Liverpool MP Steve Rotheram expressed renewed anger today at Alan Davies's semi-apology for his ill thought out remarks on Hillsborough, reports Shamik Das.
Liverpool MP Steve Rotheram expressed renewed anger today at Alan Davies’s semi-apology for his ill thought out remarks on Hillsborough, insisting the comic still “doesn’t comprehend the magnitude of Hillsborough and its aftermath”.
Last week, in a podcast, Davies had said:
“Liverpool and the 15th – that gets on my tits that shit. What are you talking about, ‘We won’t play on the day’. Why can’t they?… Do they play on the date of the Heysel Stadium disaster? How many dates do they not play on? Do Man United play on the date of Munich? Do Rangers play on the date when all their fans died in that disaster whatever year that was – 1971?”
Adding of Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish:
“Every interview he’s given this season he looks like he wants to head-butt the interviewer. This tight-mouthed, furious, frowning, leaning-forward, bitter Glaswegian ranting, ‘Liverpool FC do not play on April 15th’.”
Davies’s initial rant prompted Rotheram to write to him explaining how offensive his remarks were; he revealed today:
“In my original correspondence I included a copy of Hansard from the Parliamentary debate on October 17th 2011 and a video link to the debate.
“I had hoped that this would give him the opportunity to read (or watch) what had been said that evening in the House of Commons, so that he could fully understand the magnitude of the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath. I truly wonder whether he even took the time for a cursory glance at either.
“In my letter I tried to strike a balanced note, which I am not sure he fully appreciated. I was in no way aiming to be patronising to Mr Davies about his understanding of Hillsborough, but hoped that he might read up on it to ensure that he was availed of the full facts. I hoped my intervention might have acted as a would-be olive branch to help dampen heightened feelings on both sides.
“By his own admission Mr Davies’ podcast is not scripted, nor is it planned. Therefore, these comments are a genuine response to the subject being discussed – a comedic stream of consciousness.
“This must be how he genuinely feels about Hillsborough, Liverpool FC and the way in which the tragedy is commemorated. That is deeply disturbing.”
Rotheram’s letter, and the general backlash against him, prompted Davies to write (£) yesterday:
“What a week that was: death threats, character assassination and turning off the entry phone because our two-year-old was becoming frustrated with our refusal to answer the front door. The week culminated with a letter from the House of Commons.
“Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, wrote that he had read my comments about Liverpool FC refusing to play on April 15, the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, with incredulity…
“Mr Rotheram wrote that I could only hold the view I do, that Liverpool could sometimes play on April 15, because I am ignorant of the events at Hillsborough. It is the belief of some in Liverpool that people outside that city are unaware of the circumstances of the disaster.”
“At no point did I “mock the dead”, as I am accused. What I have been subjected to is alarming. Vile and hateful messages by the hundred. Death threats to me, my wife and children.
“Menacing warnings and threats to maim. I am worse than a serial rapist, than a paedophile. And some people are rejoicing that my mother is dead. It’s difficult to contemplate anything I could say on any subject to generate a similar furore…
“There is a loss of perspective and a distortion of genuine emotion over Hillsborough. Those attacking me with such hatred don’t speak on behalf of the dead and should be ashamed to claim that they do.
“Perhaps Mr Rotheram could now write to those people, possibly his own constituents, who want me to contract cancer so my “children will never enjoy Christmas”, who want to urinate on my mother’s grave, who would take pleasure in seeing my wife sexually assaulted, and suggest that it is they who have truly caused offence.”
Rotheram today did just that, saying:
“Alan Davies and his family came in for some totally unjustifiable and disgraceful comments – and were even subjected to threats to their lives… I absolutely condemn any threats against Mr Davies and his family and as requested I will write to any constituents from Liverpool Walton if he provides details of who they are and what they said.”
The MP added, however, that “all of this is academic and really misses the point”, and “it is obvious that he is a very different animal to the persona portrayed on TV that we all recognise”:
“Alan Davies undoubtedly said something stupid and grossly offensive. Yet he doesn’t comprehend the magnitude of Hillsborough and its aftermath to this very day in the daily lives of those having to correct stupid, offensive, and often throw-away comments by people like him.”