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.
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.