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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Liverpool grief for Bigley: Your views
Boris Johnson in front of the Liver Building in Liverpool
The Spectator editor and Tory MP Boris Johnson has been criticised by Ken Bigley's brother Paul during a visit to Liverpool.

Taking part in a BBC radio phone-in, he described Mr Johnson as a "self-centred pompous twit" who should "get out of public life".

Boris Johnson was in Liverpool to apologise for a magazine article which said the city was wallowing in victim status following the murder of the British hostage.

Was Boris Johnson right visit Liverpool to make a personal apology? Has he shown enough remorse? Send us your views using the post form.


This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by John Q, UK:
Should Boris Johnson apologise to Liverpool?

Your comments:

I suspect most of the anti-Boris brigade have not actually read the article. Sure, the article had a go at mawkishness and about time too. But the article was sympathetic to the Bigleys themselves. Liverpudlians seem extremely sensitive - makes one wonder why.
R S N Lane, Banstead, UK

I am no Boris Johnson fan but on this occasion I think he really just said what an awful lot of people feel. Good for him!!
Jocelyn, Portsmouth

I have now read the Spectator article and, in essence, I agree with what Boris Johnson said. He does not make light of Ken Bigley's fate. However, I do feel that his opinions reflect more on British society as a whole rather than just on Liverpool as a city.
Jamie Wilkins, Frome, Somerset

I think Mr Johnson has done the right thing - how many other people in politics have the decency to admit they made a mistake and then go somewhere to atone for it? It provides a contrast: Blair can't be bothered to apologise for discredited evidence which sent a country to war, while Boris goes out of his way to apologise for an opinion! Good for him!
Laurence Tailby, London, UK

This incident has been blown out of proportion!
Doug, Liverpool, UK
I manage an extremely busy city centre restaurant and am privy to the views of my many customers. I haven't heard one person even mentioning Boris Johnson's name! When Mr Bigley was murdered, people held a dignified vigil and signed a book of condolence - that was it! I don't mind people criticising Liverpool; I agree with some viewpoints but this incident has been blown out of proportion! Boris has my respect for coming up to Liverpool to apologise - whether this was meant or not!
Doug, Liverpool, UK

Boris Johnson picked on Liverpool in a silly way and got some of his facts wrong but he hit on a facet of modern Britain which is spot on. This is a country that indulges itself whenever disaster strikes, not helped by the media's obsession with emotion-driven reporting. Someone also needs to remind Paul Bigley that the dignified response would have been not to have played the media's game of cod-controversy and refrain from reacting to Johnson's comments. Why should he suddenly be a spokesman for Liverpool anyway?
J Dunn, Edinburgh

Boris has been man enough to apologise - for what? Exercising his right to free speech. Time to move on, Liverpool. Let's keep a sense of proportion: thousands of good people have died in Iraq. We need more Boris Johnsons in politics.
Mike Egan, Appleby, UK

By carrying on the huffing and puffing about this issue Liverpool is proving Boris right
Jon Harrison, Hartington, West Derbyshire
By carrying on the huffing and puffing about this issue Liverpool is proving Boris right. I disagreed with his comments originally but now I have seen the reaction from Liverpool I have changed my mind, and now totally agree with him!
Jon Harrison, Hartington, West Derbyshire

On a slightly different note, I always thought being an MP was a full-time job. How is it Mr. Johnson has time to take on the editorship of a national magazine and his numerous television appearances on chat shows and panel games, and also carry out his role as MP properly? No wonder people have lost faith in politicians!
Steve, Birmingham, England

Well done to the BBC forum for demonstrating that the average person is not prepared to jump on the Boris Bashing Bandwagon. It is a shame our real opinions are not reflected in the day to day media which would have us believe that the nation is outraged at Boris' comments.
Simone, Cambridge, UK

Boris for Prime Minister. I completely agree with the views of Boris Johnson - the whole country has gone soft and the media can now whip up mass hysteria at the drop of a hat. The stiff upper lip had its faults but it's preferable to mass mourning for someone you have never met, and has had no influence on your life whatsoever. If you want to mourn, I suggest a remembrance service for the brave British soldiers killed and injured doing their duty in Iraq.
Gary, Shrewsbury, UK

I find Mr Johnson's opportunism in generating publicity for his unimportant magazine suprisingly calculated, not a trait that I would ordinarily ascribe to one of such dubious intellect. The danger of causing further grief to the Bigley family has proved no obstacle to the lumbering, publicity hungry Mr Johnson. Lucky for him that Mr Bigley was from Liverpool, this has provided him with plenty of support from the usual bunch of ignorant people who feel that it is their right to denigrate the people of Liverpool at any opportunity, no matter how inappropriate it may be to do so at such a time.
Anna, Bristol

I am a born and bred socialist but Boris Johnson's comments are enough to make me change side. I not only agree with every word he said but also think he is destined to become a leader of his party.
Alaine, Northants

I have read the article in the Spectator and think its the most eloquent description of the current situation regarding Iraq, Liverpool and Bigley. Unfortunately the nanny state we live in prevents people from speaking the truth. As a Sheffielder I am personally sick of hearing about the Hillsborough disaster. His comments are wholly accurate, most people and cities get over trauma, Liverpool insists in revelling in it.
Jonathan Barker, Sheffield

I think the treatment Boris Johnson has received and is receiving in Liverpool fully justifies the comments made in the Spectator article. Would this charade be played out in any other city in the UK? I think not.
Yvonne Forsyth, Dorchester, England

We live in an era of complete wimps
Michael S. Nowak, Pittsburgh, USA
He should not have apologized. We live in an era of complete wimps. The animals that killed Bigley do so because they know we are a culture of "touchy feely", self-doubting, over-medicated cowards who are incapable of standing up for ourselves. Let's all sit around and have a group-help session and wring our hands about whether he should apologize.
Michael S. Nowak, Pittsburgh, USA

Boris Johnson should apologise. He's welcome to say what he wants but with that comes the fact that he must take the consequences. This is another example of stuffy, old fashioned dinosaurs - the kind that have almost killed off his party - and the way they cannot relate to other human beings with compassion and empathy. Just because he doesn't care about Ken Bigley's death, doesn't mean any of us that do are being sentimental. Its a sad day when caring about the plight of other people is denigrated and ridiculed. Good for Liverpool.
Matt, London

Cheap sentimentality turns him from a real person into a transitory icon
John Standish, London
Boris Johnson was quite correct. We now have a society which is hooked on emotional outpourings of sentimentality. How many of those who 'grieve' at Mr Bigley's death actually knew him? Did not Mr Bigley have some responsibility for his own actions? It is a shame what happened to him but this cheap sentimentality turns him from a real person into a transitory icon.
John Standish, London

This is all very good publicity for The Spectator magazine and for Johnson. All this episode has done is thrust both him and his magazine into public spotlight. Bet sales of The Spectator go up after this and Boris gets yet more television appearances.
Reuben Leach, Wellingborough, UK

Having read the original article (which it seems most people have not), I feel it makes a very valid point and does not belittle Ken Bigley's suffering at all. He took a massive risk and it went tragically wrong. What about the ten thousand Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives in this conflict and had no choice about where they were when the bombers and tanks arrived? What about our soldiers, too? Lions under the leadership of donkeys, as usual.
Paul Tayler, Skelmersdale, UK

As much as I sympathise with Paul Bigley, his comments towards Boris Johnson are out of order. Sorry Mr Bigley, but you do not have the right to say you think that the rest of the UK would be glad to see Boris out of public life for what he has said. I disagree for one. Personally, I think Boris has done more than enough to make good his position. Is this not an example of Liverpool stretching sympathies and public attention as far as they can again???
Chris, Newcastle

I hope he learns from his mistake and comes out stronger for it
Paul, UK
Boris Johnson is, hopefully, a man whose time is yet to come. I hope he learns from his mistake and comes out stronger for it. Personally, I can see both sides of this. The Ken Bigley story is a very, very sad affair but I also can't see how Liverpool are claiming him when he was just issued with an Irish passport. Was he British, Irish or Liverpudlian, or all three? Let's also not forget that it was Blair and Straw who sold poor Ken Bigley down the river, not Boris Johnson.
Paul, UK

I agree with Boris Johnson. There's a pronounced tendency for self-pity and moral indignation evident in Britain today, though by no means only in Liverpool. People leap on any opportunity to become sentimental and self-righteous. This isn't the Britain I know and love and it's time we snapped out of it and returned to our old stoicism.
Jamie Shepherd, UK

Boris for PM - a straight talking human being in politics. Now that would be a change. Liverpool - get over yourselves.
Roger, Whitwick, England

As a serving member of the army out in Baghdad, I cannot see what all the fuss is about. For once, a politician who is not afraid to speak his mind AND correct? A miracle!
Ollie, Baghdad, Iraq

I think this provides the clearest indication that Mr Johnson was broadly correct
Neil Jarrett, Aldershot, UK
Boris Johnson accused Liverpudlians of wallowing in their victim mind-set. Ten days after Mr Bigley was horrifically murdered, people in that city are still wallowing in being victimised by Boris Johnson. I think this provides the clearest indication that Mr Johnson was broadly correct. I also question Paul Bigley's comments. He is a private citizen and his opinion carries no more weight than any other. What business is it of his to suggest that Mr Johnson should get out of public life?
Neil Jarrett, Aldershot, UK

Having read the Spectator article, what Boris Johnson had to say was fair, honest and I believe rather accurate point of view, but rather heavy handed in regard to Liverpool specifically. The saddest part is the politically correct and over sentimentalised reaction to it all.
David Perfrement, Petersfield, Hants

As someone who lives on Merseyside and works in Liverpool city centre, I must say that I agree whole heartedly with Boris. It's appalling that in a nation where we are supposedly fighting for the democratic rights of others in places like Iraq, we are not even allowed to voice an opinion without fear of being shouted down. Boris made some very good points and observations in the Spectator article and he should not be slated so much. Liverpool does tend to wallow in the victim role, from Hillsborough, to the dockers and now Bigley.
Kate Roberts, Wirral

I was born and bred in Liverpool and I can't fail to notice the irony, that my fellow Liverpudlians are now proving Boris' comments correct by wallowing in their perceived victimisation. Most of us Liverpudlians and indeed, most northerners, have stereotypical views of southerners and people with posh accents so why are we moaning?
Les, Liverpool, UK

I'm a Scouser, and I wasn't furious. Drive along any road in the country and you will almost certainly find the ubiquitous 'memorials' for accident victims. It strikes me that as we lose faith in God, we become more emotional and less rational.
John, UK

A glowing light of eccentricity in a Parliament much in need of colourful characters
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs, England
Boris is a glowing light of eccentricity in a Parliament much in need of colourful characters instead of the ersatz, pager driven politicians we now have. He spoke his mind and I believe rightly so. To be ordered to a place where no-one knows him and cares even less is plain stupid and panders to the media feeding frenzy ever annexed to these sort of issues since the death of Diana!
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs, England

The fact that the great and good of Liverpool are now falling over themselves to say that Boris' apology is not wanted and that he's not welcome rather proves his point.
Alex, Liverpool

Everyone has to be careful not to stereotype anyone else... Eh eh! Calm down! Calm down!
John, Southampton, UK

Boris did put his foot in it with his insensitive remarks with regard to Liverpool. However, he is attempting to put things right so give him a chance. British politics does throw up some quirky people like Boris and Tony Benn. One doesn't always agree with them but we are all better off that they're there.
Paul, Derry, Northern Ireland

A couple of the callers showed themselves to be completely ignorant and stupid
Matt Williams, Redditch, UK
I'm just listening to Boris Johnson on Liverpool radio. I have to say that a couple of the callers showed themselves to be completely ignorant and stupid, resorting to insults. If anything they reinforce the stereotype depicted in the Spectator article.
Matt Williams, Redditch, UK

As a Scouser I'm not at all bothered about what Boris has to say, nor am I bothered about the hugely negative stereotypes of Liverpool and Scousers. We've got better things to do these days than justify ourselves to every non-Scouser in the UK who has never visited the city (foreigners hold us in very high regard as they take us for who we are). Let Boris continue with his publicity stunt. In a nation of free speech, he should be allowed exercise this right.
Danny, Kirkby, Liverpool

Well, what do you expect from a Conservative? He is seen as the trendy image of the party but underneath, this kind of view is still prevalent.
Chris Williams, Solihull, UK

I overhead our local Bristol supermarket managers discussing a two minute silence for Ken Bigley. Fortunately they decided it was not a local issue. Boris was right in his comments. People need to look at the wider picture rather than looking at one person.
Graeme L, Bristol, UK

I think people need to stop Scouse-bashing for a while
Liz, UK
I admit I haven't read Boris Johnson's article, which sounds like it has some valid points about disproportionate grief. However, the most disappointing aspect of the article and this whole debate is how it's become centred around Liverpudlians. I've never heard so many unfair stereotypes about any other city or group of people. I think people need to stop Scouse-bashing for a while.
Liz, UK

Think it's probably just digging the hole deeper. Boris and Liverpool are never going to be bed-buddies, so perhaps he should leave it at that.
Wendy, UK

I have just read right through all the messages on this board and the real fact of this case is the scary thought that this man with no heart or common sense whatsoever could be making decisions that will affect our future. I don't wallow in any grief, but I certainly feel sorry and help if I can with other people's misery. Just reading some of the people's comments on here just shows how far this country has turned into the self, self, self society that Thatcher started in the 80s.
Frank Walker, Liverpool, England

It is unfortunate that Scousers were singled out in this article, as wallowing in grief seems a popular pastime for a vast section of our population. Whether it's roadside shrines, or ridiculous outpourings of grief for public figures that most of the grievers have never even met. I sympathise with Mr Johnson (with whom I generally disagree) as once again a public figure is taking the rap for saying what millions of us ordinary folk actually feel.
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham, UK

Liverpudlians should extract their revenge by boycotting the paper. Let's see how the publishers of the Spectator react to their Liverpool sales plummeting by two copies.
Roland, London

Unfortunately, politicians are not allowed to speak their minds
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK
The problem is that Boris's article was a valid personal comment from Boris the journalist, but not Boris the MP. Unfortunately, politicians are not allowed to speak their minds in today's UK parliament.
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK

I agree with what Boris Johnson said about the disproportionate outpouring of grief about Ken Bigley in Liverpool. It was an insult to all the British servicemen who have died serving their country, their deaths don't even make the front pages! Ken Bigley was in Iraq because he chose to be, he knew the risks he was taking and was being well paid. British servicemen have been killed leaving children without fathers and wives without husbands - who is going to have a 2 min silence for them?
Juliet, British Army Base in Cyprus

Unfortunately the article in the Spectator is largely correct. Ken knew the risks and was murdered as thousands of British men and women have been murdered abroad while trying to improve the lives of people in other countries down the centuries. Ken Bigley's brother, Phil, seemed to recognise this when he spoke to the media in a dignified way that made me feel proud to be British. The rest of Liverpool should sober up and follow his example.
John, UK

It might be interesting to put a profile label on every other city in the country
Ken, UK
Now that all the amateur psychiatrists have analysed and stereotyped the people of Liverpool, it might be interesting to put a profile label on every other city in the country. I am sure they must all have their unique endearing and irritating genetic traits.
Ken, UK

If the people of Liverpool have such a low opinion of Boris Johnson, why are they so bothered about his opinions? Unless.........
DRL, Milton Keynes, UK

To Liverpudlians offended by the article: Why do you care what Boris Johnson thinks anyway?
Claire, UK

This is just another example of people living their lives through soaps and magazines. Perhaps if they stop living life as a spectator and got themselves a real life they wouldn't have to rely on 'public outpourings'. Why don't they use this misplaced energy to do some real good.
Jayne, Birmingham

I note the following from today's item about Boris' penance trip to Liverpool: "Councillor Joe Anderson, the leader of Liverpool's Labour group, said the visit was "nothing more than a gimmick". "Boris Johnson is not welcome here after the publication of the article re-hashing all the old prejudiced and stereotypical views of Liverpool's citizens". This seems to me to show exactly the same attitude the original article described!
JG, Huddersfield, UK

A perfect example of "disproportionate" over reaction
Peter, Nottingham UK
A totally accurate comment. I grew up in Glasgow and lived in Bradford for a short while. Both had terrible footballing tragedies (Ibrox crush, Bradford fire) yet they've been consigned to history. People remember but they don't have the need to dwell on them. On the other hand it seems a Liverpudlian can't manage 30 minutes without mentioning Hillsborough. Even Wayne Rooney giving an interview to the Sun lead to him receiving death threats! A perfect example of "disproportionate" over reaction.
Peter, Nottingham UK

I agree with Boris's views and would actually include the rest of the UK with being overly sentimental. The media hysteria and public outpouring of grief surrounding the Soham murders, the death of Diana and now the murder of Kenneth Bigley illustrate this point all too well.
Tony, Chiswick

Even though I live here, I have to agree with Boris. Ken Bigley went to a dangerous place to make a fast buck. He gambled and lost. It's a tragedy and his fate is grim - but the fuss being made is ludicrous.
HUGH, Liverpool

Liverpool does seem to have a monopoly in massive media attention whenever a tragedy befalls them - Hillsborough, James Bulger, and now Ken Bigley. I don't recall such overblown media-generated grief when tragedies occur to other cities in Britain. For example, the Bradford football fire, the Harold Shipman murders, and the Marchioness disaster.
Alan, Herts, UK

Another intelligent observation and the light of common sense
Tom Franklin, London, UK
Steve, Bristol, UK: But so what if it does? He was correct on every single point. If a furore was created it's because people are choosing to be offended and aren't actually thinking about the validity of his argument. Congratulations Boris on yet another intelligent observation and the light of common sense.
Tom Franklin, London, UK

The Spectator is right. Most of the people who participate in 'mass mourning' are just trophy hunters. Witness the clowns who queued at the Diana fiasco to collect the trophy of being able to later bore friends and contacts to death about how they queued for hours and met other like minded idiots.
Ricky, Lothian

When will it be realised that being kind and mature to each other whilst being laid back is not a bad way to live
Steven, UK

I think that Boris is partly right, but I think that it is part of Liverpool's Irish/Catholic heritage. There is a tendency to pull together when there is a family crisis and be very supportive and a bit over-emotional. I don't think it's a bad thing, but it is a bit different from the stiff-upper lip of the southern English. Like everything else we get over it and get on with our lives.
Mike, Liverpool

More of the same please Boris
Ed, London
I think Johnson was absolutely right- but why stop at Liverpool? Ever since the death of Diana it seems de rigueur for anyone with a remote connection, from being a close relative to seeing him in the pub once, to show how sad and moved they are by his death. I would wager that only a tiny fraction of those who felt compelled to sign the book of condolences could say they actually knew the man. More of the same please Boris!
Ed, London

Whether the sentiments expressed in the article are right or wrong is not the point; as a very well educated man Boris should have been astute enough to know that his comments would cause a furore. But then again perhaps that is exactly what he wanted.
Steve, Bristol, UK

The whole point of a democratic and free society is that a person is free to express their opinions, whatever they may be. Certainly what he said was not especially tactful but he shouldn't be expected to apologise for having an opinion, even if not everyone liked it.
Vik, UK

The Bigley family have behaved with the most amazing dignity which many would do well to emulate
Jill, UK
I fully agree with Boris and a lot of the comments here. It sickened me after Diana's death to see so many people claiming "it's like losing a member of my family", I can only assume they never have lost someone. To empathise and feel sadness at the loss of life is natural but to pretend anything more is offensive. Now the same thing seems to be happening with Ken Bigley. If I was in the position of the family I would be upset and offended by people who had never known him claiming to share my grief. The Bigley family have behaved with the most amazing dignity which many would do well to emulate.
Jill, UK

It would appear that a greater number of people agree with the Spectator than disagree. Therefore, I suggest that Michael Howard will be seen as having overreacted. It's also done wonders for 'Spectator' sales - I can't get a copy anywhere. Perhaps they should start a regular column!
Paul B, Oxford, UK

This feed back prompted me to go to the Spectator web site and read the article. I can see nothing there that Boris should apologise for. In fact reading it has show that those who have complained about it have obviously not read it. I say to them read before you comment.
Philip, Upminster

I've never been to Liverpool, but what I know of the city, is that they have had a hard history. Face it, the Tories hate, strong independent minded communities!
Rob, Northfleet

Having read the article, I can only agree with its condemnation of the false grief that deaths such as Diana and Ken Bigley provoke amongst the general public. Equally disquieting is the reaction of many Liverpudlians to any criticism of their city and culture. This only gives further credence to the views that Boris Johnson expresses.
Dominic, London

He is a pompous windbag with too loud a voice and too little to say.
Don Oddy, London UK
I saw Mr Johnson deliver his apology. He was not very sorry at all. He is a pompous windbag with too loud a voice and too little to say. A buffoon, a blunderer, a hapless gossip and worst of all a contemptible MP!
Don Oddy, London UK

I bought the Spectator for the first time this week to see what the fuss was about. I agree completely with the article and I've decided to subscribe. I'd vote for Boris - my only complaint is that he's apologised.
Daniel Earwicker, Winchester UK

What happened to free speech? There's no way that Boris should apologise. He can say what he likes and we are equally free to regard his comments as tactless and judge him accordingly.
Barry, London, UK

This whole issue is a media created story. Whenever a tragedy occurs that has a Liverpool connection, Hillsborough being the most prominent and now Ken Bigley, the media tend to go into what I call 'stereotype city' mode. Firstly they go overboard with sympathy for the 'salt of the earth' scousers exaggerating the close-knit community element. Then after a few days they become bored with that and start suggesting the Liverpudlians are a bit too weepy and maudlin , and finally they go into full backlash thrust with "they're all self-pitying whingers". The truth is the people of Liverpool are essentially no different really from that of any other large provincial conurbation. It is a city made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals all with their own personalities. The people of that city indulged in no greater a grief and mourning for Ken Bigley than the people of Milton Keynes, but the media liked to pretend otherwise. It's a storm in a Fleet St (there's an old fashioned term) teacup.
Colm, London UK

The hypocrisy of Michael Howard should be the furore not the remarks of Boris Johnson.
Dillon, England
The hypocrisy of Michael Howard should be the furore not the remarks of Boris Johnson. We live in a hypocritical world where politicians try to say what the public want and not what they believe.
Dillon, England

Disproportionate grief! Absolutely right. Well done Boris for saying so.
Richard, Nuneaton

Oh for goodness sake! I can recall Jack Straw saying that "English nationalism is always unpleasant" and nobody turned a hair. I deeply resented it. People say all kind of things all the time. Get over it!
Malcolm, England

Both the soldiers who died and Mr Bigley were there to help rebuild the country and bring peace. Neither deserves to die. However one has more publicity about his death, was probably paid more and had a choice about his destination, the others did not.
Caron, England

Someone is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The Scousers I've worked with would not have been so sensitive!
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

Why did the BBC give this trivial non-news story such prominence? Hardly anybody reads the Spectator anyway.
Peter, Cambridge, UK

The comments made in the Spectator are valid
Craig Milne, Kirkcaldy

The comments made in the Spectator are valid and needed to be made. As a nation we are great at grieving over one dead person from the public eye but don't seem to balance this with grief for the senseless deaths of those not displayed during every news broadcast.
Craig Milne, Kirkcaldy, Scotland

While I believe Mr. Johnson spoke the truth, his comments were unnecessary. He was right to apologise.
Fiona, Bristol, UK

Although Boris was extremely tactless and has rightly apologised I for one am getting a little tired of the over sentimental weepy displays on television by individuals who have suffered severe trauma and grief. We understand how they are feeling; they don't have to go on telly to let us know. What's the point of it anyway? The TV companies should be a little more circumspect and selective.
Basil Smith, Fleet, England

There was no need to apologize for the criticism of the reaction to Bigley's death (whether or not you agree with it), but he should certainly apologize for linking said criticism to a supposed flaw in the Liverpudlian psyche and Hillsborough.
John, Norwich, UK

Mr Bigley was in Iraq helping to rebuild the country that was devastated by Blair and Bush. What the barbarians that killed Ken Bigley did is awful, but until British and American forces get out these terrible atrocities will sadly continue.
Philip Jones, Wick, Caithness

Sorry folks, but I think the Spectator was right. Having lived and worked with quite a number of Scousers I can confirm that the merest hint of criticism has them up in arms. Even if poor Ken Bigley had only the most tenuous of links with the city they would have behaved in the same fashion. I know the city has improved since I last worked there five years ago but the attitudes haven't. Never understood why there is so much defensiveness from folks from the 'pool but if Ken had come from York, Crewe, Inverness, Bristol or London we wouldn't have had such a fuss.
Martyn, Stratford upon Avon, England

He was very unwise to direct his article specifically to Liverpudlians in this case
Nathan James, Liverpool

He was very unwise to direct his article specifically to Liverpudlians in this case. And also not the best time to do so either. However, I think the article does raise interesting questions of grieving disproportionately for one man. Although Ken Bigley's death was horrific, remember that soldiers in Iraq and other civilian workers have probably been captured and killed, yet their deaths hardly get a mention.
Nathan James, Liverpool

Last time I looked, free speech was still allowed in this country - despite the best efforts of the PC brigade and an ever-more-invasive government. All this guy did was express an opinion. What's the big deal?
Steve Butler, Basingstoke, England

It was a stupid and crass remark to make for the most awful of tragedies perhaps best left unsaid.
Carole, UK

The article was way off the mark in terms of bringing the city's grief over the Hillsborough disaster.
Tina, Manchester,

I have strong family ties with many Liverpudlians. I love the city and I think the people are fantastic. However, I do think that some of the points raised in the Spectator article were spot on with respect to how some in the city reacted to Mr Bigley's desperate situation. Whereas Ken Bigley's family in Liverpool displayed the utmost composure and dignity, others with no connection to the family seemed to lose the plot and the grief shown in the city was disproportionate to situation.

I'm not sure this sort of reaction from a city is restricted to the people of Liverpool though and it may have been a little harsh. Just look at how a lot of people in the country reacted when Princess Diana died. However, the article was way off the mark in terms of bringing the city's grief over the Hillsborough disaster. Whoever wrote it couldn't even be bothered to find out how many people died there. I think there should be an apology for that rather than what was written about the city's reaction to Mr Bigley's plight.
Tina, Manchester, UK

This comment has to be made... the point about Captain Scott, the Princess of Diana syndrome for grief and the fact that Liverpool methinks protest too much, what might I suggest is happening here is that there is a very effective spin operation being done to draw attention away from the excellent article written by Peter Osborne a few more pages into the recent Spectator magazine about the degree of mutual support between Blair and Bush and that it will eventually destroy the Labour Party.
Gwyn Edwards, Hampshire

I have no complaint against people who think that the views expressed in the Spectator leader are unfair. That they should attempt to suppress those views and force a grovelling retraction is extremely dangerous for a democratic society and for Mr Howard and Boris Johnson to have bowed down to them is depressing and contemptible. If we don't have the courage to say what we believe (whatever the PC brigade might think) where will we end up?
Bernard, Norwich, UK

I am Welsh and have lived happily on Merseyside since 1989. I watched the Sun and A.A. Gill vilify Scousers and I thought Boris Johnson was of a slightly more humane stand point. Obviously not. This is no self pity city, but one on the up and with a smile on its face which it retained through the grim years as well.
Iain Logan, Liverpool

I do feel sorry for the family, but he did go there to make money ignoring the fact that people have been kidnapped and killed. He took the risk and it did not pay off for him. I wonder if he would have been there if the pay was £7:50 an hour? I doubt it. Another case of greed before safety.
John, Newcastle

I am 19 years old and I am totally and utterly disgusted in the comments made by Mr Johnson. Although I myself am not from Liverpool, I was very proud to see that the city supported the Bigley family in their many weeks of anguish. The moments of silence that occurred out of respect for Ken after his inhumane killing was unbelievable and could have only been done with such sincerity in the town I would be honoured to call home. As to bringing Hillsborough into the question the man should take a long hard look at himself. We should count our blessings Mr Johnson is not from Liverpool as if he were he would have been brought up to be a decent human being.
Sarah Dobie, Runcorn, Cheshire

Boris Johnson is about spot on this time. Liverpudlians also seem to think they are funny as well!
Melvyn Packham, Sittingbourne

Yet again the Tories prove just how out of touch they are with the British public. I expect the same will happen to The Spectator as it did to The Sun after their Hillsborough coverage, Liverpudlians boycotting the title. Rightly so.
Adam Barber, Islington, London

Usual Tory contempt for the city of Liverpool and the people.
Phil Woodward, Liverpool

Some people have a depressing need to demonise others to bolster their own pathetic self-image. Overt racism is no longer acceptable so people like Johnson must seek other ways to express their bitterness and hatred engendered by their own inadequacies. His use of the word "tribal" implies a sense of belonging that those who live in the commuter towns of the south-east can never experience. Very few Londoners are from London and can never truly feel at home there. I feel sorry for him.
Ian Barry, Niagra Falls, Canada

Having read Boris's editorial I largely agree. After all, what was it that Ken Bigley was reported to have said before his abduction? "I'm not afraid, you only die once." Equally, I am tempted to regard Paul Bigley's criticism's that Tony Blair "has blood on his hands" in a less than charitable light by the revelation that it was he who encouraged his brother to seek work in Iraq.
Paul Bambury, Liverpool

I agree completely with the comments made in the editorial, and think it's about time the people of Liverpool opened up to other views.
Drew, Newcastle I've always liked Boris Johnson, and this is one of his best 'contentious' comments yet. I've lived in Liverpool for four years now, and there is sadly more than an element of truth in what he says. Which is why I've sold up and I'm leaving Merseyside at the end of the month. For good.
Chris Young, Liverpool

These comments are typical of the type of out of touch cretins who have never suffered any hardship or loss and who have no grasp of reality or working class people that are the face of the dying Tory party today. If Liverpudlians wallow in their victim status then they have every right to do so in my opinion when you consider the horrendous torture and murder suffered so needlessly by one of their own.
Lorraine, Cheshire

Having watched 'Have I Got News For You' often, I have always thought Boris a comedic fool. Unfortunately I must now revise that opinion. He is 100% right in his article about the subject of Ken Bigley and Diana, Princess of Wales. Ken Bigley is being held up for sainthood by many, but he was not in Iraq for purely humanitarian reasons, like many of the other, less well known hostages from Aid agencies. He was being paid (well!) to be there, and was old enough and experienced enough to know the risks. Personally I would like to see a moment's silence accorded to ever single soldier, man, woman and child killed in Iraq, whether by military force or lack of sufficient humanitarian aid.
Iain Hicken, Swindon, UK

There's a lot of truth in what The Spectator has published on this. My grandfather built a regional supermarket chain in the north west of England, but he refused ever to source anything from Liverpool, despite it being the primary distribution point for the region. The reason? Liverpool workers spent more time striking than working - he would not have been able to run his business. So no matter how charming Liverpudlians can be, the city does seem - still - to suffer a kind of collective neurosis and persecution complex. If they worked a little more and striked a little less, perhaps people wouldn't write stuff like this about them!
James, London, UK

I have to agree to a point, I work in Liverpool and they really do tend to wallow in any form or grief they can get their hands on, even if it isn't theirs, they borrow it, act as if they aren't part of England but just their own country. The Hillsborough comments are totally out of order though.
Anon, Manchester UK

I'm absolutely flabbergasted such arrogance and bigotry still exists. Courage and dignity is also displayed in my home city and such insults are not thrown from behind a veil. We are strong people emotionally, physically and personally. Your comments will never be forgiven. How dare you patronise all you obviously do not understand nor can begin to comprehend. We are a community. Always have been and always will be.
Kerrie, Jersey, C.I. (ex-pat)

Liverpudlians find it too easy to bear a grudge which is really sad
Vanessa, Liverpool

As a resident of Liverpool for the past six-and-a-half years I would have to say that Boris Johnson is entirely correct in his view of Scousers. I've noticed it many times - most importantly as regards the Hillsborough disaster. Liverpudlians still despise the Sun newspaper for its reporting of the event, despite retractions and apologies. The furore when Rooney did an article with them was massive. Phil Hammond is correct in saying that Liverpudlians are friendly and happy people - this is very true, I love the local people and like them, I'm really excited about the city's future. However, their friendliness does not detract from the fact that Liverpudlians find it too easy to bear a grudge which is really sad.
Vanessa, Liverpool

Rather than wallowing in their victim status - the public grief shown by the people of the city is typical of northern cities where a sense of community still exists, and where people are not afraid to interact.
Carl, UK

Johnson is both right and wrong. He is utterly wrong in his profile of the Scousers and their solidarity. His remarks are highly insensitive and offensive. His one valid point is that Mr Bigley's brother's "blood on his hands" comment concerning Tony Blair was unfair. I can not see how giving in to kidnapper's demands can ever be justified, no matter how much we sympathise with the victim & their family.
Neil Johnson (no relation), Luxembourg

I echo the view that the article is more Tory propaganda. Indeed, not only the Tories, but certain sections of southern Britain seem to take great delight in having a pop at Scousers at every opportunity. Whether it's jealousy, lack of comprehension or a feeling of alienation when confronted with a genuine warm, witty and caring people, I just don't know. But it is very sad nonetheless. Pathetic and callous.
Andrew Kennedy, Cambridge, England

The outpouring of grief and sympathy shows how compassionate people are, not that they are revelling in despair
Julie, Edinburgh

I usually admire Boris Johnson but the comments made in The Spectator about Ken Bigley's death and the people of Liverpool are disgusting. What is he thinking of? An innocent man was held captive for three weeks, subjected to Lord knows and then barbarically murdered. The outpouring of grief and sympathy shows how compassionate people are, not that they are revelling in despair. I think the people of Liverpool are to be admired, not mocked.
Julie , Edinburgh

I have lived in Liverpool for two years and found the Scousers a close-knit community always ready to stand by and help each other when the going gets tough. They are genuinely friendly and caring - needless to say I can think of a few UK cities that could do with taking a leaf out of Liverpool's book...
Simon, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Anyone who reads this article (and I can tell that most of the people commenting here have not), will notice that it is not as pejorative as is being made out. It is extremely well written and in my view persuasive. Not having been to Liverpool I cannot say whether it is accurate about Liverpudlians, but the fundamental point is that poor Ken Bigley took a risk and lost, exactly as many of our soldiers have done. I don't agree with the war in Iraq. But I cannot accept that Ken Bigley deserves more sympathy than our soldiers who have died there. It's so self indulgent. We all followed his harrowing last days with dread and disgust.
Toby Aldriich, London UK

In many ways this criticism of a town sticking together in the face of adversity stinks of jealousy. The friendly people of Liverpool do stick together exactly like a modern community should, but this is not possible in places like London were the city is so divided into different ethnic districts that it simply isn't possible. The Spectator proves yet again that it is out of touch with reality and sadly has to criticise instead of support a proud group of people...
Michael Williams, London, UK

The truth always hurts
James Faulkner, Northampton

Only a simple statement can respond to this article.... the truth always hurts!
James Faulkner, Northampton

I think Boris has missed the point regarding Ken Bigley. Surely the grief of Liverpudlians and everyone else comes from the fact that we watched day after day as this man stewed in an Iraqi hidey-hole and nothing was done to help him. It put the futility of the Iraq war into stark focus. I certainly don't think anyone is wallowing in anything, they are having a compassionate reaction to a horrible event.
Clare McKenna, Nottingham, UK

This man clearly has no morals or has no clue about the people of Liverpool. We do not wallow we care and support our fellow Scousers and we as a city were not the only ones to mourn the death of poor Ken Bigley. Half of the world sent emails to support his family. I suggest he makes a public apology.
Julie, Liverpool

Not happy with plunging the knife after the death of a local man this article then twists the knife in the wounds of the families and friends of the 96 (not 50) innocent football fans that died at Hillsborough. I cannot understand such cruelty in an article, I cannot understand why anyone feels these comments have to be made or the logic behind them. I know that the city will react to them and very harshly in the next election and we'll see just who is the victim then.
David Stanley, Merseyside

Great Boris, another superb, accurate and contentious observation. Boris for PM!!
Patricia, Henley

It is not just Boris Johnson what about Billy Connolly's remarks, perhaps he should be ignored and his shows cancelled
Jan Mashlan, Cheshire, UK

Why can't people take an opinion anymore? These attacks on Boris Johnson are absolutely ridiculous. Surely Liverpool are proving his point.
Victoria Scott, Congleton, Cheshire

Just because you don't agree with his views doesn't mean he should resign. What ever happened to freedom of speech?
K Georges, Liverpool

I think the people of Liverpool need to get off their high horse. He is entitled to his own opinion and is perfectly within his rights to express his views. Just because you don't agree with his views doesn't mean he should resign. What ever happened to freedom of speech?
K. Georges, Liverpool

I am disgusted at the article written by Boris Johnson he shouldn't be made to resign he should be SACKED through his ignorance and arrogance.
Ronnie McGreal, Liverpool

I have read the article and largely agree with it. Ken Bigley chose to stay in Iraq, earning a huge salary. Where are the 2 minute silences and black armbands for British soldiers killed, who are there serving their country?
Gary, Manchester, UK

We in Liverpool have long memories, ask the Sun who have never recovered their circulation after their comments about the Hillsborough disaster. Have they learnt nothing???????? MP's think the public are stupid. I wonder.
Carol Daniels, Liverpool

If Liverpool was a marginal, Johnson would have kept his mouth shut
Brian, Liverpool

Liverpudlians have proved the article right by complaining about it, thereby being victims again
Andrew Brown, Liverpool

The Spectator has got Liverpudlians 'spot on'. We DO wallow in the status of victims, but don't agree that we always blame someone else. Liverpudlians have proved the article right by complaining about it, thereby being victims again. You are NOT allowed to have a go at this city, even though it's littered with anti-socials, dog mess and broken glass !
Andrew Brown, Liverpool, England

Why have a go at Boris Johnson, he didn't write the article he only approved it. Why don't people have a go at the writer of the article.
Paul, Blackburn

Always thought Boris Johnson was an example of upper class fool, who because of daddies inheritance, didn't need to concentrate on getting an education. Well reading his comments, I rest my case. Stick to the arts.
Steven Patterson, Cleveleys , Lancashire

We hear a lot from Liverpudlians about tragedies like Hillsborough. Rather less about tragedies like Heysel.
Simon Porter, Wirral

I have lived in Liverpool for over 20 years up to 2001. The article in the spectator hit the nail on the head. Liverpudlians all believe that they have the monopoly on grief. Good Lord, how many of them who say they have been traumatised by Ken Bigley's murder even knew him. Mr Bigley may have come from Liverpool but he spent little time there. Even his son doesn't live in Liverpool. As for city of culture, they are having a laugh.
Jeff Martin, Bolton





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