Boris Johnson is always worth listening to, not because he’s a great font of wisdom, but because he’s a natural comic and political comics are in short supply nowadays. But just as Billy Connolly’s Bigley joke was ill-judged, so was Boris’s attack on Liverpool’s mourning of him.
Arguing that the Sun’s accusing Liverpool supporters of urinating on the 96 dead at Hillsborough, amounted to no more than a ‘hint at the wider causes of the incident’ was not very clever. But Liverpool is a city with a very unique sense of community that is not always healthy. I promoted many of the city’s pubs in the mid-1990s and came across that community spirit; the city is surprisingly close-knit and has an unrivalled sense of identity. Yet I didn’t envy them for that because, perhaps proving that it’s easier to unite in the face of adversity, it was often backward looking and victim centred.
This doesn’t let Boris off the hook though. He’s now admitted his editorial was too trenchant, but worse it was ill-researched (grossly under estimating the number killed at Hillsborough, was unforgivable) and had he taken the time, he’d find that the Liverpool I just described is fading fast into history. The mindset is now catching up with its larger rival and neighbour, Manchester, to become far more positive and forward looking.