13/09/2012 08:46 BST | Updated 13/09/2012 15:10 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: The Real Truth

Today's political news, comment and gossip from Mehdi Hasan, with Chris Wimpress and Ned Simons.


Shocking, sickening, shaming, excoriating, damning - just some of the words used by this morning's papers to describe the landmark report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which reveals the incompetence and dishonesty behind Britain's worst-ever sporting sporting disaster - one which caused the deaths of 96 people in 1989.

In a reversal of its now-notorious and totally false "The Truth" front page, the headline on the front of today's Sun, over a stark picture of a weeping fan, reads: "The Real Truth: Cops Smeared Liverpool Fans To Deflect Blame". (All of the newspapers have the Hillsborough report verdict on their front pages - except, for some strange reason, the Telegraph. Bizarre.

It's taken 23 years and 450,000 documents to vindicate the families of the Hillsborough victims - and get an apology out of former Sun editor and bigmouth-for-hire Kelvin Mackenzie. The paper itself says it's "profoundly" sorry and now it's former editor Kelvin Mackenzie says he is "profusely" sorry. The latter has had his own bucket of shit poured on his head this morning, with Trevor Hicks, who chairs the Hillsborough Family Support Group, rejecting MacKenzie's apology as "too little, too late", calling him "lowlife, clever lowlife, but lowlife", and Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell depicting Mackenzie with his fingers crossed as he issues a "Sorry Scousers" apology.

Meanwhile, as families call for criminal action, pressure is growing on the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, Sir Norman Bettison, to resign over his alleged role in the Hillsborough cover-up. To say that the police come out of the report pretty bad is a severe understatement. The Daily Mail's powerful front-page splash, with a photographic montage of every single one of the 96 Hillsborough victims, says it best:

"Finally the Hillsborough families know the truth: the police lied and lied."


41 the number of lives that could have been saved had the emergency response been quicker and better

80 the percentage of Hillsborough victims who were under 30

116 the number of police statements that were doctored in order to show South Yorkshire Police in a better light

395 the number of pages in the report


All eyes have been on Kelvin Mackenzie and the Sun but in yesterday's Commons debate, Labour MP Yasmin Qureishi raised the issue of the 2004 Spectator editorial which lambasted the people of Liverpool's supposed "failure to acknowledge" the "part played" in the Hillsborough disaster "by drunken fans".

Would the prime minister ask the mayor of London for an apology for his "derogatory comments", she wondered?

Cameron, no friend of Bo-Jo of course, would only say that "people...need to come to their senses and realise this is what happened".

Could this be the beginning of the end of the post-Olympics Boris bounce? And, on a related note, anyone heard anything remotely apologetic from the Mail's Simon Heffer, who is said to have penned that awful Speccie editorial?


Former defence secretary Liam Fox seems to be on manoeuvres - again. In an interview with the Times, Fox calls for the PM and the chancellor to "throw down the gauntlet" and "deliver a totemic shock" to the UK's stalled economy with, yep, you guessed it, emergency tax and welfare cuts. He proposes a three-year scrapping of capital gains tax (are you listening, Nick?), elimination of benefits such as free TV licenses for wealthy pensioners (are you listening, Dave?) and even "wants to have a look at" cutting paternity leave (huh?). But, he adds, he doesn't want the Tory Party to change its leader. Well, that's okay then. Over to you Dave.


Bigotgate rumbles on, it seems. communities secretary Eric Pickles, in a comment piece in today's Telegraph, says there are "legitimate fears of European Court of Human Rights challenges and churches being forced down the line to conduct such ceremonies against their wishes". The chuches, he says, need "safeguards against such coercion".

On Tuesday, Nick Clegg's press team sent out a draft of his speech on gay marriage in which they referred to opponents as "bigots". They later recalled the email and changed "bigots" to "some people" before re-sending it to journalists. Thankfully, no one noticed.


Was it an angry response to an anti-Islamic movie from a mob of Muslim fanatics? Or was it a premeditated, long-planned al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist attack designed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of 9/11? No one seems quite sure. Either way, President Obama has sent two warships to the Libyan coast and condemned the US consulate attack in Benghazi, which killed the US ambassador and three other US diplomats, as “outrageous and shocking”. He says justice will be done.

As for the Islamophobic film itself, which continues to provoke riots and protests in Middle East capitals, questions have been raised as to the identity of the film-maker - the mysterious "Sam Bacile" claimed to be an Israeli Jew but he might just be a US Christian evangelical operating under a fake name. The plot, as they say, thickens.


Poor Mittens. His presidential campaign continues to implode, in the wake of the GOP's lacklustre convention in Florida and President Obama's own post-convention poll bounce. The Romney campaign is in full damage-control mode after its candidate chose to politicize the killing of the four US diplomats in Libya by accusing the president of "sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks" and apologizing for American values - remarks described by the Washington Post in its leader as "a discredit to his campaign".

The president himself hit back at his opponent in a CBS interview: "You know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that."

Some senior Republicans fell over themselves to condemn Romney too. Speaking off the record, a very senior GOP "foreign policy hand" told BuzzFeed that his intervention had been an "utter disaster" and a "Lehman moment" - that is, the moment in 2008 when John McCain misjudged his response to the financial crisis and failed to come across as a national leader. Speaking on the record, former McCain adviser Mark Salter criticised Romney for “unfair and hyperbolic sound bites.”

On a side note, if Obama is to blame for the death of four US embassy workers in the Middle East, does that mean Republican hero Ronald Reagan is personally to blame for the deaths of 241 US Marines in the Middle East in 1983? As they say on Twitter, #justasking


Guess what? Julian Assange thinks the Libya embassy attack was all about...him! In a since-deleted tweet, Wikileaks claimed that the US had given "tacit approval" for the murderous attacks on its own embassies by backing the UK's "siege" of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange is still holed up.

@wikileaks By the US accepting the UK siege on the Ecuadorian embassy in London it gave tacit approval for attacks on embassies around the world.

Er, ok.


Watch a video of the world's most chilled-out cat.


Hooray! Yesterday's figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the jobless total fell by...wait for it...7,000 in the quarter to July to 2.59 million. If I were George Osborne, I wouldn't break out the bubbly yet: the ONS says this rather modest drop in unemployment was partly driven by the Olympics which, er, finished last week.

Meanwhile, youth unemployment is up - also by 7,000 - and the number of people out of work for more than a year, at 904,000, was the highest figure since 1996. Underemployment remains the big challenge - the number of people working part-time because they can't find a full-time job hit a record high of 1.42 million. You might think it's ironic that the so-called part-time chancellor is responsible for the highest ever number of part-time workers in the UK.


The new international development secretary, Justine Greening, might want to get hold of a copy of the new Unicef report on global child mortality. According to the Guardian, the report says that "more children are surviving to their fifth birthday than ever before", with the number of deaths of young children having fallen from 12 million to 7 million over the past two decades. Foreign aid, it seems, works. Unicef's executive director Anthony Lake is quoted as saying that the figures are evidence of how lives can be saved "with vaccines, adequate nutrition, and basic medical and maternal care. The world has the technology and knowhow to do so. The challenge is to make these available to every child."

Greening, of course, wasn't happy to be moved from transport to international aid in last week's reshuffle and is said to have used "rather earthy terms to say that working with foreigners wasn't her political ambition". She is also said to support a cut to her new department's ring-fenced aid budget.


@Marthakearney I have had a sneak preview of the cover photo of @bbcnickrobinson on his new book. All I can say is BUTCH!

@DavidAllenGreen To those who say "policing has changed", there is still dishonesty and spin after fatalities, eg Ian Tomlinson and Jean Charles de Menezes.


Suzanne Moore, writing in the Guardian, argues that we shouldn't confuse Boris Johnson's "laughter for freedom. He is no libertarian but someone with an actual lust for authority".

Eric Pickles, writing in the Telegraph, denounces "aggressive secularism" and says "we are a Christian nation – and should not be afraid to say so".

Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says the row over responsibility for the GCSE exam fiasco shows how "the distribution of power [in the UK] has been a fuzzy, chaotic mess and made worse by the current ideologically confused Government".

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com), Chris Wimpress (chris.wimpress@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @chriswimpress, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol