DON’T ASK VICTIMS OF THATCHER TO PRAISE HER DEEDS
WOULD you ask Greenpeace to honour an oil tycoon? Or the RSPCA to eulogise a champion bullfighter? Of course not. So why on earth are we still embroiled in a pointless debate about whether football should pay tribute to Margaret Thatcher?
Despite efforts to price them out, the vast majority of football fans are working class men. And irrespective of whether you think she was right or wrong, Thatcher’s policies destroyed working-class communities, particularly in the north.
Towns, villages and cities dependent on manufacturing and mining were laid waste. I grew up in a former pit village that remains to this day a festering sore of deprivation and unemployment.
Proud men who worked hard every day were suddenly dumped on the dole and urged to become aspirational capitalists. They weren’t told how, or where.
Marriages crumbled, families were torn apart. Depression and suicide rates went through the roof. Even in death, the woman deserves not one iota of respect from these people.
Nor was she any friend of football. Some in the rightwing Press argue that Thatcher’s determination to deal with hooliganism – those who she rightly said “brought shame and disgrace to their country” – led to all-seater stadiums.
I don’t buy that. Thatcher’s approach was one of control and zero-tolerance. Her government depicted football fans – all fans, not just the hooligans – as pond life, a sub-species of violent animals. As a result, police were encouraged to treat them like cattle, causing the deaths of 96 innocent people at Hillsborough.
It was the subsequent Taylor report, not any crusade of Thatcher’s, that cleaned the game up.
So fine, praise the good that Thatcher did. If her policies helped you out, good for you. But don’t try to force your beliefs on others, like some unwelcome Jehovah’s Witness ranting on the doorstep.
CUP-LIFTING: Crewe's Max Clayton and Luke Murphy celebrate their the Johnstone's Paint Trophy win
FA FIASCO: Wigan fans