Sports policy can also be regarded as a prism through which wider ideological and practical political thought can be viewed. The three governments of Margaret Thatcher/John Major (Conservative) and Tony Blair’s New Labour illustrate the contrasts that can be found within sports policy. As Houlihan (2002) suggests, “some policy areas are easier than others to plot and delimit”, and this is especially the case with sports which is often a fulcrum around which a number of forces, from education to national prestige to public health revolves.
The Thatcher government adopted what may be regarded as a characteristically laissez-faire and privatized view of sports leadership at both the national and local level. One of her first actions as prime Minister was to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afgahnistan. Britain was no alone in this boycott, being joined by 62 other Western countries. One aspect of Thatcher’s policy that contrasted with the provision of money for various sports stadiums, organizations and for sports on school, something which every government since WWII had instituted was her government’s reaction to football hooliganism. Under watch football hooliganism took on massive and deadly proportions, such as the fights that occurred at the European Cup Final in Brussels in which 36 people were killed (Frosdick, 2005). Thatcher introduced a number of new laws and policies that would ban alcohol at grounds, increase police powers to control the behavior and size of the crowd, as well as introducing surveillance such as close-circuit TV cameras that had previously been regarded as an invasion of privacy. Football hooliganism was a fulcrum around which many forces revolved, including serious suggestions that a National Identity Card should be introduced, even though at its height the problem ...
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