Well what a week! Maggie Thatcher died on Monday… In the press this week half the stories have been a frantic re-writing of history casting Thatcher as a heroine who saved a failing Britain; right wing revisionist bullshit in my opinion. The other half of the stories have been red-faced old Tories saying how shameful it is to celebrate the death of an old lady – a mother and grandmother to boot! “Show some respect” they say – sadly, I have none. I have no respect for the woman who decimated entire communities, turned families and neighbours against each other in such bitter battles. The wounds still run deep.
I remember going into school that day back in ’79 when she won her first election. A girl in my class who had Tory parents stuck her smug face in mine and said “We won”, and so it began… It became a time of battles; the Battle of Orgreave, the Battle of the Beanfield… Thatcher faced off the Irish republican hunger strikers in the early 80’s and set back the peace process decades. “You can’t trust the Irish, they’re all liars” she said to Mandy in 1999.
She took the country into war in the Falklands in a shameless display of electioneering. She allowed the US to put cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common. She kept dubious company, friends with P.W. Botha (prime minister of South Africa and supporter of apartheid) and of course let’s not forget her sharing tea on more than one occasion with arms dealer and human rights violator General Augusto Pinochet.
She persecuted single parents, miners, travellers, the unemployed and the disabled. She demonised gay people with Section 28 – the first new anti-gay law in 100 years – repealed in 2003 and apologised for in 2009. She sold off the family silver including state utilities and Council houses. Then there was the Poll Tax which led to riots and widespread direct action. I was part of an anti-poll tax union in Bristol; we would advise people how to legally avoid paying this unfair tax that took no account of income or property value. I went to court on several occasions and what I witnessed there I will never forget – an old frail man who had been too ill to work and was just too poor to pay, asking for help, and being refused. Heartless. That finally sealed her fate in my opinion.
My overriding memories of Thatcher’s era are that characteristics previously frowned on (greed and selfishness), became admirable. Owning property and material possessions became the single goal in life to which we should all aspire. If you had money, you had made it! You were measured by what you had rather than by who you were. People my age will remember Harry Enfield’s character ‘Loads of Money’, well we all met a few of them too! We are still suffering the legacy of this – just look at the nasty little shits you get on TV show the Apprentice.
The fact that she was a woman and Britain’s first and only female leader makes no difference to me, in fact, she betrayed her female colleagues by ensuring that she was the only woman at the party. She betrayed all those misguided women who voted for her out of some notion of sisterhood.
However, I can say she did make her position quite clear. In some respects she had more bollocks than the weedy two-faced crew we have running the current government. It’s difficult to know what they really think about anything. With Thatcher, her feelings were clear; and I hope Thatcherism gets buried along with her. Ding-Dong the witch is dead!
Back to food soon…