Furious Labour MPs across Merseyside have turned on party leader Sir Keir Starmer after he wrote an article for The Sun.
The Sun newspaper has been widely boycotted on Merseyside for its coverage of the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which claimed the lives of 97 Liverpool fans.
The newspaper has many ethical failings, it is a general dog-whistle racist right-wing gutter tabloid that produces articles that have been the backbone of many oppressive bigoted attitudes.
But no story more so than for its coverage of the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster in which only four days after the disaster, under the headline The Truth, the tabloid carried a series of front-page allegations including that Liverpool fans had picked the pockets of the dead.
Coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster by the British tabloid The Sun led to the newspaper’s decline in Liverpool and the broader Merseyside region, with organised boycotts against it. The disaster occurred at a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. 97 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death, and several hundred others were injured, due to negligence by the South Yorkshire Police. On 19 April 1989, four days after the incident, The Sun published a front page story with the headline “The Truth” containing a number of falsehoods alleging that Liverpool supporters were responsible for the accident.
Though other newspapers reported stories critical of the fans, The Sun’s repetition of unreliable claims as fact and position on the incident in the aftermath of the event led to outrage amongst Liverpudlians.
After a protest in Kirkby in which women burned copies of the newspaper, The Sun (referred to as The S*n or The Scum) was widely boycotted in Merseyside.
Throughout Merrsyside newsagents have continually refused to sell the newspaper, Liverpool fans, residents of the city, and to an extent, most Left-wing supporters, have refused to read “The Scum” or “The S*n.”
The disgraceful allegations were all lies, disproved during evidence to fresh inquests into the deaths of the 97 victims, which also found that supporters were not responsible for the tragedy and in fact many supporters had actually administered life-saving first aid and helped the victims.
The entire episode showed how low the tabloids would go to sell a headline even to the point of vilifying the innocent and making gains on the tragedy of the Hillsborough disaster.
The Weasley words of lawers and politicians.
It was with this understanding that during his leadership campaign in January 2020, Sir Keir Starmer promised not to give interviews to the tabloid, no one dreamed he would actually be writing the articles for the scum.
Speaking at a hustings in Liverpool last year, Starmer criticised parts of the media for their vilification of Labour leaders, singling out The Sun in particular for its treatment of Jeremy Corbyn. He said at the time: “I certainly won’t be giving any interviews to The Sun during the course of this campaign.”For some, his piece in Sunday’s edition of the paper is another example of his “dishonesty.”
Here’s Keir Starmer saying he wouldn’t speak to the Sun while seeking the Labour leadership. Now he is writing Op-eds for them.— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) October 2, 2021
Where a politician writes for is ultimately their call, but this illustrates a major point: Starmer is as dishonest as Johnson pic.twitter.com/cDVP56BPof
Unfortunately, Starmer seems to hold his own promises in about as much regard as Boris Johnson holds his. The article in the scum has caused great anger.
Ian Byrne, MP for Liverpool West Derby – himself a Reds supporter who attended the FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest, said families of the victims, survivors and the city itself “smeared by the rag” would feel “profoundly betrayed” and anyone who writes for the paper is “not fit” to be Labour leader.
Today the families & survivors of Hillsborough, the people of my city, supporters of our great club & the millions of others smeared by the rag will feel profoundly betrayed by the leader of the party I was elected to represent.— lan Byrne MP (@IanByrneMP) October 3, 2021
My full statement below.#JFT97 pic.twitter.com/vASeZmhyAI
Kim Johnson, the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said she felt “deep anger” and has written to Sir Keir asking him to come to Liverpool to meet the families of those killed and survivors.
Paula Barker, Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said on Twitter: “I do not subscribe to the view that we need to have a relationship with the rag in order to win an election – this is 2021 not 1997.
“He does not do this in my name.
“Nevertheless, I apologise to everyone in my city, especially Hillsborough families and survivors.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region, added: “My position on that (supposed) newspaper and Labour politicians engaging with it has not changed.
“The piece published today has unsurprisingly upset a lot of people across my region.
“The S*n is not and never will be welcome here.
“I have been in touch with Keir to reiterate my position and express the disappointment that I and many others feel.”
Joanne Anderson, directly elected Mayor of Liverpool, tweeted: “@UKLabour should never work with this paper.”
“In Liverpool we strive for social justice and equality. These values are the product of our experiences and are deeply in contrast to the right wing lies of the S*n. @UKLabour should never work with this paper. We are deeply offended. #DontBuyTheSun “
In Liverpool we strive for social justice and equality. These values are the product of our experiences and are deeply in contrast to the right wing lies of the S*n. @UKLabour should never work with this paper.— Joanne Anderson (@MayorLpool) October 3, 2021
We are deeply offended. #DontBuyTheSun pic.twitter.com/bJCT5I2GyI
During Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party leadership, the Sun persistently presented Corbyn as a threat to the country. In 2018, the newspaper ‘broke’ the ‘Corbyn as a communist’ story, running with a ‘Corbyn and the Commie Spy’ frontpage splash.