A conference dedicated to “the study of Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism” is to be held in Liverpool next year. But the event has already sparked controversy. And if families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster are unhappy, they probably have good reason to be.
committed to ideological diversity; we endeavour to represent a range of views at our events and our membership is politically diverse.
Speakers at the event include Lord Heseltine, Professor Angela Wilson from the University of Manchester, and David Jeffery from the University of Liverpool. But the event has already made headlines.
As The Liverpool Echo reported, organisers claim they have received “threats” of ‘egg-throwing’ and ‘hospitalisations’ from people objecting to the conference.
Antony Mullen, convenor of the Thatcher Network, told The Liverpool Echo:
There has been a significant amount of confusion regarding the nature of the Thatcher Network… [people] believed the network was linked to the Conservative Party.
In reality, the Thatcher Network is politically neutral and funded by a politically-neutral charity. Most of its members are left-wing academics – and we welcome all political views.
The threats made – which included being egged, having people hospitalised and demonstrating to stop the Conference taking place – were concerning. However, we are clear that academic freedom must be defended.
But Hillsborough families and survivors may well disagree.
A “culture of impunity”
As The Liverpool Echo reported, Thatcher’s press secretary Bernard Ingham once wrote to a Liverpool FC fan, saying that the city should “shut up” about the disaster that killed 96 people. And Thatcher herself refused to give her full backing to the initial Taylor Inquiry into the tragedy; which led to accusations from Labour that Thatcher encouraged South Yorkshire Police to be a “partisan force” with a “culture of impunity”.
Thatcher: not welcome in Liverpool
It would seem logical to most that holding a conference about one of the most divisive figures in political history in a city forever scarred – in part, by that person’s actions – would be a non-starter.
Although the organisers claim to be ‘ideologically diverse’, the most basic part of human empathy appears to have escaped the Thatcher Network.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
– You can also read more from The Canary on Hillsborough.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?