In an effort to draw a line under the (too) many words said about Thatcher I have written my thoughts. I love Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes the continual posting drags things out rather, and I’m aware that my own tendency to drip-feed my thoughts through social media can be wearing for people listening to it, so here is my chance to state it: long-form, baldly and plainly, and be done. And maybe for you to get some sense of why I think the way I do.
It seems to me that there are two areas: Personal stuff and Political legacy, so I’ll break it down to those two.
1) Political Legacy.
Really. What is all this nonsense about her being a “Conviction Politician”? As if having a conviction is a virtue when it’s applied to a politician. I could name a few other “Conviction Politicans” – Pol Pot, Mussolini, Stalin, the list is fairly endless. Equally Tony Benn, Anuerin Bevan and Winston Churchill were “Conviction Politicians”. That fact that some people are trying to laud Thatcher as a “Conviction Politician” says more about the state of politics now (and then) than whether she was good at her job or not. Having a conviction is pretty much a baseline requirement for a politician. Talk about Damning With Feint Praise.
Oh, and don’t tell me “but she was voted in.” So what? So were the Nazi Party in 1930s Germany. What did she DO with that power? That is the point.
Yes, I grew up under a Thatcher Government. Her time in office straddled my transition from childhood to adulthood. I remember my school-friend’s Mum reluctantly voting for her. I also remember visiting Edinburgh Art College when I was looking for a college to go to, and chatting to a vociferous student who couldn’t afford to pay the Poll Tax that was being trialled in Scotland at the time. I remember the panic in halls of residence as people were wondering how they were going to pay the Poll Tax, and I remember the jeering in the Student Union Bar as the TV displayed her tearful exit from office.
Honesty time. I grew up in the affluent South of England. The place I lived benefitted pretty well from her policies. But call me old fashioned, it’s a fairly bitter happiness if people up the other end of the country end up worse off as a result. I don’t and didn’t want comfort at someone else’s expense. This kind of “Alright Jack-ism” is utter poison and I want nothing to do with it, thanks. This was her legacy: a level of individual wealth at the expense of someone else. There it is right there in practise. No such thing as society. Bollocks to that, I say.
Also rather ironic that despite being an advocate of free-market economy, and despite being well off enough to die in the Ritz, in wealth that shielded her from the sort of suffering that victims of her policies will and did suffer, she’s getting a state-funded funeral.
Some people seem to find it obtuse in me, but I’d rather stand with people who need support and have been treated unfairly than rest on comfortable middle-class laurels.
And as for putting the “Great” back into “Britain”? Please.
Breaking Unions with violence didn’t and doesn’t help anyone make a transition to a modern society. Many other European countries have modernised without pitch battles that belong in the Middle Ages. Psychological damage from victims of violence, whole cities, towns and villages that have never recovered (how about putting in some support structures if you’re going to remove the nearest local job market?), and it’s pretty well documented how sending police officers from other counties into such “battle zones” changed the mentality of those officers when they returned home. A culture and a change for the worse that we still haven’t properly shaken off.
There are a million and one ways to make a transition from a manufacturing based job market to something different, if that’s what you want. Most of them don’t involve violence. A bit of creative thinking and a can-do attitude built the NHS, and it can certainly overcome any problems you might have.
Plus I haven’t even got time to start on Clause 28, Immigration Policy, Northern Ireland, South Africa, deregulation (esp. of the CIty of London), privatisation sell-offs that benefitted her extended circle, and I could write a whole other 5 blog posts on the Council House Ownership debacle that is still affecting not only the very property I live in now, but also the construction industry I work in now.
So there you have it. Remind me what was positive about her political legacy again? How did any of this make Britain “Great” exactly?
Like many others, I sang “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” (which is now charting at about #25 on last checking). How can I do such a horrid thing? Well, if my paragraph on her political legacy got me part way there, I will say this:
She suffered from Dementia in later life. During her time in office, she would often get no more than about 4-5 hours sleep a night. They say that not sleeping enough is a major contributory factor towards Dementia. There’s a kind of irony in the fact that while she was staying up putting together policy that was doing irreparable damage to the country, she was doing irreparable damage to herself. I don’t believe in karma, but lack of belief in it has been sorely tested over the past 24 hours.
Can you imagine almost daily re-discovering that your husband of 50 years, who you loved, has died? Continually? Having to go through the physical exhaustion of grief that often?
And yet I did react that way. And I feel disgusted by my own reactions. Always be wary of anything that brings out your supercilious side. (That goes for you too). Especially anything that becomes self-loathing, that worst and most useless part of the human condition. I feel disgust at the reactions on both side of the political divide, on various social media networks, and I feel disgust at the political legacy.
Everything about her has left a foul aftertaste.
The only thing I can think of is to spend some time standing with the various victims of her odious policies, in the hope that we can build something better than what she visualised, and better than what we have now. I’ll remember her only as a fine example of how to get it wrong.
Look at this instead.margaret > thatcher