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
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.