Margaret Thatcher

597px-Thatcher_reviews_troops_(cropped)“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”
Martin Luther King

It would be wrong to claim that a person is deserving of our unquestioning respect, simply because they’ve died. We do not have to respect Margaret Thatcher as a politician, or a person. I have very little respect for her as either. We should however consider the tone of our comments on her death, if only for the sake of her family. We do this, because we are decent people. The openly “dance on her grave” barrage of hate aimed at her today, for all to see, so publicly, is another legacy of her awful ‘no such thing as society‘ legacy.

It does no good to publicly celebrate the death of person, regardless of how divisive or even how evil they were (parading the body of Gaddafi around on TV was horrific). The person is dead. They are not going to see the comments. It is irrelevant to them. The only people who will notably suffer from the comments, are the family of the person who has died. She has family, and grandkids who shouldn’t have to be exposed to some outward display of public joy and declarations of “dancing on the grave” of their grandma. Gloating and demeaning, is giving up the moral high ground to the people who created a society based on suspicion, fear, greed, selfishness, human values replaced by commercial values, me-me-me, and uninformed vitriol in the first place.
It also feeds the right winged trolls. As we see with the insufferably irritating, and vacuous Louise “You shouldn’t drink coffee from Starbucks if you have ANY issue with modern Capitalism” Mensch:

– Apparently, subtly hinting that anyone on any sort of Welfare could be capable of murdering their family, is fine by Tories. Saying “I don’t like Thatcher” makes you Socialist scum.
It is worrying that dissent in any form, will be seen as a show of ‘disrespect‘, by ‘spiteful lefties‘. Anything short of portraying her as some great figure, putting ‘great‘ back into ‘Great Britain‘ or anything equally as meaningless and clearly contradictory to reality, will be seen as simply worthless vitriol from bitter socialists. This cannot happen.

There is a notable difference it seems to me, between demanding street parties and grave dancing, to openly criticising her and her shamefully awful legacy. The latter, should be just as open as it is for those who seem to be bombarding the airwaves with talk of how she was some sort of God-like saviour. She was a political figure, a public figure, a divisive figure, we cannot and should not shut off criticism, especially at a time when her legacy is up for grabs, and will most certainly be leaped on by the right winged media wishing to portray an angelic, hero of freedom.

I therefore find it equally as disrespectful for Downing Street to have released this horrendously provocative statement:

We have lost a great leader, a great prime minister and a great Briton.
As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country, and I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.
Her legacy will be the fact she served her country so well, she saved our country and that she showed immense courage in doing so. And people will be learning about what she did and her achievements in decades, probably for centuries to come

– This quote shows a complete lack of shame for the millions of people who suffered immensely because of her. It threads perfectly into the Tory-lack-of-shame-tapestry with how they have treated every minority in this country since 2010. The Downing Street statement is a right winged version of “We’ll dance on her grave” aimed at those they continue to despise, and punish every day. The unjustifiable needless rise in suicide rates, in homelessness, in child poverty, in poverty in general was horrifically high by the time she left office. The catastrophic nature of Thatcherite deregulated finance that Tories are now trying to “fix” by demonising the poorest and most vulnerable. To ignore this, to ignore the suffering inflicted upon the nation under the Thatcher government, simply to make a right winged point is as disrespectful to the families of those who suffered losses to suicide, the misery caused by the Hillsborough cover up, those who suffered through the nasty little Section 28, the dreadful poll tax concept that eventually brought her down, those who lost their homes and their livelihoods that she cruelly named “the enemy within“, those who will never be able to afford a home now, a huge inequality gap, those who died during her time supporting Pinochet; horribly disrespectful from Downing Street. People may well have benefited from her reforms. But a lot of people suffered horrendously, and they should be afforded respect also. They should also be freely entitled to speak out. Let’s not forget that whilst Thatcher spent the final months of her life in the expensive Ritz, many of the people left broken by her policies are now struggling to deal with the fact that they have a spare room tax to deal with. Judging a Prime Ministerial legacy should be based on how the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable were improved, not on how rich the richest were able to become. The Thatcher sycophants will inevitably demand uniformity of ‘respect‘ for her as a person. This is unnecessary, and is completely wrong to demand.
When the riots kicked off in London in 2010, A study by the business information group Experian found that inner city poorer areas are not equipped to deal with economic shocks like that of austerity, because they are still dealing with the after effects of the economic shocks of the 1980s. It found that Elmbridge in Surrey was the least likely to be affected by austerity, coincidentally, Elmbridge in Surrey was labelled as the town with the highest quality of life by a Halifax Estate Agency, and the “Beverly Hills of England” by the Daily Mail. Let’s not rewrite history to present her as a hero.

Let’s not dance to the death of a person. Save it, help to defeat her horrific ideology. Dance at the death of Thatcherism.

No one is denying that she changed Britain entirely. She was a towering figure. She climbed to the top of a male dominated profession, and for that, she is pretty special. I confess I have abandoned much of my socialist zeal from my younger days, however, my principles still lead me to stand firmly against everything she stood for. I have nothing but contempt for her politics.

But on the day of her death, I feel for her family. That’s about all.

10 Responses to Margaret Thatcher

  1. Arkenaten says:

    As you claim you are left wing I can understand why you would be against conservative politics per se, but at 26 aren’t you a wee bit young to be so vitriolic in your criticism of Margaret Thatcher?

    What exactly were you doing while she was in power?

  2. A couple of points i’d make.
    Firstly, I don’t understand the usual conservative line that basically reads “you’re too young”. Where do we draw the line? Can people comment on their dislike for Stalin, despite not living at the time, or in the Soviet Union?
    What about slavery in the US? Can I mention that I thoroughly dislike the politics of Jefferson Davis, without having lived through it? Does it negate my opinion? Do I have to reach a certain age, before opinions on events at that time become acceptable to comment on? Should I live in the country of the premier I’m commenting on? The “you’re too young” argument brings up a whole host of questions.

    Secondly, I was born in ’86. I was three when we lost our home, and our small family run business, thanks to certain Thatcher policies. Had it not been for a very kind family friend, we’d have been completely homeless. Obviously I didn’t understand at the time what was happening, or why, and I don’t have much of a memory of it. Though i’ve come to learn just how awful that period was for us.
    This surely qualifies me to have an opinion?

  3. Arkenaten says:

    My sympathies. Your post sounded more personal, which is why I questioned the strength of your comment.
    What policies are you referring to that caused the loss of your family business and home?

  4. Poll tax finished us off. It’s a very long story involving sudden factory closures, huge unemployment, huge interest rates, and meetings my dad had with Nigel Lawson who insisted there would be no Poll Tax.

  5. violetwisp says:

    I think there was something useful about Thatcher. I’m sure I benefited from growing up with a woman as prime minister: understanding that this is normal. I expect she did nothing in particular for women other then providing this natural expectation that women can lead, but that is something significant given the imbalance in the world of political leadership today.

  6. I think that’s a valid point. She certainly broke the mould for women in politics. Such a domineering female in a very male dominated profession, can only be a good thing. Agreed.

    She certainly did nothing for women in general. She said: “I hate feminism. It is poison.” And “The battle for women’s rights has largely been won. I owe nothing to women’s liberation.”

    But you’re right, the position of power itself, did a lot for women in politics.

  7. violetwisp says:

    Delightful quotes. 🙂 I guess we’ve got to take what we can as progress in this male-dominated world.

  8. Thatcherism has become synonymous with harsh and unfair economic politics that whilst possibly effective for an emergency period time deliver further division and inequity when deployed for the longer term. Thatcherism from the outside looked to reinforce some of the worst aspects of British society, deepening and widening divisions. It is valid to critique such a “legacy”.
    Attack the policies and not the person is naturally more palatable but the person can make it difficult when so much of who they were harmed so many and so publicly. What about truth? Because someone is dead, because someone is a dead female, grandmother, friend, does not mean they are exempted from valid criticism. It is not new criticism of her however Thatcher herself never listened to or acknowledged negative criticism of the government she led and the politically delivered pain it caused. “There is no other way” or other such pronouncements were her argument.
    The poll tax was a ludicrous Frankenstein-like recreation of the class system her government claimed to rescind. Probably though it was the bribe for the wealthier/privileged classes that had to happen. Briton is still a class driven society if not worse. I understand the family concerns and acknowledge it may hurt but the truth is the truth.
    The Thatcher government’s policies as lead by Margaret Thatcher were divisive, inflexible, chauvinistic and downright cruel. I don’t know that such a legacy, because she was female, advanced feminism. The popularly confirmed “Iron Lady” references stuck (basically a wicked witch style stereotyping) reconfirming poor attitudes towards women holding positions of power and influence. A notion, as demonstrated by the character of her public politics and government, she appears to have gleefully reinforced rather than given anyone cause to consider otherwise. Her position in world politics set back feminism 20 years or more in my view. Her existence as the first female prime minister of England never inspired me to question authority male or female, but Thatcherism as a style of politics did. Worse still ws the view that such economic policies delivered by Thatcherism were new. Her economic rationalism was not new. Thatcher just revamped 19th century rationalist monetarism. It was out of place and out of time. Give me a Keynesian any day. I wasn’t aware of the quote “no such thing as society”…chilling. In her own words she provides herself with a fitting epitaph.

  9. Looks like we took a very similar line in our respective blog posts, RE: Louise Mensch… great blog btw!

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