There are times when apologies are needed, there are times when an apology needs to come from the top, the American President Harry Truman had it on a sign on his desk meaning that under certain circumstances, he was the one with the ultimate responsibility. Whilst this is true, it doesn’t mean that it should or ought to be used by Presidents or Prime Ministers to issue apologies willy nilly for the faults of others…
David Cameron is set this week to offer an “expression of regret” over the failures of the police and other public bodies in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, government sources have indicated.
The Prime Minister is set to make a Commons statement on Wednesday in response to an independent report into the FA Cup semi-final tragedy in which 96 people died.
The report, by a panel chaired by James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, examined around 450,000 documents held by South Yorkshire police, the ambulance service, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, the coroner’s office and other bodies, before producing its conclusions.
Downing Street sources said that Mr Cameron was not expected to see the report until after this weekend.
It is, however, widely suspected that it will hold South Yorkshire police to account for refusing to accept responsibility for the disaster and instead falsely putting the blame on drunk and ticketless Liverpool supporters.
Whilst I know that families of those killed have campaigned for years against what they considered some sort of cover up by the servants of the state to hide their failures on the day, I don’t believe that any expression of regret from the Prime Minister is needed or warranted, the head of the South Yorkshire Police perhaps, but the PM, no. In the same way I don’t believe Tony Blair should have apologised for slavery, nor anything else that the government was not directly involved in. Prime Ministers should apologise or express regret for personal failures of the government, for wars (in living memory) So the PM should be apologising for the government on behalf of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not for something he could not influence and which the government had nothing to do with.
An apology or expression of regret if ever there were one necessary needs to come from those responsible, in this instance the government was not responsible for the circumstances on that day, the blame if it lies anywhere lies with the South Yorkshire police for not realising the crowd dynamics at the moment the crisis began and not acting quickly enough to alleviate them.