Can Theresa May take partial credit for Hillsborough?
By Joe Harker
There were plenty of things that went wrong with Theresa May's speech at the Conservative party conference. The Prime Minister developed a coughing fit and struggled to speak, was handed a P45 by comedian Simon Brodkin and spent much of the speech saying "me" or "I" instead of "we" or "us" when trying to present a united front. Serious security concerns aside, May came across as muddled and unimpressive. So numerous were the disasters and distractions that many people barely remembered what the Prime Minister actually said.
However, that may not have been such a bad thing on some subjects, as May has been criticised for trying to take credit for securing justice for the families who lost people in the Hillsborough disaster. The Prime Minister was talking about causes that kept her in politics and cited Hillsborough as something that explains "what I'm in this for". It prompted a response on social media that criticised May for overstating her role in securing justice, with many believing that she had not earned the right to claim some credit for helping families of the 96 victims finally reach a just decision.
This is not the first time May has done such a thing. During Prime Ministers Questions earlier in the year she said she "ensured justice for the families of Hillsborough", which was met by an overly negative reaction. While she was Home Secretary at the time that new inquests were ordered, many felt that her comments overlooked the dedicated campaigning of the families. Some suggested that the politicians that actually played a part in securing justice were Labour MPs Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram. Others were unhappy that May was trying to use the long wait for justice as a victory for herself.
HuffPost UK suggests that May's mention of Hillsborough was one of the stronger parts in a reasonably impressive speech. She admitted her faults in the 2017 general election and tried to reframe herself as someone who remains in politics for the right causes.
May has also been praised in the past by families of Hillsborough victims, who said she had "done even more for us than she said she would". Perhaps she does deserve some credit for her work in talking to the families and doing more than other previous Home Secretaries. Many may dislike May and her party, but several families have said that she did more than most of her predecessors save for Labour's Alan Johnson. In a fight for justice that has taken years this is no minor praise.