The Iron(?) Lady

It goes without saying that I detested Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister. Not merely because of her general anti-Irishness and her behavior during the 1981 Hunger Strikes…although History will show that her actions did not have the long term effect that she wished.

I detest her because she was a divisive figure who shamefully went into Downing Street quoting St Francis of Assisi. British Politics after World War II was actually a competition between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party…..For over three decades , the Conservatives were often trusted with the “mixed” economy which Labour had created. Manifestos were created around the Conservatives management skills……to build more hospitals for Britains National Health Service, or “state” schools, to build more council houses and to manage “nationalised” industries such as the British Rail, British Coal, British Steel.

In 1979 and until her resignation…betrayed by her own colleagues……Thatcher ruthlessly waged class war on the British working class, privatising the rail industry, crushing trade unions, facilitating the conversion of friendly society building societies into privatised banks, selling off council houses etc.

As her defenders say she rolled back the socialism…….and the power of the state. But she did so at the expense of decency…..memorably claiming that “there is no such thing as Society”. She remains a poster girl for Conservatism…..and while most people will claim that she went too far politically……..most of the current generation of thirty something politicians in the modern Tory Party are enthusiastic supporters. Even when it is not the right climate politically to claim to be her heir, David Cameron was heavily influenced by her.

She changed Britain……for the worse. Creating a country based on greed and self……and as there is so much decency in the British character………she demeaned the nation she appeared to love. Created a nastier, more powerful country.

She is a totally revolting person. She left Downing Street tearfully in 1990. And she is now 86 years old……frail and making few public appearances, she is known to suffer Dementia. Not a fate that I would wish on my worst enemy. And Thatcher IS my worst enemy.

On reflection, it is not the Hunger Strikes of 1981 or the War over the Malvinas (Falklands) , or even the war waged on coal miners and others that makes me hate Margaret Thatcher. I hate her because she is really the only person in the world, who I actually hate. And that is a betrayal of the values taught to me at home, in church, at school. In teaching me to HATE (her), Margaret Thatcher demeaned……….ME. And I cant forgive her for that.

The balance of probability is that Thatcher will die over the next few years. With Politics …it is all about Timing!. Winston Churchill (1965……I remember his funeral on TV) was the last British Prime Minister to be given a State Funeral…….with the full pageantry and pomp of the British State……and it is known that this honour will be given to Thatcher. And that will be a timely boost for David Cameron, if it takes place in the run up to an election.

I suspect many people will think Thatcher deserves a State Funeral……many people will resent it. But that is Thatcher…….divisive in death as she is in life.

But by proxy, she is in the News tonight. A new movie opened in London tonight…………”The Iron Lady”………..Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher. Seemingly the movie is shown in flashback sequences with Thatcher shown as she is now………physically and mentally frail….and there is some discomfort that this is intrusive and exploitative.

I really am not sure. The woman was evil. We dont worry about dramatic portrayals of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot. Of course the difference is that these people are already dead. And yes………I am not entirely happy that the frailty and vulnerability of a demented old lady is shown on screen….for entertainment.

But thats the difference between Margaret Thatcher and me. I am capable of the higher emotions, including ………sympathy. Margaret Thatcher had no redeeming features.

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3 Responses to The Iron(?) Lady

  1. Interesting comments. I was 9 years old when she was elected Prime Minister and from then until I was 21 she was the only Prime Minister I had any experience of. I can’t say that I had any recollection of what it was like to live under a Callagham governement, although quite dark and smelly from the power cuts and the fefuse collection strikes I believe. I don’t have any strong feelings towards her poltiically because I was never in her line of fire. However, I would have hoped that we might have had more women in politics because we had a woman Prime Minister, but I think she’s actually put women off being politically active because of her ‘Iron Lady’ image.
    I will be sad on the day she dies, because I am always sad when bits of my past are no longer there. But I can’t say that we are a btter country from her legacy. I agree with you and as a nation we are greedier and far more self-centred than we ever used to be. That is not a good thing

    • Thanks for this Rachel. In some ways it was difficult to write because Thatcher brings out the worst in me…a side of myself that I dont like to see. And of course there is the “humanity” issue. She is a frail and vulnerable old lady. But she has a legacy which is not good and I think her funeral will be highly “political” not least because of the negative comments of comedians on “Mock The Week” and “Have I Got News For You”. The Daily Mail will be outraged…as always.
      There is a bigger question about Women in Politics. Indeed Queens University here in Belfast has an entire module devoted to “Gender” Politics. The key thing about “gender” politics is that it is not necessarily about Men and Women. Rather its about perceptions of strengths and weaknesses. Thatcher was the Iron Lady. But also christened “Atilla the Hen” (sic) by Julian Critchley, one of her own backbenchers who despised her.
      Thus we have the positive and negative image….of women in Politics.
      Arguably to succeed in a Mans World, a woman politician has to sacrifice some characteristics, usually associated with wome. Thatcher was not notably “family friendly” but arguably her “weakest moment” was her reaction when her son Mark went missing in the Sahara. And indeed the curious favouritism of mark over carole is in itself interesting.
      Its not enough that women should be in politics if they are afraid to bring their insight to a Cabinet meeting. Thus we have that risible image of Margaret Thatcher in a tank or indeed Sarah Palin hunting polar bears with the entire arsenal of a third world nation.
      Can either have succeeded or succeed without adopting stances which deny “compassion” as a virtue.
      The thing about Thatcher is that she attacked her biggest enemies (trade unions) first. The outworking of her other successful wars…..privatisatio……has led to closures of rural bus services, post offices, bank branches etc so eventually the selfishness/instant greed affected many more than her traditional enemies.

  2. pippakin says:

    I disagreed with almost the entire post. Yes Thatcher was divisive and yes she took Britain to war, a war by the way which arguably the Brits were right to fight. The Falklands are not and have never been part of Argentina at one time, literally centuries ago a Spaniard set foot on the islands and claimed them, that does not make them Argentinean and two hundred miles off the coast of Argentina says they are not Argentina.

    Thatcher was the first female PM and refusing to acknowledge the sheer achievement that was because we dislike her politics demeans us not her. She was also that rare creature in politics, a conviction politician. She did nothing I liked but by and large she did what she believed.

    Hatred is self destructive, utterly negative. It offers no alternative and no insight.

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