My Basel banner shows we still want Justice For The 96
I was born in Basel, Switzerland, and have supported the Basel football team all my life.
As a 14 year old I used to travel to Liverpool regularly to watch football matches.
Aged 25 I moved to Liverpool on 2 April 1989—two weeks before the Hillsborough disaster that killed 96 Liverpool fans.
I was in the crush in pen 3 and I am lucky to be alive.
For 23 years I never spoke about it. It breaks my heart. Every time the anniversary was approaching, I’d lock myself in a room and cry my eyes out.
Since then I’ve had some help and I know now that this is called survivor’s guilt. I’m still suffering mentally because of what happened at Hillsborough.
But I do speak about Hillsborough now. And when Basel came to play Liverpool last week, I decided to make a banner.
It read JFT96—meaning Justice for the 96. I started crying when I put the number on. It’s a massive number, 96.
I went with my son Marc, 27, to the match and I held up the banner. I can’t believe the attention this banner got.
It was just fantastic. Liverpool fans in the main stand stood up and applauded. I expected that.
But afterwards in the pub, people wanted to take pictures of me with the banner.
Some younger Basel fans didn’t know what Hillsborough was. They were asking what the slogan meant so I had to explain it to them.
The reaction from them was overwhelmingly positive.
Since the match lots of different journalists have also been in touch with me.
But I didn’t do it for the attention. I did it for the 96 who died and who still deserve justice.
Marco Catena, Liverpool
Can socialism be reduced to a beard?
Engels didn’t want a statue. Yet he is to have one built in his honour in Salford—but just of his beard. And not a statue but a climbing wall.
Perhaps it will be enjoyed by middle managers with city centre apartments who’ll think it radical. But I’m at a loss as to who this is for or why it is being built at all.
The artist seems to have entirely missed the point of Engels and his writings—the fact that he didn’t want a statue seems of little concern.
Instead we are told this is about “the playful politics of social engagement”, “creating intriguing public spaces” and a “comment on how municipal local politics relate to shifts in our relationship to socialism”.
So our relationship to socialism has shifted, and as a result Engels can now be reduced to a climbing wall shaped like his beard as a playful approach to politics?
When deciding to honour significant people in their history our rulers tend not to create, say, statues of queen Victoria’s nose for the public to abseil.
This will only ridicule a man who spoke vehemently and eloquently in our defence.
Rachel Broady, Manchester
Something to raise a glass to this Christmas
Some Christmases are better than others—1989 was one of the best.
As Stalinist regimes were collapsing next door, Romania rose up against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
While people struggled for the basics, he lived in luxury and ruled through terror. One in 20 people were secret police. He ordered them to fire on crowds gathered in the city Timisoara on 17 December but only inflamed the revolt.
Fleeing from the masses, Ceausescu was arrested on 22 December—three days later he and his wife Elena were shot dead.
The Socialist Workers Party welcomed the end of his regime and the fall of Stalinism, which had nothing to do with socialism.
The 1989 revolutions vindicated the revolutionary Leon Trotsky when he reminded Stalin that the “vengeance of history is more terrible than the vengeance of the most powerful general secretary”.
Sasha Simic, East London
Double standards on unity?
I understand all the reasons why good socialists should distrust the motives of union leaders.
However, in the very edition that the Socialist Workers Party issues a statement calling for the left to unite (Socialist Worker, 29 November), it continues to criticise those selfsame leaders.
Isn’t it time to be less publicly hostile to them, for the sake of unity?
Maurice Whyte, by email
Tell Foyles no scrooging!
Campaigners are asking flagship London bookshop Foyles to pay the London Living Wage to all its staff this Christmas.
A petition has been set up online, and is being promoted by the campaign in the run-up to the festive season chn.ge/1GnjZNh
Lindsay Woods, by email
Anti-war song for Number 1
To mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War Christmas Truce, the anti-war anthem “All together now” by Liverpool group The Farm has a brand new release.
The team behind it beat X Factor to number 1 in the charts in 2012 with “He’s my Brother”, in a tribute to Hillsborough justice campaigners. Proceeds will go to the Red Cross.
Find out more about how to buy it on.fb.me/1uMfkx8
Phil Rowan, South London