Peter Rhodes on the unending agony of Hillsborough, terrorists in our midst and the broken promise of free electricity
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
Bombarded by election propaganda, there is only one policy in one leaflet that raises my spirits. It is the suggestion that the best way to save the country from going to the dogs is to ban greyhound racing. Thank you, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
In a perfect world, the bereaved and battered families of the Hillsborough disaster would have wound down their campaign after the second inquest in 2016. That was their high point. The findings, coupled with the results of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, established that the killings were unlawful, the fans were innocent, the police were to blame and some members of the emergency services were incompetent. At that moment three years ago, the Hillsborough families claimed a great victory and who could blame them? But the process ground on.
Common sense dictated that if the deaths were unlawful, someone must be guilty. But the system doesn't work like that. In the criminal court, jurors were not convinced that the conduct of David Duckenfield, the police commander on the day, met the strict legal demands required for a conviction for gross-negligence manslaughter. His acquittal now leaves the whole Hillsborough affair with no resolution and no closure for the bereaved. We like to think British justice is the best in the world. But here's yet another example of the infinite ability of the system to let people down.
We do not know whether the words of one relief worker in a radio interview will come to haunt us. He referred to the children recently admitted from Syria having spent “their formative years” with Islamic State. And who knows what ideas have been formed in their growing minds?
What we do know is that someone can live what looks like a peaceful life in the West and still believe that all infidels must be slaughtered. The London Bridge murders remain centre-stage. But a few days before that atrocity, Mahdi Mohamud, 26 pleaded guilty to three charges of attempted murder after a frenzied knife attack in Manchester when he screamed “Allahu Akbar!” and “Long live the Caliphate!” He is 26, from a Somali family and he has lived in England since he was nine.
A colleague suggested that if Labour were promising free broadband, why not free electricity? Titter ye not. The promise of electricity from nuclear fusion which would be "too cheap to meter” has been around since the 1950s. Yet despite billions of dollars in research, fusion power remains a dream. According to a scientific paper online, fusion power will always be 30 years in the future and, in a wonderfully frank phrase, “we don’t even yet know what we don’t know.”
We are led to believe that if the Yanks bought parts of the NHS it would be a national calamity. But supposing NHS hospital catering were taken over by McDonald's. Try to imagine the unthinkable prospect of British hospital food that people actually wanted to eat. Some calamities are less calamitous than others.