Margaret Thatcher urged ‘abandon Liverpool to managed decline’
DID Margaret Thatcher like Liverpool? Those around her didn’t. In the wake of the Toxteth Riots, Margaret Thatcher was secretly urged to abandon Liverpool to a fate of “managed decline”, according to official papers made public for the first time today. Senior ministers in Thatcher’s Conservative government urged her not to waste public money on the “stony ground” of Merseyside, suggesting it would be like “trying to make water flow uphill”.
The riots in Toxteth followed the year’s earlier Brixton riots. Lord Scarman’s reports attributed their cause to “complex political, social and economic factors” leading to “disposition towards violent protest”.
Not all of Thatcher’s children benefitted from the free market and the booming City.
Eyewitness Christopher Davies said the trouble was organised:
“I’ve seen them wearing balaclava helmets, just like Belfast, handing out petrol bombs and telling people where to go. There are people standing on street corners with pick-axe handles looking like hell’s preachers to make sure no one interferes with what’s going on.”
That was a small part of Liverpool in 1981, a city that Westminster wanted to forget…
EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY DECEMBER 30. File photo dated 05/07/81 of one of the weary blood splattered policemen injured during the riots in the Toxteth district of Liverpool. Margaret Thatcher was secretly urged to abandon Liverpool to a fate of 'managed decline' in the wake of the Toxteth riots, according to official papers made public for the first time today.