The Point
Last updated: 11 December 2017. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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Interview: A Hillsborough survivor speaks

Neil McDougall, 45, is a born and bred Liverpudlian now living in London and is the father of four children. He has been a Liverpool fan since the age of five and, aged 22, was at Hillsborough on April 15th, 1989 – the day on which 96 of Neil’s fellow Liverpool fans went to a football match and never returned home.

Neil spoke to The Point's Willie Duncan about his recollection of the events of that day, the aftermath of the smear campaign and cover up perpetrated the UK Government, South Yorkshire Police and the media, as well as his hopes for the future of the campaign for justice for the 96.


      Neil, what are your memories of the day of the disaster and at what point did you first become aware that there was a problem at Hillsborough?

“The strange thing is that my first worry was actually how packed the Nottingham Forest (Liverpool’s opponents that day) end was. I remember saying that I had never seen it so full before. Then, I began to realise how busy it must have been in our end of the stadium because, in the build up to kick-off, people were waving and shouting rather than singing. Then, of course, people started to climb over the fences or climbing up a tier in the stand and when some fans started running towards Bruce (Grobbelaar, Liverpool goalkeeper) to tell him what was going on, it became clear how serious the problem was.

The memories are, of course, focused on what happened but the build up to the match itself was nothing unusual. It was another semi-final, we were confident of victory and the weather was great. 

It was just another football game but, of course, the events of the day changed all of that.

I just remember watching on in horror and seeing fans on the pitch using advertising hoardings as emergency stretchers. When I looked out across the pitch, it was like a war zone. Bodies were laid out everywhere and they were being carried down to the far end of the stadium. There were people crying everywhere, walking about the pitch in a state of shock. It was such a horrible sight to see.

Whenever I recall the day and see the pitch, in my mind, I always think of a scene akin to something from World War I: The shell suits turn into army uniforms with tin helmets on, those advertising stretchers are real stretchers. People were running around in circles in sheer desperation doing their best to help those who were dying.  Every so often, you’d hear a small cheer as someone was brought back to life on the pitch, only to fade away again. It was like watching a war scene in a movie but it wasn’t a war: it was only a football match and those people should never have been killed. They should have been safe. Something went horribly wrong on that day.


The unions, the fight against austerity, and the possibilities for a general strike

Gregor Gall


The approaching 20th October ‘A Future that Works’ demonstrations in Belfast, Glasgow and London will be a critical barometer of where the anti-cuts and anti-austerity movement is in terms of its size, vitality and future direction. Last year, the two highpoints of this struggle were the 26t March London demo and the 30th November mass strike on public sector pension reform.

Anything between 250,000 to 750,000 citizens were reported to have attended the March 2011 demonstration. Given its unprecedented size and the fact that there are, this time round, three regional demonstrations rather than just the one national one, it would seem likely that the 20 October London one will be smaller than the March 2011 one. It will not climb the lofty heights of reaching one million as some on the far left are arguing. The media will no doubt jump on this in order to speculate upon the death of the anti-cuts movement.

But probably far more important than this in determining the turnout in London and elsewhere is that there has been a considerable loss of momentum in the anti-cuts movement since 26 March 2011. This demo represented such a highpoint as the first big – indeed, truly massive – show of opposition against the coalition government.  People were left feeling exhilarated and asking ‘So what are we going to do now?’ There was a genuine sense of expectation and bated breath thereafter.


Nato - No Ta

The proposal by SNP Defence Spokesman Angus Roberston to change long-standing SNP party policy that an independent Scotland should not be part of NATO caused shock and dismay, not just amongst long-standing SNP members but amongst the wider independence cause, and within the peace and nuclear disarmament movements. SNP MSP's Dave Thompson and John Finnie have been amongst those leading opposition to the proposed change.

NATO and Trident

Dave Thompson writes

In Scotland today I think there is just cause for optimism, because, when I envision Scotland's future I see great potential and great opportunity for us as a nation to choose what is good and right. In just over two years, in the 2014 independence referendum, we will be given the chance to choose who we want to be, what we want to do and where we want to go.

The independence referendum is, however, about more than just standing on our own two feet, and managing our own affairs. It is also about harnessing the potential of our nation and shaping the future, and there are few issues as pressing and urgent as Trident. The Trident nuclear weapons system is unjustifiable, immoral and grossly expensive and we must use this opportunity to get rid of it.


The Curious Case of Kate Middleton's Breasts



Gillian Wales

In some ways writing this article belies my true level of interest in the Royal breast fiasco. This matter is increasingly being used as some sort of crusade on privacy (but only for the wealthy) as well as rights to the body. For me, it is far, more simple. Kate Middleton slipped up. Even after all the media training she has undergone and her many years’ experience of the paparazzi, she misjudged the situation. She forgot who she was and how in some people’s eyes she holds some form of status…the royal feminine. One statement released highlighted that she is a ‘young woman, not an object’. This is, of course, completely correct. However, this also stated that she had undergone much ‘suffering’ in relation to this issue. Suffering? Seriously? My alternative version of events goes like this: young royal went topless on holiday, said breasts were ‘papped’, photos published in French media, leading to a severe ticking off for inappropriate behaviour, particularly in light of forthcoming royal visits abroad. And now this whole situation is being used to make a statement about privacy and sexism.

The privacy laws are a slightly different debate; however, the hypocrisy is highly irritating. Press officers, acting on behalf of the rich and famous, continually manipulate stories to maximise impact and positive effect. They then complain when something unfavourable comes out that does not fit into their contrived agenda. Access to money and power facilitates this vicious game playing, via legal action and injunctions, which further remove everyday people from what constitutes truth. The PR industry contradictorily helps to create some form of allure, which perpetrates the myth that the Royals are different, a special kind of human being, whilst at the same time attempting to demonstrate how ‘normal’ these people are. The lie being sold here is that Kate Middleton’s breasts are no ordinary breasts; they are special, royal breasts whilst simultaneously selling the image of her as representative of many young women today.


Matters of Life and Death

Steve Mowat – The NHS, an international comparison, and where private profit ultimately leads

Following World War II the British people collectively realised something.  If money could be spent killing fellow human beings in millions, it can be used to cure and prevent illness. This revolution of ideas had resulted in the commissioning of an official report into healthcare. The Beveridge report recommended the working populace pay a small national insurance, guaranteeing free health care at the point of necessity. This system has sustained the population for over fifty years. The National Health Service (NHS) is a proud symbol of democratic achievement.

The funding of this icon has come under increasing pressure in England and Wales. Here private corporations are given expansive responsibility for health provision. The government recently attempted to ditch duty for upkeep via shoddy wording of a health care bill. The following article is a word of caution on dismantling public accountability for the private profit. These words are based on personal experiences of a healthcare system operated for profit, as a business. The realities are startling and grotesquely inhumane. 

Imagine if you will you are nineteen years old. Your first year at University is a roaring success, the family is rich. Life in a large home complete with landscaped grounds and a maid is relaxed. Your father has spent an age engineering road projects all across his country. Drawing in expertise from Japan and Europe, he does well for his country and his family.

Envisage then your father became critically ill inside hospital in his mid 50s. Lying in his bed nurses and doctors refuse to treat him. This is because medication is not paid for on the spot. Visualise: if you don’t pay for the bed, medicine, meals, and consultations they will be withheld. If you need to shell out, you use a credit card. It could be that’s not enough, maybe your finest watch, a television, fridge, furniture, and car are sold. Perhaps the sale of these things will secure the existence of your Dad. After all what price can be put on human life?


External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left


The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books