Jack Straw blames Thatcher for Hillsborough police cover-up

Former Labour Home Secretary says Margaret Thatcher created a 'culture of impunity' in the police

Column LAST UPDATED AT 08:56 ON Thu 13 Sep 2012

JACK STRAW, the former Home Secretary, sought to turn the Hillsborough disaster into a party political issue this morning by claiming that the outrageous cover-up by the police had been encouraged by a culture of impunity for the police under the Thatcher Government.

Until Straw entered the debate with an appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, all the attention had been on naming and shaming the police who were directly involved in the cover-up over police failures at the Hillsborough stadium 23 years ago.

But Straw blamed Margaret Thatcher and her Government for setting the police culture that contributed to the scandal. "The Thatcher Government, because they needed the police to be a partisan force, particularly for the miners' strike and other industrial troubles, created a culture of impunity in the police service.

"They really were immune from outside influences and they could rule the roost. That is what we saw in South Yorkshire," he told the Today programme.

The independent panel whose report revealed the damning truth about the police cover-up gives some weight to Straw's argument. It revealed that Thatcher penned a note questioning Home Secretary Douglas Hurd's intention that the government should accept the broad thrust of the Taylor report into the disaster which included criticism of the police.

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 conclusions. MT."

The Tories can claim that Straw is protecting his own back. He ordered a report into Hillsborough when he was Home Secretary and it failed to uncover the truth. Straw said this morning that if he had his time again, he wished it had been more thorough. But his comments show that the fall-out of the Hillsborough report won't be limited to a handful of (mainly retired) police.

Labour's John Mann is calling for the only Sheffield Tory MP at the time, Sir Irvine Patnick, to be stripped of his knighthood for actively spreading the lies that the Liverpool fans were drunk and violent.
 
Having been praised by Labour for doing the right thing in the Commons yesterday, David Cameron, the Tory leader, is unlikely to allow Patnick to be humiliated in his old age for repeating what he had been told by the police. One of those who knew him said: "Patnick was gullible."

But despite bringing the whole stinking affair into the open, Cameron's party is now likely to be caught up in the calls for justice. · 

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I think Jack Straw is entirely right to apportion the blame in the way he has. He's not playing party politics. He's telling the truth.

North south divide and the tory old lot come out of the wood work defending there divisive record of that time!

Maggie may have been over zealous in her protection of the police due to debt she owed them in breaking the miners strike.

Margaret Thatcher run this country like a dictatorship and she would not allow anything to get in the way of her short sightedness. I totally agree with Jack Straw, don't forget if she had admitted the fault of the police and other services there would have been riots in the streets, probably something like "Precinct 13" but it would have been the ordinary people with sticks and stones. Maggie set many working people against the strikers and backed the police for taking a hard line, just like Churchill did in the 1920s when he instigated the police and army to break up the demonstrations and strikes. Working people today have a good living thanks to the strikes of their ancestors and their sacrifices to get a better living for their wives and children. No Maggie was not going ot upset the apple cart for the police that she had more or less given a free hand to, to sort out the strikers and use bullying tactics a free hand that carried on into the Hillsborough disaster.

Does the hatred for Thatcher know no end? Still our greatest peace time Prime Minister she broke the hold of union power over industry that had forced so many great industries go under. Prefer Blair and that sad, grotesquely incompetent Brown, Scargill then and Crowe now? Thank heavens and Margaret Thatcher that the unions were stopped in their tracks..

What nonsense, people forget the problems this country had prior to the Thatcher government. Scargill created the strike not to benefit the miners, but for political reasons. Since the sixties, following nearly every period of Labour Government, the Tories have had to take action to restore the economy. There is no evidence that the government suppressed any information. How come in 10 years of Labour government this inquiry result was not delivered?

Had it not been for Galtieri and Scargill, Thatcher would be little more than a footnote in history. Which is where she belongs

I agree with you entirely. The politicisation of the police is one of Thatcher's lasting legacies - that and the destruction of large swathes of British industry.

Jack Straw was Home Secretary of a so called Socialist Party from 1997 to 2001
What did he do in his 4 years in office?
Nothing for Hillsborough
(he put a few documents in the house of commons library? big deal - first I heard of it)
Now he is blaming Thatcher
'Nowt to do with my watch Gov'
Well why with all his Omnipotence did he not do something about it between 1997 to 2001?
Mr Straw let us pray you get your just deserts in this world
To live on a State Pension with no other income is the best you should receive
If its good enough for the masses it should be good enogh for you .....

No.....no end. Morally despicable.

I wouldn't trust Jack Straw as far as I can throw him. Of course he is playing party politics, it's just that this time he is right!

There are a lot of commies on this forum. Go back to Russia will you!!. What a hypocrite. Straw lay in bed with Blair with regards to WMD's in Iraq and now has blood on his hands, in the same way that many of you, you know who you are, say that Thatcher is culpable in the Hillsborough disaster. That's not to say as a Liverpool fan I find the whole cover-up disasteful. At least Cameron apologised. I can't see Blair and his cronies apologising for the cover up that is the Iraq war.