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Samizdata quote of the day

The contrast between the behaviour of the emergency services in both disasters (and note Hillsborough resulted in more immediate deaths than Chernobyl) is striking. The firefighters of the Ukraine are heroes in my book. To tackle a nuclear meltdown knowing this is probably “it” takes true grit. To stand on the half-way line whilst 96 people are crushed to death just a few tens of metres from you takes true cuntery.

The Hillsborough inquiry verdict and the anniversary of Chernobyl provide a very stark contrast in the human spirit.

I dedicate this post to the firefighters,

And I condemn South Yorkshire Police.


14 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ed

    I heard reports at the time of Chernobyl of conscripts being used in the tradition of the Soviet penal battalion, .e.g, attacking German positions dressed in black in the snow. There was no scope for refusing orders in Chernobyl, but whatever may have gone on, those who tackled the Chernobyl disaster were heroic and worthy, Soviet or not, in the face of extreme danger and death.

    Bear in mind that the Left hated South Yorkshire Police for their part in preventing the Libyan-backed NUM’s ‘flying pickets’ from terrorising miners who simply wanted to work. Now that the Left control the police, we see Rotherham.

    However, altering statements, notebooks etc or colluding on writing them would of course be likely to be a serious crime for which there can be no justification.

  • Edward MJ

    Heroic indeed, Mr Ed. Three brave Chernobyl divers volunteered to release the safety valves for the sluice gates, preventing a massive explosion that would have had dire consequences for most of Europe, all the while knowing that there was no chance of survival. It’s a shame more people haven’t heard of Valeri Bezpalov, Alexie Ananenko and Boris Baranov.

    See: http://www.foccwestlothian.com/chernobyl.html (scroll down to the bottom) and http://www.scotsman.com/news/stephen-mcginty-lead-coffins-and-a-nation-s-thanks-for-the-chernobyl-suicide-squad-1-1532289 for some good coverage of their bravery.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    There’s a very touching memorial to the firemen at Chernobyl. And the circumstances don’t really matter. These people were incredibly brave.

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m confused, they only just finished reporting on Hillsborough now, twenty five years later?

  • First off thanks for QoTD!

    Fraser. Yes. That is another disgrace and as my OP makes clear this was nationally televised – it was an FA Cup semi-final of course. By which I mean there was more than enough on video. So yeah a quarter of a century is outrageous. Quite a few friends and relatives will have died of natural causes in that period.

  • Jordan

    It seems that police in the UK are polar opposites of the ones here in the U.S. We have violent thugs, you guys have cowardly jobsworths. Although, UK police seem to have no problem springing into action when somebody says something mean on Twitter.

  • Jordan,
    Da authorities (not even the rozzers) were OK here with searching a woman’s bag for she had been picking mushrooms in Epping Forest. Picking mushrooms in the woods. And this was on a bylaw. She got an GBP80 fine and GBP280-odd costs for her trouble. God knows if she had been naked from the waist down and been stealing pickernick baskets. Which is the point. You can be hauled before the beak for utter nonsense and we used to laugh at such stuff. I mean it only happened to animated bears. Not no more.

  • James Strong

    I have dialled 999 for an ambulance on 5 occasions.
    The crews were, without exception, superb in the way they carried out their duties.

    Police, on the other hand, sometimes thuggish bullies in uniform and sometimes spineless jobsworths.

  • Gingerdave

    Here is my (slightly controversial) opinion on Hillsborough.

    It was not the fault of the fans. Nor was it the fault of South Yorkshire Police.

    It was the fault of the thousands of fans/hooligans who spent most of the 70’s and 80’s turning most of the football games in the country into riots. Every weekend there was another battle, because some people didn’t go there to watch the game, they went there to have a fight.

    So when things went sideways at Hillsborough, the police expected another riot. If there hadn’t been so many riots over the past 10 years, there would have been no cages at Hillsborough, and the crush wouldn’t have happened.

    Watch Life on Mars (the UK version, s01e05) about the start of hooliganism: “and how long before something terrible happens?”

    I’ve lived in Sheffield for 20 years, I have encountered the police 4-5 times. On every occasion they were calm, professional and had perfectly good reasons for stopping me.

  • Rob Fisher

    Gingerdave has a point. I watched the original coverage on YouTube the other day, and Jimmy Hill is saying that the fans of the opposing team at the other end did not know what was going on and were still chanting and jeering. The police on the half-way line looked like they were trying to prevent a riot. It did not look like they knew anything of what was going on. Of course, I have not read the reports.

  • Mr Ed

    I agree with Gingerdave. I spent quite some time in South Yorkshire in my younger years (before and after this incident) and the police were never regarded as a problem by my relations, nor even the miners amongst their neighbours around the time of the Libyan-backed Miners’ Strike.

    Having been to the odd football match around that time (and before) I recall a distinct atmosphere of menace, as well as slightly more jocular times, like a friend saying, low down on the terraces ‘I’m just waiting for a pie to land on my head‘, whilst my chemistry teacher was blinded in one eye by a sharpened coin thrown at a football match.

    And there was also the Heysel disaster in Belgium before this incident, when 39 died, mainly Juventus fans after a wall collapsed as they fled aggressive Liverpool fans. There’s no doubt that, whatever the state of the stadium and the actions of the local police, certain Liverpool fans were to blame for those deaths. There shouldn’t need to be segregation between fans, they should behave, and some acted like savage dogs.

    I also note from the Taylor report (a judge-led enquiry), into the disaster, with my emphasis added, about witnesses contradicting press reports.

    They also denied that there was an exceptional level of drunkenness or that fans had rushed the turnstiles or the terrace.

    A concession that there was drunkenness before the match started, but that wasn’t unusual. It seems that the crowds could have been managed better, but to complain about bottlenecks at turnstiles? Hello, this is the point of a stadium, you have to pay for a ticket and that also controls numbers present. The grim reality is that the aggregate action of the crowds crushed 96 people to death, so the Liverpool fans killed their fellow fans. The jury’s view is that the evidence points to the fans not being responsible, but if they all had stood in line and waited for space before going forward, none of this could have happened. You may say that that is not how crowds in aggregate behave, and that is true, but that is an aggregate of individual choices and decisions, whether unexceptionally drunk or sober.

    This RTE footage from the game has some pertinent commentary around 1 minute in, including. “If the tickets were distributed and allocated properly, there shouldn’t be overcrowding like this“. “Crowds are corralled these days in football stadiums”. “There should not be overcrowding in a match like this, an all-ticket match, the allocation of tickets for that terrace should be within the limits that the terrace can hold“.

    Do we know now why there were more people in there than it could hold? There were 7 turnstiles for 10,100 fans it seems, but I don’t understand how so many got in so fast as to cause a crush.

  • Fraser Orr

    I also want to put in my oar and agree with Gingerdave. I grew up in Glasgow and well remember Old Firm games between Rangers and Celtic and the violent animosity. When I move to the United States I went to watch a Chicago Bears (vs. Redskins) football game and to my utter amazement in the seat next to me was a very nice family of Redskins fans. We bantered back and forth, enjoyed the game, and wished them well.

    In the United States fans from opposing teams sit next to each other, not in separate cages with DMZs guarded by police with K9 units. That says a lot about what is wrong with football and why terrible things like this happen.

    But on the flip side ultimately it is the police’s job to prevent the tiny majority of violent thugs from spoiling things for the rest of normal society, I mean if their job it anything it is that. And in the case of football they utterly fail, and in the case of Hillsborough that failure reached its zenith.

  • Paul Marks

    The problem was the cages.

    Although, yes, the police should have opened them.

  • JohnB

    Surely the question is – who pushed?