World mourns Nelson Mandela


South Africa have let go of their father. The former president died last night following months of ill health and years away from the public limelight. He’d been suffering from a recurring lung illness. The health of Mandela had deteriorated recently, becoming critical earlier in the year. The announcement of his passing was made shortly before 22:00 GMT by current South African President, Jacob Zuma.

The South African people have warmed to Mandela like a part of a family given the dedication and passion he projected to create an equal 20th Century South Africa. For much of his life he was surrounded by controversy. He was denounced by right-wing critics to be a terrorist and communist sympathiser, but despite this he still brought about a cultural change to South Africa and the world, challenging institutionalised racism, bringing an end to the Apartheid.

Twenty Seven years in jail for the man who attempted to sabotage and overthrow the South African government in the 1960’s, his trial was the beginning of what became an internationally acclaimed political legacy. As international countries called for his release and those who were jailed alongside him, when he was released in 1990 he became the African National Congress (ANC) President. He was voted as president and led the path for multi-racial elections. Not agreeing to take up a second term, Mandela became an Elder Statesman and focussed on charitable work in tackling world poverty and HIV/Aids.

There hasn’t been a person on social media who hasn’t paid tribute to the battles that Mandela has fought. An incredible show of warmth and love for a man who did good for a nation and the world. Flags around the world fly at half mast, whilst global leaders and heads of state, including HM The Queen, have paid emotional tributes to the most respected statesman there has been.

The death of the 95 year old is tinged with sadness amongst the overwhelming celebration of his life; his two youngest daughters learnt of the death during a premiere of a film that marked the life of their father. His final struggles had been so closely documented by the world’s media but there have been incredible signs of courage and strength during the difficult time. There is no other person who comes close to leaving a legacy like Nelson Mandela, a man who has evidently been categorically respected and well loved.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, amongst 250 other awards, Mandela was and still will be held in the highest respect within South Africa and around the globe. A humble yet powerful and persuasive man, he will always be known as the father of the nation.

Do you have a minute for Mrs Thatcher ?

Criticised: Dave Whelan wants football fans to remember Mrs Thatcher.

Criticised: Dave Whelan wants football fans to remember Mrs Thatcher.

I was most amused by the response from an elderly Wigan lady on tonight’s news when asked “if she had a moment to remember Margaret Thatcher?” The response was traditional northern “NO” followed by “Not a chance”. The question was being asked to residents after Wigan Football Club Chairman, Dave Whelan, suggested a minute’s silence be held in Baroness Thatcher’s memory.

As I mentioned in my last post, she was a very divisive figure, creating a North/South divide. Her policies allowed the richer people in society become richer, mainly in the South and the working class people suffered as mines closed and industry was privatised in the North of England. So it was most bizarre to hear the chairman of a North West football club ask for a moment to remember the former Prime Minister who had hurt so many during her three terms.

Mr Whelan suggested the nation should pay their own thanks to the service of former Prime Ministers, however the Football Association has said no silences will take place at FA and Premier League games this weekend to remember Thatcher. It is easy to see why. After closing the coal mining industry of the North of England, forcing thousands out of jobs, and subsequently causing riots, it is clear what the reaction will be from the football fans. Booing, chanting and hysteria will surround the games and, judging by responses on Twitter and tonight’s news, many football fans do not wish to pay a minute’s silence to remember someone who had such negative impact on Northern lives.

Margaret Aspinall, Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said that it would be a “huge mistake” for games to pay tribute to the late PM. She went onto state that many questions still remained unanswered following the Hillsborough disaster, in which the then government played a huge part in covering up the truth of how 96 Liverpool fans were killed at an FA Cup Semi Final. Last years Independent Panel Report highlighted how the police created false stories to blame the Liverpool fans for the death of their own crowd. The government at the time was led by Margaret Thatcher. Although current Prime Minister, David Cameron, did apologise on behalf of previous governments, there was never an apology from Thatcher. A reason which has highly contributed to the belief that Liverpool never loved, liked or admired Lady Thatcher.

Cover Up: Thatcher in the days after the Hillsborough Disaster.

Cover Up: Thatcher in the days after the Hillsborough Disaster.

Lord Sebastian Coe stated that “Thatcher never really understood sport” which supports the fans argument that there should not be a silence in memory of her. At one point, she campaigned for identity cards to be issued to all football fans.

Whilst I agree that marking the death of a woman who did not support the game, someone who was involved in a huge football disaster cover up and a woman who virtually destroyed the lives of many Northern industry families is somewhat inappropriate, I do disagree with the open celebration many people have had in the days following her death. Groups consisting of hundreds of people, many of them who weren’t even born when Thatcher was at No.10, have held banners, cheered and appeared openly joyous about this womans passing. Regardless of her job, Mrs Thatcher was still a mother, daughter, grand-mother and family woman. Former Labour PM Tony Blair said they were in “bad taste”.

It would be a mistake to encourage football games to mark the death of Mrs Thatcher, as it would quite clearly not be adhered to. The only silence which will take place this weekend will be between Liverpool and Reading, marking the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. This at such a prominent time in the road to justice. All involved with Liverpool Football Club and those on Merseyside have reiterated that their silence will have no connection to remembering Mrs Thatcher, only remembering the 96 fans who died at the Sheffield Wednesday stadium. Quite right.

The Iron Lady is no more

The Iron Lady. A woman who did not turn. Tributes have been paid to Lady Thatcher after the announcement of her death, aged 87. She had suffered a stroke.

A divisive individual, she brought about anger in the North of England with the closure of mines. The privitasion of many sectors, including the railway industry proved to be a legacy (good or bad) which is still felt today. Her leadership during the Falklands War is something which is significant when considering her impact.

Thatcher was an individual who did not take hurt or offence from the newspaper headlines and her strong-minded approach is something which could have brought about parts of her downfall. An uncompromising approach to the economy and straight view of privatising industry are some of the factors have caused intense debate. In recent years, suffering from illness, Margaret Thatcher was rarely seen in public. The last time she was seen was in Downing Street during the leadership of Gordon Brown.

She was pushed out of office by her colleagues in 1991 – the longest-serving and the first and currently only female British Prime Minister. Her policies and personality divided opinion. As today’s commentators have insisted, there may have been disagreement over her policies, but there is respect for a politician who has had such an impact.