daily: dagblad.

disproportionate: buiten alle verhoudingen.

to petition: eerbiedig en nederig vragen.

piecemeal: bij stukjes en beetjes.

poised: klaar.

undercurrent of prejudice: verborgen vooroordelen.

slightest: minste.

unitary: gecentraliseerd.

Ken Bigley: Britse ingenieur die in Irak werd ontvoerd en op 8 oktober door zijn gijzelnemers werd onthoofd.

Hillsborough: op 15 april 1989 stierven tijdens een bekerwedstrijd tussen Liverpool en Nottingham Forest 96 voetbalsupporters toen ze door de massa tegen een omheining werden doodgedrukt. Het drama speelde zich af in het Hillsborough-stadion van Sheffield Wednesday.

There is an undercurrent of prejudice in some people in Britain about Liverpool. They see it as full of unemployed people who turn to violence at the slightest opportunity but are also absurdly sentimental, making disproportionate displays of public grief at incidents like the recent murder of the hostage Ken Bigley and the Hillsborough football stadium disaster ten years ago just because they involved people from their city. (Even today, The Sun newspaper, easily the biggest selling daily in Britain, sells hardly any copies in Liverpool since it attributed the Hillsborough disaster to the behaviour of the Liverpool fans.)

Now Liverpool is poised to put itself on the national map for a very different reason. Last month, its city council became the first in the country to pass a resolution banning smoking in all enclosed public spaces. This does not mean, however, that if you find yourself in Liverpool any time soon, you will have to leave the pub or shopping mall you are in to light up. England has a very unitary style of government and local authorities in Britain do not have this kind of power. What will happen now is that Liverpool city council has to petition parliament to pass a law which would make its resolution legally enforceable. If parliament does so, the ban would come into force perhaps late next year. But it is not certain that it will. There is an ongoing debate in Britain about the best way to tackle the issue, with many people believing that legislation at a national level which targets specific types of location is more desirable than piecemeal, city-by-city initiatives. The leader of Liverpool city council himself appears to be of this view. But what may be most important to him and other members of the city council is that they have beaten nearby Manchester to be the first city in the country to take such a decision.

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