on until something else catches a journalists eye.]

  104. Oops..! Real vote catcher that one, Boris..! Good understanding of the economic history of industrial Britain too.

  105. Please, please, can we have a little perspective? In the grand universal scheme of things does this article really matter? Yes, it was thoughtless and professionally negligent – but which of us, hand on heart, can say that we have never been either of these things? I know I can’t.

    This article is not a tragedy. I might even suggest that Ken Bigley’s death was not a tragedy – he knew what he was getting himself into. If you are looking for a tragedy, look a little down the coast from Liverpool to Morcambe Bay, where earlier this year thirty Chinese immigrants doing a menial, unpleasant job died through no real fault of their own. Consider their families, dispersed across China who cannot be benefit from the support of a single, cohesive community. Consider how quickly they have been forgotten. No investigation into their death, as far as I know (and I would be interested to hear if there is one). No two minute’s silence. I doubt if their memories will live on for the next fifteen years.

    Some good points have been made on this board. No doubt it is difficult for a middle class professional from the South East to understand the sense of solidarity and community that has developed from Liverpool’s shared history and experience. No doubt there is a tendency for Liverpudlians to see themselves as slightly misunderstood. Certainly, groups with the strongest sense of identity must by definition be characterised by a very clear sense of ‘us against the world’ – either as the victors or as the victims.

    But these ideas are not new, neither are they particularly useful in this context. Nothing will be achieved by slating or praising Boris unconstrainedly. Perhaps the best thing that could arise from this whole issue is an understanding that we can never see ourselves dispassionately and that sometimes it is necessary to look at things from the other person’s point of view – we may even be able to learn by looking through their eyes. I certainly feel that this lesson could usefully be applied to Iraq, for example, where the level of day-to-day suffering makes a lot of Iraqi complicity in heinous actions comprehensible, if not desirable.

    So please can we stop getting caught up in our little tribal identities and think about the bigger picture. It is when people feel they have something beyond criticism to defend that they go on the attack, and we have seen too many times the consequences of war.

  106. Spot on Boris, thank you for saying what many people were really thinking. Something that hardly ever happens these days in politics (although appreciate its a magazine leader not a party political statement). What a breath of fresh air you are.

  107. Boris,
    I am sorry you apologised. You accepted an article that you thought was right, and if some disagree, that’s life. Hillsborough was a terrible tragedy, but the police couldn

  108. I am not quite sure what everybody is getting so upset about, certainly if you only read parts of the article it may look bad but having read the whole piece it seems reasoned and balanced. Sorry to see you are getting a roasting over this one Boris.

  109. Boris – your boss seems to have over reacted on this one. How long till you take a shot at his job?

    Keep up the good work.

  110. I’m not surprised that there has been this reaction to the Spectator editorial. I’m sure the offended are morbidly extatic that they have been given the opportunity to take their twisted sweet misery to a new level. I doubt that most of the angry actually read the article, and its clear that those who did read it saw the criticism and, due to their being the very people Boris was talking about, missed the whole point. People often block out the offending truuth and see what they want to see because its easier than facing up to the cold shocking reality and dealing with it.

    To quote Boris, because most of the angry readers probably didn’t make it to the last paragraph of the editorial – a mistake for any Speccie reader in my experience and a sure way of missing the point – “In our maturity as a civilisation, we should accept that we can cut out the cancer of ignorant sentimentality without diminishing, as in this case, our utter disgust as a foul and barbaric act of murder.”

  111. I agree in theory whith what Boris said in his article. The British media love to make martyrs out of people. Princess Di, for example, was attacked by the press while she was alive then Queen of our Hearts once she died? At the end of the day, there is nothing like a good old British tragedy to get us to rally round and buy some papers.

    I do think Ken Bigley’s death has been blown out of proportion, did we hold two minutes silence for the two Italian women who were murdered, or the American hostages, or the Japanese, or any of the Iraqis who have died during this whole debacle? A big fat resounding NO!

    As someone from Liverpool, I can confirm that we are not all walking round beating our chests and wallowing in grief, however, as Ken Bigley was from our area, the war in Iraq seems to have been brought ‘closer to home’ so to speak, and has touched the people of Liverpool because he could have easily been someone we knew. I really do not think that had he came from Manchester or London or anywhere else in Britain, the reaction would have been any different. Boris had a valid point, but really needs to get someone better to proof read his work before it goes to print.

  112. You twit Boris. Although your editorial contained many uncomfortable about our society (and not just that of Liverpool), you really, really should think before committing word to paper. That’ll teach you to talk Hillsborough & football without even checking your facts first.

    You may remember the Taylor report into Hillsborough. He said many fine things which have changed football for both better and for worse. But Taylor spread blame far too thinly, and the vents of the day were coloured with the same brand of whitewash not seen until the Hutton report emerged.

    Eat Humble Pie, my man, and come back talking your usual informed sense. Chalk this one up to experience.

  113. Can I suggest Boris atones for this with a special Scouse edition of the Spectator, in praise of all the great things Liverpool has to offer. He’ll find something else to fill the other hundred pages.

  114. Slightly off the topic this, but I feel I have to say this. Who the hell is this ‘PC Brigade’ of whom we hear so much? Does anyone ever admit to being a member? Has anyone ever said ‘yes, I am in the PC Brigade and I demand that you retract that statement’? By the evidence of today, the people of Liverpool and Michael Howard must be fully paid up members, because they seem to be the ones protesting. The ‘PC Brigade’ seem to be an amorphous group on whom anything can be blamed whenever someone sees something they dislike and can’t be bothered to make a rational argument about it. It’s getting boring.

  115. Boris, do us a favour and don’t come to Liverpool. You’ve done us a bad enough turn as it is. After being slighted we could really do without being patronised by a dumb Tory prick.

    Nice to see you reverting to type with fabricating information for an article. Cost you a job last time didn’t it? Wonder if it will this time.

  116. The BBC News Magazine used Boris as their “quote of the day” today – “Michael Howard has ben magnificent in all respects and behaved in a way I can only describe as being prime ministerial”.

    As for the article itself, I think Boris had a good point but managed to hide it under so many bad ones.

  117. No one has mentioned the Beatles yet. If Liverpool has anything to be ashamed of, It’s them!

    An Everton Fan!

  118. As expected, Boris’s misdemeanour has been used as an excuse to bash Liverpool, and specifically its ‘capital of culture’ status. At the risk of drifting off-topic, perhaps the ill-informed person who highlighted Cilla Black and Jimmy Tarbuck as Liverpool’s only cultural ambassadors should re-assess his opinion.

    Liverpool has one of the finest provincial orchestras in the country, playing in one of the best concert halls. The Walker Art Gallery is renowned as one of the finest provincial galleries in Europe. Liverpool has some of the finest victorian architecture in the country, and more listed buildings than anywhere else outside London (over 2,500). Liverpool’s contribution to the music scene in the sixties (not just the Beatles) was second to none. The city has a proud industrial heritage, and was recently designated a world heritage site. It is the most filmed British city outside the capital. The tate is the largest modern art gallery outside London. Liverpool university is the original ‘redbrick’ university, and the cathedral is the largest in Britain. Liverpool’s chinatown is one of the longest established in Europe. The city has recently produced a clutch of new bands (the Coral, the Zutons, the Dead 60’s, etc.) who are acting as a breath of fresh air to the current music scene. I could go on. It is ill-informed opinion based on oft-peddled stereotypes that leads people to pooh-pooh Liverpool’s cultural value – in truth, the city has made far more valuable a cultural contribution than virtually any other city in Britain, including many that are much larger.

    Incidentally, I am not originally from Liverpool – I moved to work here 15 years ago from London, and found the city to be vibrant, welcoming and creative in a way that London could never be. I would advise any of my fellow southeners to visit the city before passing judgement on the city or it’s people. There’s a lot less crime, too!

  119. Boris – you are the best. You are quite right in your assessment of Liverpudlians, and I suspect your clear-sightedness on this comes from the fact that they are all welfare-scrounging Irishmen at heart and, as a good Unionist, you are able to spot the Irish danger to our country’s values. I entirely sympathise with your attacks on Blair’s big sell out, otherwise known as the Good Friday agreement, and I know when you become PM – as you no doubt will soon – you will tear it up and put the troops back onto the streets of Belfast to protect our culture. Please tell Michael Coward, as we shall now have to call your boss, I suppose, that he can stuff his apology to the Liverpudlians. And next time, hit the scroungers even harder: there’s no shame in telling the truth, and no need to apologise.

  120. Boris Johnson, and sadly thousands like him, have no idea what it means to be British, let alone northern. He and his ilk will never hold power in this country longer than the time it takes to spot a facile windbag usually takes. The upper crust view of the country belongs in a Mary Poppins remake. The UK can be great again, but not with “politicians” like this scary cretin, Howard and the rest of these out of touch, out of date dinosaurs. If you doubt me…enjoy your trip to Liverpool!

  121. Boris

    Whilst I have always regarded you as some what of an odious oaf I feel compelled to jot a few words in your support in these times of ferment and, seemingly, class war.

    Yes, you were right to apologise – if only to soothe the masses North of Watford who’s red buttons you seem to have so brashly pushed. Your leader was spot on in asmuch as people in the West today seem to need a “weeping point” to channel their frustration at today’s “unfair” world.

    Which brings me to Liverpool. At the risk of further stoking the conflagration that is the “debate” surrounding the leader in the Spectator – which City has one of the highest crime rates in the UK? Could it be that City is the same one so valliantly defended as being “close knit” and “having a sense of community”. Is to rob and thump now to be seen as a gesture of community spirit?

    All the very best


  122. I note that most of the foul language comes from those presumeably on the left of things given their comments. Can we not make comments without using words that you would be ashamed to use in front of your daughters/wives etc? Poor Melissa has to sit and read these you know! Its was not her fault so let us have a discussion but cut out the really foul words please…?

    PS Me Mam’s a Scouser but she says she was one of the lucky ones – she left in 1957 and hasn’t been back since!

  123. Whatever happened to freedom of speach? The aim of articles of this type is to generate debate and discussion. The knee jerk reactions are purely political and media generated and I don’t think many people are genuinely that bothered – or if they are they shouldn’t be. As for it changing someone’s decision to vote at elections – go get a life.

  124. Fret not Boris
    The much-vaunted Liverpool sense-of-humour will eventually kick in and they will suddenly learn to laugh at themselves.

    And Tony will let Gordon be PM…

  125. Mildred,

    ‘which City has one of the highest crime rates in the UK?’

    The answer I guess you are aiming for is Liverpool – except of course it isn’t true. In comparison with similar post industrial cities Liverpool’s crime rate is rather low. Certainly better than both Manchester and West Yorkshire, and I believe better than inner London.

    Many of the postings on here about Liverpool say more about their authors than they do about the topic. I believe it is unreasonable for people who have obviously never been to the city to peddle their stereotypical views as facts. Most of them seem to have come from watching Bread or some other 20 year old television programme.

    And in particular it is offensive for people to pass comment about the events leading up to the Hillsborough disaster when their ‘facts’ appear to have come from the South Yorkshire Police and The Sun. Both of whom have subsequently retracted their accounts. In fact the Police Officer in charge was branded a ‘liar’ in both the official report and the Houses of Parliament.

    Its a circular argument. You believe Liverpudlians to be scum so you believe the worst lies about them so as to confimr your prejudices. Then when they complain at your uninformed comments you slag them off for wallowing in victimhood, using their refusal to acknowledge your lies as sure proof of them being scum.

  126. I used to live in Islington, which comes in for frequent media mockery and stereotyping, but it didn’t bother me. I don’t define my identity by where I live.

    When someone’s death is reported in the media, the distance that I live from where they lived is not a factor in the amount of sadness that I feel.

    The middle paragraph of the Spectator article went off on an unproven, provocative and insensitive tangent, but no worse than many redtop editorials. The first and last paragraphs I believe made perfectly sensible points.

    The media attention being lavished on this pointless sideshow is almost obscene when compared to incidents that have gone virtually unreported such as the killing of 13 Iraqi civilians, including a TV reporter, by a US helicopter in front of a Reuters camera.

  127. I have just read the article.
    What’s the problem?
    With all the shrapnel flying around (particularly from Liverpudlians) I’d say he’s got the description down pretty accurately.

  128. Will you be resigning over this Boris?

    You clearly acknowledge that you have upset many people with your comments. Your comments on Hillsbrough are quite frankly disgraceful and nonsense. Why on earth should a man in your position be able to spout this nonsense? Please go.

  129. Having just registered with the Spectator and read the article, most of it is hard to disagree with. The reference to Hillsborough is a little insensitive (“more than 50” etc), and not really necessary to make the otherwise valid points. Likewise I think the “Liverpool-specific” nature is a bit over the top- its relevant to the UK as a whole. The final irony of course is how many of those so morally outraged by the piece (from Liverpool or anywhere else) have actually read it?

    by the way- your views on minute silenceitis aren’t alone. check out v good article-‘Death To The Minute’s Silence, Please…’


  130. There do seem to be a lot of bigoted ignorant insensitive idiots in Britain whose lives must be so tedious with a inferiority complex that they enjoy making some of the disgusting comments I have seen posted. Perhaps you should look at your own lives and consider why you have resorted to this level.

    Just hope you dont die lonely and sad .

  131. Boris,

    I do hope you don’t take the ignorant ravings of these lefties too seriously. These are exactly the kind of people who’d rather stifle free speech than engage with a debate on whether or not our country really does have a culture of ‘mawkishness.’ They’re politically motivated and really quite sad. (Why exactly are they posting on a Tory MP’s website, anyway?)

    I also think it absolutely stinks that even Michael Howard would rather throw one of his own to the wolves than stand up for what the Tory party is supposed to believe in. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order to spend a large part of the party conference going on about how political correctness is destroying our freedom, only to surrender to it two weeks later in the most cowardly fashion.

    However, I think there’s good news here too. They say no publicity is bad publicity and this episode, bad as it may seem now, will ultimately raise your public profile. You’ve also gained notoriety, which can be a good thing if used properly. And it won’t change the way people vote. I, for instance, will still vote Tory, angry as I may be at Michael Howard’s treatment of yourself.

    Anyway, just wanted to register my support. You’re an inspiration to young conservatives everywhere; you’re still the coolest MP in Westminster and one day you’ll make a great Party leader!

  132. Boris’s Mersey Mission

    Well, the media storm, with any luck, has passed. Today a prostrate Boris, still plainly suffering from his well-discussed flu, endured a Liverpool who really didn’t want him there. I’ve no idea if Boris takes an interest in this site,…

  133. Boris, The outpourings of self-pitying vitriol by the people of Liverpool on todays news does rather prove your point.

  134. Whilst, as a Liverpudlian myself, I disagree with Boris entirely, I do agree with comments that there is absolutely no need for some of the vile language used by posters who represent a minute portion of Liverpool’s inhabitants. Most people would hope that Liverpool’s residents could make their point without reinforcing these dreadful and utterly inaccurate stereotypes of the city’s inhabitants. In fact the majority of local people would be disappointed at such behaviour.
    I think all there is to say is that the media has hyped this as much as it can, don’t believe everything you read.
    Such stereotypes are a real shame if it prevents anyone from taking a trip to Liverpool – if they did they would see a vibrant, exciting and diverse city; yes it’s not without its problems and share of bludgers, but the same could be said for any area really. I always believe in commenting only when you have enough background knowledge / first hand experience to be objective rather than perhaps subjective views, based on some of the media claptrap that spews forth at times.

  135. Mildred – “which City has one of the highest crime rates in the UK?”

    Although Chris James has already put this far more eloquently than I’m sure I’ll manage, the British Crime Survey shows Merseyside to have the second lowest crime rate (crimes per thousand) of any metropolitan area in England and Wales. On most of the indicators, crime in Merseyside is lower (and in many cases significantly lower) than in Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Birmingham, West Yorkshire and, yes, London. In particular, you’re twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime in London than you are in Merseyside (or pretty much anywhere else, for that matter). Of course, as Merseyside has some of the worst pockets of deprivation and unemployment in the country, you’d expect crime to be high, yet the opposite is true – in fact, the people in suburbs of London that seem to delight in constantly peddling stereotypes are far more at risk of almost all types of crime than people living anywhere else in the country!

  136. A bit off topic here but whilst I applaud the call for less foul language on this board, I am less happy with the notion of avoiding language “that we wouldn’t want our wives/daughters to hear”. As a daughter myself I’m sure I have a far higher threshold for bad language than either of my parents, but my main gripe is that it is assumed all posters are husbands and fathers. How very patronising! And what a way to enforce the stereotype of Tories as family men one and all.

    Reminds me somewhat of the Lady Chatterly’s Lover fiasco: we wouldn’t want language that you’d not like your butler to read now, would we? Arf.

    (By the way, I’m half cross and half amused, before I get flamed for being a member of that dreaded “PC Brigade”. Although I might be persuaded to join if the uniforms were nice.)

  137. They’re black with a peaked beret and red armband. You’ll need to learn to goose-step too 😉

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