R.I.P. Maggie From Liverpool
So today is the funeral of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and she will not be missed by many people from the city of Liverpool. Like so many towns and cities in the North of the country Liverpool’s industry was badly affected by her term in office.
Liverpool in the 1980’s was a city of industrial unrest with rioting in the streets of Toxteth. Mrs Thatcher believed that declining industries should not be propped up, but her policies may have exacerbated it.
Cabinet papers released under the 30 year rule in 2011, showed that Mrs Thatcher’s Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe (now Lord Howe) argued that Liverpool should be left to “manage decline”.
While ministers such as the then Secretary for the environment Michael (now Lord) Heseltine were arguing for regeneration funding to rebuild the riot-hit communities. Lord Howe thought it would be a waste of money.
He warned Mrs Thatcher “not to commit scarce resources to Liverpool”.
Strangely enough, Lord Howe has since said that his letter was misunderstood.
Lord Heseltine stated that Thatcher did care about Liverpool after being sent by her to the city in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots.
Thatcher also had an impact on football and in particular in the city of Liverpool. Following the Heysel disaster in 1985 Mrs Thatcher pressured the FA to ban all English clubs indefinitely from European competition.
Her wish was granted when UEFA banned all English clubs for what they stated was “an indeterminate period of time”. Liverpool received an additional ban of “indeterminate plus three years”, or more precisely, three further years in which Liverpool qualified for European competition. If they didn’t, the ban would roll on until they did.
With her arguable dislike for the city and for football and football supporters in general, it was just the excuse she needed to put the boot into football just the way she had with the miners.
The infamous ID card scheme was brought about by Thatcher and her advisors in the aftermath of Heysel for football supporters to gain entry into football stadiums and to “do something” about football hooliganism in the country. The scheme was only scrapped after the Hillsborough disaster.
Thatcher’s role in the immediate aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster remains unclear. It was believed that the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report could shed some light on her behaviour and comments in the days and weeks and months following the tragedy.
But Mrs Thatcher did voice concern that a 1989 report into Hillsborough constituted a “devastating criticism” of police.
Mrs Thatcher had already been warned the interim report was “very damning” of police but attached “little or no blame” to Liverpool fans.
She was told in a memo from a civil servant the interim report found the chief superintendent in charge at Hillsborough “behaved in an indecisive fashion” and senior officers infuriated the judge seeking to “duck all responsibility when giving evidence” to his inquiry.
But Mrs Thatcher made clear in her handwritten note that she did not want to give the government’s full backing to Lord Taylor’s criticisms, only to the way in which he had conducted his inquiry and made recommendations for action.
She wrote: “What do we mean by welcoming the broad thrust of report ? The broad thrust is devastating criticism of the police. Is that for us to welcome ? Surely we welcome the thoroughness of the report and its recommendations –M.T.”
We do know that she only wanted to protect her valued police force from the whole disaster and this leaves Liverpool supporters disliking her as Liverpool supporters and their families had their reputations tarnished for all those years while lies were spread of the events of the disaster where Thatcher wanted those guilty of negligence protected.
Although it has been a long time since Thatcher ruled this country, feelings are still raw in Liverpool and not many tears will be shed today in Liverpool.