Just now it seems that lots of people in the U.K. are reluctant to say ‘sorry’.Currently there is at last a searching legal Inquest (there have been others) into the

deaths of 96 football supporters at Hillsborough, South Yorkshire, 26 years ago. The

senior policeman at the time was questioned last week about the bad decisions affecting

crowd control which were largely responsible for the deaths. He spoke about his own

self­questioning over his behaviour, but only under pressure from the Coroner admitted

that he did not act as a ‘reasonably competent match commander’, and that he was new

to such a job anyway . I gather from newspaper reports, that although he regretted his

failures and the police cover up, he hasn’t apologised for them. So as far as I can see,

‘sorry’ was a near miss.

Then there has been a lot of media coverage about Jeremy Clarkson, the popular ‘Top

Gear’ presenter.

Apparently he had an argument with his BBC producer which ended with

him striking the poor man. Already notorious for saying the wrong thing, Clarkson has

now been suspended and three future programmes have been cancelled. He has had

massive support from his fans (this is the BBC’s most popular programme), has described

himself as a bit of a dinosaur, and is now reflecting on his future. (He is, incidently, a

friend of the present Prime Minister). But again his is a response without apology.

The abuse of young children in the northern town of Rochdale is a contemporary scandal,

and the failure of local social workers to recognise and deal with the situation, and the

police to apprehend the offenders is a continuing national concern. No one has been

charged with neglect, most people involved in the failure are still in post, and the most

that has been admitted has been that ‘mistakes were made and victims were let down’.

Regret is not the same as apology.

We got near to the real thing last week when the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Milliband,

was being questioned by an audience of young people on BBC Three TV. He was given a

rough time with brutally direct and sometimes very personal questions, and in our opinion

dealt honestly with them. Whilst he didn ‘t actually say ‘sorry’, he agreed that when he

was in government, Labour made some bad decisions. Next time if elected in May, they

would do better .

Does apologising for an error of judgement or failure of behaviour help? Is it easier for the

injured when that happens to move on? It would seem so.

The bereaved families of

Liverpool have waited so long time for the truth about what happened in Hillsborough to

be acknowedged. A mother spoke on the radio this morning about the stress of this

week’s court hearings and how they had waited all these years to hear confirmed what

they knew to be true. It could be easier now. At least it is now clear where responsibility

lay. ‘Sorry’ would make it easier still.


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