Friday, 12 April 2013

The Thatcher Tears

The witch is dead! Finally. We knew this evil harridan was on her last legs but we never knew when that final day would come but at last, it's here!

This isn't how I feel about the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher but judging from social media, many people do. In truth, I'm alarmed and disappointed by some of the reactions to her death. We are, supposedly, members of a developed nation but some are acting like a medieval mob.

Are the burning of photographs, singing nasty songs, dancing on graves and other vile utterances across social media the pinnacle of our evolution? I hear sales of Ding Dong The Witch is Dead, have rocked. I get it. People are holding on to the upset caused by some of the decisions she made on behalf of her party and the country during her premiership, the ramifications of which we are still experiencing today. 

People have sited the many failures and fall-outs from the Thatcher years, particularly their impact on the economies of the north of England, Scotland and working class communities as a reason to celebrate the demise of our former leader. People have also stated that some of the social problems we have today can be directly linked to her government. But whilst some of her choices may not have been in everyone's best interests or to everyone's liking, we've had several governments since her demise, three of which have been Labour. If you still hold her accountable, you're basically saying they were incapable of rectifying whatever damage it's perceive the Tory legacy created? i.e. that they were inert.

It's easy (convenient) to blame all our problems on a dead woman but Labour were in power during the banking crisis. Labour were in power when the deficit grew to the unwieldy size it is today. Labour sent us to war.

Thatcher was voted in three times by this country so half of the voting public agreed with her actions enough to return her to power so how certain are we that they were wrong? Is our measure simply that their beliefs don't align with our own? Perhaps you are more left-leaning. Don't forget, Tony Blair also did unspeakable things such as lead us into a demonstrably illegal war, ignoring the foot-fall of one million British citizens who took to the streets to show their opposition.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm no politics head. I can barely remember who the prime minister is. I thought Gordon Blair was in charge.  I met David Davies and thought he was Ian Lavender from Eastenders. I wanted to slap him and say, it's terrible how you've treated Pauline.

I don't have any political allegiances, further, I'm not arguing for or against Thatcher's politics, nor am I denying the very real consequences of her actions.

And yes, a state funeral (in everything but name) probably is an inappropriate use of tax payers money, but we have a Tory government (in everything but name). They're hardly going to catapult her casket into a landfill. And 3million quid might sound a lot but in fiscal terms, it's nothing. They probably spend more on paper clips.

Regarding perception, I'm merely offering an alternative view.

But here's my point (yes, Andi, what is your point??)  We are, in theory, a civilised country but our vitriolic response to Thatcher's death is hugely uncivilised and my belief is, people are using Thatcher as a pariah to absolves themselves of any blame. This is what we do and have always done. We have pariahs in politics (Blair, Bush, Sadam Hussein), in entertainment (Lindsey Lohan, Katie Price, all the Kardashians), we have them in sport (Maradona, Lance Armstrong), serving as a lightening rod for blame, distracting us from our own shortcomings.

But the use of a pariah is a flawed belief system.  Thatcher did not work in isolation. Like it or not, we are all part of what contributes to the direction a nation moves in. Even apathy is a contribution. We are all part of the system that created the banking crisis, the credit crunch, the abused benefits system, the 'me' society, the excessive consumerism. We all created what we have and trying to blame someone who left power 23 years ago is a cop out. Even if her policies created all this, who kept it going?

People need to grow up, take some responsibility and stop complaining about the things they can't change and change the things they can.  This is our world and creating pariahs robs you of your power to make a difference. Grow the fuck up. 60% of us don't even bother to vote yet we all seem to know better than those who've been elected. Half the people celebrating Thatcher's death weren't even alive or able to comprehend politics on any meaningful level at the time she was in power but they've learnt, from people who refuse to move on, that she is evil and her death worthy of celebration.

I'm not interested in a discourse on politics. Many could argue passionately and knowledgeably on Thatcher's many wrongdoings. All I'm concerned about is this, no matter what someone has done, no death is a cause of celebration. Like I say, I know little about politics, nor do I care. I care about people. I care about a family that's grieving.  I care about a society that needs to develop some social maturity rather than hang on to vendettas and vitriol from the past. I care about people being the highest expression of themselves not enjoying the loss of a life. A life is no less valuable even if you don't like what the person did with it.

If we saw the scenes we've witnessed in the UK this week, in a Middle Eastern country, we'd regard them as barbaric and Thatcher did to us a fraction of what their leaders have done to them. 

Very few people are pathologically evil. Most of us do things because we feel in our heart it is the right thing to do. Now, this does not mean it is. It also doesn't mean it isn't and some actions are going to meet with more opposition than others.  But Margaret Thatcher was a pioneer. A first of her kind and perhaps the last. This society has not got itself together to create another female to stand in such high office since. This should make you angry because that's a real problem that exists today.  Thatcher's legacy with never cease to be controversial but as a society, do we wish our legacy for future generations to be that of a people who danced on graves and sung songs in celebration of death and still bicker and fight over gay marriage and equal pay for women?

I'm old enough to have lived through the Thatcher years but young enough to not really have understood them but what I do know is, if my choice is either to learn from the past personally, politically and socially but not be defined by it, using her death as a timely reminder to ensure we exercise our franchise, contribute to society and take responsibility for our part in it rather than give the responsibility to someone else then vilify them when they don't do what we want them to do, I'll take the former over the later. We create our own future. Dancing on graves and the graves themselves are, in every sense, beneath us. 

Thanks and have a great day

The notion that Britain is created out of everything that we are was inspiration for the poem below,

I am freedom of speech,
I am nothing to say.
I’m chip paper tomorrow
Yet news today.

I am the angry Daily Mail,
I am the loony left...
The stoic, the conscious,
The confused, the bereft.

I’m village green maypoles,
I am may day riots.
I am drum and bass,
I am peace and quiet.

I am Hindley and Carr
And Brady and Crippen.
I’m a Biggs, a Leeson,
A Ripper, a Shipman.

I am Live Aid,
I’m “couldn’t care less”.
I am Lockerbie,
I am a dead princess.

I am Royalty,
I earn way too much.
I’m “It’s a Knockout”...
I am out of touch.

I am the squandered youth,
I am the hopeful young.
I’m the desperate few,
The sense of one.

I am the influx, the exodus,
The growth, the dross.
I’m the wars, the victories,
The senseless loss.

I am the Rainbow Warrior,
Walk four abreast by the Cenotaph.
I am two World Wars,
I am the working class.

I’m pomp and circumstance,
I am a hideous past.
I am colonial might,
I am built to last.

I’m Trooping the Colour,
and bravery, valour.
I am hidden agendas
I am the War of Terror

I’m abandoned collieries
I am closed down docks
I am Brixton burning
I am Fletcher and Blakelock

I'm struck by the king's horse
I'm a Greenham Common tenant
I am ladette and glass ceilings
I am 51%

I am stick thin models.
I am obesity rising.
I am 10 years younger,
I am binging and dieting.

I am Primark and Harrods
and Tesco’s and Prada.
I’m organic and flown
From Peru to your larder.

I am generic high streets.
I am actor-stroke-chugger.
I am benefit cheat,
I am ten year old mugger.

I am Wimbledon
I am The Olympics
I am the Ashes
Four Nations and '66

I’m sticky back plastic
I am flower pot men
I’m Rainbow and Bod
and Magpie, Mr Benn
I am the Rolling Stones
I am Tiny Tempah
I'm X factor winners
I can't remember

I am Panorama,
I’m Britain’s Got Talent
I’m nothing to watch
On too many channels

I’m the Rovers Return
I am “Last orders, please”
I’m “Put your mouth on the tube sir
and breath”

I’m miracle births,
I am Beachy Head
I am drug fucked and drunk
I am the walking dead

I am swine flu and HIV
And Gonorrhea
I am ignorant bliss
I am hypochondria

I am the BNP,
I am every race and creed
From blue-black to bluey-white
And all that’s between.

I am institutionally racist
I am ethnically diverse
I am PC gone mad
I am things getting worse

I’m disabled and able
I’m deaf, dumb and blind
I’m an homogenous one
I am one of a kind

I’m a Christian, a Muslim,
A Hindu, a Jew,
Agnostic, A Jedi,
An atheist too.

I am six week holidays
I am teachers’ strikes
I am exams getting easier
I’m happy slapping and fights

I am metal detectors
In colleges and schools
I’m murder rates falling
Except for the youth

I am privatisation.
I am jobs for all.
I’m “things can only get better”,
I am downing tools.

I’m “and 99p”
I am rounding up
I am decimalised
I am stubborn as fuck

I am cancelled trains
I am call centre rage
I am national pride
I am “We rule the waves”

I’m waiting in line
I am “Right to reply”
I’m “Dear BBC...”
I am “Why, Oh, Why, Oh Why”

I’m Lands End
to John O’ Groats.
I am £5 coins,
And £1 notes

I am Dunkirk spirit,
The Stiff upper lip.
Ich Bin Eine European -
A French-hating Brit

I am mighty and broad,
I am all that is good.
I’m a sliver of land,
I am misunderstood.

I am complex and changing,
I’m stuck, incomplete.
I am empty and sparse,
I’m finite and replete.

I’m all of these things,
Inherent, innate.
It’s what makes me Britain
And what makes me great


  1. Well said, couldn't agree more. I'm going to vote for you!

  2. For someone not political, I think you've done well to sum up a lot of what I think about this as well. I wasn't born when Thatcher was PM, so like you've suggested it's hard for someone like me because I didn't experience it directly.

    I think, judging by what I've read about her (which are views from both sides and neutral positions, if you can get such a thing with Thatcher), she probably did stand for the greed and more selfish society we see now.

    However, you've made a great point that nobody really wants to face. Thatcher didn't work in isolation, nobody forced anyone to "comply" with any of this. People did it because that's the way they chose or wanted to behave, you could go as far as to say people bought into it without thinking about all of it at the time.

    And another example I'd add to yours about people absolving blame is what happens when Governments don't or can't keep certain manifesto promises. It's a vicious circle - people vote for parties because they want hope, they want ambition, they want politicians to aim high, and parties promise too much because that's what wins votes.

    But nobody wonders about their ambitions and whether they're realistic - when governments can't deliver, it's all their fault.

    A bit of a longer comment than I intended to make if I'm honest, but I obviously was thinking more than I thought I was.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to write that Jamie. I really appreciate it. Andi

  3. No death is a cause for celebration? Check out Thatcher's "Rejoice, rejoice" speech during the Falklands campaign. Her words, not mine.

    1. Then she was wrong. But as the saying goes... to wrongs etc

  4. Andi,
    You've written so eloquently, how I feel about Mrs Thatcher. I hated and disliked many of her governments policies for the impact that they had, but I don't transpose that onto her as an individual.
    Thankyou for putting it out their for us to read


  5. Maggie did more for the UK than any other. The only one without balls, but had bigger balls than the rest!

    Andy P Northern Ireland

  6. Actually, the highest percentage of those who turned out to vote that voted for Magge T was 43.9% in 1979. She never had a majority of the popular vote. I disliked much of what she did, and many communities are still suffering the consequences, but the death of anybody is not something to be wildly celebrated. That said, neither should we be treated her as a demi-god; her passing might be a sad occasion for many, but stopping Big Ben? Cancelling Prime Minister's Questions? Treating anybody who declines an invitation tot he funeral as some sort of traitor?


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