In many ways, today showed this current Parliament and the Prime Minister at their best. David Cameron hadn’t brought Flashman with him to Prime Minister’s Questions today in any case, but for his statement on the Hillsborough tragedy, he adopted a solemn and respectful tone. The whole chamber was still, save for sharp intakes of breath from MPs as horrifying findings from today’s report from the Hillsborough independent panel were read to them. The worst was that many more – possibly 41 – lives could have been saved had the response to the disaster been adequate.
‘Anyone who has lost a child knows the pain never leaves you. But to read a report years afterwards that says – and I quote – “a swifter, more appropriate, better focused and properly equipped response had the potential to save more lives”, can only add to the pain.’
MPs, particularly those who have campaigned on this matter, dabbed at their eyes. They shook their heads in disgust at the revelation that 164 police statements had been significantly amended and 116 had had negative comments about the policing operation removed. Later, some struggled to control the emotion in their voices as they spoke and asked the Prime Minister questions. No-one brought party politics into the chamber during the debate. Nobody even raised their voice. The Prime Minister said:
‘On behalf of the government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.’
Cameron spent close to an hour reading the report this morning before his statement. He told MPs this afternoon that he would read it in detail afterwards, too.