The stars behind a potential Christmas number one single which aims to raise money for the Hillsborough families today called on the chancellor to waive VAT on it.
The version of the Hollies’ hit He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by The Justice Collective was launched at Liverpool’s HMV store today by stars including football legend Kenny Dalglish and comedian John Bishop.
The song was produced by Robbie Williams’ long-time collaborator Guy Chambers with all the proceeds going to cover the legal costs of the families of the Liverpool supporters killed in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
The song was inspired by the sight of two children who walked out to the track during a tribute to the dead at Liverpool’s cross-city rivals Everton.
Today Dalglish, Bishop and Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram all called on the chancellor to waive the VAT on the single, something he has already done for the X Factor winner’s single – the proceeds of which are also going to charity.
Dalglish said: “We are trying to get the same for the Hillsborough families. I think it’s important that the Government does that for us.
“Every penny that comes in is going to go towards helping with legal costs, and I think that will be substantial.”
He added: “I just hope it’s getting near the end for the families because they have suffered long enough.”
Mr Rotheram, who appears on the record alongside artists like Robbie Williams, former X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson and Spice Girl Mel C, said: “I wrote to the chancellor George Osborne before X Factor and we haven’t yet had a formal response from him.
“We tried to get hold of the Treasury yesterday and we are still hopeful that he will waive the VAT on our single. It’s the right thing for the Government to do.”
John Bishop said he was hoping the VAT issue would get resolved, adding: “You can’t realistically have one rule for one and not for another.”
Bishop said everyone involved was keeping their fingers crossed for a Christmas number one but downplayed his vocal contribution to the track.
He said: “I was in the recording studio. There was me, Kenny, Alan Hansen, Heston Blumenthal, Steve Rotheram the MP, all singing.
“And then we were followed in by Holly Johnson and Robbie Williams. I think we’re on it somewhere but I think they probably thought, ’more Robbie than Bishop’. I’m more of a backing singer really, I’m more of a Ringo.”
The release of the single comes after a damning report into the handling of the crowd crush at Hillsborough Stadium which left 96 fans dead.
A spokesman for bookmakers William Hill yesterday said the song was 1/7 to be Christmas number one with X Factor winner James Arthur 9/2 second favourite.
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, originally a number three hit for The Hollies in 1969, got to number one when it was re-released in 1988.
Guy Chambers said the song “created an incredible impression” when it was played at Goodison Park following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.
He said: “It made a lot of people cry and the song had immense power. I just listened to it and I thought I certainly couldn’t write a better song than that.
“It’s about raising awareness about the injustice that happened and spreading good will among the whole country so they can get behind it.”