Thatcher Derangement Syndrome

Back in 2003 Charles Krauthammer coined the term ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome‘ to describe “the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush” Since then BDS has spawned new strains such as the particularly virulent ‘Palin Derangement Syndrome‘ But the progenitor of them all, the ebola to BDS’s common cold, is TDS; Thatcher Derangement Syndrome.

One of the side effects of TDS it to make it victims, some of them otherwise normal people, come out with feverish ramblings. We saw an outbreak of this last week at the TUC conference and I’ve commented recently on the continued presence of this malady in my home town, Sheffield.

But what of the paranoia so key to BDS? Well, yesterday we saw it in TDS.

The report into 1989’s Hillsborough disaster where 96 Liverpool football fans died found that the lurid stories circulating about the day were, as many had always suspected, made up. Furthermore, and more seriously, it found that the Police had covered up their role in the disaster and attempted to smear the Liverpool fans.

Back in 1989 The Sun printed these false stories under the now infamous headline ‘The Truth’. The report yesterday found that The Sun based its story on information from Police officers and a then Conservative MP for Sheffield, Irvine Patnick, all of which were untrue.

So, soon, the following graphic was circulating.


There’s David Duckenfield, the chief superintendent in charge of policing at Hillsborough on the day, and there’s Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of The Sun at the time. And there’s…Margaret Thatcher?

You read that right. Apparently Margaret Thatcher should “face trial for (her) part in the Hillsborough cover-up” There’s just one problem. No one has given any indication that she was involved in the cover up to any degree.

Indeed, papers dribbling out after the event show that Thatcher was told that a senior member of the Merseyside Police had said that “he was deeply ashamed to say that it was drunken Liverpool fans who had caused this disaster, just as they had caused the deaths at Heysel” So she was being told the same pack of lies as everyone else.

When the Taylor Report into Hillsborough came out, we learned yesterday, Thatcher was concerned that it placed blame only on the Police and not on the fans also. We now know this was wrong, but given what Thatcher had been told at that time her attitude is quite reasonable. And she did, after all, “welcome the thoroughness of the report and its recommendations”

Jack Straw popped up on the radio this morning to blame Thatcher for creating a “culture of impunity” in the Police. That’s what you do these days. If you are convinced someone did something nasty but there is no evidence of it then you accuse them of ‘creating a culture’, it’s an evidenceless crime.

Besides, this culture was around long before Maggie Thatcher, just ask the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, Stefan Kiszko, or anyone who dealt with the Metropolitan Police in the 1960s and 1970s. This is another symptom of TDS; seeing a trend which was well under way before Thatcher took office, like the collapse of heavy industry or increasing consumer credit, and blaming her for it.

So what is Thatcher, quite blameless of any cover up relating to Hillsborough, doing on that mocked up front page? Beats me. There’s certainly no sense to it but that’s why TDS is a ‘Derangement’ syndrome. But considering this surrounds events that left 96 innocent people dead, it’s a particularly unpleasant outbreak.


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