Billy Bragg – Never Buy The Sun

Filmed live in the dressing room at Garforth Academy during Garforth Festival, Yorkshire, Saturday 9th July 2011 by Stephen Grubb. [video link]

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Never buy the Sun – FREE Download (via

‘Never Buy The Sun’ – Billy Bragg (words and music B. Bragg 2011) copyright control. Recorded 11th July 2011 at Mike Hallett Studio, Weymouth, Dorset

Billy Bragg – acoustic guitar and vocals
Tom Hughes – piano and organ
Chris Lonergan – bass guitar
Ady Milward – drums and percussion
Recorded, engineered and mixed by Mike Hallett
All pulled together at the drop of a hat by Adrian Collis of Thoroughbred Music

“The Scousers never buy The Sun” is a reference to the boycott that followed the paper’s coverage of the Hillsborough football tragedy in 1989.

The Sun newspaper [via wikipedia]

On the Wednesday following the disaster, Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper with national distribution owned by Rupert Murdoch, used the front page headline “THE TRUTH”, with three sub-headlines: “Some fans picked pockets of victims”, “Some fans urinated on the brave cops” and “Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life“.

The newspaper cited the words of unnamed police sources and a Conservative MP for information relating to the alleged incidents.[50]

The story accompanying these headlines claimed that “drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims” and “police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon”. A quotation, attributed to an unnamed policeman, claimed a dead girl had been “abused”, and that Liverpool fans were “openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead”. These allegations contradicted the reported behaviour of many Liverpool fans, who actively helped the security personnel to stretcher away a large number of victims and gave first aid to many injured.[citation needed]

In their history of The Sun, Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie wrote:

As MacKenzie’s layout was seen by more and more people, a collective shudder ran through the office (but) MacKenzie’s dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in except Murdoch. (Everyone in the office) seemed paralysed – “looking like rabbits in the headlights” – as one hack described them. The error staring them in the face was too glaring. It obviously wasn’t a silly mistake; nor was it a simple oversight. Nobody really had any comment on it—they just took one look and went away shaking their heads in wonder at the enormity of it. It was a ‘classic smear’.

Following The Sun‘s report, the newspaper was boycotted by most newsagents in Liverpool, and large numbers of readers cancelling orders and refusing to buy from shops that stocked it. The Hillsborough Justice Campaign also organised a less successful national boycott that nevertheless did have an impact on the paper’s sales, which some commentators have given as a cause for continued drops in price, the introduction of free magazines, and video and free DVD offers.[51] The issue was also addressed on the documentary Alexei Sayle’s Liverpool on BBC Two[52] when it covered the subject of Hillsborough. The segment saw comedian Alexei Sayle with a newsagent attempting to give away copies of The Sun, but every customer declined. Eventually, Alexei and the newsagent took the copies outside and, despite the newsagent’s concern, set them alight.

MacKenzie explained his reporting in 1993. Talking to a House of Commons National Heritage Select Committee, he said: “I regret Hillsborough. It was a fundamental mistake. The mistake was I believed what an MP said. It was a Tory MP. If he had not said it and the Chief Superintendent (David Duckenfield) had not agreed with it, we would not have gone with it.”

MacKenzie repudiated this apology in November 2006, saying that he only apologised because the newspaper’s owner Rupert Murdoch ordered him to do so. He said, “I was not sorry then and I’m not sorry now” for the paper’s coverage.[53] MacKenzie refused again to apologise when appearing on the BBC’s topical Question Time on 11 January 2007.[54]

The Sun issued an apology for their treatment of the Hillsborough disaster “without reservation” in a full page opinion piece on 7 July 2004, saying that it had “committed the most terrible mistake in its history” by publishing it. The Sun was responding to the intense criticism of Wayne Rooney, a Liverpool-born football star who still played in the city (for Everton, now for Manchester United) who had sold his life story to the newspaper. Rooney’s actions had incensed Liverpudlians still angry with The SunThe Sun’s apology was somewhat bullish, saying that the “campaign of hate” against Rooney was organised in part by the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, owned by Trinity Mirror, who also own the Daily Mirror – arch-rivals of The Sun. Thus the apology actually served to anger some Liverpudlians further. The Liverpool Echo itself did not accept the apology, calling it “shabby” and “an attempt, once again, to exploit the Hillsborough dead”.

On 6 January 2007, during their team’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal at Anfield, Liverpool fans in the Kop held up coloured cards spelling out “The Truth” and chanted “Justice for the 96” for six minutes at the start of the game. The protest was directed at Kelvin MacKenzie and The Sun, and at the BBC for employing MacKenzie as a presenter.

Many people in the Liverpool area continue to reject buying The Sun as a matter of principle, and the paper’s sales figures within Merseyside remain very poor. It is the only major newspaper not to have articles published on Liverpool’s official website. As of 2004, the average daily circulation of The Sun in Liverpool was just 12,000 copies a day.[55] Some Liverpudlians refer to the paper as simply: The Scum.[56]

The controversy was referred to during the 2009 Labour Party conference. On 30 September 2009, after the decision by The Sun to switch its support to the Conservative Party in advance of the forthcoming general election, Union Leader Tony Woodley ripped up a copy of The Sun, saying “In Liverpool we learnt a long time ago what to do.”[57]

However, subsequent articles in The Sun have since acknowledged that hooliganism was not a cause of the tragedy; on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy (15 April 2009) an article by journalist Mike Ellis condemned the 1991 inquest verdict of death by misadventure into the deaths of the 95 victims (the 96th victim Tony Bland did not die for another two years after this) as “tosh” and claimed that “death by negligence would have been a more accurate description”.[58]

File:The Sun Liverpool.jpg

… full article here.