I've heard recently any number of people from the UK government telling us how proud we should be of our country, after a summer of the diamond jubilee of the Queen and the joint triumphs of the Olympics and Paralympics.
By contrast I also listened with growing disbelief to the list of misdeeds perpetrated by the football authorities, Yorkshire Police, the Coroner, the tabloid press (most especially the Sun and its evil editor Kelvin MacKenzie) the then government of the UK, and subsequent governments (for maintaining the secrecy) in relation to the disaster at Hillsborough 23 years ago.
I can't begin to understand how it is that our "leaders" can conceivably talk about British values (which they tell us we share with our closest ally, the United States of America), when the facts fly in the face of that at every turn.
We can't trust the banks, the newspapers, the police, politicians, the royals, the House of Lords... and Coroners appear to bring forward verdicts that are suitable to the government of the day...not just this one, but the one which looked into the death of Jean Charles De Menezes.
Pride, my butt.
Yesterday we heard that the Hillsborough ground was a death trap about which the management, despite being warned, did nothing, presumably the better to make more money. (Next time you feel tempted to sneer at "Elf and Safety", just remember what can happen when there are few regulations and no one MAKES companies adhere to them.)
We heard that police were so incompetent and badly trained that they had no idea what they were doing, and when they got it wrong (and opened the gate allowing hundreds of people through) they lied through their rotten teeth and said that the "football hooligans" broke through. They changed witness statements; they searched criminal records files to see if they could pin something on the fans, the victims. The said that fans had been stealing from dead bodies, and urinating on them. In fact fans had been the ones who actually helped, while the police messed about. Proud of that?
They are a set of evil bastards. They should all be in prison.
The Coroner refused to accept any evidence that related to events after 3.15, by which time he said everyone was dead. He lied and he used his position to make a final and unarguable decision. Proud of that?
And worst of all, the lying scum ministers at the Home Office and Number 10 Downing Street, including Mrs Thatcher, were compliant in the deceit and in hushing the whole thing up and keeping the "secret" papers hidden from grieving family and friends, and the rest of the country, for 23 years.
These people went on to have titles thrown at them, and the prime minister of the day, who was warned that the police had been deceitful (and did nothing), was recorded in Cabinet Papers as having been concerned about how the original report made the police look bad, had a statue raised to her in Westminster.
These titles should be taken away and the statue should be removed and placed somewhere at the bottom of the North Sea with all the respect it deserves.
Mr Cameron apologised to the victims' families who have fought long and hard to clear the names of the dead. These people should be saluted. Without them this would have remained a secret.
But the prime minister apologised on behalf of the House of Commons, the government and of the people of this country.
I'm not sure why he did that. The people of this country didn't lie and cheat; the people of this country did not hide the evidence away as if it were a matter of national security, it was the government that did that.
Cameron should have apologised to the families AND TO the people of this country. The people of this country were lied to.
Cameron, to his credit, has indicated that investigations will be made to see if the inquest verdict can be overturned. (Likewise the Sun has made a profound and grovelling apology.)
I trust that he will ensure that anyone who lied over this, no matter how grand they are, faces justice. And if that means right at the top so be it. Of course the people who really made the decisions are all old and will doubtless manage to wangle their way out of it on the basis of age, infirmity, and unfitness to stand trial. It was ever thus in these matters.
Values? Proud to be British? Don't make me laugh.