Margaret Thatcher is dead and this means two things.
For the 28 million people who didn’t vote for her and widely despised her its a cause for celebration. For the 14 million who did vote for her its either a time of mourning or of regret that they were ever so stupid. She’s a divisive figure in that the majority of people hated her and a minority of relatively wealthy, powerful or stupid people didn’t.
The other things that it means, besides these reactions, is that there will be a media outpouring that will largely skim over the fact she was a destructive figure of hate and will ascribe to her heroism of near Churchillian proportions. Continuing the historical rewrite Meryl Streep started in other words.
Speaker for the Dead
Celebrity bigot Orson Scott Card wrote a book called ‘Speaker for the dead’. There’s a bunch of stuff in it about alien pigs and trees and so on but the abiding idea from it – and one that will probably come back to bite Card on the arse when he pops his clogs – is the idea that one should speak the truth of the dead.
In the coming days we’re going to see a hell of a lot of Thatcher worship and the darker side of who and what she was is going to get drowned under that. People who point out the bad side to what she did, a bad side we’re still living with today, are going to come in for a lot of flak but just keep in mind that the people giving said flak were fine using the deaths of children to attack the welfare system a few short days ago.
This makes it even more important that those of us who do remember and who were alive at the time point out what a shitty person she was and don’t let a sense of ‘decency‘ that she never showed her vicrims override that.
So what, exactly, did Margaret Thatcher accomplish? Other than a ‘landslide’ win with a minority of the vote (something Tories would later criticise Labour for)?
- She literally stole food from out of children’s mouths.
- She presided over two recessions.
- She widened the gulf between rich and poor.
- She closed the mines, ruined collective bargaining and destroyed British energy independence.
- She squandered North Sea Oil.
- She narrowed our economy down to ‘The City’.
- She annihilated social housing.
- She sold off important, nationalised infrastructure to crooks.
That’s by no means a comprehensive list and by no means covers the worst. The problems we’re dealing with today are in many cases the direct result of her actions in the 80s and the continuation of these ruinous policies by her successors.
The housing crisis and the bedroom tax? That goes back to social housing. Sure, letting people buy their council houses seemed like a good idea at the time and a great economic emancipator but it also created massive problems for us today, There is no social housing to speak of but rather than build more the policy seems to be to try and force people to share and reshuffle.
She was great enough if you were a one-percenter. She successfully sold the British on the great American lie, turned the working class against each other in ways we see today in the language of ‘scrounger’ Vs ‘striver’.
She destroyed British society – didn’t even believe there was such a thing as society. She turned us from a group of mutually supportive Britons of common cause into a squabbling rabble of money obsessed idiots. The hard-won lessons from two world wars were lost. Ironically, Cameron would later hark back to this old attitude of being ‘in it together’ while continuing to widen the gap between rich and poor to Dickensian levels. Again, carrying on from Mrs T.
This austerity we unnecessarily suffer under. The arrogant and overpaid bankers and the games they play with people’s money. It all goes back to her at the root.
Even her most laudable action, defending the Falklands, was a shameless vote-grabbing scam, one that killed a lot of people and was an enormous gamble made for all the wrong, political reasons rather than the right reasons. Not that it was played out that way.
She was a friend to dictators like Pinochet. She was on the wrong side of history when it came to apartheid and South Africa. She was anti-gay, anti-freedom, antisocial. She was a red-handed destroyer who made nothing but tore apart plenty.
Was she a feminist? Simply having ovaries (or not) doesn’t make one a feminist (or not). She was, arguably, a woman (some feminists disavowed her) but she distanced herself from feminism and probably did more damage to it than any other force besides radical feminists themselves. She demonstrated not that a woman was as good as any man, but rather than she could be worse. She set women back a huge amount, she didn’t move them forward.
Why is she so Hated?
Thatcher is hated because she stuck it to the poor, the needy, the helpless and made them blame themselves. She began the destruction of health, education and other vital social fabric that we had all come to rely on. She created a new British culture that demonised anyone on welfare and told them they were worthless, useless spongers. They listened which is the even worse part.
She made our culture selfish, hateful and short-termist. The majority of people didn’t want her in power, yet there she was, playing at being a dictator. Her actions lead to mass unemployment, worse services and massive privatisation which is now being applied to the NHS. She stayed the course, despite the hardship she was causing and what it did to the UK as a whole.
She set wheels in motion that haven’t stopped. Labour abandoned the left in order to become ‘electable’ and Blair was as much a Thatcherite as anyone. She created a presidential style of power politics that Blair also exploited later on to pursue the Iraq War. Her legacy of privatisation, deprivation and hardship for the most vulnerable continues today under waxwork sociopath David Cameron and flailing muppet Nick Clegg. The things we wish we could fight today, the university tuition fees, the threats to the NHS, pointless and expensive wars, heartless government cuts, it all goes back to one woman.
This is an opportunity though. We can look back over the last 20 years, see the Thatcher legacy and from that perspective see and understand how it didn’t work. How it was sold to us. How its still being sold to us despite not working. Perhaps, then, with a pause for reflection we can turn this around. It didn’t work then and we’re still living with the consequences, so why are we doing it now?