Friday, 10 May 2013

The Thief of Rage - The Iron Lady

Now, after all, the pomp and posturing, after the unseemly, divisive virtual state funeral  Margaret Thatcher has been laid to rest. It wasn't a fond farewell from all quarters, though. Many held Thatcher to blame for creating greater hardships, for a wholesale destruction of communities, than we had ever seen before in Great Britain. She wasn't everyone's favourite PM. The fact is she was at best only the favourite of half the UK's population. Even in death,as in life, she managed to polarise the nation.

So what was all the fuss about? Was she as bad as some suggest or, as her right wing fans would portray, the best thing ever to happen to this country?

As news of her death peppered newspaper headlines so the two sides, supporters and foes, clashed once again just as they did during the eighties. For some, on the social media front, there was a contest as to who hated her the most, what unspeakable horrors they would like to have visited on the woman's memory. I have to wonder why? She was after all a politician so what were they expecting?

Parliament lined up like two boxers in a bare knuckle fight. On the left were the detractors who surprisingly did not dance upon her grave but waltzed around her legacy afraid, or so it seemed, to say anything remotely inflammatory. On the right the faithful. God in his heaven must have felt challenged as the true blues praised her name as if she were the daughter of Christ.

Margaret Christos? It does have a certain ring to it. She did seem to think herself immortal.

Out in the streets kids, not born at the time so with little knowledge of what her tenure was like, burned her picture with infantile glee the way young people raised on hate do. They didn't like her. Neither did I. My dislike didn't lose sight of what she was and what she was, as I said earlier, was just another politician. I had no wish to spit on her grave or show discourtesy during a time of bereavement but that is just my upbringing. You may dislike someone but you do not have to let your own standards slip. Working class people are equally as dignified as any class. She deserved a quiet funeral for family and friends to attend. Allowing her death to be hijacked into a mockery of a state funeral was a bit hard to swallow.

This from the excellent SomgsWithoutWhich blog site...

... there are entire swathes of British society that felt her lash good and proper: communities flattened by mass unemployment, entire sectors of the economy torched. But what slightly puzzles me is why  everyone seems to believe that Thatcher emerged fully-formed, foaming of mouth and blazing of eye, to lay waste a Britain that was, at the very moment of her election, a paradise of plenty where everyone worked and everyone was adequately provided for. In other words, they seem to think she single-handedly demolished the country.

Margaret Thatcher was no visionary. She reacted to a situation she inherited. Rather than use wisdom, she chose resolve. The economy was in a mess left in such a state by subsequent governments, both Tory and Labour, who had allowed a rot, made worse by restrictive working practises, to set in. Britain was in a bad way.

In 1976, Britain had to go begging. Inflation was at 27%, unemployment had hit record levels. Prime Minister Callaghan discussed with his party colleagues introducing laws to curb union powers. He was forced to go  to the International Monetary Fund for a loan.

In 1979, we were having strike after strike. Un-emptied, uncollected refuse was piling up on the streets. Arthur Scargill was misleading and misrepresenting the miners. He, much like the woman he despised, had little value for those he represented. Neither of them saw the mass of people who had voted for them. Instead, they worshipped different ideologies both of which clashed like two runaway trains ripping apart communities as they met. As I said, Britain was in a bad way, we were down on our knees.

Then along came Margaret Thatcher with her overuse of the phrase 'one.' Like many ordinary people who have climbed the greasy pole in order to become the 'middle class,' she took on many affectations. It is rumoured the Queen didn't like the incorrect use of 'one' or the lady herself  I, not being privy to our monarchs thoughts, wouldn't know. 'One' is a word that bests fits the woman. She knew of no other way but one. She saw the mess the economy was in and set out to fix it. All else faded to inconsequentiality. 

I didn't like Margaret Thatcher for reasons I shall mention later BUT, she did restore national pride with her decisive action with the Falklands conflict and she most certainly did make Britain a free market nation and a world presence again. The free market of course was inherited by Blair (a red Tory if ever I saw one) who then took it one stage further hence the current state of financial crisis but again that is another issue.

Not one leader of my nation has ever led in the way I would like. Not one Tory nor even those of the Labour party. I cannot recall anyone PM who has really had vision. I am too young to remember Clement Atlee so my political recall begins with Harold Macmillan. Now he, much like Churchill was a true blue Conservative. The Iron Lady was not. She will always, as previously stated, polarise opinion.Elvis Costello once famously said he would not dance on her grave as he wouldn't want to dirty his shoes. As much as I admire the man as a songwriter I cannot help but smile.

With all politicians balance should be applied when judgements are passed.Thatcher wasn't all bad any more than she was all good. She came to power at a time when Britain was at its lowest point for hundreds of years. She did not apply vision, if she had she wouldn't have closed the pits only for the next lot to open them again due to need for fuel. She did react with authority and she did repair the economy. She did not love Britain; she did not even love England: she loved London and the South East and as much as I benefited from her methods those other Brits, Scots, Yorkshire folk, Geordie's and goodness knows who else suffered.

For me she only had one oar to her ship. Often she didn't use it to propel us forward but to hit those who opposed her ever growing ego. She bordered on being dictatorial, arrogant and seemingly without a shred of compassion. She was incapable of uniting a country and was, much like the man she worshipped  Winston Churchill, only good for one thing. Churchill won the war against Nazi Germany, Thatcher won the war with the economy. 

Thanks to Margaret Thatcher we are now the fourth wealthiest nation in the world. But never forget at what a cost. It is by her adoption of Hayek's principals that we, and so many others in the free market world, now find ourselves in financial straits yet again. In the end she was just another politician but one, no matter the consensus, who did what she thought best. But best for who?

all words and art are copyright © of Russell 'C.J' Duffy.To view my books on Amazon/Kindle go here: -- For another side of CJ go here: sOMeThiNg For tHE wEeKeND, SiR?


Anonymous said...

People overall were far more kindly disposed to her chum here across the pond. Ronald Reagan was far too conservative for my liking, but today's Tea Party Theocrats make him look like a total lefty.

Russell Duffy said...

This from Lorna Wood via Facebook...

Lorna Wood commented on your link.
Lorna wrote: "Now that I see what our country has become, I am even less charitable to Reagan and Thatcher than I was inclined to be. It seems to me that they took the disorder arising from the declining industrialism of the developed West and the money and power grabs by corporate overlords and used it to entrench those overlords in power. They brought order by suppressing the disadvantaged and building up the military and the simplistic jingoism that supports it. They built their own propaganda by undermining education and encouraging right-wing misinformation. In Reagan's case, this included transforming the minority religious right into a powerful political institution. They looked good because during their watch OPEC was weakened by its own infighting and the U. S. S. R. perished through its own overreaching. In I cannot think of a single deplorable development today that was not created or significantly enhanced by them."

Vanessa V Kilmer said...

As you said, they are all politicians. There few who true to do good for all. They're all out for themselves and their own.

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