The Instigator
JonMilne
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
georgioscoxios
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The "Hillsborough Disaster" controversy alone is enough to tarnish the legacy of Margaret Thatcher

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
JonMilne
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2013 Category: Sports
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,260 times Debate No: 32284
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (3)

 

JonMilne

Pro

On the 8th of April 2013, the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, died. Ever since her death, coverage has been rife about how she was the "Woman Who Divided The Nation" covering all sorts of different aspects like the miners strike of 1984, the poll tax, and the Falklands War.

However, I'd like to focus on the Hillsborough Disaster Controversy. Firstly, here's some helpful definitions for this debate:

Hillsborough - a football stadium in Sheffield, and home to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, as well as being the stadium that hosted an FA Cup Semi Final in 1989.

Liverpool - a still major football club, and the team affected by the Hillsborough Disaster.

South Yorkshire Police - the police force who were on duty on the day of the Hillsborough Disaster.

Hillsborough Disaster Controversy - referring not only to the event on April 15th 1989 where a stadium crush killed 96 Liverpool supporters, but also to the subsequent happenings afterwards where Liverpool fans were smeared as having caused the event and where South Yorkshire Police denied responsibility for years.

The Taylor Report - A report released in full in 1990 investigating the causes of the Hillsborough Disaster and which issued recommendations for football stadia around the country.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel - a government body created 20 years after the event to re-investigate the disaster in more comprehensive detail, and which released its findings on the 12th of September 2012.

In the wake of Thatcher's death, the families of the Hillsborough victims have stated that Thatcher should have apologised for what happened at Hillsborough, and there is also the factor of what is mentioned about Thatcher by the HIP, which indicates that Thatcher had an active role in helping to hide details about the disaster.

Because I did not have room in the debate title, the full title is "Even without anything else that happened during her time as Prime Minister, the "Hillsborough Disaster" controversy and the role she played in it alone is enough to tarnish the legacy of Margaret Thatcher". I should absolutely stress here that it is not my intention to debate the "right/wrong" value of any other aspect of Thatcher's time as Prime Minister, as I will admit I am simply not informed enough about those other issues.

However, it is my contention that Thatcher could in theory have been an absolute saint prior to the subject of this debate but that the things she did in connection to the Hillsborough Disaster are enough to make one look at her overall historical legacy with nothing but disgust. As part of my case, I will highlight similar examples as a means of how this is possible in my case.

For whoever takes up the role of Con, here is the Round structure:

1) Acceptance only.
2) Opening arguments and clash.
3) Clash.
4) Clash and concluding arguments.

I look forward to the debate.
georgioscoxios

Con

I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'Acceptance only' means, so I'm afraid I may clash. The Hillsborough disaster is obviously an event important to a lot of people, and as a result of this Margaret Thatcher was penalized for it. Though may I point out, Hillsborough was not directly her fault. Hillsborough was so unique that nobody could quite expect it. And saying that Margaret Thatcher was responsible for it and that alone deserves to be the biggest downfall of her legacy as a politician is equal to saying she lost the football match and was psychologically responsible for the actions of the fans at that match.
Debate Round No. 1
JonMilne

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for accepting the debate. I also note with some interest they're involved in another debate about Thatcher. I'll also say that, having done a little more research on Thatcher, I'm now willing to discuss other aspects of Thatcher's character as long as they don't deviate too much from the main topic.

Misconceptions

My opponent, as well as several others in the comments, are under the misconception that I blame Thatcher directly for the Hillsborough Disaster. I do not. I could make a pretty good case that, thanks to the role of the police played in helping to fight the victorious battle against the Unions in the Miners' Strike of 1984-5, that this contributed to the strengthening of the bond between the police and the government. Consequentially, this meant that, thanks to the feeling that they had the Prime Minister's personal seal of approval, that the police had thus become incredibly complacent and cocky, to the point where they felt they were all powerful and could do no wrong. But this would be more of a case against the police, so this is not the line of attack I will be using.

Instead, let's fast-forward to the aftermath, more specifically to the time of the release of the interim version of the Taylor Report, released in August 1989 (as mentioned before, the full version came out almost a year later). In the period between the disaster and the release of the report by Lord Justice Taylor, Liverpool fans who attended Hillsborough had been subject to all sorts of smears against their reputations, with much of the criticism reflecting from an article in The Sun newspaper entitled "THE TRUTH" (1), wherein the supporters were accused of having, to quote the Wikipedia article about the subject: " 'drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims" and "police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon". A quote, attributed to an unnamed policeman, claimed that a dead girl had been abused and that Liverpool fans "were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead". " As time would tell, this claim was utterly baseless, but it served the purpose of libelling the Liverpool fans in the public media with the impression that it was their fault.

So the Taylor Report was released (2), and it found that the real cause of the disaster was the complete failure of the police to control the crowd. This is where Margaret Thatcher comes in (3). Prior to the actual release of the report, the then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, held a Cabinet Meeting in which he outlined the contents of Taylor's Report, in which the South Yorkshire Police as well as the other emergency services were heavily criticised. As you can see, the report was pretty damning, and it was advised of Thatcher that the government should welcome the Taylor Report's findings.

But this did not happen (4). In response to a memo asking her to agree with the Home Secretary on the subject, Thatcher said:

"What do we mean by 'welcoming the broad thrust of the 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."

In other words, Thatcher wished for the criticism of the police to be toned down, and deflected elsewhere. I mentioned before that the Prime Minister and the police had a very strong relationship, and this serves as evidence of just how strong that relationship was, to the point where she was willing to irrationally try to protect them, as Thatcher seemed to consider this alliance more important than supporting justice for all the football supporters who died, as further evidenced by the fact that in a briefing letter she received from an officer of the Merseyside Police, the phrase "drunken Liverpool fans" were among the phrases underlined by Thatcher while using the same "M.T." annotation she was known for using (5).

And beyond all this, there's simply the fact that she never apologised to the fans and especially the families of the victims, even after the Taylor Report, for the injustices they were suffering. Again, all because she considered her relationship with the police more important. All these things really do not reflect well on Thatcher's character at all, and are absolutely repugnant.

Sources

(1) http://www.anfieldroad.com...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(3) http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk...
(4) http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk...
(5) http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk...
georgioscoxios

Con

georgioscoxios forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
JonMilne

Pro

Con has forfeited Round 2. My arguments extend to this round.
georgioscoxios

Con

georgioscoxios forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
JonMilne

Pro

Con has forfeited Round 3. My arguments stand.
georgioscoxios

Con

georgioscoxios forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Racer_X 3 years ago
Racer_X
Tough debate...especially when you say: "I should absolutely stress here that it is not my intention to debate the "right/wrong" value of any other aspect of Thatcher's time as Prime Minister, as I will admit I am simply not informed enough about those other issues."

Even if you believe that Thatcher was at fault for the Hillsborough Tragedy (which many dont) how do you determine how it tarnished her tenure without comparing it to her accomplishments? Pewter is easier tarnished than gold (if it indeed was demonstrated that the rest of her service was indeed gold).
Posted by phantom 3 years ago
phantom
@YYW pretty sure the claim that it was Liverpool fans was invalidated. Plus Liverpudlians have been protesting the accusations ever since it happened.
Posted by JonMilne 3 years ago
JonMilne
Continued...

"But Mrs Thatcher made clear in her handwritten note 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 the 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." "

In other words, as opposed to taking the opportunity to apologise to Liverpool fans for the false smears and accusations that had been levelled at them by the police and press, as well as taking the opportunity to take the police to task and sort out the problem attitudes in the force, she instead took the side of the police even with clear evidence against them and ended contributing to a cover-up culture that deemed it acceptable to blame Liverpool fans for the disaster, thereby enhancing the pain of all the families and friends and fellow supporters of the victims and setting a precedent that would mean Liverpool fans would get repeatedly stonewalled in their attempts to challenge the clearly wrong court decisions that didn't hold the police to blame. It's all there in the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, you should read it.
Posted by JonMilne 3 years ago
JonMilne
No, drunken Liverpool fans did not "cause the disaster" as has been proven by the Hillsborough Independent Panel report, nor did I imply that Thatcher did. I was going to explain this in Round 2, but whatever. Basically, the Taylor report published its initial findings in 1989, and while the Panel didn't get access to the briefing between Thatcher and Douglas Herd on the morning after the disaster, there is however this:

"But Mrs Thatcher did voice concern that a 1989 report into Hillsborough constituted a "devastating criticism" of police.

The comment came in a handwritten note in the margin of a civil servant"s memo informing her that the Home Secretary planned to welcome the broad thrust of Lord Taylor"s interim report on its publication in August 1989.

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 senior civil servant the interim report found the chief superintendent in charge at Hillsborough "behaved in an indecisive fashion" and senior officers infuriated the judge by seeking to "duck all responsibility when giving evidence" to his inquiry.

The memo made clear Mr Hurd thought South Yorkshire Chief Constable Peter Wright would have to resign, adding: "The enormity of the disaster, and the extent to which the inquiry blames the police, demand this."

It added: "The defensive, and at times close to deceitful, behaviour by the senior officers in South Yorkshire sounds depressingly familiar."

The interim report would "sap confidence in the police force" and could encourage aggressive behaviour by fans towards officers, said the memo, adding: "Liverpool fans " who have caused trouble in the past " will feel vindicated."
Posted by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
Like Lewis, I'm a bit perplexed. How does the Hillsborough Disaster tarnish Thatcher? She did not cause it... drunken Liverpool football fans did. She didn't do any more or less than she should have during or after the fact. And even if the police were to blame for the deaths, that still isn't Thatcher's fault (but rather the fault of those police officers who acted unethically).
Posted by lewis20 3 years ago
lewis20
I'm confused here, the Hillsborough Disaster is Margaret Thatcher's fault? Or events that occur during a leaders reign are automatically part of their legacy?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 3 years ago
lannan13
JonMilnegeorgioscoxiosTied
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Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
JonMilnegeorgioscoxiosTied
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Vote Placed by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
JonMilnegeorgioscoxiosTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF